Social Media is the New Focus Group

Ten years ago if a company wanted consumer insight they’d set up a focus group and provide some incentive for a small group of people to sit in a room for a few hours and answer questions about a product, service, or brand. Along with surveys, it was one of the only ways to find out what actual customers are thinking. Well, social media has changed all of that. Businesses that have a social media presence are now provided with customer feedback on a daily basis and the primary difference is that the customer is now in control.

Previously, marketers that created surveys or conducted focus groups only asked the questions that they wanted to hear the answers to. They steered the conversation in a certain direction to get the response that they were hoping for. The conversation can no longer be manipulated. Social media connections are now free to share their thoughts and opinions on any subject in a public place whenever they’d like.

While this may scare some companies away from getting involved in social media, that’s the wrong attitude to have. Customers determine success (or failure), why wouldn’t you want to hear what they have to say? Many businesses get this, and they encourage customer feedback. They get that social media is about communication and sharing thoughts, opinions, and ideas. It’s the next step that they sometimes miss, and that is actually listening to what their social media connections have to say. It’s one thing to just respond to customers, it’s another to actually take what they have to say into consideration.

When it comes to social media, it’s important to remember that most of your connections will not take the time to comment or send you a message. This means that you need to really pay careful attention to those that do because it’s very possible that they could represent the majority. If you simply dismiss their suggestions you could be missing out on huge business opportunities.

Of course there will always be some cranky people on social media that make it a point to try and bring you down. Don’t worry, those people will be just as recognizable to your other followers as they are to you. Even if it seems like they have a ridiculous suggestion or complaint, at least consider it and be sure to respond telling them that you have done so. What it really comes down to is making decisions that are best for your company. You may be surprised at just how helpful your social media connections can be in making those decisions.

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