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
A blog post shouldn’t just be a blog post.
Any time you put the effort into writing a blog post, you should consider how to deconstruct it into several pieces of shorter form content to feed your business’ social media content pipeline.
I’ll describe how you can do this and a few things you should consider for each social media platform here:
Facebook, Google+ & LinkedIn
Each blog post should at the very least be cross-promoted on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or whatever social media platforms your business is utilizing. Instead of just posting the title to your blog post, try also sharing a key point, or posing an interesting question to drive engagement.
A word of caution here is to not over-promote your content on these platforms. Limit your cross-promotion to a single post on each of these social media networks so you don’t come across as spamming your audiences’ timelines.
Get the most out of your blog post by also cross-promoting it on Twitter. In addition to tweeting the title of your article with a link, schedule follow-up tweets to share each of the key points, statistics, and otherwise tweet-worthy anecdotes.
The number of tweets that can be created from the contents of a blog post is dependent on how many points of value you’re able to extrapolate. The key here is to ensure that each of your tweets can stand on its own as being of value to your audience.
Pinterest might not seem at first like an obvious social media network through which to extend the value of your blog post, but there are often opportunities to share content from your blog here as well. Create images that highlight key points, lists, ideas, how-to’s, or other information from your blog post.
Similar to Twitter, the number of Pinterest pins that can be created from your blog post is reliant on how many individual points from your blog post alone can provide value to your consumers. When creating Pinterest pins, ensure that the content you will be sharing from your blog post is enhanced by the added visual element that is inherent on the platform.
Your blog posts can be reimagined as scripts or speaking points for YouTube videos. Video content can be created to touch on all of the points included on your blog, or you can create a series of shorter vignettes to engage your consumers with more bite-sized content.
Alternatively, your blog posts don’t need to be the beginning and end of a conversation. YouTube can be used to dig into certain points, provide additional context, highlight practical application, or interview others to gain their perspective on your content.
In addition to placing a huge amount of effort into creating content that will provide value to your consumers, you should also be focused on how you can get the most value from the content you create. By deconstructing your blog posts into content for your business’ other social media properties you’ll be able to extend the reach of your content by reaching different consumers on different platforms, and you’ll be able to save your social media and content marketing teams a huge amount of time creating content.
How do you deconstruct your blog content for use on other social media networks?
It would be great to chat with you more about this 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
The value for any business or brand of attracting only the most relevant followers and fans on social media – be it Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, or any other platform – is easy to understand.
Your efforts on social media will be more strongly focused on potential consumers.
You can expect higher conversion rates.
Engagement and interaction with your content will be more meaningful.
Conversations started on your social media properties are more likely to be amplified.
… and on.
I’m sure you get it, it’s pretty 101.
So, what’s this article all about then? Why would you ever want to attract irrelevant fans and followers on your social media properties?
There are a few reasons actually:
Attract relevant fans by providing social validation
It takes guts to be the first, or amongst the first, to do anything. You might be judged. You might be unsure of your decisions. For prospective fans and followers who are relevant to your business, a sizable social media community – relevant or not – can act as social validation to join your community. Ultimately, attaining irrelevant fans and followers can serve to attract a greater number of relevant fans and followers.
Build a sense of momentum and gain increased organizational support
I don’t need to tell you that there are more important metrics to gauge success on social media than fan or follower acquisition. This said, there are still a huge number of people that think of social media as an alternative broadcasting platform, and therefore view the number of fans and followers on social media properties as being equivalent to potential media impressions.
This is the wrong way to think about social media marketing, but if they’re not easily educated, let them think this way (for now anyway).
If you can build the number of fans and followers on your social media properties, you are going to be more likely to convince these kinds of people that you are gaining traction through your social activity, and will therefore be more likely to gain increased organizational support. This could be manifested through increased financial investment, additional resource allocation, or greater access to potential sources of content. All of these things could positively impact your social media marketing efforts.
I acknowledge the number of counter arguments to this, but in some cases, the path of least resistance can allow you to do things you wouldn’t be permitted or supported to do otherwise.
Encourage those working on your social media properties
This is particularly relevant for small social media communities in their early stages of growth. For anyone who has registered a Twitter account, started a Facebook Page, written for a blog that isn’t well established, or undertaken any similar activity, you know it can be discouraging to think that you’re expending incredible effort for virtually nobody to be seeing the fruit of your labour.
Picking up a few fans or followers can be incredibly rewarding, relevant or not. Even as your communities grow, acquiring new fans can be encouraging and psychologically rewarding, and can help sustain high levels of effort and enthusiasm to keep working toward more important objectives and KPIs.
Despite the positives I’ve listed in this post, I would never encourage you to go out of your way to acquire irrelevant fans or followers for your business’ social media communities. Also, I would never try to convince you that the value of an irrelevant fan or follower is anywhere close to a highly relevant, targeted fan or follower.
Under certain circumstances, however, there are actually benefits to having your communities grow in whatever way possible. You should embrace every new fan or follower, and recognize that even though they might be relatively inconsequential to directly helping you achieve your objectives, they might help to positively influence others who will make a greater impact. They can lead to the acquisition of more relevant fans, they can help to build internal support, and they can encourage sustained effort toward greater objectives.
If you have anything you’d like to share or add to this topic of conversation, it would be great to chat more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Photo Credit: Veer