Product Development: Social Can Yield a Goldmine of Value to Build, Tweak Product


Product Development: Social Can Yield a Goldmine of Value to Build, Tweak Product

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  May 05, 2015

The always-on consumer has created new challenges for businesses, which can now be put on the hot seat with the whole world watching in an instant. The good news, however, is the tendency for online denizens to be very vocal in what they like and don’t like about products creates a wealth of information that companies can use to their advantage.

“There is an intrinsic link between [marketing and product development], and I think that link is getting stronger, and I think that will allow us to create value for the customer faster,” says Jamie Beckland, vice president of marketing and product at customer identity management platform company Janrain.

Social listening, for example, can be used to aggregate customer feedback and deliver it to the product development team to more quickly address customer needs, he says.

Samya Ghosh, general manager of digital services at IT services and technology consulting firm Mindtree, agrees. And he refers to this new process as co-creation.

“Social channels are helping create a marketplace of testers – people who are willing to try out alpha or beta versions of products, who are enthusiasts,” notes Ghosh. “And it’s helping product development organizations in two ways: A, in terms of getting an understanding of what the core consumer needs are, and B: I think it gives a good sense to an organization of what the size or success factor of the product might be.”

Google (News - Alert) Glass is a good example of that, he adds, noting this product stayed in beta stage. However, social channels can also help organizations prioritize the evolution of a product so it fits with customer requirements going forward, he says.

At the same time, Ghosh notes, products themselves are becoming much more connected and intelligent, which means consumers don’t always necessarily have to actively share their thoughts about the products they use. Instead, the devices can communicate how, when, and how often people use them. Wearable trackers from companies like Jawbone, which is a Mindtree customer, are among the products that can allow this time of thing, he says.

Indeed, Gerry Murray, research manager of IDC (News - Alert), says technology and data are the new palette for marketing. While some companies are struggling with this significant change in the industry, because the technology is ahead of the culture, Murray says, several big brands are embracing it and coming at this new canvas from some pretty interesting angles.

For example, he says, Domino’s Pizza in Australia launched a social networking game called Pizza Mogul. Customers use it to make unique pizza recipes, share them online, and earn a share of the profits from every pizza based on their recipes that Domino’s sells. Pizza creators can track their process on a leaderboard. As of early April, the leader had sold 19,380 pizzas and earned $33,522.25.

“These people are developing the product, they marketed it, and they are out there selling and promoting it to bars and friends and events,” says Murray.

Hair care product company Pantene, meanwhile, launched a campaign inviting Oscar watchers to comment online about hair they like using #wantthathair. This campaign was interesting because it used digital, social, and video tools to create awareness, and it involved the company hiring a portrait artist to draw and post images of actresses on the red carpet and gave each hairstyle a unique and catchy name (like the Hollywood Wave) to generate consumer interest and encourage conversation. This campaign generated 41.9 million Twitter (News - Alert) impressions – 34 times more than L’Oreal, which was the official hair care sponsor of the Oscars.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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