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5 Places to Look on Social Media for New Business Ideas For entrepreneurs looking to dive into the startup world, turn to social media for brainstorming new venture concepts.

By Gabrielle Boko

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Social media is a two-way street. It allows companies to increase visibility and awareness, raise their profile, promote a product or service and engage with customers. At the same time, customers use social media to express themselves and provide their opinions about brands. Both sides of the coin allow for a two-way dialogue, an opportunity for companies to receive instant feedback and also help a business cultivate an online following. But this social-media chatter can also provide another advantage -- it allows aspiring entrepreneurs to find the next great business idea.

Here are five social media tactics that can help to get the wheels turning:

1. Trending topics. Trending topics have come to represent the intersection of news and social media and appear on Facebook and Twitter – often represented through hashtags. They are the manifestation of social media chatter, buzz and general conversation.

This is also where complaints surface. Think of trending topics as your own personal focus group for any problem. Whether on a global scale or in your community, if you listen and pay attention to trending topics, you may just be able to glean enough important information to get you started on a solution --your next great business idea.

2. Popular pages. Pinterest and Instagram literally provide us with snapshots of what people are interested in and excited about via their popular page section. Exploring popular pages and topics of interest will provide valuable insight and research to inspire great ideas for reaching potential consumers. Entrepreneurs can then reflect on what they think consumers would buy. What can I create to help better their lives? What would they be interested in?

3. Crowdfunding platforms. Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are a great source for discovering trends, new products and services. Businesses and startups look to these platforms for funding opportunities from venture capitalists, angel investors and the general public. By determining which businesses received funding and what the general public is interested in, individuals are able to gain insight into what consumers are looking for, what interests them and what they are willing to pay for.

Related: 5 Fast-Growing Industries Ripe for Entrepreneurs

4. TV shows and the second screen. Now that we're fully immersed in the digital age, the rise of the second screen is becoming increasingly popular. Second screens (often our computer, laptop or mobile device) are used to engage, interact with heighten the media experience. TV shows like Shark Tank and Dragon's Den are taking the second screen into account when writing scripts and taping. When shows like these air, entrepreneurs should tune in to Twitter or Facebook and read the feedback. Are these new business pitches going to succeed? Would people actually use the product being pitched? If not, what would make it more appealing? Can I improve any of these business ideas? Learning what works and what doesn't work can help spark the next great idea. And, you have the opportunity to listen to and view investor's feedback.

5. Trending pages. We've already discussed trending topics, so think of this section as referencing a whole page of trending topics. StumbleUpon and Flipboard have a plethora of trending topics from all industries that have been categorized into trending pages for you -- all you need to do is look. Scour these pages for topics that are popular and then read the comments --what are people saying? If there is an issue, is this something you have the answer to?

If you find that you are just out of ideas and looking for inspiration, these sites can be just the key to spark your creative engine.

Related: Richard Branson on Finding Your Passion Project

Gabrielle Boko

Executive Vice President of Marketing at Sage North America

Gabrielle Boko is the executive vice president of marketing at Irvine, California-based Sage North America, which provides software to small and medium-sized businesses.

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