Are You Using Social Media To Research Your Market?

By John Hogg


Blog Enlighten IC

Did you know you can actually research your audience on Social Media?

In our latest instalment of ‘8 Steps To B2B Social Media Success’, we are focusing on ‘Research’.

At first glance this may appear similar to last week’s blog, “Listening to your network” but where listening is trying to identify what your audience is thinking, saying and doing, this week’s blog is aimed at businesses in the B2B market trying to ‘define’ who their target audience actually is.

You could technically categorise it all as research but we’re trying to make a distinction between understanding who your market is and finding out what they’re saying. Two very worthwhile endeavours!

Using Social Media to research your B2B market: Who is your audience?

So, here’s a question for you - you’re actively engaged in social media for your company - do you actually know your audience bar a few loose anecdotes about the companies that make up your sector or have you ever sat down and carried out a detailed analysis of your market?

Who are the people you are tweeting to? Who is reading your Facebook posts? If you don’t know you could be wasting your time or at best simply educating a lot of strangers with no bearing on or interest in what your business is about. By understanding who your audience is you can start to think about what makes them tick and with this knowledge you can start to talk about the issues that are pertinent to them and in a tone of voice that should hopefully resonate and cause them to engage.

Please Note: when we say ‘your audience’ we mean customers, potential customers and other stakeholders and interested parties that may have an influence on your future success. Make sure you don’t just look at your customers, think past this to understand all of the key players.

Using Social Media to research your B2B market: How do you find your audience?

In the B2B market it would be fair to assume you already have a target list of companies you want to go after. If not, or there are a few gaps you’d like to plug, or if you are stepping into a new territory, then why not hit your social media networks to see who is there? In the first instance, let’s just look for the companies on social media that match your ideal customer profile, but once you’ve done this you can take it even further by trying to look behind the company at the types of people who work for them. See what they are interested in and find out what they are posting about.

With most people keeping their Facebook profiles private these days, Facebook probably won’t be a good source of this type of information unless you’re already a friend and in saying that most people tend to keep their Facebook posts to personal topics anyway. In the B2B market you will be limited to looking at what the company has been posting on their Facebook company page, although don’t be put off as this is still useful information to be aware of. Facebook can still be useful for B2B marketing!

On the other hand, with LinkedIn and to a certain extent Twitter, you will be able to glean quite a bit of useful information about the people who are behind the companies you are targeting. You may spot that you went to the same school or university, you may see a shared contact who could introduce you, but in addition to this you will see what they are talking about and what they are interested, so should be fortunate enough to get in front of them you can have meaningful conversations about topics they are interested in. It will also help you to build your content around the issues relevant to them.

This alone is a very powerful reason for using social media for your B2B marketing and can help you to improve your lead conversion ratios and increase sales.

So to summarise:

  • Look at your existing target list and try to find them online
  • Look for new targets on your social media networks that match your typical target company profile
  • Identify the people behind the companies
  • Do not underestimate the power of this information!

Using Social Media to research your B2B market: what about YOU?

Another tangible benefit of B2B social media is that you can research YOU! How do your customers find your products and services? Where do you sit in the marketplace? You can also look at how your own social media activities are coming across and how effective it is. Who is engaging with your message? We recommend you actively track your online persona so you are always on top of what your market thinks. This is one of the beauties of social media and all things digital, you now have an excellent opportunity to continually review and assess what works and what doesn’t so you can continue to make improvements as you develop. This constant feedback loop is an invaluable source of information and one that most marketers have been crying out for for years.

Using Social Media to research your B2B market: who are your competitors?

Unless you are moving into a new territory or market, you will most probably be aware of your competitors. Following our listening blog last week you should therefore already be aware of the benefits of regularly listening to your competitors and understanding their social media voice. For new markets and territorities it will be the same process of trying to identify the companies in the same space as you and monitoring their company activity along with that of their key employees.

Using Social Media to research your B2B market: marketing research

Owing to the vast networks of people all interconnected through social media, it goes without saying that this presents an excellent opportunity to conduct marketing research across your market. In addition to face to face interviews, sending out email questionnaires or posting paper questionnaires, you now have the choice of harnessing the reach of social media networks in a relatively inexpensive manner to obtain the opinions, views and behaviours on a whole host of attributes for your chosen market.

In Conclusion

We have only skimmed the surface of the possibilities that social media can present to B2B companies in order to research the market in which they operate. We hope you have found it stimulating and can take something away to put into practice in your own business. If you feel there is anything missing that you would like us to add, feel free to let us know. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss any aspect in more detail or how you could apply these ideas to you own area of business feel free to drop us a line and get in touch. We’d be happy to help.

Be sure to check back next week when we be looking at how you can leverage the power of social media marketing to increase awareness for B2B companies.

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John Hogg Enlighten IC

John Hogg

John is managing director of Enlighten IC and has been involved in legal marketing and technology marketing for over 25 years. He is passionate about how an inbound approach to marketing can help firms to drive leads and grow their business.

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