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
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