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More and more companies are using social media to obtain quick feedback from their customer base. In retail, this information is gold. It allows retailers to make important decisions about their product, positioning, value and pricing in a very short time.

Normally, buyers work up to six months in advance, often making educated guesses on clothes based on past sales of similar items. Getting an early read on trends and insights into what clientele really want gives a big edge over the competition.

Diana Harbour, owner of The Red Dress Boutique, understood that concept early on. With two stores in Athens, USA (one successful, the other not so much), she wanted to promote her dresses online. Her strategy was to share snapshots of items she was considering to add to her line on her buying trips via Twitter and to obtain comments from her followers. Did they like it? How much would they pay for it? What they liked about it? She got the conversation going by talking about herself, her family, and her changes in home décor and eventually her dresses. The response from her clientele was overwhelming, and provided her with substantial product / market research on a timely and specific basis.

In addition, she set up dedicated pages on Facebook in 2005. After some resistance from Facebook who shut her down three times because they did not support business promotions until 2007, she went on to develop a presence on Pinterest, Instagram and Wanelo.

In three years, her annual revenue jumped from $70,000 to $7.1 million, mostly due to online sales. Diana and her husband appeared on the popular television reality show Shark Tank in November 2014 to request $100,000 to upgrade their website to support the extra demand and in so doing obtained broadcast exposure as well. Diana got the investment for which she was asking and along the way received much kudos on her innovative approach.
Social media has opened up new avenues for obtaining consumer feedback and building direct engagement. Can you think of other ways to obtain feedback using social media?