The Dos and Don’ts of Using Social Media to Drive Innovation

socia media as an innovation engine

How to use social media as an innovation engine.

Innovation is a powerful way to drive growth, but traditional approaches taken by companies to develop innovative products and services are increasingly being found to be unsuccessful in creating growth. The emerging shift in how companies and customers interact is ushering in new practices for companies seeking growth through innovation.

Traditional marketing logic sees the customer and company as separate and detached; the customer is seen as the passive recipient of a company’s product or service offering. The modern marketing paradigm recognizes customers as co-creators of value and collaborators alongside companies in their innovation process. How then can your company successfully engage customers to develop new products and services? How can your company innovate faster? How can your company innovate better? Harness social media as an innovation engine.

Conversations taking place on social networks about brands, companies, products, and services can provide your company with a wealth of information and be a source of innovation – innovation that can drive growth. Here are some dos and don’ts of making social media part of your innovation process.


Monitor conversations about your company and its products and services

What are customers saying? What do customers like? What do they dislike? Are there questions that are repeatedly being asked by customers about your company and/or a specific product or service you offer? By passively listening to these conversations, you can determine how your company and its offerings are being perceived in the marketplace.

Learn about creative ways customers are using your products

Ikea products are constantly being “hacked” or used in ways that the company had not intended. Learning “off-label” uses for your products can help you to identify needs within the marketplace, new marketing opportunities for your products, and can generally get your creative juices flowing.

Look at social media to identify trends

Is there a way that your company can take advantage of specific trends? Can you introduce a new product or service? Can you re-purpose a product or service to meet the demands of a specific trend? Even more basic, if you already have a product or service that is trendy, make people aware that you have what they want. How you ask? Engage them on social media.


Be afraid to ask questions

Users engaged with your company on social media can be employed similar to a focus group. Posing thoughtful questions to your followers can elicit responses that are likely to provide valuable insight your company would otherwise have to pay for. Practicing active listening to social media conversations also makes customers feel engaged, valued, and appreciated.

Dismiss feedback provided by customers

Don’t dismiss feedback provided by customers via social media; embrace it and its honesty. Learn from the feedback provided. Engage with customers to learn more. Use the intelligence that you gain from social media to fuel innovation.

Forget about your competitors

What are customers saying about your competitor and their products and services? What do customers like about your competitor’s products? What do they not like? Are your customers using your competitors products in an off-label way? All of this information can be used to fuel innovative for your company.

David Burkus, founder of LDRLB and assistant professor of management at Oral Roberts University, wrote that “in most organizations, innovation isn’t hampered by a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of noticing the good ideas already there.” The conversations taking place via social media offer a wealth of good ideas. Your company can capitalize on the information and intelligence provided, or you can ignore it. If you choose the former you can turn social media into an innovation engine for your company – one that will help your company grow not in spite of, but because of the current environment and customer demands.

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