by T’keya Davy
User experience (UX) is an essential step in the design process, and this begins with user research. The goal is to gain insight into potential user needs through methods such as focus groups, interviews, and lab studies. These methods fall into one of two approaches: attitudinal or behavioral research. The former is insight from listening and talking to the user, while the in the latter, researchers observe user behaviors. There are traditional methods, but one unique strategy is studying social media.
Social media is more than networking – it is also a data-collection and observation tool. And data is research. Analyzing social media means meeting your audience where they already are and where they are likely expressing themselves authentically. This is done through social listening, which is monitoring keywords and analyzing conversations about your brand and your industry in order to understand how they feel, which researchers call their sentiments.
Studying user sentiments illuminates wants and desires, which can inform design decisions for future products. Social listening lets researchers to access a less filtered version of their target audience, with conversations on real experiences.
Social media insights can be a more cost-effective way of gathering customer feedback data by A/B testing ideas and in other ways. Best of all, n social media platforms, users communicate their experiences with a brand, particularly their dislikes, for free.
Utilizing focus groups, interviews and traditional UX research methods is still important. Social media will not likely provide enough insight by itself. But those social media insights can be an effective addition to the research gathering process.