With Facebook’s nearly 1 billion active users, it’s easily the world’s most valuable social networking site, and home to a wealth of information that’s valuable for businesses.
And while most marketers still primarily use Google for information about their target market, many haven’t yet realized the value of Facebook’s search function.
On Facebook, people discuss products, brands, and services, then recommend them across a vast “warm market”. This wealth of information is searchable on Facebook and can be easily filtered to glean gold nuggets of information.
Facebook provides businesses with a powerful market research tool to learn more about their target customers and even their competitors.
Let’s explore some of Facebook’s features for market research.
#1 Mine information about people and companies using Facebook’s Search feature
You can search just about anything and anyone on Facebook using its Search feature. Facebook’s Search box is located on top of the page right next to the notification buttons.
To search for people, topics or companies:
- Enter the name of the person, topic or company you wish to know more about in the search box. Facebook will automatically show search result suggestions.
- Click on the “See more results for (company name)” at the bottom of the search suggestion results.
- On the search results page, you’ll find Search Filters on the left.
- To get to the results you need, click on People to look for a specific person, Pages to get to a company or a person’s page, Places for specific locations, etc.
Facebook’s Search feature is also the perfect tool to size up the overall sentiment of people regarding any product, brand, person, or topic by clicking on Public Posts.
#2 Take the pulse of the market with Facebook Questions
Utilize Facebook Questions to find out exactly what people want. You can survey people on specific issues such as questions about a favorite restaurant, favorite hotel, pets, and even current events.
Facebook Questions is a great tool to help you understand the market and allow you to think of new ways to interact with consumers.
To start using Facebook Questions:
- Log in to your Facebook Page.
- Click on Question right above the status section of your page’s wall.
- Write your question on the Status field, just as you would write a normal Facebook status.
- Click on the Add Poll Options right below the Status field and enter the answer choices.
- Click on the Ask Question button.
It’s exciting to see how consumers respond when they see the questions. You can run this sort of campaign for every aspect of your business, including customer service satisfaction, how customers feel about your site’s new design and thoughts about your product or service pricing.
#3 Spy on your competition
Facebook Pages. Using Facebook’s Search feature, you can look for any specific company’s Facebook page where you’ll find information like how many fans they have, the level of engagement they’re getting, and what products or services their customers like (or dislike) most.
In some cases, you need to “like” a company’s page before you’ll be able to see its activities.
The Facebook Open Graph. There’s a way for you to view a competitor’s basic information without liking their page using the Facebook API Graph. To do this, on your browser’s address bar, enter http://graph.facebook.com/ followed by the competitor’s Facebook username.
To find out your competitor’s Facebook username, use Facebook’s Search feature. For example, Company XYZ has a Facebook page. To figure out its username, search for Company XYZ on Facebook. Go right down the suggested results to click on “See more results”.
Click on “Pages” on the search filters on the right to get to Company XYZ’s page. Company XYZ’s username is shown on the last section of url as https://www.facebook.com/XYZ.
Thus, Company XYZ’s Facebook API Graph URL would be http://graph.facebook.com/XYZ.
Upon visiting this URL, you’ll be taken to a page where the competitor’s raw Facebook data are displayed such as the number of Likes, the category, the company’s overview, and other related information.
Using RSS. For a more organized way of spying on your competitors without liking their page, you can subscribe to their RSS feed instead.
To do this, on your competitors’ Facebook page, locate the Get Update via RSS link on the left side of the page. You can use any RSS reader that you like to follow your competitor’s feeds, but I like to use Google Reader. If you use Chrome, I recommend installing the Google Reader Notifier Chrome extension, which will conveniently notify you of updates to your competitors RSS feeds in real-time.
There you have it, quick and easy ways to learn more about the market and the competition using the world’s largest networking site, Facebook.
But as you know, Facebook and other social media sites constantly update their tools, so it’s highly recommended you explore these tools to your advantage on a constant basis to keep up with the changes.
For help in setting up your company’s Facebook marketing campaign, contact us and I’d be very happy to walk you through the process.