Using Social Media to Test Your Idea Before You Try to Sell ItBy MELINDA F. EMERSON
Generating revenue along with the buzz.
Thanks to social media — especially Twitter — small businesses now have the ability to determine what their customers want and what they are willing to pay. I put out a quick social media call for small businesses on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ who have used social media for market research and within minutes found companies willing to share their experiences.
Phillip McCrae of GladRuth Services, in Newtown, Pa., sells direct video advertising tools for sales, marketing and education organizations. He used Twitter to pull together a dozen or so QR Code users to test out his ideas for adding video to QR Code campaigns. “The data was revealing as to the user variations and pricing structures small-business owners would be willing to pay for video capabilities in a QR Code,” Mr. McCrae said. He used a conference call line from Free Conference Call to convene the Twitter users. And each participant received a small gift.
Michael Sinsheimer of Flash Purchase in Charlotte, N.C., is about to introduce a business that offers deals on consumer products such as electronics, clothing and jewelry. He has used surveys — created on SurveyMonkey — on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to get feedback from consumers on which product categories they would be interested in. So far, about 80 people have completed his surveys. “We developed our entire company from this data,” he said. “The first deals on our Web site, which will launch later this month, are based on the feedback we received in the surveys on the products people wanted to buy.”
Sandy Patangay is founder of Creme Delicious, a dessert boutique in New York City. The bakery specializes in hand-decorated cakes and cookies and publishes pictures weekly to its Facebook page to get feedback on its latest designs. “I depend on my Facebook fans and Twitter followers to tell me what they think about my products,” said Ms. Patangay, “and then we make those designs available for order through our Web site or Facebook.”
One crucial piece of advice: Don’t just ask your customers if they like your product or service. Make sure you find out how much they are willing to pay.
And please tell us in the comments section what has worked for you.
Melinda Emerson is founder and chief executive of Quintessence Multimedia, a social media strategy and content development firm. You can follow her on Twitter.