How Startups Can Use Social Media to Understand Customer Needs

How Startups Can Use Social Media to Understand Customer Needs

Social media connects people with friends, families, and others who share similar interests. Using the wide range of social media services available, everyone can easily communicate and share information with each other.

Brands have even begun to use these same platforms as marketing tools for engaging a larger number of people.

Social media connects these brands with highly targeted audiences. It can also help companies understand customer needs and expectations.

Why Startups Need to Understand Customer Needs

Every entrepreneur wants to grow their business by attracting and converting more prospects. Social media is the best medium for brands to connect with these very same prospects.

When users connect with your brand, you’ll find that a mix of positive and negative feedback comes along with them. Pay particular attention to the critics. These are the voices that can help you upgrade your products and services in order to better fulfill customer needs.

How Startups Can Use Social Media

This post outlines several ways that startups can capitalize on social media. You’ll find a range of options available for you to use for collecting information on customer needs and wants.

Choose The Right Platform

Social media is a crucial strategy for any business that wants to be more visible online. Marketers generally believe that they can increase their exposure by choosing the right social media platform(s).

If you research all of the available social media platforms, you’ll find that all of them offer distinct features.

What’s more, every platform requires a different approach to messaging and content. A completely different strategy in fact.

If your product is aimed at younger people, then you want to focus on platforms they use, such as Snapchat and TikTok.

You can narrow down these platforms based on the user base and their behavior while using it. You’ll find that most social media participants are between 25 and 50 years of age.

Important Metrics to Consider:

  • What share of your target audience is online
  • How long they spend on the internet
  • Which social media platforms they use
  • How often they use these platforms

Create Focus Groups

Social media platforms allow you to create virtual focus groups. In these groups, the audience can directly ask questions and expect answers in return.

Social is a great way to gauge how customers view your startup. It’s also useful in helping ensure your communication efforts are on point for your target audience.

If a customer complains, take it as an opportunity to engage them proactively. For complaints that are warranted, be sure to act on the feedback as soon as you receive it.

For instance, Domino’s pizza accepts online feedback from customers on their services and product quality. They then use this information to improve areas that customers want handled differently.

Survey for Customer Needs

You can also conduct surveys/polls on social media platforms. Your surveys should be focused on one area of the customer experience where you can better meet customer expectations.

When building the survey itself, be sure to pull together a solid assortment of inquiries about your company itself, what they know/understand about your products or services, and whether your brand has a positive or negative connotation for them.

To make the experience more interactive, you can even add polls to your Instagram Stories.

Polls allow you to tap into the minds of others. They provide an easy way to get early feedback on what they might want in new products. Armed with this information, you can tailor your roadmap to align with what the customers are asking for.

Before you add polls on social media, you need to find out the interest areas of your followers (e.g. which product line they use). Then use this to tailor the questions to their likes and dislikes regarding what they bought / might buy from you.

Some Example Question Areas Include:

  • What are some positive things that come to mind when they think about your brand? And any negative things?
  • How does your brand compare or stack up against competitors and close competitors?
  • How do they view your products vs competitive offerings on a scale (maybe a 1-5 scale)?
  • How much / often they use each product?

That last question can be particularly eye opening. You might find that their brand views and actual behavior differ, which will tell you how to adjust as well.

Once you understand how to outperform the competition, you’ll be on your way to delivering a new and improved product. Still, don’t forget to check those user reviews along the way.

Consider User Reviews

If you play your cards right on social media, you’ll find new people who are willing to try out your products for the first time.

These new customers will typically look for reviews by other satisfied customers before buying from you.

Smart startups should track and analyze what customers are saying about them on all relevant social channels.

If you find that too many customers are dissatisfied with your offering, reconsider what you’re offering and fix it.

For instance, let’s look at when Apple launched the iPhone 6. Immediately after the product was released, we learned that they were having a problem with bending, which can obviously damage the phone.

Apple quickly stepped up to address the issue and have it corrected with their R&D efforts.

How to Encourage User Reviews

Connecting your service pages with your social media accounts is one of the best ways to encourage online reviews.

To incentivize them to take action, ask for reviews directly. Perhaps you can offer rewards or incentives for taking part.

Be sure to stay in touch with follow up emails that remind them about sharing a review. And of course, always appreciate those who put in the time and effort to follow through on reviewing your business.

You can allow users to directly submit their reviews on your company’s website, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.

Engage Your Audience With Content

If you want customers to stick with your brand over time, be sure to engage with them in a way that they prefer. Remember, engaged social media followers will be more likely to provide you the insights you need to excel in your business.

Don’t forget the importance of collaborating with your customer service team as well. They can help you analyze and react to the insights you get on these platforms. They’ve dealt with dissatisfied customers in the past and know how to respond.

For example, Alex Turnbull, Founder of Groove, schedules regular calls with end users. He wants to fully understand their likes and/or dislikes about his product. As a result, Groove has been able to turn unhappy customers into happy customers, simply by improving their onboarding process.

So, start early with engaging your customers in two-way dialogues. This will establish a solid foundation, encouraging them to provide thoughts and opinions on products and services in the future.

Generate Data From Insights

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide insights sections for you to view more data about your social media followers. Some of these social insights can observe and analyze conversations about your brand, product, and services.

The behavioral data collected from insights provides another useful way to understand customer needs and expectations, including what they do and don’t like. You can use both of these to create more engaging social profiles, better overall messaging, and a stronger website user experience.

Marketers can also use social insights to understand brand issues and tackle them. For example, you can analyze social conversations to gather behavioral data about what they need, want, and prefer from your brand.

Benefits of Customer Social Insights:

  • Helps startups avoid additional spend in consumer studies, by providing them an initial direction to get started
  • Provides spontaneous information about customers/ users in real-time
  • Improves user experience through intelligence collected data at various stages
  • Generates multiple opportunities for product improvement, albeit after detailed analysis of the data

Use the Right Tone

When you interact with customers, don’t overlook the importance of the tone of your voice. Be cognizant of how you speak to customers if you want to keep them engaged.

A few platforms (e.g. Twitter) restrict the number of characters that users can post to their own stream or other walls/pages. These platforms pose a challenge for marketers, since fewer characters might make it difficult to take on the tone they want to project publicly.

Some Tips for Optimizing Tone on Social Media:

  • Determine whether your target audience is comfortable with your choice of language. If not, then be more careful with your words.
  • Ask whether the customer is disappointed with your service. If yes, try to be more apologetic and remind them why your product or service is beneficial.
  • Check if any mistake has been committed on your side. Start with an immediate apology. This is very important as you work to build strong relationships with customers. They will reward you in return with referrals to new possible customers in the future.


Social media can be a powerful tool for engaging customers in two-way communication. There, they can provide valuable feedback and better understand your brand.

When they support your company, then they will share positive experiences with others.

All it takes is for your startup to work hard at understanding customer needs and expectations. So don’t just hawk products; use the platform to improve the products you already sell.

Feature Image Credit: CC 0; Public Domain. Feature image sourced from pixabay.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.

This guest post brought to you courtesy of Return On NowProfessional Austin SEO and PPC Services Company.

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Piyush Jain

Founder and CEO at Simpalm
Piyush Jain is the founder and CEO of Simpalm, a drupal development company in DC. Piyush founded Simpalm in 2009 and has grown it to be a leading mobile and web development company in the DMV area. With a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins and a strong background in technology and entrepreneurship, he understands how to solve problems using technology. Under his leadership, Simpalm has delivered 300+ mobile apps and web solutions to clients in startups, enterprises, and the federal sector.

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