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Performing User Research: the Key to Social Media Success

 Last year Taylor Swift tweeted her plans to stay the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, MI prior to a scheduled concert in the area. Due to her candor on the popular social site, Swift fans hid in the trees awaiting the pop stars upcoming arrival.

This is just one example of the impact that social media can have on consumers’ and fans’ behavior. Facebook and Twitter have strong potential to call users to action and motivate purchase decisions.

Forty-six percent of online users rely on social media when making a purchase decision, according to an article in Social Media Today.

“Purchase decisions are often influenced by users’ friends. We’ve noticed it’s important to make a connection with consumers and this creates conversations”  according to Kristin Rawski, account manager at Brogan and Partners.

So what are tech companies doing to better understand their users? Fast Company published an article detailing Facebook researchers Mateo Rando’s and Lufi Paris’ journey to emerging markets including India, Nigeria and Indonesia last July in an effort to improve the user experience on basic “feature phones.”

Rando and Paris lead the user research initiative and hosted focus groups in several major cities and also conducted one on one interviews in homes and workplaces. They stopped at cell-phone markets, visited with mobile entrepreneurs and interviewed passersby impromptuly to fill in the gaps of their research.

Researchers discovered that users browsed Facebook stories on their phones and then turned to their laptops when sending a message. As a result, the company identified that the chat interface needed improvement.

It’s apparent that social media changed the way that brands communicate with consumers. Alison Hurt, social media and public relations director at Berline Group emphasized the importance of offering consumers  “value driven content” in order to “humanize the brand” and offering users unique experiences on multiple platforms.

Hurt also indicated the important role that research plays in social media initiatives and making an honest effort to listen to fans before creating a Facebook page.  

More than anything “consumers want to know that brands understand them” Rawski said.

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