Social media moves at the speed of light, and marketers have done an admirable job at keeping pace. Now that you have your social media bearings in this fast-paced inbound marketing world, consider another use for social media: collecting critical feedback that advances your business objectives quickly.
Social media gives you the ability to get the kind of quick feedback inbound marketers require to stay agile. We looked back on all the creative ways we've used social media over the years to problem solve and help us meet our marketing and business goals, and some of them have proved to be really helpful. So we thought we'd share them with you! Here are some of the ways you can leverage social networks beyond your typical posts and updates.
Collect Product Feedback
When rolling out a new product or making changes to features of your existing product, it's common to experience backlash among your current customer base. Just look at, well, every new feature Facebook rolls out. While much of the hoopla dies down pretty quickly after customers adjust to the change, sometimes there are legitimate user experience and design issues that your team didn't identify during development.
Leverage your network before launching products to solicit the feedback of people you trust. The great thing about social media is that your network probably consists of not only current customers, but also prospects, target customers, and industry influencers. Getting a wide range of feedback on new products and features -- whether they are easy to use, whether they are worth developing in the first place, or what should be next in your development queue -- helps keep your ear to the ground and get the all-important community buy-in for greater adoption rates at launch time.
Host a Focus Group
Effective focus groups have segmented audiences, and many social networks have advanced in such a way that there is sufficient functionality to perform your own R&D. For example, you could use Google+ circles to segment people by industry or location to better target your questions. Or consider holding a Twitter Chat to delve deeper into a user-generated suggestion; you can even let one of your community's power users co-moderate the chat with you.
Focus groups, because they require feedback from an audience that fits specific criteria, make their participants feel inherently special. They're fantastic ways to get people actively involved in the success of your brand while simultaneously soliciting quick feedback that helps you advances your business objectives.
Conduct Surveys and Polls
Ask people in your social network to share their opinions on a critical issue through a survey or poll. Check out how DoubleTree is improving its service offerings (and its fan base and social media engagement while they're at it) by asking its social community to complete a short survey. The company starts by tweeting a link to the survey with its hashtag, #LittleThings. It's a Promoted Tweet, which shows DoubleTree cares enough to spend money on getting the public's feedback. Also notice how many retweets it has already received as people share the survey with their friends.
The link takes you to DoubleTree's Facebook page, where you're asked to Like the page to complete the survey. And you know what? I'm just opinionated enough to do it.
Once the survey is complete, DoubleTree does two smart things. First, they say "thank you" -- in really, really big letters. Second, they show a live tweet stream of the #LittleThings hashtag and invite you to join the discussion back on Twitter.
Not only is DoubleTree generating valuable feedback that will help improve their service offerings, but they're also integrating two social channels to get some great social buzz going about their brand.
Ask Industry Experts
One of the reasons you're using social media is to expand and strengthen your network, so take advantage of your reach to get answers from the best of the best. Need to know how to set up a PPC campaign? Skip Google, and ask someone in your network to introduce you to the best PPC campaign manager in town. Not only are you getting helpful advice, but you're also meeting someone new and influential and strengthening your relationship with your mutual contact.
Source Blog Content
Suffering from writer's block? Visit your social network to source blog content! I did this just yesterday when I asked connections in my network to share their most common blogging challenges. Their responses helped me frame the post around real-life challenges (some people even provided their solutions to those challenges, making my job even easier!) and the result was content that more directly addresses the actual problems people are facing. This method can also be used to develop topic ideas when you're struggling to come up with a meaningful post. Go to your networks, and ask what kind of content your fans and followers would like to see on your blog, and you'll have a topic (or several) that you know will resonate with your audience.
Developing personas is a crucial part of a successful inbound marketing strategy. Instead of starting from scratch, ask members of your social networks questions that will help you narrow down your target audience and draft personas. Ask about pain points, demographic information, what they find valuable in products and services of your sort, and even what they like to do on the weekends to paint a better, more relatable picture for your sales and marketing teams.
If you've already developed personas but would like to refine them as questions about your target audience's characteristics arise, ask for responses from fans and followers that meet specific criteria. For example, you might post to your Facebook wall "If you're a female office administrator out of college in the last five years, we're curious to know what you majored in as an undergraduate." As with the focus groups, your network will feel special if they fall into that very small niche and get excited about providing you information. After all, who doesn't like to talk about themselves?
Monitor Brand Mentions
Monitor mentions of your brand and your competitors. By seeing when your brand name is discussed on social media, you can give instant customer support and feedback to people having issues with your product or service, regardless of whether they contacted you for help. And by monitoring competitive mentions, you can also capitalize on customers who are unhappy with other brands in your industry. Learn why they're dissatisfied, and see if you can provide a better solution for them. At the very least, you can learn how to differentiate yourself from competitors; in the best circumstances, you can nurture them as a lead and turn them into your new favorite customer!
Share the creative ways you've used social media to gather crucial feedback from your audience, and let us know how it helped your business!
Image credit: opportplanet