5 Ways to use Social Media for Customer Discovery

Day 4 of a 30 Day Journey

Steve Blank urges startups to talk to 100 customers. Not because there's anything special about the number 100, but because it represents a critical mass. Five or seven interviews yields anecdotal evidence, and it doesn't give you the total picture. So, how do you find 100 people to interview? Social media can help.

1. Flat out ask people who follow you. Ask your friends on Facebook. Here's a message I posted on my wall that you can adapt:

I'm working on a startup and looking to talk with awesome veterinarians and pet parents! If you are, or know, someone who fits that description please shoot me a line! Won't take more than 20-30 minutes. Do it for the dogs!

2. Utilize friends' networks. Ask five friends with strong followings to do the same.  Make it easy on them and share the exact copy you'd like them to post.

My good friend @name is working on an awesome startup to help Rover & Fluffy stay healthy! She's look to talk with awesome veterinarians and love Pet Parents. Comment if you're one of those two!

3. Engage in existing conversation. Follow relevant hashtags on twitter (for me, #petparent was a great one!) and engage in conversation with people who are self identifying as our customer on social media. You'd be amazed how many people are immediately willing to take 20 minutes out of their day to video chat with you!

4. Follow through. If someone is willing to give their time to help you with your startup, whether they're a friend or a new contact you've made, honor their generosity with good follow through. If you start a conversation on Twitter or Facebook move it to DM or e-mail. Set up a call promptly, send a calendar invite, and be on time for the call!

5. Say thank you. Once you've completed your interview, send a thank you. Personally, I like using free cards through Paperless Post. You might prefer a quick email or a thank you on the social channel you first connected through. However you slice it, appreciating their generosity is a necessity. The interviewee might become an early customer, and even if they don't, it's just the right thing to do.

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