How Startups And Early-Stage Companies Can Use Social Media Data Collection To Get A Leg Up

Companies are now able to analyze social sentiment, and identify organic audience-based insights in a way that allows them to resonate with consumers, helping them find their unique product-market-fit
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Yair Ida
Yair Ida | Sales Director
11-May-2021
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In this article we will discuss:

What component of market research most startups miss

Many startups spend a lot of time, and resources performing market research, yet still 42% of startups, and early stage companies fail due to ‘no market need’.

CBInsights graph The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail - in fact, 42% of startups fail as there is no market needed, others ran out of cash, not the right team, got outcompeted, pricing cost issues, poor product, need or lack a business model, poor marketing, ignore customers, product mis timed, lose focus, disharmony on team or investors, pivot gone wrong, lack passion, bad location, no financial or investor interest, legal challenges, don't use network or advisors, burn out, failure to pivot

Image source: CBInsights

Essentially this means that either the sector that they are trying to grab market share is either:

  • Saturated in terms of similar solutions
  • Or, that their target market/consumer is not ‘interested enough’ in their solution

The main way in which startups can avoid this unfortunate eventuality is by getting in touch with their audiences, and competitive landscape vis-a-vis a data-driven market research approach.

Social media, in particular, can be a rich space in which to source qualitative, and quantitative publicly available information regarding:

  • Consumer pain points
  • How ‘special’ your Unique Sales Proposition (USP) truly is in relation to your competition (i.e Idea validation)
  • Real-time market/consumer trends

In fact, according to Statista, the market share of global corporations turning to social-media-based data collection is on the rise.

Share of organizations using social media analytics in market research worldwide from 2014 to 2020

Statista bar graph showing what share of companies spend on social media analytics

Image source: Statista

This is how a Martech startup is utilizing social media data collection to power their technology

A good example of a startup currently leveraging publicly available social media data as part of its Unique Sales Proposition (USP) is a marketing technology company that provides software to enable better:

  • Guest posting
  • Backlink profile building
  • Identifying trending content relevant to a given company’s target audience
  • Discovering influencers on social media for concrete collaborations

The biggest challenge in this context when looking to collect social media data is having to connect with each platform’s API individually. By using a data collection network that automates the entire process, these types of challenges can be easily eliminated. Companies based on social data models can more effectively:

  • Crawl the internet for high ranking domains (typically a Domain Authority above 30)
  • Monitor social networks for relevant and engaging influencers as well as verifying that influencer profiles are real
  • Scan search engine results, as well as post on social media for trending, high-ranking, high-engagement content

A deep dive into companies that are using alternative social data to achieve their goals

Let’s take a deeper look at how companies are using social media to answer key questions about their target audience, products, and competition.

Analyzing social sentiment

Social sentiment is a very important issue, especially when launching a disruptive technology, for example. Very often the product or software works flawlessly but ends up failing because of low adoption rates. This typically happens when the parent company was unable to fully grasp the complexity of the issue including moral, ethical, and gender-based issues.

For example, a company looking to sell a genetic selection service for parents looking to customize their baby’s physical, and mental attributes would need to carefully map social sentiment in order to successfully put their service on offer, with the least amount of friction as possible.

In this context, The Guardian published an article entitled ‘Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?’. This, and other related articles on this subject were shared, discussed, and debated by individuals, political figures on various forums, and social platforms. The startup seeking to ‘normalize’ genetic embryo engineering could have used social media data collection prior to launching said product in order to:

  • First understand the key ethical, and religious concerns in order to formulate a successful brand narrative
  • And secondly, in order to map the political playing field so they could successfully lobby for the legality of their products, and services, as well as in order to protect, and uphold their patent claims

Identifying organic opportunities

Very often social media forums serve as a platform for a certain group’s pain points, frustrations, hobbies, and common interests. Whatever the common denominator, you can monitor social media for these movements, and see how your marketing campaigns, messaging, and product offering can be improved on this basis.

A good example of this is the social media data collection project, and successful market research campaign carried out by Aerie, a lingerie company owned by American Eagle. By collecting data on social media they were able to discover the ‘body positivity’ movement, and smartly incorporate it into their:

Marketing: The ‘Aerie Real’ campaign on TikTok (see image below), and other social platforms was a direct product of the organic ‘body positivity’ discourse, which is also one of the reasons for its great success. Aerie claimed a 38% increase in quarterly sales, as a direct result of their ‘social listening, and engagement campaigns’. This story shows the power of identifying and subsequently harnessing the power of an existing, organic social trend.

Production: Aerie also learned more about what products consumers wanted to actually wear which led them to produce ‘more comfy lines’, plus sizes, as well as becoming one of the first in the industry to introduce, and manufacture ‘the bralette’, a bra without an underwire, concerned primarily with how women feel, and only secondarily with how they look.

The bottom line

Startups, early stage companies, as well as developed multinationals can all benefit from open-source social listening. A data-first approach to social media allows these businesses to operate from a place of relevance to current social discourse, authentic consumer needs, and competitive activity in a way that is hard to achieve from both a qualitative, and quantitative standpoint using data from any other source.

Yair Ida
Yair Ida | Sales Director

Yair is a Sales Director at Bright Data. He specializes as a growth strategist and works in the fields of SaaS business development, sales, and marketing. He is a self-proclaimed 'data entrepreneur' with a deep knowledge of software products that he works with in order to help businesses create scalable, efficient, and cost-effective data collection processes.

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