Want to know what your customers are thinking? You could try focus groups or online surveys. Those can be expensive and difficult to facilitate. How about trying blogs instead?
There are two ways you can go about it. First, start your own blog with a goal of using it to get feedback from consumers. You want their opinion, ask for it in a blog post. They will tell you.
Second, monitor what’s being said in the blogosphere. It’s not difficult to do, though can be time consuming. There are services out there that can track that information for you, but those can be expensive to use and are generally geared more to corporate entities that have deeper pockets. (I did find one, BlogSquirrel, that’s not too expensive at just under $200 per month.)
If you’re a small business with limited funds, or a do-it-yourselfer, then here’s how to go about it.
1. Set up a Bloglines account. Bloglines is an online RSS aggregator. RSS is the best thing to hit the internet since, well, since blogs!
2. Using Bloglines subscribe to RSS feeds via the following services, using keywords you deem important to your business or industry.
Each one of these services offers RSS feeds which you can route through Bloglines so you’ll have a “one stop shop” for all your feeds.
3. Daily (or weekly) monitor updated content that’s delivered by virtue of those feeds. You’ll have to filter through some off-topic stuff, but with diligence monitoring you can begin to get a picture of consumer attitudes toward areas of interest.
Consumer Generated Media (CGM) is where it’s at today in terms of predicting the success of ad campaigns and product offerings.
For more on this read Tessa Wegert’s excellent article at ClickZ.