Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
As a small business owner, you may not have a huge research budget or customer insights team at your disposal. But that’s okay! No matter what kind of budget you’re working with, chances are, you’re already using one of the best small business research tools on the market: social media.
Your social media channels offer a variety of ways to connect with your customers and learn more about them…while driving engagement, sales and revenue in the process. Let’s take a look at how you can use social media to learn more about your customers, better understand your target audience and take your small business to the next level.
- Run a social media poll.
- Ask customers to weigh in on your next launch.
- Do some competitor research.
- Use analytics to learn more about your customers.
1. Stuck on a decision? Run a social media poll.
A big part of running a small business is making decisions. And if you want those decisions to land with your customers, why not ask them for their input? Instagram polls (which you can host through IG Stories) offer a great opportunity to ask your customers for their insights — and you can use those insights to inform your decisions.
For example, let’s say you own a restaurant and want to add a new item to your menu, but you’re stuck between a few different dishes. Instead of narrowing down the options yourself, put the new dishes on a social media poll and ask your customers to weigh in on their preferred choice. Then, take the dish with the highest percentage of the vote and make it a fixture on your menu.
Or, maybe you own an artisanal soap business and aren’t sure what scent you should add to your collection next. You could run a poll asking if customers prefer rosemary and lemon or eucalyptus and mint, and let the voting results dictate your decision.
Or, perhaps you own a shop and are thinking of opening up a second branch. You can use a poll to ask your customers where they’d like to see a new shop — and then use the votes to help determine which location would attract the most business.
When hosting an Instagram poll, you want to make sure it feels consistent with your brand. Not a designer? Not to worry! VistaCreate allows you to easily create on-brand social media graphics (including polls!).
2. Ask customers to weigh in on your next launch.
As a small business, there may come a time when you want to expand your offering of services or products. One way to ensure your new offerings are well-received is to ask customers to weigh in via social media.
By asking your customers for their insights and opinions on your next launch, you’re increasing the probability that whatever product or service you launch is going to connect and land with your audience — setting your business (and your new product or service!) up for success as a result.
There are a few different ways you can collect this feedback:
- Ask your customers what kind of products or services they’d like to see your business offer in the future — and then use their comments to drive your launch strategy.
- Once you’ve decided which product or service you’re going to launch, ask your customers for insights on things like launch date and packaging.
- Connect with customers on social media to beta test out your new product or service before launch and share feedback (that way, you can identify any potential issues before you release it on a wider scale).
3. Do some competitor research.
Social media can be a great way to engage with your customers. But social media also offers a great opportunity to see what your competitors are doing — and use that information to better serve your customers.
Take some time to research what your top competitors are doing on social media. Are there any brands or businesses that are doing particularly well — and, if so, what are they doing to engage their audience? While you don’t want to steal anyone’s social media strategy, researching what your competitors are doing can inspire your own ideas about promotions, products, services and trends.
For example, is one of your competitors killing it on Facebook with regular giveaways? You might consider doing a product giveaway to attract more followers. Are your customers particularly engaged with brands on TikTok? If you’re not currently TikTok-in, you should definitely consider becoming active on the platform — since that’s where your customers (and the opportunities) are. Has your biggest competitor gone viral on YouTube for their fun how-to videos? Consider developing an information video strategy to better reach your customers.
4. Use built-in analytics to learn more about your customers.
Today’s social media platforms offer robust analytics that can tell you everything from who is following your profile to what kind of content they’re engaging with. And if you want to learn more about your customers? Your social media analytics platforms are a great place to start.
Digging into social media analytics can give you key insights into your customer demographics and how they’re engaging with you on social media — insights you can use to optimise your social media strategy. For example, let’s say you’re focused on streaming live on Instagram. By checking out your analytics, you can get insight into when people are tuning in (and when they aren’t), which can help you determine the best time to stream and connect with the most customers. Or maybe you’re focused on creating video content for TikTok. As you create content, you can dive into the analytics to find out which videos are performing well and generating high levels of engagement — and then use those insights to tailor your video content to better connect with your customers and drive results.