12 Most Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Your Products

12 Most Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Your Products

Social media has exploded. It spawns revolutions, communicates breaking news and brings the world together for The Super Bowl, The Grammy Awards and other live events. If you’re a product marketer or product manager, have you considered that social media can help improve your products? Well it sure can, and here’s how:

1. Understand customer language and terms

Let’s say your company manufactures coffee mugs, but your customers call them “java jars.” Use social media to find out how your customers and prospects refer to your products and services. Based on this example, I’d argue that your web site, your social channels and your search engine marketing (SEM) ought to make heavy use of the term “java jars.” This may not help your products per se, but they sure can improve your product positioning.

2. Provide customer service

As many prominent consumer brands have demonstrated, social media is an effective channel for providing customer service. You can track conversations, hear what the market is telling you and feed those insights back into your product team.

3. Crowdsource new features

What new features would customers like to see in your next release or revision? Run a Facebook contest or poll your followers on Twitter. Your customers are experts in your product and you’ll be amazed to see and hear the creative ideas they have for you.

4. Learn about the competition

Set up search queries for your competition in your social channels. Customers are not shy, so expect to hear detailed feedback on their experiences with your competitors’ offerings. Use these insights to determine where you or your competition has feature gaps. Look to fill your gaps, while exploiting your competitors’ gaps.

5. Motivate internal teams

I don’t know about you, but when I hear my company’s product complimented in social media, I copy/paste the mention and share it with my internal teams (e.g. Services, Development, etc.). For those not as “close” to the market, sharing kudos (about the product) helps motivate them to create better and better products.

6. Share updates and roadmaps with the market

Healthy vendor/client relationships depend on clear communication paths. Use social media (e.g. blogs, Twitter, Facebook) to share news and updates with your customers and prospects. Open communications lead to conversations (with customers) that can inform and guide your product strategy.

7. Ask for input and advice

Launching a web page for your latest product offering? Ask selected members of your social channels to preview the page. Or, share portions of your product roadmap and ask customers about the features most important to them.

8. Find and solicit beta testers

Build and sustain a community of beta testers, who can play with (and break!) early versions of your products. Within this community, monitor what they’re tweeting and posting about to help inform your product teams on how the beta version of the product is performing.

9. Host regular Twitter chats

Obtain regular input from members of your Twitter community. Have a regular day/time and engage with your customers and prospects, 140 characters at a time.

10. Host a Google+ Hangout

President Obama answered questions about the State of the Union via a Google+ Hangout. You can use a Google+ Hangout to answer questions about the state of your product.

11. Promote customer events

Customer events are a great way to meet face-to-face with your customers and partners. Customers will tell you how great your products are, but they’ll also tell you what your products are missing. Use social media to promote your customer events — and, to sustain dialog and conversations during them.

12. Vote for a product name or product feature

Let your customers vote to select the latest product name or product feature. It creates engagement with your customer community. And, it gives them a sense of ownership knowing that they had a role in naming your latest widget.

How do you leverage your business with social media?

Dennis Shiao

http://allvirtual.wordpress.com

Dennis Shiao is Director of Product Marketing at INXPO and author of the book Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events. At INXPO, Dennis is responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution, and for shaping product and platform evolution via the “voice of the customer.” Dennis has managed virtual event campaigns for Cisco, HP, Oracle and Microsoft, among others. Dennis blogs about virtual events at INXPO, and on his personal blog, It’s All Virtual. Dennis can be found on Twitter at @dshiao.

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