In today’s day and age, there’s hardly anyone not on social media. Statistics show that social media platforms are gaining users at an average rate of 7.2% per year. With such massive growth, social media has become an important source of information and insights. Brands and marketers are extensively using social media intelligence technology to dig into the deeper industry insights. Among the many methods used by brands for acquiring and analyzing data, social listening has the top position. Thanks to the reliable and quick results, social listening now offers an effective alternative to focus groups.
What are the Traditionally used Research Methods?
Business research has always been important. Whether it’s about a new product launch or user feedback, research plays an important role. Market research has come a long way from what it used to be. However, some traditional methods are still in practice.
User surveys have always been a useful technique. Whether in the pre-digital era or after it, surveys haven’t lost their importance. The medium has just changed. Instead of using paper forms, surveys are now served online, sent over email, or even via phone calls.
Surveys can have any number of questions depending on the extent of information that a business requires. With the right questions, surveys can offer a truckload of information to be processed.
2. Focus groups
The next most commonly used market research technique is the creation of focus groups. As the name suggests, these groups include a few people (usually 6-10) and a moderator who leads the group. Marketers choose participants depending on factors like demographics, purchase history, and others.
The moderation asks the participants a number of questions. These can be about a particular brand, their product(s)/service(s), their positive and negative aspects, and so on. These discussions provide details about user experience, satisfaction, needs, and more.
User interviews have always been useful in market research. Marketers contact users over the phone, email, or any other platform. Then, they interview them about their experience with a product or service or the brand itself. One-to-one interviews are quite personal and promise to offer insights directly from the customer. However, this is neither cost-effective nor time-efficient.
4. Public data
Brands and marketers can use public data that is available. This is referred to as secondary research. Data is available from
i.Government databases like Data.gov, UNICEF, etc. set up for public consumption
ii. Research papers and results published by other institutions or groups like Pew Research Center, NHS Digital, FDA, IMF, etc.
iii. Business directories like Glassdoor, Yelp, etc.
iv. Marketing sources like Graph API, Google Trends, etc.
v. Miscellaneous sources like Kaggle
This data, however, may not be available the way you want it but is free.
How Social Listening is a Better Focus Group Alternative?
Market research has changed with social listening. Results from social listening data surpass those obtained with traditional digital market research techniques. Let’s take a quick look at how social listening fares against other methods of data collection and analysis:
Social listening paves the way for better market research. There is no need to restrict the number of participants like in focus groups. Social listening tools can track, collect, and analyze data from thousands of people with ease. More participants mean more data accuracy and thus, better results. Also, social listening tools offer unbiased data which is useful for better brand management.
Social listening keeps you updated on everything that’s happening on social media. You can collect a variety of user-related data from social listening tools. This helps in making quick changes to brand messaging, curbing negative sentiments, etc.
Social listening ranks higher as it brings in unbiased information when compared to traditional methods. This is because the interviewee may become uncomfortable in a live focus group or an interview. Social listening helps to track genuine feedback using what users are expressing online without having to directly question them or influencing them in any manner.
Social listening can help to measure the success of your marketing campaigns. Coupled with other techniques, social listening offers businesses a better estimation of their ROI. This is very important when we want to understand the success of any marketing campaign and create new ones.
For many businesses, social listening has proved to be the best alternative to focus groups and other research methods. With much fewer resources, brands have successfully edged past competitors with the right use of social listening.