Learning the A-Z of Social Media Research: How to Smartly Get Actionable Customer Data

Learning the A-Z of Social Media Research: How to Smartly Get Actionable Customer Data
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Social media research has become as important as any other methods of research now. Thanks to the ever-increasing number of users on social media, the need to research the space has become important for every business that desires growth. Essentially, social media research is the process of analyzing various social media platforms to conduct quantitative and qualitative research to understand a target audience better and procure reliable data about them.
Social media is definitely the new ‘big thing’ amongst marketers today, and every aspiring marketing professional needs to know the basics of social media research. Well, you have come to the right place.
We will be walking you through the various aspects of social media research and how it should be conducted.
Dive in!

Learning A-Z of Social Media Research

Social media research vs other market research: why social media research

Social media research refers to the form of research conducted using social media whereas, in other research methodologies like qualitative or quantitative research, the researchers will have to depend on options like focus groups.
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Social media is one of the best paths to access the true opinions and feelings of users. This quality is something that alternative research methods lack. As mentioned earlier, in qualitative or quantitative research, the associated researchers will have to collect these opinions through focus groups or surveys.
This is why you can collect a great amount of data almost instantly via social media and then analyze it. However, such an analysis will require in-depth knowledge of people’s online behavior but otherwise has a similar analysis format as qualitative or quantitative research.
Machine learning and AI are currently the area of social media research wherein researchers are trying to learn how the mentioned areas can increase the speed of data collection. Machine learning and AI can help train algorithms to speed up analysis by organizing data.

What is the prominence of social media research in the current business scenario?

Home to more than 3 billion users, social media is the place that can make or break your business. From building and improving your brand’s online presence to understanding the market for introducing new products, social media research can help your business in several ways. In fact, social media research helps you analyze and understand the way the platforms are being used, the communications taking place, and trends of behavior. Today, even academic research has started relying on social media.
Social media behavior and trends have become an integral part of marketing. It is an important resource for procuring insightful information that can go a long way in the planning and execution of marketing campaigns. Thousands of users share their opinions, thoughts, needs, and experience on a daily basis. Objective social media research gives you a clear view of your marketing ideas and identifies opportunities that can help increase reach and engagement. You can also measure the performance of your campaign and gain ROI effectively through social media analysis.

Use cases: How all Social media research can help you

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Businesses can uncover several use cases with the help of social media research methods. Given below are some of the best use cases of social media research:
  • For product/service development
    • Social media research helps you dive deep into the world of your target customers, thereby aiding in your product development process. Analyze the trends and behavioral signals from social media audiences to understand how you should develop your product and where exactly it would fit in. After the development of the product, you can rely on social media research again to understand the behavior and affinities of your targeted users to facilitate communication and offer experiences that work.
  • Improving Customer service
    • Social media research helps you get a view of your customer’s opinion about your brand and products. You can understand what they need, what they dislike, and keep track of their complaints in order to improve your customer service.
  • Procure new customers
    • Use social media research to get a deeper understanding of your customers. Find out their opinions, lifestyles, habits, and interests along with other demographics. By doing so, you can create better methods of marketing and communication to stand a chance to attract more customers to your brand. Social media research can also help you monitor the conversations and discussions taking place in your niche.
  • Identify micro-influencers
    • Influencer Marketing is the new trend now. Businesses use this methodology too often. Finding macro-influencers for your brand can mean spending a lot of money. Through social media research, you can find micro-influencers who follow your brand. They can easily promote your product with more conviction. When you research and build panels of influencers, you build relationships with micro-influencers who actually create an impact within their community.
  • Target audience according to demographics
    • Through social media research, you can track the demographics of users like gender, age, nationality, and more. By finding the demographics of users, you can easily segment and target the audience enabling you to provide products and services that cater to the likes of the audience as per the demographical data obtained.
  • Analyze competitors
    • Social media research is one of the best ways to get a top-level view of how your competitors function and approach certain topics. By analyzing your competition you can create superior plans to approach your audience and win them.
  • Professor Research Papers
    • Professors can also leverage social media research and find relevant changes and trends taking place in the areas and topics they are specialized in. Methods like surveys and polls in social media platforms can help gain relevant opinions of the users concerning a particular topic. The professors can even categorize their findings according to demographics.
  • Ph.D. Student Research Papers
    • A good portion of social media research users are academics and a third of them are Ph.D. students. Ph.D. students can also conduct social media research to learn more about the audience related to their specific topic of research. Students can avoid depending excessively on focus groups and other methods of research that consume a lot of time. They can either conduct a survey, poll, or use any other methodology for their social media research and find honest opinions, traits, and behavior of the targeted audience.

