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What is social media research?

Social media research is a method of analysing social media data to gather useful insights. This can involve interpreting engagement metrics, follower data or conducting social listening to understand more about your brand’s performance on social media and what matters to your followers.

How to conduct social media research?

Although it is possible to collect social media data from each major platform natively, for more sophisticated analysis it is beneficial to use a social media analytics tool.

Social media research tools have become increasingly advanced, with many now incorporating quantitative and qualitative data as well as AI technology to uncover insights into how users interact with different social media channels. The best tool to use will depend on the type of social media research you wish to conduct and what you’re hoping to find out.

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Types of social media research

  • Social listening
  • Social Analytics
  • Audience Intelligence

Social Listening

Social Listening is the process of monitoring conversations on social media by tracking keywords and hashtags or audiences and using Natural Language Processing to derive insights. This type of social media research can help you to understand what matters most to your audience, identify pain points and uncover trending topics that you can leverage in your marketing efforts.

Social Listening also enables you to track brand mentions and understand how social media users perceive your business, or gauge their reaction to recent campaigns using sentiment analysis.

Audience Intelligence can help you to leverage and enhance your Social Listening by creating specific panels (consisting of influencers and target audience segments) to monitor and gather further insights from.

Social Analytics

Social analytics involves measuring, analysing and interpreting social metrics to understand how users interact with different social media platforms. There are multiple different measurables including likes, comments, follower growth and impressions, which can be used to track performance against set KPIs.

Social analytics is particularly useful when conducting social research on competitors and benchmarking your brand’s social performance.

Audience Intelligence

Audience Intelligence is the newest category to be officially recognised by G2, with audience intelligence platforms like Audiense deemed “an important technology piece in the larger social intelligence tech stack”.

Although not strictly a type of social media research in itself, Audience Intelligence combines different types of social research with a range of other data sources and machine learning to provide powerful insights about your audience. Audience Intelligence analyses and segments audiences into clusters, before drilling down into behaviours, affinities and attitudes to build comprehensive personas.

Learn more about our tool Audiense Insights.

How your business can use social media research

Campaign planning

Conducting social media research can help to ensure that your campaign will really resonate with your audience. Are your audience engaged with the topic, is the tone right, where is the opportunity? Audience intelligence and social listening can uncover these insights, helping to inform the theme, content and messaging of your campaign, as well as the best amplification strategy for each social channel.

Competitor insights

How does your brand measure up against your competitors? Analysing share of voice data, brand mentions and conversations around competitor campaigns can help you to identify the areas they are performing best in. Using this analysis, you can devise different strategies to deploy which provide an alternative or more engaging take on a topic or theme that competitors perform well for.

With audience intelligence, you can also compare your audience with that of your competitors to find overlapping audiences that you can target with your content.

Follower growth and driving website traffic

How do you reach potential customers who have never heard of your brand? Social media research enables you to find out more about who these people are, what they like, their interests and habits so you can understand the best way to talk to them and draw them in.

You can also uncover important insights about your existing followers which can inform themes and topics for campaigns to keep them engaged.

Discovering micro-influencers

Social media research is a great way to uncover passionate advocates of your brand who can act as micro influencers within their online communities. Social media is becoming increasingly saturated with influencers, so finding authentic micro or nano influencers who are genuine fans of your brand can help you to stand out from the competition.

Improving your product or offering

What do your existing customers really think about your brand? Social listening can surface conversations from your customers about what they do or don’t like about your product or service, which can help inform possible tweaks or product enhancements.

In the same way, you can overlay social media conversations with audience intelligence to identify pain points and purchasing habits, which can underpin your product marketing strategy.

Combining different types of social media research

Transforming social insights into actions is powerful. In order to provide a best-in-class insights-to-activation solution we work with Pulsar and Meltwater. These integrations enable you to leverage social listening and audience intelligence together, combining Audience insights, Conversation insights, Owned channel analytics, and Media activation.

Such integrations allow you to combine the very best in audience monitoring with market-leading audience identification and audience segmentation. Learn more here.

Try Audiense Insights for free.

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Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash.