Facebook’s role in online marketing is undisputed, but it’s just as essential in market research, a less glamorous but equally important field. Recent research has highlighted the usefulness of social networks in learning more about current and potential customers. Indeed, with the volume and amount of activity taking place on Facebook every day, market information practically offers itself to you.
To be sure, Facebook surveys are not the end-all and be-all of marketing. It certainly won’t be replacing traditional methods anytime soon, and its services definitely do not come for free. However, it does offer access to what amounts to the biggest customer pool in existence, including many people who would otherwise not be bothered to do surveys. In other words, you get a much larger sample for practically no additional effort.
There are several ways to integrate Facebook into your market research. The easiest is probably by posting questions on Facebook Pages. If you have a Facebook Page, it’s a simple matter of putting up an open-ended question and letting the comments roll in. Carefully chosen language can elicit more elaborate responses; for example, “What do you think of…” is likely to bring in lengthy opinions. This is good if you’re after an exchange of ideas, but you won’t be able to generalize a handful of opinions to that of the entire sample.
If you want a generalized picture, a poll would be a better idea. Facebook now allows you to post a multiple choice-type question where people can simply click on their choices. They have the option to voice out their opinions or even add new options, but you can base your results solely on the poll results if you want to.
Of course, you also have the option of using a third-party survey (for example, a form on your company website) and linking to it through your Facebook page. It’s harder to get people to click outside of Facebook, so most businesses compensate for this by offering some form of incentive. You could offer them a free e-book, free limited access to otherwise paid features, or a discount at your online store.
The biggest advantage Facebook offers to market researchers is the sheer size of its audience. Despite its numbers, it’s easy to target your message to certain demographics. Facebook Ads allows you to control which groups can see your material. It takes a bit of effort to find your audience and craft the right message, but the results–whether in market information or actual conversions–is often more than worth it.