Ditch the focus group and turn to social media for market research

There are so many costs associated with starting a small business that entrepreneurs are always hungry for ways to avoid some of them. Putting off hiring a full staff, working out of the home and relying on the help of friends and family are a few popular tactics. However, few new business owners are willing to scrimp on market research. Without gauging what consumers want, how can you decide what to sell?

Until recently, this question was merely rhetorical. Since the rapid rise of social media, however, many entrepreneurs have realized that Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other similar sites might be the perfect marketing strategies for small business owners – they allow access to a huge swath of potential customers for free.

When Sandy Patangay started her dessert company in New York City, she needed a way to appraise how people thought about her designs. Without a significant marketing budget, she turned to social media.

“I depend on my Facebook fans and Twitter followers to tell me what they think about my products,” she told The New York Times. “And then we make those designs available to for order through our website or Facebook.

The approach isn’t useful only to bakers, either. Whether you sell vegetables or videos, social media can be a great way to access potential consumers. Twitter, for example, might be the perfect way to name a new product. Simply, send it to your followers who can show their approval or disapproval with a single click. Whereas past companies might have spent hours and hundreds of dollars luring individuals to a focus group to get their opinion, today’s small business owner can achieve the same results with 140 characters.

If your young company is looking for a way to showcase its wares or evaluate public response, turning to social media for a helping hand might be the best move you make.