We can’t deny the fact that social is influencing every part of the business and every operational activity. With this on-going social rise, consumers are equally participating and contributing to your business success by helping to bring great products to market. And, now business leaders need to encourage their product strategy/design teams to connect with external communities to listen and embrace their new ideas, However many enterprises are still hesitant to directly interact with consumers to influence product creation. My question - Is it too difficult to interact and learn from users?
A month and a half back, I received a tweet how Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” lays the Smackdown on Social Media – Sounds a bit weird and can call his ubiquitous phrase, “If you smelllllll….What The Rock! Is cooking, on Social Media”? Since joining Facebook a few months back and Twitter less than a year, The Rock has become a great supporter of social media and recently added another feather to his cap: the title of Must-Follow Actor or Actress on Social Media. To add to this, The Rock has more than 6.5 million “likes” on his Facebook fan page and has nearly 2 million followers on Twitter. During one of his interviews, he expressed his thoughts on how social media has changed the game and when companies/individuals embrace it, Sky is the limit. He personally uses social media to engage with audiences/fans and to give them a very special access to behind the scenes, on the sets, and in the movie trailers etc. I personally like his statement when he said “it’s a great way for me to have my finger on the pulse of what my fans do and don’t like in terms of projects and overall sentiments, because there’s no other platform on Earth that gives you the instant feedback”.
On a similar note, companies like Best Buy, Dell, Mountain Dew, and Starbucks have already conducted and are continuing their well publicized efforts for customer participation in new product creation. A crowd sourcing campaign can generate useful incremental innovations for your products and services. By posing questions or requesting information in a forum, typically on a public one, a company allows consumers to offer suggestions or recommendations for its brand.
According to PSFK, leading apparel manufacturers Levi Strauss & Co is using Instagram to cast their 2012 campaign. The brand is asking both men and women to upload their images on to Instagram and tag them with #iamlevis. That means you have as good a chance as anyone to model the brand’s new collection for print and commercials – A most creative way of using Instagram as a crowd sourcing tool as Levi’s aims to find new faces for its next ad campaign, also the new PR tactic allows Levi’s to gain popularity in the global market.
Engage with smart people who don’t work for you:
Social networking sites provide ample opportunities to connect with a broader set of outside perspectives, but some business leaders are still reluctant to explore how this will benefit their organizations. They might come back by saying – We have really smart people working for us or they may be more comfortable with the company’s current process - For example seek intelligence for new or existing products, using traditional methods such as focus group or market surveys. However, don’t you think they are missing the opportunity to crowd-source ideas, coming straight from the users? Remember, your customers are highly connected and more responsive towards social communications. With fast growing online reviews and mobile web accesses, your customers understand more about your products, your offerings, your competitors’ and pricing than you do and product marketers must mobilize themselves with direct customer insight from early design phases, through testing and even into the messaging process. In the nutshell, “Be smart enough to engage with your prospective customers and tap into the wisdom of crowd”.
Social technologies have opened doors to customers, making them get total control over their experiences – Be it Good or Bad! As rightly described by Rick Mans, our Social Media Lead at Capgemini - What customers think about your company – “If you are not my friend, you are not my service provider”. Rick has described some creative yet fundamental steps to incorporate in order to truly engage with customers in the social arena. In other words, companies need to concentrate on getting to know their audience and engage them throughout the product development life-cycle.
Become the people’s champion:
- Listen to the customers: Why is social-listening important - Because social listening helps companies track real-time customer insight about their brands and provides opportunity to learn more from the customers’ perspective, also it allows marketers to modify their product development strategies based on what customers are saying about their brand, product and competitors.
- Become responsive: Social media gets a company into a direct conversation with the customers. Today’s social media sites, especially Facebook and Twitter unveil various product improvement opportunities, however marketers need to understand their company’s official websites can be social too – Social points such as corporate blogs, comments, and ratings on the corporate websites allow you to respond to your customers and are great ways to reach out to the larger number of customers.
- Let the audience understand what you need from them: This step is mainly important when you are talking in a group – keep in mind that people have different point of views and something that may be absolutely acceptable to you might be inconceivable to others. Make sure that you clearly explain your points and put your customers at ease while answering your questions.
- Focus on building relationships, not transactions: Building a relationship with customers takes a considerable amount of time, investment and resources, so you have to be really careful about that. Show commitment and explore ways to help your customers use your products, solve their issues, and ask for improvements. The real value of social is that it’s a tool that can empower deeper relationship building for the right user.
- Understand the power of mass collaboration: As Gartner says, successful social media solutions tap into the power of mass collaboration through user participation. Marketers understand that the only way to achieve substantial benefits from social media is by mobilizing the community to contribute. Remember, the wisdom of crowd can’t be captured if the crowds don’t participate.