Are you working on a new business or perhaps have an idea for a product or service you’d like to test out in a real setting?
By GEORGE SPAIN-WARNER
Facebook groups are a goldmine when it comes to conducting market research. With over 620 million Facebook groups there’s literally a group for every niche and sub-niche you can think of, whether you’re interested in social media management for healthcare professionals or you’re a hairdresser specializing in 80s hairstyles, there’s a group for everyone on Facebook!
With such highly specific groups of people all congregating together in one place it’s hardly surprising brands and businesses have caught word of their potential. Facebook groups pose an extremely attractive opportunity for companies as they allow them to reach incredibly targeted audiences and focus in on particular demographics and psychographics, making them perfect for fresh faced entrepreneurs looking to test out their ideas in a live setting.
Another great advantage of these groups is they are risk-free; it costs nothing to create a group and start adding people, or to join other groups and begin asking questions.
Without further ado let’s jump into the steps to getting your proof of concept!
Step #1: Search for pre-existing groups in your niche/sub-niche
It can be tempting to want to start your own group right away to enable you to begin pooling candidates for conducting market research. However, more often than not you’ll find pre-existing groups very similar to the one you want to create that already have hundreds, if not thousands of members. These are the perfect places to start since all the work has already been done for you.
Let’s use an example to illustrate; imagine you are looking to start your own social media marketing agency for dentist practices. First of all, you need to search for keywords within Facebook to find relevant groups where dentists are discussing the problems they face when it comes to social media.
You could search for keywords or phrases like “dentist social media”, “dentist marketing” and “healthcare professionals’ social media”.
If there are groups dedicated to your niche or sub-niche then you’re off to a good start. The preliminary signs that a problem exists are starting to show.
Step #2: Using existing groups to communicate with your target market
The next step is to become an active member within these digital communities. By doing so you build your credibility as someone whose opinion can be trusted and is worth listening to. More importantly, you’ll be perceived as someone worth engaging with.
How do you do this?
A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute found the best way to gain people’s trust is to provide genuinely valuable content through content marketing. Using this knowledge, you have two options when interacting and building your authority in these groups.
Post Original Content
Posting original content to groups can be a great way to start a conversation, encourage comments and start building your status as a trustworthy figure. There’s near to unlimited post styles available to you from questions and polls to quizzes and surveys.
If you aren’t sure where to start then use the search function to find examples of high performing posts to get to grips with what format drives engagement in the group.
To give an example, in the case of the 80s hairstylist mentioned earlier, they may choose to join 80s style and appreciation groups, providing value in the form of styling video tutorials and fun examples of the different hairstyles from that era. Perhaps even by creating a quiz to test people’s knowledge.
The goal of which is to generate buzz and excitement around the topic so you can start to make insights about the level of interest and potential size of the market.
Interact with Existing Content
You don’t always need to start a conversation by posting content. Try making use of the search function to find instances where you can weigh in your knowledge on the topic and provide value that way instead.
If executed correctly these types of group engagement offer a unique opportunity to surreptitiously gather data on your target market. Whether you want to test the waters and see if the problem you plan on solving is one that burns fiercely in the hearts and minds of your potential customers, or whether you want to assess if they are currently satisfied with a substitute on the market, you can covertly discover all from the right Facebook group.
Step #3: Create your own group
Note: It’s not always necessary to create your own group, instead you can ask the right questions within other ones. Feel free to miss this step if you like, you’ll still be able to get the same end results.
Though, it may be that upon gathering your initial responses and data from other groups that you decide to start to pool the people most interested in your niche. This is the perfect time to set up your own group.
When creating a Facebook group for a new start-up you essentially have two options: (1) create a brand-specific group centred around your product or service idea, or (2) create a niche/sub-niche specific group focusing instead on the problem itself.
There really isn’t a right answer here, both work for all kinds of niches and business ideas. In our experience we’ve found it easier to engage people when you come to them with a focus on their problem. Ultimately this makes sense because the consumer isn’t concerned with your brand specifically, but the desired end the product or service helps them accomplish.
There are benefits to both kinds of groups and it may make sense to use a combination of both, however for the purposes of market research it’s good to get people’s honest opinions which are generally easier to acquire when they are not under the pretence of being sold something.
Step #4: Collect the Data
When conducting market research there are a few key questions to consider:
How large is the target market? Is it saturated? Is there a measurable desire for the problem to be solved? Will the product or service actually solve this problem?
One of the most important parts of market research is knowing what questions to ask. Take some time to jot down all the questions that, if answered, you’d be able to predict with confidence the success of your product or service.
Once you’ve got your core questions down the next challenge comes from finding an engaging and alluring way of asking the questions so as many people as possible answer them.
Perhaps the most common way of collecting data is through surveys and google forms. One fantastic way to hack this strategy is to offer group members an incentive when filling out the survey. An example that crops up time and time again is using an Amazon Gift Card as a prize. This works so well because most people use Amazon and, thus the benefit extends to a wider range of people.
Another option is to look at the three well-known types of content used to engage with audiences: inspirational, educational and entertaining. When considering each question you need your target market to answer, think about whether to frame it in an inspirational, educational or entertaining way. Posing your questions using a mixture of these content types will keep your audience engaged and make them more likely to provide the answers you need.
Step #5: Analyse the Data
Now you need to look at the data you’ve got and assess whether the size of the market and your proposed solution will truly solve the problems faced by your customer. To do this you need to ask the right questions to assess the level of interest and whether it’s enough for you to move to the development phase.
Use these three simple questions to guide you:
1) Were people generally interested in the area?
2) Is the target market large enough?
3) Did people see value in my solution?
If you have three yes answers then you can safely move to the development phase!
If you’ve used this tactic for conducting risk-free market research and find that the target market is large enough and there’s a strong demand for a solution to the problem, then having already created a Facebook group and pooled interested people into a community will mean you have your first customers waiting for you before you’ve even begun!
People often hear “market research” and think of endless spreadsheets and scientific studies; however, the truth is anyone with an idea they’d like validated can make use of Facebook groups to make a prediction on whether it is worth developing.
Thanks for reading!
“A.K.A. Green Lantern, I am a Co-founder of Kinsume, the world’s first eco-affiliate marketplace, and Author of the Exploratree Marketing Blog. Our ethos is there’s always a win-win, which is why we’ve given our marketing platform and blog tree planting initiatives. Learn more about us and our story here.“