How can Social Media Analytics be a Powerful Tool for Market Research?

Pooja Dara
Published in
5 min readAug 8, 2018


Image Source

From big organisations to the startups, social media is a great platform to understand consumer choices, sentiments and intentions in real-time. It allows you to know the customer base on a more personal and emotional level. This way, it helps them to improve or redirect their marketing efforts.

Social media is a place where users can talk freely without watching themselves. It allows for the analysis of unsolicited conversations without the intent of interfering or responding to them.

Out of all the definitions for Social Media Analytics, the one by Gohfar F. Khan is a true reflection of the term. According to him,

Social Media Analytics is the art and science of extracting hidden insights from vast amounts of semi-structured and unstructured social media data, that are highly valuable and enables informed and insightful decision making.

Social media analytics is an exercise in omniscience.

Social Media + Data Analytics = Social Media Analytics

There are several motives behind leveraging social media insights such as brand positioning assessment, campaign planning and measurement. It’s also helpful in competitive research, trend discovery, performance and others.

Social Media Analytics vs. Social Media Listening vs. Social Media Intelligence

The above terms may seem the same but there is a thin line of difference between them.

Social media listening is the process of using social media to gather what the audience is saying about a brand or its competitors. You can track those with the help of a hashtag or a keyword. It can take an active or passive form, and the data is collected with no means of categorising or understanding it.

Social media intelligence makes use of both social media listening and data analytics… to derive strategic solutions for the brand.

Social media analytics encompasses audience analysis, image analysis, sentiment analysis, machine learning & campaign analysis.

It also can provide competitive intelligence on your business landscape ranging from specific products of competitors to the larger consumer trends. It encompasses an understanding of how customers make use of particular services or products. It also consists of the issues that the customers face, while learning effective solutions.

Based on this intelligence, you can take better informed and smarter decisions about your campaigns and ads. Social media analytics is going much beyond the analysis of likes and shares.

Link between Social Media Analytics & Market/Brand Research

Market research is an organised effort to gather information about markets and the consumers they represent. Online consumer conversations and social media analytics are a natural and perfect fit for market research.

Social media analytics for market research offers a great deal of broad insights. It allows analysts/researchers to secretly listen to their consumers as they go about their daily lives. It, in a way, reveals their passions, preferences and biases. All these traits affect their behaviour at the point of sale.

The cheat sheet for market research shows that the success of the brand lies in knowing exactly what you are looking for. Other things include thinking strategically and not tactically, eliminating ambiguity by asking specific questions and also understanding the changes over the years. Analyzing online data makes all these tasks a lot easier.

Image Source

Artificial Intelligence-based consumer insights

Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables market researchers to achieve efficiency, effectiveness and enhanced results:

· Efficiency: With the help of pre-built models, AI greatly reduces the time and effort spent by researchers on setting up and developing studies. AI administers the questionnaire, finalises ideal respondents, sends survey, and sorts out incoming data. And all these happen within a few hours or days depending on how big the study is.

· Effectiveness: Designing a proper survey is crucial in ensuring the quality of the data received. It’s a fact that most humans have a short attention span. Thus, a survey must be designed to grab and hold the respondents’ interest, and AI helps to achieve just that. Some companies have successfully used AI-managed interactive surveys that change based on how the respondent answers.

· Enhancement: Ways are being discovered to move faster and understand more about markets. Till now, machine learning has enabled AI systems to learn from the data they process. From that learning, they keep improving their performance. With the demands of consumers coupled with the IT explosion, companies are being forced to look at more agile insights, to remain relevant.

As the consumer insights sector continues to move towards a future led by intelligent models, AI can find usage in many areas of market research. Some examples include survey design, automated text analytics, personalized question creation, result interpretation, and automating report writing.

All in all, AI can help researchers and analysts extract topics from each update, and assist in organising information. AI also helps to make the resultant insights stimulate business decision making.

Practical Application

Organisations use social media analytics to find unbranded conversations with the goal of understanding its competitors, apart from their own brand performance in the market.

To create a new campaign for, say, the latest coffee variant, you need a clearer idea of how to create a successful ad. For this, you will need to do some market research to understand your audience and their buying behaviour.

For example, people love coffee but the reasons why they like drinking coffee vary depending on the individual. Using the tools offered by social media analytics, you can filter conversations around “coffee”. It will help you understand why coffee is an essential part in their lives.

You can then apply this understanding to work on the brand’s marketing strategy. You will know how coffee fosters authentic and meaningful relationships and then, create campaigns on new flavors.

Some insights derived from the extracted data can revolve around the flavor of coffee or alternative caffeinated beverages being consumed. It can even be the fact that majority of consumers value sharing coffee with loved ones.

In conclusion, it goes without saying that if in the right hands, social media data can be a rich source of consumer insights. Regardless of who analyses your online data, business-line managers need to understand its value. The benefits it offers is too important to ignore.



Pooja Dara

Market Researcher | Freelance Writer & Editor | Photography Enthusiast