The application of social insight

20 Nov 2013
People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo  in Warsaw
Written by guest contributor Maz Nadjm, SoMazi

We all know how important market research is – trying to bring your product or service to the market is next to impossible if you don’t know who you’re selling to. You need to know who your customer is and what makes them tick. Market research dictates the way you position yourself in the market and how you go about promoting yourself and your business. But although it’s important, the problem with traditional market research is that it’s time consuming, laborious and often expensive. This is why many companies now look to the mass of information available on social media to provide in-depth, organic and up-to-the-minute insights into their brand, their customers and much more.

So, what are the benefits of using social media to gain marketing insights and what is the best way of turning this knowledge to your advantage? Here are a few thoughts and tips for you that hopefully will shed some light on the subject:

1.  Social media is as up-to-the-minute, and honest, as it gets.

Market research can be a slow and demanding task involving months of planning surveys or study groups to only be left with less than reliable insights due to the controlled environment nature of traditional methods. The beauty of social media is that everything happens in real-time and is organic. When people talk about products or brands on social media, they’re a lot more candid than they would be if they had a questionnaire put in front of them. So you can find out what people are saying about your brand within a matter of minutes. No more lengthy planning and execution of research, and no more contrived insights.

2.  Speak to your audience in their vernacular.

With platforms like Twitter, it’s incredibly easy to find people talking about your products or services. This provides you with fantastic insight into what customers find most appealing – or unattractive – about your brand, and specifically the way they talk about your product. Learn from this and use these insights to refine your future marketing campaigns – if you speak the language of your customer, you connect with them on a deeper level than if you just use the same old marketing jargon.

3.  Keep track of trends so you’re always up to date with your target audience.

More and more platforms are providing users with the ability to track trends – it’s not just a Twitter phenomenon. Facebook and Instagram can be just as useful, and therefore even the setting up of a few hashtag searches to notify you whenever your audience discusses key topics or terms relating to your business, can give you valuable new knowledge.

4.  You’ve got access to hundreds of millions of potential new customers. Why not broaden your scope?

I’m sure you’d be pretty hard pressed to find someone you know that doesn’t have at least one social media account. A recent report by Nielson suggests that 80% of people with Internet access use social media in some form. So when looking for insights why restrict yourself to one audience or market when you have access to hundreds, all across the world. With social media, you’ve got the power to tap into far more information, opinion and social knowledge than would ever have been possible with traditional market research – use that to your advantage.

5.   Don’t just listen to your audience – talk to them too.

It’s all very well to listen to what people are saying about your products, and there’s no doubt that this can provide useful insights, but when you engage with your target audience, you could discover trends or valuable information that wasn’t clear before. And this doesn’t mean just asking questions and waiting for answers there’s no need for you to lead the discussion; engage as an equal, discuss the issues with other users – you might be surprised what you can learn.

6.  Save yourself a considerable amount…

In the majority of cases, the only thing you’ll have to invest when using social media is time. Most platforms and tools are free to use, and even the ones that are not free are still ultimately cost effective. Think of how much it would cost you to plan and execute a series of studies, surveys, discussion groups or focus panels in comparison to how much it would cost to undertake similar research via social media, well, quite frankly, it doesn’t compare.

I have used numerous listening platforms over the years to help my clients to gain the audience insights they need to develop their social media and wider business strategies. A few of my favorites include:

  • socialbakers – a comprehensive wide ranging monitoring and tracking software tool.
  • Brandwatch – a simple and well supported listening software solution.
  • socialmention – simple, no frills and free, definitely worthy of consideration.

So, with all this in mind, why wouldn’t you focus your market research on social media insights? It’s cost-effective, organic, up-to-the-minute – and almost the antithesis of traditional market research. That’s not to say there’s no place for the more conventional methods, but there’s hundreds of millions of willing participants out there from across the globe on social media – it’s a veritable ocean of opinion and insight. Isn’t it time you got your feet wet?


Maz Nadjm (@Mazi) is the Founding Director of SoMazi (, a specialist consultancy which monetizes corporate social media and insight through awareness, technology and engagement. Maz was guiding organisations such as Sky, Ogilvy Group UK, News international and Chelsea FC to launch, structure, develop, monitor and profit from social media activity. In January 2012, Forbes named Maz as one of the world’s top 50 social media power influencers. Maz is also regularly asked to appear at seminars, conferences and on TV around the world to comment on the industry. Involved in the social media sector since its inception, he set up up 2Bmates, one of the UKs first social networks in 2004, followed in 2006 by Rareface, one of the UKs first social media agencies.