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Social data is becoming increasingly important in the new product development processes of many companies. In particular, manufacturers are tapping into social conversations as they explore new product ideas in order to learn what consumers are interested in and talking about. Later, when launch is imminent, social channels are becoming a key factor in setting media and advertising strategies.
These applications of social media analytics only scratch the surface though. Social data can be a unifying thread of information that supports decision-making at every stage of product development – discovering a new product idea, building a business case for it, developing the product, testing and validation, launch, and post-launch review.
For example, during discovery, social media data can help uncover ideas for new products or product line extentions to existing product lines. Then, as you’re building the business case and developing the product, social analytics can be used to monitor the pulse of consumers, alerting you to changes in their attitudes and interests.
During testing and validation, social data could play a crucial role in deciding to stop a project. Information gathered as part of market analysis might signal that customers are showing strong preference for the features of another company’s competing product. Pulling the plug on your development efforts could potentially save millions of dollars.
Social data can also be invaluable in the media planning and buying process. By assessing the potential “social lift” that social media can provide to your paid media initiatives, social analytics can help you commit the minimum effective spend needed to achieve the maximum effective return on media expenditures.
In our most recent white paper entitled Stage-Gate success: How the social web drives product development, we examine the role of social media analysis and data in the product development process, using the example of the highly regarded Stage-Gate® Product Innovation Process.