3 Ways You Can Use Social Media for UX Research

How well does the end user interact with your products or services? This question should guide you on how to design products that meet your users needs. So, how do you go about designing products that yield high-quality user experience?

The first thing to do would be to undertake research. What do your users need? What are they struggling with? How can you help your users? If you’re able to work out these concerns without bias, then you will come up with a good UX design for your users.

One tool you can use to do this research is social media. Since social media are customer-centric platforms, you can pick out the specific experiences that people are having with your products. There is feedback on your products, and you can acknowledge and respond to them in real time. In this article, you’ll learn 3 ways you can use social media for UX research. Let’s dive in.

  1. Using social media for UX discovery research


The discovery phase, also known as the scoping phase, is the preliminary starting point in the UX design process. It is where you research the problem scope, pinpoint the problem(s) to solve, collect adequate initial evidence, and have an outlook on what to do next. 

There is no hypothesis testing or solutions and it is all about clarifying your goals, limitations, and overall scope of your research.The benefits of a UX research plan, is that it causes you to understand your users better, know how the problem affects them, and what they desire, value, and need from a solution.  

UX discovery research is crucial when you have too many unknowns that are impeding your product development cycle from proceeding. It is risky ‌as your UX team may end up wasting time, money, and effort solving a problem that doesn’t matter. Social media is a good place to get started with your UX research.

Look at your complaints that your products have been having so far. What are the pain points of the user? Interact with the users who’ve made complaints, and ask them how they would want it improved. If you have recurring UX complaints, note them down and have them as your first point to improve on.

Steps on how to conduct a social media UX testing

  • Create relevant hashtags 

The first thing to do is to ensure you have as many people as possible seeing your UX research posts or content. A large sample size will help you generate quality feedback. To do this, set up a hashtag, use an existing one, especially if your brand is your hashtag, or use one that is closely related to what you’re working on.  

The hashtag will get your social media followers to join the test using the hashtag. It will also help other people hop on and be able to follow your test. If you’re able to, use influencers to increase awareness of your UX test. 

  • Use your most effective social media channels


Which social media platform do you have the most influence on? To get the word out far and wide, use the social media channel that you have the most influence on. If the most popular also has the ideal audience you want to do the test with then move ahead. If not, do a hybrid of your most popular, together with the one with your most ideal audience. 

  • Share the URL for the test

Have a shareable link to your user experience test. When posting it on your socials, make sure you share this URL. Before that make sure the posts in which you share the links are interesting and engaging to increase the chances of your followers clicking. Remove ads, sidebars, or images that may cause distractions and reduce the chances of your URL being clicked.

  1. Social Listening


Social listening is a great way to use social media to do your UX research. Through social listening, you’re able to gather a ton of valuable data on how your customers and potential customers think about you. It is an incredible research tool, available in real-time that will help you track your social media mentions and identify the root causes behind your social conversations.

Social listening will eliminate the bias of thinking you already know your customer. Using social listening makes you really listen to customers.

How to Use Social Listening in UX Research

There is a process to using social listening in doing your UX research. Here is how you go about it:

  1. Know your buyer personas. This is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. Who are they, and what social media platforms do they use?
  2. Are people talking about you? If not, do you need to up your branding efforts?
  3. Determine the objective of your social listening.
  4. Make a list of the keywords you will research on. 
  5. Make another list of keywords associated with your industry. 
  6. Determine how far back you will go in your socials to look for interactions.
  7. Create a guideline on how to record and handle findings 
  8. Determine how you will respond to negative comments/reviews.
  9. Determine how you will show appreciation for positive comments/reviews.
  10. What will be your response when customers talk about your competitors on a positive note?
  11. How will you respond when people talk negatively about your competitors?
  12. Monitor keywords and content that gains the most engagement/attention/response

Tools you can use for social listening.

Social listening for your UX research is demanding, and the right tools will come in handy. A social listening tool is software that tracks and analyzes online conversations about your brand, competitors, or anything you find relevant to your company. 

It tracks all your mentions, keywords, and comments, not just on social media; but also in blogs, websites, news sites, and forums where information is public. There are various social listening tools that you can use. The platform you choose should have numerous data sources and a high volume of data to make it statistically accurate. It should also be able to cover many languages and countries. 

Another thing to consider is that it should have Automated Sentiment Analysis (ASA) technology which will tell you how your customers feel with little to no manual intervention. 

A platform you can consider using is Hootsuite Insights powered by Brandwatch. It tracks over 16 billion social media posts every month and uses Boolean search logic to monitor your keywords, hashtags, trends, and patterns. To find conversations most relevant to you, you can filter using date, demographics, and location.

It also tracks brand sentiment and awareness with intuitive word clouds and meters. Other social listening tools you can use are Mentionlytics, Synthesio, HubSpot, Lately, and SproutSocial, among others.

3. Conducting Surveys 


Social media can be used to conduct user research surveys. A UX research survey is a list of questions given to a targeted group of users to gain knowledge about their thoughts, opinions, and feelings about a UX design. They are a quick and easy way to gain insights about your design.

Nearly all social media platforms have a survey section. For example, Facebook Business accounts have a survey option in the Publishing Tools section. You can also use third-party survey forms.

To craft a good survey, for your UX research, first understand your customers’ UX challenges with your products. Next, come up with questions that will avoid bias. The following types of questions:

Good question types to ask include:

  • Task-driven feedback questions like “Tell me about your experience using the app.”
  • Open-ended questions about expectations or impressions like “What is your favorite feature?”
  • Follow-up questions: “How would you rate your experience of the app?”

Bad question types to ask are:

  • Closed-ended questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Unfortunately, these questions can’t probe for more information and are unhelpful when trying to get deeper insight into a customer’s mindset.
  • Assumptive questions. These questions assume a positive or negative experience. For example, “What do you hate most about this product?”
  • Leading questions. As the name suggests, they lead the respondent and encourage a desired answer. For example, “If you enjoy this product, should we make more of it ?”

Tips for creating your surveys

  •  KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)

To ensure as many people as possible fill in your survey, keep it short and simple. Any complication in your survey will see people abandon it all together and not fill it out. Furthermore, only ask questions that are necessary for what you want to gain insight into and plan to analyze. 

  • Be clear

Do not use any jargon, acronyms, or language that can confuse your survey respondents. Also, make sure each question asks about one thing only. Enroll reviewers to counter-check and make sure your questions are clear. 

  •  Structure the survey well

Start from the simplest questions and work up to the complex questions. However, be sure to check on serial position effect bias where people favor things at the beginning or the end of a list.

Summing up

UX research is fundamental in your product development cycle. Getting to know the sentiments of your users and how well they like and interact with your product is priceless. Social media is an amazing tool for facilitating this research.

Social media users are usually an engaged lot, and freely share their opinions and feelings about your products. Leverage social media to get started on your UX research. It will be one of the most authentic sources of data in your research. 

Author bio: Cosmas Mwirigi

Cosmas alias Cosii-Riggz is a technology enthusiast and SAAS writer who helps clients understand products by explaining services for businesses. 

He has been featured on websites such as PV Magazine and Bitcoin Kenya. He likes traveling to new places and exploring what’s new on the internet.

About the Author

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