Methodology: Tips on how to do social media research effectively

A variety of social media research methods can be applied, but to ensure success, you need to follow certain tips and tricks. Here are 5 super-useful tips that can help do social media research effectively:
  • Define target
    • Social media research can truly help brands and products gather some very useful insights into consumer behavior. Before all that, you also need to know what exactly you want to know about your customers.
      Yes, you need to define a target goal and should have a clear understanding of what information the business wants. You must state what information your business wants to procure about areas like product research, product launch, behavioral insights of the target audience, customer service, and buyer personas. The information targeted by each of the mentioned areas should be listed out and then taken forward.
  • Clean data
    • Your social media research is never complete without cleaning your data. Data cleaning is the process in which you identify misleading, irrelevant, and incomplete data in the gathered set and modify your parameters to pertain more to the precise data you have in hand. Though it may sound simple, data cleaning needs all your attention, and it’s quite time-consuming to recognize unwanted data in a huge set of significant trends.
      For instance, Target (a large US store), may have a more tedious time cleaning their data, because the word is commonly used both as a verb and noun apart from being used as a brand name.
      Data cleaning helps you procure reliable quantitative social media data and gauge the relevant mentions, reach, shares, and other metrics in social media.
  • Structured and planned analysis
    • Social media consists of a large number of users. Therefore, you need to have a clear picture of how you are going to research social media users. The plan should be able to define the purpose of researching the audience and set the parameters of what result will be delivered. Aimless and unstructured research may not take you anywhere.
  • Ask Interesting questions while surveying
    • The aim is to know what people think and for that you need your target audience to respond to you.
      You must remember that everybody does not have the time or patience to cater to your research needs. It is you who should engage them in a manner that will compel them to answer your research questions. The obvious solution for it is to ask your audience relevant questions that can arouse their interest in your research.
      Also, ask one question at a time. Don’t try to stuff or merge many questions and make them into one. It can confuse your audience and consequently, they may not answer your questions.
  • Choose the right tool and the right agencies
    • Well, it is not always possible to conduct social media research on your own, especially if you run a large business. You might opt for some help either in the form of social media research tools or agencies. When you do so, make sure you select the right tool and the right agency for their service, because you just can’t afford mistakes when it comes to research.
      A business needs a tool or a partner agency that can help them procure a high volume of actionable data and clean the data when necessary. So, when you select a tool or even an agency for help, make sure they fulfill the aforementioned requirements.

Best practices for using social media to conduct research on various social media platforms

Now that we have covered the various ways to conduct social media research effectively. Let’s discuss the best practices to be used in prominent social media channels.


Facebook is clearly one of the most popular and powerful social media platforms that we have today. It has been helping businesses collect a goldmine of information about its users, their demographics, and past purchase behavior for a long time now.
So, how do you find this bank of information on Facebook?
You can access it using Facebook Audience Insights.
This agile tool helps you analyze and create your own custom audiences based on either all the Facebook users or just those who already follow your page. When you visit Audience Insights, Facebook will ask you questions like which is the group you prefer to analyze. You can choose the people who currently follow your page if you are in the process of developing a buyer persona.


Like Facebook, Twitter also has its tool called Twitter Analytics. Through Twitter Analytics, you can analyze tweets to understand what kind of content your followers respond to, their behavior, and trends.
The Account Home in Twitter delivers you a report card that lists the top-performing tweets of each month. You can also leverage an audience insights feature to find actionable data about the audience to build buyer personas and develop ads effectively. The social media platform also offers tools like Twitter Trends and Search that allows you to find relevant discussions happening on the platform and track hashtags.


Linkedin also provides you with super-useful analytical data. Go to your company’s Linkedin page and click on the Analytics tab. You can find information like industries your followers work in, their company, the seniority within their company, etc.
Moreover, Linkedin also lists the best performing content along with finding out how many followers you gained through ads.


Instagram lets you understand more about its audience behavior through some data points like impressions, reach, video views, and saves, etc. pertaining to specific posts. Another great feature of Instagram allows you to analyze the followers as per their demographics.
If you are a novice at social media research and don’t know which topic to focus on, you may want to go through this list.
Here’s listing out some of the most common yet popular social media research topics:
  • Managing social media pressure among celebrities
  • Personal branding
  • Corporate image
  • Influence of social media on crime
  • Influencer marketing
  • Strategies for creating a strong online presence
  • How to use search engines to rank high
  • Mental illnesses and social set up
  • Online communities and their power
  • The impact of technology on journalism
  • Journalism ethics: good news versus bad news.
  • Advertising as communication.

What are the most common social media research questions asked?

As we mentioned earlier, only the right questions can engage your audience and help you procure the right answers. Therefore, the role of a questionnaire in social media research is really important. Here are some of the most asked social media research questions that have helped garner an ample number of responses.
  1. Considering your complete experience with social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.), how likely are you to recommend it to your family and friends?
  1. Please rate the following social media websites on a scale from 0-10
  1. How often do you check-in to your social media accounts in any given week?
  1. Which of the following social media websites do you currently have an account with?
  1. How many hours a day do you spend on social networking sites?
  1. What are the personal benefits of using social networking sites?
  1. Is checking social media the last thing you do before going to bed
  1. What is your go-to device to access your social media feed?
  1. How often do you post on social media?
  1. Do you think privacy policies are effective in social networking sites?

Get Social Media Insights in the Most Cost-effective Way

As mentioned earlier, social media research cannot be done by a single team if your organization is quite big and requires a lot of data to come to a pragmatic conclusion. If you come under that section, we would advise you to opt for a tool or an agency to make the most of your social media research.
If Facebook is your primary area of social media research, then we would surely suggest you to try Surveybot, a social media research tool and survey builder that depends predominantly on Facebook and Workplace by Facebook.
This native chatbot helps you garner much higher response rates than conventional tools. We can say that with much confidence because not only does it help you prepare engaging questions, but allows your respondents to take surveys in Messenger itself, without leaving the comfort of Facebook. It means the surveys are going to be quick, easy to fill in, and highly engaging, which in turn means one thing; higher response rates in the most cost-effective manner.
Sounds too good to be true? Then why don’t you find it out yourself? Sign up with Surveybot now!
Johnny Tong

Written by

Johnny Tong

Chief Human @ Surveybot