Your business’ social media community can be an invaluable asset when working through product or service development.
The engagement and activation of your community can assist with virtually every stage of product development including idea generation, concept screening, concept development, commercial viability analysis, beta testing, and commercialization and launch.
There a huge number of ways that your community can contribute to product development, so I’ll just highlight a few to serve as thought-starters for the next time you plan to expand your product or service offerings.
Social listening for idea generation and analysis
Social media platforms such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Pinterest give you the ability to listen to your consumers and those within your target demographic to learn about their wants and needs, what they are hoping for from you and your competition, what trends are relevant to your business, how your consumers use your products, and more.
Not only can this information be used for idea generation, but also it can be invaluable when analysing your ideas and developing criteria for screening the gold from the pyrite.
Polls and surveys for idea generation, screening, concept development, and testing commercial viability
Tools such as Facebook polls and Survey Monkey can be used to survey your social media communities and very specific sub-segments of your consumer base to dig deeper into specifics that will lead to strong idea generation and direct feedback to screen those ideas. The benefit of these tools is that you can ask participants very specific questions, resulting in very specific answers that should help to move your product/service development process forward.
Polls and surveys can also be used when you’re past the idea generation phase of your product development process to narrow in on desirable features, potential usage behaviour, identifying likely consumers for this new product/service, and more. All of this information can be invaluable when developing your concepts, testing for commercial viability, and moving into concept or beta testing.
Community involvement and feedback during iterative testing
Who better to test your products as they’re being developed and refined than individuals within your social media community? So long as you’re not developing a top-secret product offering, members of your community will likely be thrilled at the opportunity test and provide feedback on your latest products as they’re being developed. Depending on the category in which you compete, and the loyalty of your consumers, those chosen to participate may even see this as a reward.
Conversely, recruiting loyal members of your competition’s communities to test and provide feedback is a great way to gain a broader perspective on your concepts.
Launching with confidence, pre-established consumer excitement and anticipation
When it comes time to finally launch your new product, you’ll be able to do so with increased confidence that it will be a commercial success. Involving your social media audience will have helped to ensure that your product development efforts were focused on producing something that will be desirable.
Also, by involving your social media audience in the development of your product, you will have effectively pre-established consumer excitement and anticipation for your launch. Your product development process will have become a story that loyal and highly interested consumers will have followed, shared, and conversed with others about. Your product development can be incredibly effective for feeding your content pipeline.
Frequently the product development process is done in isolation, secrecy, and with limited consumer involvement. In a business landscape where consumers have increasing power and input into business and brands’ definition and success, it only seems logical to involve them when creating offerings for them.
How do you use social media as a part of your product or service development process?
If you have used social media for this purpose, what advantages have you experienced?
What difficulties have you experienced from trying to involve your audience?
It would be great to chat with you about this more in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
‘I want to shut down my Facebook page because I don’t want to deal with all of the negative comments that people have to say about my business’
Have you ever heard something like this?
Have you ever thought this?
If you’ve thought it, please, take a moment to hang your head in shame.
I’ve recently had discussions with several friends and colleagues who have shared stories of their clients wanting to remove their business from social media because they don’t want to have to address negative comments, the headache that trolls can cause, criticism from their loyal consumers, or simply because they don’t have time to address these concerns.
The very thought of wanting to ‘remove your business from social media’ is completely missing the point.
You can’t remove your business from social media.
All you can do is remove yourself from the discussions that are going to happen about your business, regardless of whether you’re participating or not.
Just because you ignore issues, doesn’t mean they’ll go away
Consumers don’t limit their online expressions of discontent, enthusiasm, or other opinions on businesses to only those with a Facebook Page, Twitter timeline, Pinterest board, YouTube channel or blog.
They have their own blogs, their own Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds, message boards and almost numerous other options for sharing their experiences, opinions, and perspectives on your business.
By not engaging in social media, you’re willingly being ignorant to these discussions and removing your ability to participate, make things right, and in some cases, defend yourself.
You can learn from negativity and apply it to improve your business
Consumers complain and spread negativity for a reason; they’re unhappy with your business. Sure, trolls exist, and some people are just inclined to complain, but most consumers have legitimate criticisms when they take their frustrations online.
Even when consumers are being negative, this is can be positive for your business. For every single person who expresses their criticism online, how many consumers are biting their tongue, vowing to themselves that they’ll take their business elsewhere in the future? It’s worthwhile to listen to what they have to say, and to view this as an opportunity to improve your business.
You can set the record straight
On occasion, there are consumers who express concerns on social media who are doing so unjustly. Maybe their negative experience was an anomaly, maybe they used your product improperly, maybe they didn’t set your service staff up for success. Whatever the issue, being able to receive these complaints also gives you opportunity to set the record straight and help those consumers out with their problems.
This will not only help the consumers you’re directly connecting with, but future consumers will be able to see these interactions and have greater faith that you are going to support your product or service, which can positively influence their purchase decisions. You might be able to avoid these issues or complaints in the future by creating record of your interactions, as a sort of FAQ or troubleshooting guide.
In my opinion, there is exactly one reason why engaging in social media could be viewed as a negative, and that one reason is that you no longer want to be in business, or no longer care about the future success of your business. This isn’t to say that the success of your business is entirely dependent on social media, but the perceived downsides are actually incredibly positive in most situations.
Have you ever been frustrated by complaints or negativity expressed on your social media properties? If so, how did you handle that situation?
If you have anything you’d like to add or discuss further, please feel free to do so in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Photo Credit: Veer