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Using Facebook for Free Market Research

Facebook is everywhere, all the time. Besides updating your friends on what you had for lunch and finding the next "most hilarious YouTube video ever," Facebook has some very helpful uses that are often overlooked.

Facebook can be used in a few ways to gather some great, FREE, market research. Using their Create an Ad tool, you can calculate estimated target market size in less than 5 minutes.
 

How to Estimate Your Target Market

Let's say you own a small business that sells t-shirts and other team apparel exclusively to football players. While at the games selling your merchandise, you notice a growing trend in the number cheerleaders that are participating and showing up. Is it worth expanding your product line to include merchandise targeted at cheerleaders?

To help answer that question, you can use Facebook's "Create an Ad" tool to estimate the potential target market.

  1. Within your Facebook account or on their homepage, click "Create an ad".
     

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  2. Since you will not actually be creating an ad, fill in dummy information. Enter a URL and click "suggest an ad" to expedite the process. Facebook makes you insert a photo so have one handy. Once filled out hit Continue.
     

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  3. Here's where you get to the good stuff! You can pick all sorts of targeting options to help narrow down your particular market focus. The best part is with each additional parameter, Facebook instantly updates the "estimated reach." Continuing the example, you could choose to focus just on Georgia high school students between the ages of 13 and 18 who have expressed interest in cheerleading.
     

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    Voilà! You've learned in just a few minutes that there are at least 8,300 people in your target market. Remember, this number is only as accurate as the information that Facebook users include, but it helps you gauge potential interest almost immediately.

    Happy researching!