Are the views expressed by consumers via social media reflective of your primary target market?

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Angeline Martin

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Marketing strategies can benefit from high quality social media intelligence and the use of website analytics.  These digital metrics can prove to be invaluable to marketers, provided they are utilised in a way that supports insightful market research.  Following on from a previous blog, noted below are four more reasons detailing how digital metrics can complement effective market research.

 

1) Social media monitoring may not provide a true reflection of customer’s buying experiences

Once a customer exits a store or leaves a website, their perception of their shopping experience normally starts to change.

If a company wants to find out what a customer thinks of a specific shopping experience on a particular day, they need to survey that customer immediately as they exit the store or website.

At that point, the customer will be able to answer questions with their experience fresh in their mind, unimpeded by previous memories, general impressions of the brand or other people’s opinions

Social media monitoring faces some of the same issues as when forwarding a survey by email to customers following a visit to a store or a session online.  Customers who discuss their shopping experiences online may not provide true reflection of their experience but more of their overall opinion of the brand.

In addition, as social media users are often communicating with friends online, they may embellish a story for the purpose of entertainment or to garner attention from followers.

 

2) Your customers may not have social media or Google accounts.

As there are segments of society that have never had a social media account, or have decided to close their accounts, some customer voices will not be available via social media monitoring.

Regarding consumers who have not registered for a Google account; their demographic details are not available to Google Analytics.  Therefore, their online browsing and shopping habits will not be available for detailed analysis through digital metrics.

 

3) Social media monitoring is still in it’s infancy.  Current systems are still evolving and may not convey the true opinion of consumers. 

Many companies turn to social media monitoring as the results are fast and fairly inexpensive.  However, accuracy is an issue.  Sarcasm is often misunderstood by social media monitoring tools, as is the implication of words that have more than one meaning.  For example, ‘wicked’ can denote ‘evil’ or alternatively ‘excellent’, depending on the context.

At this current point in technological developments, automated sentiment reading is generally poor.  Therefore, marketers must check if sentiments are correct.  This verification process slows down results and increases the costs to a point where the difference in speed and cost between traditional market research and online research becomes much less of an issue.

 

4) Social media conversations are not consistent so it’s impossible to compare year on year. 

A product or service that was launched last year will not have the same level of interest this year.  Consumers that have taken to social media to talk about their new purchase are unlikely to discuss online how they have found the performance of a product year after year – certainly not enough customers to render the information a reliable source to compare against the comments from the initial launch.

 

Insightful market research can be utilised to establish if social media analysis and website analytics are accurate and reliable.

If market research shows that the information conveyed by consumers on social media reflects the information conveyed by your primary target, it’ is a good position to be in.

However, it is crucial to invest in effective market research to ensure that the views expressed by consumers on social media continue to reflect the views of your primary target market.  This verification process needs to be carried out regularly to ensure that information obtained online continues to add value.