Getting to Know You… Digitally (Online Research)

October 7th, 2010 by Marcus Tewksbury

When you are fairly unfamiliar with your new target segment one mandatory step is to begin an online research program.  In our ubiquitously digital world there is an enormous amount of content that is easily available that can give you a head start.   The objective here is to arm yourself with a thorough understanding of the current terms and trends and a high level outlook on the market.

If you are totally new to the space and don’t even know where to start you should try setting up a social monitoring program.  Plug in the names of potential customers and competitors in the space, which you should have identified in the sizing exercise,  and start to analyze the terminology, sites, and authors that are being used.

In turn, use this social research to drive a more thoughtful keyword search strategy.  Don’t obsess on any one engine.  Run the same terms across multiple engines and make sure to try variations and different combinations of identified terms.  A picture tells a thousand words.  Articles, and posts can be great, but some of the best resources are rich media like video or presentations.  Make sure to include video and presentation sharing networks as part of your search.

As you start to drill into more material you should start developing a better sense of the major trends or talking points.  Iterate on the initial findings and isolate specific sites or authors to setup syndication feeds.  This is a great way to keep up with all the ongoings whereby you don’t have to visit a hundred sites to get the story, everything is forwarded to you.

Also, make sure to leverage the power of the communities to help frame your understanding.  It’s amazing how willing people are to help if you ask them.  Look for conversation threads across the communities and find ones where you can jump in.  Sometimes you may find your question already answered, but if not just go ahead and ask away!  Social communities should be a critical source and part of your overall research plan.

•    Social media monitoring can get you started when you don’t know where to begin
•    Tweak where and how you search to find rich media like videos or presentations
•    Ask the community questions, people love to answer them
•    Setup syndication streams to push relevant content to a convenient spot

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