Do you KNOW what your audience THINKS about your product? Imagine that each of your social media accounts is a virtual focus group, filled with people that are already interested in what you do. If they’re following you, you can assume they are interested in you and what you do.

 

You’ve researched who you want to target on Twitter. Your Instagram curation shows potential followers exactly what your brand is about. Your Facebook fans are liking your posts daily, and your Pinterest photos are beautifully styled mood boards. But how are you engaging with your audience?

How to Leverage a Virtual Focus Group

What do you do with a focus group? Ask questions of course. But this is a virtual focus group, so you can do more than that: you can get immediate endorsements, find out qualitatively how an ideal customer reacts to your posts, and widen your audience. Here’s how:

Be inquisitive

Do you want to know what your ideal customer thinks of a product? If so, ask them! This is best done via Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, so that you can show people exactly what you’re referring to. People can simply like and/or comment on the image. Comments are best, as you can evaluate their words, and also get a deeper insight.

How to do it?

Guide people to what you want to know, don’t be too vague or ask an open question.

For example, instead of “What colour would you like to see added to my line?” you could ask, “Here are the samples of new lining for the handbag collection, which one do you prefer, A or B?” Give people a choice. Being overly vague, in other words, making people think too much, will likely result in crickets.

Giving people a choice gets people to comment and really think about your product. They will feel involved and informed, and you can thank them and write a follow-up post with the winning decision. Engagement with your audience: achieved!

Be human!

Ask questions to your virtual focus group that aren’t directly about your product. This is best done via Facebook or Twitter, as you can generate a conversation without the NEED for images. However, keep in mind that fashion is a visual industry so images should be used wherever possible, and posts on social media that include images are known to receive higher engagement than text-only posts.

Related reading: Is the Digital Imaging Trend Causing Chaos in Fashion?

Use this approach for market research to update your current marketing strategy. If you wanted to know more about what your customer’s lives are actually like; ask a question where you can easily analyse the answer to determine a key attribute of the customer.

How to do it

For example, “It’s a lovely day for reading outside, what are you doing this lunchtime?” But, kill two birds with one stone: add the hashtag #ReclaimYourLunchBreak which is part of Stylist magazine’s social media campaign. People using that hashtag may also find your post, which also tells you that they read Stylist magazine.

From the answers you receive, you’ll know if your customers are freelancers, or don’t take lunch breaks, or people who firmly like to stay indoors at lunchtime.

Don’t be disheartened if you only get a few responses. Engagement is a process that you must work on. It’s the long game.

Depending on the responses, you may decide that some inspirational quotes scheduled to go out at lunchtime via social media, or informative videos to learn from would really satisfy your audience.

Be gracious

Something as simple as thanking a follower for their custom over a period of time, or greeting a new follower is an easy engagement task that shows that you care about and value your customers. Further proof that you are human and not a robot! Make sure that you tag people when you do this. It will make them feel respected, and bonus: their followers will see this on their feeds which will lead to more views, and more engagement.

Be specific

You could run a short campaign asking your followers to tag a friend who needs your product in their life, alongside an image of your beautiful new product. This is beyond engagement: this is gaining and retaining, and a key goal in the world of social media.

It is important to experiment and keep things fresh by implementing new ideas. Especially, for a new business and because social media is always changing. For example, now you can direct message on Instagram, rather than posting “thanks for your order!” for all to see. You still engage with a member of your audience, and the direct nature of the interaction makes it more authentic.

Overall, the social media game is about being personable as much as being smart with imagery and hashtags. Speak with people as you would if they were in your shop making a purchase. The only difference is that your chosen social media platform is like a sandwich board that you, the business owner, can wear outside the shop before and after the purchase. And, it can say whatever you think the customer wants to hear.

 

Do you have any more great insight on how a virtual focus group can help budding entrepreneurs? Let us know in the comments below.

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