“Traditionally, market research has primarily been comprised of asking questions and evaluating data. However, this method only identifies pieces of a person, failing to truly define the individual – or generate a complete picture of who they really are.”
–Harris Interactive, a strategic market research company
Whether a company is about to release a new product into the market or is thinking about changing its marketing strategy, research on its target audience should always be conducted ahead of time. This research will include collecting demographics (age, race, etc), information on the target audience’s interests and identifying where your audience chooses to receive news and advertisements. This research will be used to predict how well your new product or strategy will fair within your target market (aka audience).
While researchers can produce high-level data on a company’s target audience, most of the traditional research methods (focus groups, surveys, in-depth interviews) can only collect limited information about the target audience in a short period of time. And, in the business world, completing research and projects are often under strict timelines.
But…do not fret! With billions of people worldwide on social media these days, services have been created to expedite research on target audiences directly from social media platforms.
For instance, Research Lifestreaming, recently launched by Harris Interactive, is a new and improved market research tool that utilizes social media to collect information on your target audience, and with a quick turnaround. Research Lifestreaming analyzes unfiltered conversations, observes behavior patterns and interacts via social media platforms, applications and mobile technologies. Because social media really highlights who an individual is and what their interests are, it has become a very valuable resource for businesses.
Referred to as the next evolution in market research, Research Lifestreaming services include: responding to status updates, analyzing status updates, observing mobile behaviors via GPS and using social media to break down the target audience as an influencer or follower, positive or negative, commentator or reactionary, active or passive, or a joiner. And, believe it or not – this is allowed by the target audience using these applications.
Ultimately, these services extend beyond traditional research methods in order to understand the true essence of a person in a timely manner. According to Harris Interactive, “we have created an approach to connect with what people have on their minds and the conversation they may be having…resulting in a deeper understanding of each individual in the ‘now.'”
Do keep in mind that social media research does not have to replace or always aid traditional research methods. Traditional research methods are still a great way to improve business development and connect with target audience. So…whether or not you are ready to start collecting research via social media, always remember that all the research methods you employ should be used to identify and connect with your target audience – providing them with the best products and/or services.