I don’t know what it is about customers, but many companies seem to be terrified of them. Doesn’t it make sense to get some customer input whenever possible in a B2B world where a new product launch can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in R&D, production, materials, etc.? Many companies don’t think twice about dropping tens (sometimes hundreds) of thousands on focus groups while simultaneously ignoring a golden opportunity staring them in the face with social media. Maybe you’ve thought about using social media to gain customer insight but didn’t exactly know whether it would be worth the extra effort. After all, you’re really busy already. Well here’s a quick list of 5 reasons to use social media to gain customer insight and help make your decisions easier. Hopefully, adding this to your arsenal of tools will help you sleep better at night:
- It’s relatively inexpensive
Focus groups can be extremely costly, oftentimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. Putting together a sound social media survey is relatively inexpensive and while it doesn’t always eliminate the need for a focus group, it can help inform how focus groups are conducted or raise possible concerns if focus group results and your survey results are incongruent.
- Your followers already know your product
Social media users don’t typically follow brands they don’t know or haven’t used before, so your followers are very likely already a part of your target audience and actually might be customers of yours. Simple questions like, “Of the following products, which would you be most excited for us to develop in 2012…?” can really help to ground R&D efforts at the beginning of the process.
- Get your competition to pay for your research
Don’t forget that your customers don’t just have opinions about you. They have opinions about your competitors as well. How many times have you purchased two similar products from two different companies and wished you could combine aspects of both into one product? Well, that probably happens to your customers when they buy your products too. Social media surveys offer a simple way to allow your customers to tell you what they like about you and what they like about your competitors so you can make stronger decisions moving forward. The best part is that your competition has already made the investment and even field tested it for you!
- Provide answers for your CEO
Does your CEO want to know what your customers thought of your latest ad campaign or trade show presence? Even if he/she isn’t asking you for this information, social media surveys provide a great opportunity to check and see how everything you’re doing is working for your customers. If it’s working, great! Go and tell your CEO about everything you’ve been doing. If not, great! Just ask your social media followers what you need to do to improve, and then adapt accordingly. When they love what you’ve done to meet their needs, then go tell your CEO!
- It’s just one more way to be sure you’re making the right choices
While I would never suggest that a simple survey sent out via social media would always produce highly accurate and meaningful results, it is definitely a great way to be sure that large, costly mistakes aren’t made along the way. Social media offers a way to stay in consistent contact with your customers/fans, so it is wise to take advantage of that and check in with them once in a while before any major changes are made. Changes you make to your products will affect their business too, so it’s only fair to ask them before making any decisions.
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