When a consumer likes a brand or company, unless it’s just to get a coupon or enter a sweepstakes, there’s a good chance that they have a vested interest in that brand and are eager to interact and have their opinions heard. Engaging these fans and followers can prove invaluable for brands, often yielding insights not possible to uncover through traditional focus groups. I read an article yesterday on AdAge stating that loyal customers favor Facebook (41% of respondents) most to stay in contact and up to date about a brand.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Don’t overuse these questions and bore your fans with endless surveys. You want to leverage this engaged audience without abusing your relationship.
- Really listen, and follow up: look for the bonus insights that hide behind the questions you asked and the answers you get. Also, probe into responses; you’ll get more out of answers, and your followers will feel validated knowing that their tastes and opinions are important.
- Get creative. You don’t need to ask a question to get good feedback. Be bold, and field test new positioning, propositions, and campaign directions.
- Think outside your product. Post news items and interesting features to gain a more detailed perspective on the passion points that naturally engage your followers.
- Don’t fire your research vendor. Social focus groups are valuable, but they can’t extract the same depth as a seasoned researcher. When you’re fishing for ideas, social media makes a great net. But, it’s not the harpoon that can spear the critical discovery.
- Stay in control. Sometimes people don’t know what they want. It’s easy to go overboard and crowd-source your Big Idea, resulting in a diffuse, impotent message. Know what you want to accomplish before you engage.
- Save some tests for the real focus group. Whether it’s a trade secret or campaign you’re not ready to share, there are some things that are best kept out of the social space. Expect that anything you say or share will become public knowledge, and know when to say no.
Good to be back!