Are Surveys Worth It for Startups?

Are Surveys Worth It for Startups?

Market research is critical for any business – but especially for fast-growing, nimble startups.

One of the first steps in the Lean Startup methodology is to research product/market fit. In other words, validate your ideas before you spend a fortune building a product.

Where many startups struggle is finding real customers to talk to. Established businesses have an established market to reach out to – startups often don’t. Surveying friends, family, small focus groups, and maybe a small number of existing customers is not enough to get you the market data you need to get real insights.

Don’t worry, startups. There is a way to expand your sample group and get better market insights.

Social Media to the Rescue

An effective way of expanding your research pool is by leveraging social media.

Building your brand on social media isn’t only great for your marketing and customer loyalty, it creates a ready-made pool of market research subjects.

The first step, of course, is developing your platform.

  1. Do your due diligence. Find out where your ideal customers are hanging out online. Are they primarily on Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn?
  2. Create your social media profile on targeted platforms. While it’s a good idea to set up an account on every popular social media platform just to claim your space there, focus your efforts on one or two (maximum three) platforms. Wherever your target customers are hanging out, this is where your startup needs to spend time.
  3. Spend the time to really engage on each platform. Hire a social media specialist if your founders or employees don’t have time to do this. But no matter who handles your social media, understand that it’s going to take time each day. This is not a once-a-month activity. You need to post content (your own and others’), answer questions, share your follower’s content and respond to requests – every day.

Once your social media presence is established and you are beginning to build a following, conversations there will take on a new level of value. You’ll gather insight and knowledge from your audience that can help you with everything from product improvement to marketing. It will be that much easier to stay in tune with customers’ wants and needs.

Most importantly, once you have a social media following, you can start sending out surveys to that audience. Now your survey results will be broader, provide you with better insights and incorporate a more realistic sampling of your target audience.

Online Communities Take Research to the Next Level

To get even more out of social media, you can connect it to a dedicated online community.

In this online community, followers can participate in surveys, talk to other community members via forums and chats, post blogs and rate others’ blogs. It turns your social media following into a source of insight for your company while creating a brand-building community. You can then tap this resource for more information before making big decisions about your marketing and product development.

In this online community, you can also:

  • Conduct better market research with online focus groups, diary studies and forum discussions
  • Send out surveys to targeted subjects
  • Gather qualitative data from moderated forums, chats and blogs
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