What Facebook’s ‘Instagram Kids’ fail can teach us about Market Research

Earlier this year when Facebook announced the launch of its new social media service ‘Instagram Kids’ for children 13 years and younger, many wondered how this idea even came to fruition

This was a perfect example of a brand launching an undesired product. Facebook experienced backlash, which quickly led to an eventual halt in development last month, that could have been mitigated with the right market research and consumer insight.

And it wasn’t the first time a household brand missed the mark when launching a new product; in fact it happens all the time. I remember when Google launched Google Glass, which failed because people just didn’t get it -it lacked clarity of purpose, or when McDonald’s launched its Arch Deluxe burger for customers with a more refined palette, completely misjudging its customers’ needs and tastes.

All reminders that while many brands claim the “customer is always right, ”there are still too many launching products they think their customers want something without taking the time to truly understand what their customers really want. This could be explained by the common misconception among brands and marketers that gathering insights takes too much time.

There’s a plethora of market research methods available to businesses today, but to truly stay in the know, brands need to listen to customers on the platforms where they engage in conversations.

Enter social media. Social media has grown to become a platform for some of the most important conversations taking place today. In less than a generation, social mediahas evolved from direct electronic information exchange, to virtual gathering place, to retail platform, to vital 21st-century market research tool used by more than half of marketers worldwide.

The speed at which information is shared on social media platforms makes the medium a great tool for brands to tap into consumer opinion as it happens. The insights available to brands on these platforms allows them to act with speed when there’s a new trend in the market.

While there are many benefits of using social listening as a tool for market research, it also comes with challenges. As we know, what people say and what they truly think are not always the same, and if you are only listening to the noisiest of voices, what chance do the quiet voices of reason have? For example, over one million people view tweets about customer service every week, and 80% of those are negative.

Therefore, in addition to social listening, brands should combine this method of market research with agile research, to get a more holistic view of what their consumers really think, want and need.

Agile research is an increasingly popular method for gathering consumer insights. h, It allows for a more flexible and iterative approach to market research through quick and continuous collection of data. Plus, it allows for room to follow up, reassess, and dig deeper into the specifics, while providing actionable insight at speed. So perhaps it’s not surprising that 51% of marketing teamsimplemented this method during Covid.

Some of the key benefits of a combined approach to market research include:

-Social listening helps you understand your brand, products, and customer service better. Essentially, it’s a “free” tool for innovation and idea generation. Users don’t feel like you are surveying them by asking a question (even though that’s exactly what you’re doing).

-Agile research allows you to ask consumers for their immediate response to world events, brand crises and more. If you are unsure about how something will affect your business, this is an effective way to find out early on so you can make an informed decision.

-If done properly, agile research also provides brands and marketers the story of consumers and their personalities, frustrations, desires, and the forces that drive loyalty and enable change. In the end, people choose products and services from brands that demonstrate they “Get Me.”

-When combining the methods, information will be as relevant as possible. You can learn new things by the minute and receive feedback instantaneously. This is in contrast to traditional market research which can take weeks or months before you hear anything back.

-Both agile research and social listening encourage conversations. Surveys don’t have to be set in a robotic tone. They should take cues from what is and isn’t working in social media content because that’s what users are familiar with when they are online. If content that is visual engages better, your surveys can be visual as well.

As you can see, the common misconception that market research doesn’t provide results fast enough doesn’t hold up anymore. It should therefore not be an excuse for brands not to do their due diligence. So next time you have a lightbulb moment for a product or service, remember to do your research and find out what your customers really want and need, and set yourself up for success in the long term.

About the Author


Mike Billingsley is CEO at OnePulse. OnePulse is the opinion platform that brings people and businesses together, so you can get the answers you need, when you need them. Question everything. Find the answers at onepulse.com.


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