We all know what a focus group is. Many of us have participated in them. I remember years ago signing up for them and being paid $100 for participating in them. The definition of a Focus Group, according to the dictionary is a demographically diverse group of people assembled to participate in a guided discussion about a particular product before it is launched, or to provide ongoing feedback on a political campaign, television series, etc. Wow, if you read that, it screams “SOCIAL MEDIA.”
A demographically diverse group of people: well if that doesn’t describe social media, I am not sure what does. When Facebook started back in 2004, it was made for just the Harvard students, but soon after they added other colleges. The diversity of students started all talking to each other, giving their opinions on pictures and ideas. Then in 2005 they started letting High School networks in. 2006 they started letting company networks in like Apple and Microsoft. Then in September 2006, on Facebook’s blog, they announced it was letting the public in.
This opened up to millions of people and slowly it was developed for other countries to be involved also. What this shows, is that a diverse group of people , from all around the world, regardless of race, age, and geographical positions were able to connect and talk. Ideas, politics, religion, business, it didn’t matter what, this opened up discussions.
Now the next part: “Assembled to participate in guided discussions“, shows the connections being made. Whether it was on a Fan Page,(old name for Business page), or a Group Page, or even a profile page, the likes, comments and sharing functions showed peoples thoughts.
And then: “Or to provide ongoing feedback“, this helps similiar to participate in a guided discussion, but opens the door for using the feedback to make a better widget, product , or service. We always say ideas can come from anywhere, well, focus groups are the biggest forms to gather data.
Social Media is one big Focus group! Where else can you post content, and get instant feedback? Whether you do this on your profile page, business page, group page, or even a social media ad, this all gives you instant feedback.
But, the real question to all people using Social Media for business is: Are you looking at it this way? Many businesses are broadcasting their content. They post to keep the public eye looking at them and what they want to say. The problem is that is what a website is for, not Social Media. By using these platforms all people want, is to be able to connect with you. When they comment, like or share, they are telling you what they think of your content. But very few are engaging back with them. I understand the excuses of it takes too much time but, imagine the relationships you build with people if you did. Social Media is ALL about relationships.
So how do we use Social Media as a focus group for your business? Actually it is more simpler than people think it is. Instead of just posting to get your message across, find out what your audience wants to know.
So the next time you are posting on your Social Media platforms, think about it before you post. Are you just broadcasting your information or are you trying to engage with people? Remember if you are not willing to engage with people, why should they engage with you.
Use Social Media for building engagement and ideas. The sales will come, but first we need to talk with each other and not just play the numbers game. In the long term, building relationships will work.
If you are looking for help, please feel free to reach out to me.
Robert C. Stern is the CEO and Founder of The Social Leader. Helping companies and individuals harness the power of Social Media for Business. Please Like us on our Facebook Page or follow us on Twitter.