Having spent over 10 years guiding large organizations from around I’ve always been surprised at how big (and often costly) decisions for the future were made primarily based on industry studies of the past instead of taking a more blended approach that integrates current metrics from social media. But luckily the times are changing!

As a perfect example, the food space is constantly evolving and trends on social media rapidly influence consumer behavior quicker than data can be compiled, analyzed then published in a study. The only way to stay ahead of the game is to use fresh insights, especially from social media, combined with historical metrics.

Starbucks did an ingenious job of doing exactly that: In 2017, they noticed the huge bump in social media posts around rainbow-colored foods (bagels, grilled cheeses, lattes, etc.) and released their Unicorn Frappuccino, which was a huge success and led to other colorful drinks being announced, such as the Cups of Kindness campaign where Lady Gaga hand-picked various drinks for the collection. The common theme: All very colorful beverages with a high propensity to be shared online (catchy, colorful content produces higher levels of engagement on average).

When you take a step back and think about it, social media is the largest and best focus group a company could have given the vast amount of information available ranging from conversations that lead up to someone making a purchase or on the flip side posts that voice the reason why a product was not purchased – both of which are equally as valuable.

In this day and age where the world is becoming more social media-centric by the minute, companies should explore a more holistic approach to market research that ties multiple data sources together – some old and some new – to produce more robust insights and ultimately make better decisions in the end. And with Artificial Intelligence (AI) taking off, namely machine learning and deep learning, the future is promising.

Aaron Schoenberger