Facebook for Consumer Research

Facebook announced earlier this week it has reached 900 million members. This massive audience is a magnet for business and extremely attractive to research companies! Here is a quick recap of the different ways Facebook can be used to capture consumer opinions.
• PASSIVE MONITORING – there are several software offerings out there that monitor the web (and especially Facebook) to monitor comments about subjects you are interested in which often for a business is their brand. Researchers can look at the volume of comments and see if they are positive, negative or neutral. Companies can be reactive to what they hear about their products, services, advertising and people. I heard on the news the other day that investors are using this king of technology to predict market fluctuations!
• ACTIVE MONITORING – this is just like the first point but companies post responses, especially to negative comments, to try and influence the perception.
• OPEN-ENDED POSTS – companies can use their Facebook pages to get feedback from their most ardent customers. They can post open ended questions to get a quick feel of what customers think of a new idea or concept.
• FACEBOOK POLL – Facebook has the ability for a company to post a poll on their page. This allows for a more structured question and statistical analysis of the responses. However it is limited to one question at a time.
• EMBEDDED SURVEY – Some survey software tools have a Facebook App that allows you to embed a survey onto your page. Data is then analyzed in the standard way of that survey tool. A key benefit of the apps is they can capture demographic data for the respondent such as gender, location and age.
• FACEBOOK ADS – Using your company page limits you to members who are fans of your company. A Facebook Ad allows you target demographics and people with specific interests for much wider surveys. Of course you need compelling ads with incentives for people to respond.