Social Product Innovation: 2 Ways

There are 2 ways in which you can use social media to innovate when it comes to developing new products.

1) Product led innovations – here companies like Dell and Salesforce have led the charge in using tools to help them prioritize new product features with IdeaStorm and IdeaExchange (respectfully). These are great for engaging your user base and getting them exactly what they request on a schedule that they can see and influence.

But that’s only going to get you so far.

The reason for this is they are commenting on an existing product and helping to evolve the product. But this doesn’t protect Dell or SalesForce from someone leapfrogging them. Sure it would be hard but look at the iPod. MP3 players were around for a while before the iPod came out and cleaned their clocks.

Therefore I think the second type of innovation you can get from Social Media is Problem led innovation.

2) Problem led innovations – this is where companies like Dell or Salesforce gets outside of their 4 virtual walls and listen to customers in other virtual places for new product ideas. Things they haven’t thought of yet. Then they engage with the users and vow to help bring that product to market. Perhaps even recruit them to become part of a virtual product development team.

Social Media holds a lot of promise for companies both small and large especially when it comes to Product innovation. We have yet to see the full impact of all of this inter-connectedness. But it will take someone who truly studies and understands the landscape to navigate the waters to successfully find leapfrog opportunities.

9 comments to Social Product Innovation: 2 Ways

  • Dexter Gumbs

    Could be a bit more detailed. Yes, social media is great for getting quick feedback. How does that really help with your innovations? What are specific examples?

  • Paul Dunay

    @Dexter – thanks for commenting

    2 things

    1) this is a bit of a future state recommendation – its hasnt happened yet

    2) for examples I would say the closest would be Dell and SalesForce in the 1st category and then check out Wikinomics for early examples of how the 2nd category can work specifically P&G and how they accept 50% of their innovation from outside their 4 walls

  • Steve Hakansson Jr.

    Thank you for this @Paul. Also find Wikinomics a great resource.

  • Jeff Ogden

    Certainly social media lets companies listen to conversations in new ways, which supplements focus groups and surveys. As you said, it has not happened yet, but certainly will in the future.

    For more discussion,

    For tips on lead generation,

  • Brooks

    I definitely think you'll see more products/software appear to assist with problems generated from chatter or use on these social media sites. Jobs are being created today, to not only monitor chatter, but to generate it as well. Good post, great insight.

  • Anonymous

    Good read, thank you!

    – Steven Burda

  • janelle

    There are a few companies who are focused on providing software specifically for innovation and idea collection. One that has been around the longest is Brightidea. One of their clients, Adobe,, uses the software for external incremental product feedback. Cisco used it to power the Cisco I-Prize where the company sought disruptive ideas (ipod, etc) and ended up getting ideas with billions of dollars worth of potential. More on that here:

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Janelle – excellent suggestions – I will check them out – thanks for commenting

  • Michael

    janelle. Thanks for you comments. Can you give any more insight into software programmes for innovation and data collection

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