How Social Media Can Drive Product Innovation.

Transform your followers on social media into members of your R&D team.
TJ Kiely
August 2, 2017 - 4 min. read

Nobody has a monopoly on ideas.

Ideas can come from anyone, at any time. The idea for a new product, service or product feature can come from an intern, a new hire – or even a customer.

Don’t believe us?

Gillette, the razor brand owned by Procter & Gamble, recently launched Gillette TREO, the first razor ever designed for assisted shaving, in response to comments the brand received on social media from customers struggling to care for another person.

The company’s heart-warming video explains that over 4,000 razors have been designed throughout history but, until now, none were ever designed with the intent to shave someone else. Given that there are over 40,000,000 caregivers in the U.S. – many of whom shave another person on a daily basis – it is hard to believe that this market need had not already been addressed.

Furthermore, it seems that the opportunity could have continued to have been overlooked if it wasn’t for the brand’s commitment to active social listening. By leveraging the power of social listening, Gillette was able to develop a new product that created new value for both the company and its customers. But how do you solicit these types of innovative ideas?

Social media contests
More and more companies are beginning to encourage customers to submit ideas through social media. Oreo, the cookie brand sold by Nabisco, recently announced a $500,000 prize for the creation of its next Oreo flavor. To participate in the contest, people were required to submit their flavor suggestions using #MyOreoCreation and #Contest on Twitter and Instagram.

Madeline Vincent, the brand manager of Oreo Cookies, commented on the contest, saying, “We just thought there would be no one better to help us brainstorm than our fans who already have these amazing ideas and are already sharing them.”

The competition is similar to Frito-Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” contest, which garnered 3.8 million submissions (a suggestion for Cheesy Garlic Bread flavored potato chips won). That’s a staggering amount of brand engagement.

And although these campaigns have successfully stimulated brand engagement on social media, they have also limited the potential scope of customer’s contributions to product flavors.

Brand co-creation
Have you ever enjoyed free WiFi, used a splash stick or sampled a cake pop at a Starbucks? Well, then you can thank your fellow customers for their suggestions. Since Starbucks introduced the “My Starbucks Idea” website, customers have submitted over 100,000 ideas that address a broad range of topics. Of course, not every idea is a good idea, but Starbucks has still been able to implement a small portion of the ideas in order to improve customer experience.

LEGO is another brand that has taken steps to facilitate customer-driven innovation. The company’s IDEAS website allows customers to design new LEGO sets, vote on other designs and provide recommendations for improving other designs. If a design submission gets 10,000 votes, senior LEGO employees evaluate the project’s commercial viability. And if approved, the designer is rewarded with 1% of the product’s net sales.

By establishing a dedicated space for idea generation, both LEGO and Starbucks are able to turn every customer into a member of their R&D teams. But websites are not the first place that customers turn to anymore when they want to reach out to a company, social media is.

34% of customers turn to social networks first when wanting to communicate with a company, compared to 24% for websites. So how do you make sure you are not missing out on any valuable ideas or insights from customers on social media? The answer: social media listening.

Benefits of social media listening
Social media listening connects you to your online community, allowing you to engage with and learn from customers 24/7/365. The process of social media listening involves sifting through millions of messages in order to unlock actionable insights. But that process can help you:

  • Develop new products or services
  • Identify product or service improvements
  • Prioritize the importance of certain product or service updates

And sometimes the insights collected online can be more valuable than those collected through traditional methods, such as focus groups. Procter & Gamble, which owns diaper brands Pampers and Luvs, admitted that it was able to uncover better insights through listening to conversations online than traditional surveys when exploring the renewed interest in cloth diapering in the U.S.

Social listening tools
Unlocking the value of social listening requires the use of the right tool. With Engage in Falcon, you can not only coordinate and execute responses, but also identify positive and negative sentiments across large volumes of data. These features allow you to use your social inbox as a way to engage customers in meaningful conversations and identify common trends that may lead to new products. But the only way for your brand to understand what is important to your customers, and uncover new insights, is to start really listening to them.

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing.

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