Market research is essential to any business, regardless of what you're selling. After all, there's no point in offering or promoting a product or service if it doesn't meet a market need or solve a problem that people have.
When you're not a big corporation with a whole department dedicated to market research, you might not be sure how to go about doing this.
There are a number of ways to find information about your audience, but one of the easiest is sitting right in front of you:
Chances are, you've heard of it. After all, it's one of the most popular social media sites around. You might even have Reddit open in another tab right now.
There are subreddits for literally anything you can think of, including the most obscure little subniches. And a lot of those communities are relatively large and active.
People use Reddit to discuss their interests, and ask questions, on relevant subreddits. This makes the site a gold mine for market research.
For example, let's say you have an affiliate site about losing weight with the ketogenic diet. /r/keto is one of the most active and lively online communities for keto diet adherents. Simply reading recent and popular posts could clue you in to questions and problems that people have, many of which might not have occurred to you.
In a recent post, Hootsuite provides a step by step guide that shows you exactly how to start using Reddit to get a better understanding of your target audience.
Using Reddit to conduct market research: A step-by-step guide
Step #1: Find where your customers are hiding
Find the right subreddit
To start, find a subreddit filled with your target customers. There’s no magic solution here. It can take a bit of work to find the right communities.
Begin by searching for subreddits.
You can also use the following search operators to get started: title:keyword (example, title:Honda), subreddit:keyword (example, subreddit:Honda); and URL:keyword (example, URL:Hondafans.com).
Install the free Reddit Enhancement suite
This free tool adds advanced searching and filtering options to Reddit. With this tool, you can filter irrelevant subreddits, keywords, and old posts.
This done by using custom filters. It’s a helpful tool.
Do some sleuthing
Now, spend an hour or so doing some keyword searches. Make a list of the popular subreddits for your topic and common questions that people ask.
For example, let’s say I’m a brand manager at Honda. With a little searching, I’ll bump into these subreddits: r/PreludeOwners, r/Honda_XR_and_XL, and r/Honda.
These have valuable conversations about Honda’s brand and products, offering an authentic glimpse into the lives of Honda customers.
Step #2: Ask these questions
During your research, focus on answering the four questions below.
How do people feel about your product category?
It’s easy to forget that the public has much different experiences than we do inside the walls of a marketing department. Reddit is amazing for revealing unfiltered opinions about brands, products, industries, and categories.
How do people feel about advertising in your category?
On the top of Reddit, you’ll see eight tabs. Use the ‘‘promoted” tab to see advertising campaigns run by your competitors.
Did any of your competitors promote their products to this community? Look at the comments to see how consumers responded—and what they feel about advertising campaigns in your category.
Do competitors brag too much? Are certain features considered table stakes now?
How sophisticated are consumers of your products?
Consumers get good at buying products—what differentiates you today is expected tomorrow.
For example, at Hootsuite we’ve been helping companies track and prove the ROI of social media for many years. But each year, the topic morphs as our industry becomes more sophisticated.
Reddit can help you stay ahead of your customer’s demand—whether that be the features that bore them, the promises they’re tired of hearing, or the things they wish brands would get right.
Go to the top of the subreddit you want to analyze and select the tab called “gilded.” This will sort by comments that received Reddit gold.
As mentioned, Reddit users will gift each other “gold” (which means they pay for the user’s upgrade to Reddit premium) for comments that are exceptionally valuable, funny, or insightful. These are comments that have resonated with Reddit’s most discerning users.
Use these “gilded” comments to better understand the sophistication level of your audience as these comments are the smartest or funniest perspectives in the community.
Who is the HXC (high-expectation customer)?
Unlike most social networks, Reddit pushes the smartest comments and most discerning consumer opinions to the top. It’s a social network filled with smart and opinionated consumers. This is exactly the consumer you want to aim your marketing strategy at.
This is the concept of the HXC customer developed by Julie Supan. According to Supan, if you aim your products and marketing at the most discerning customer, the masses will follow. Reddit can help you better understand these discerning customers.
You can read more about using Reddit over at Hootsuite.
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