Use of Social Media in Product Management

For those of you who don’t know, @cindyfsolomon and Adrienne run a weekly Product Management Twitter Talk. We invite notable Product Management professionals to lead and join discussions that hopefully enlighten and delight.

This is a summary of the 6th Product Management Twitter Talk held on 15 March 2011 (Sydney date).

This week’s topic on The Use of Social Media in Product Management was led by our very own Paul Gray. Paul is passionate about Social Media and Product Management and has successfully combined both disciplines effectively.

Paul’s first question to the group was “Does Product Management hold some or all responsibility for social media in your business?”

The overall response from the group was that Product Management should monitor for direct customer feedback, changes in consumer sentiment, seek trends using social media but not use social media as a marketing communications tool.

  • nickcoster: Product Management owns the intent of any outbound messages but should avoid direct operational engagement.
  • stacymonarko: Marketing owns outbound messages with support and input from Product Management.
  • paulalexgray: In most organisations I’ve worked with, social media falls under a ‘marketing’ umbrella. While I’m seeing more Product Managers with a stake in social media, I see that its brand and communications that (mostly) leads. I am seeing more involvement by Product Management teams but not in the communications or promotions space. More for feedback, prod development and collaboration. I can’t see Product Management ever owning social media – but it will – and should – take a higher stake.
    Too many business and organisations still view socialmedia as purely promotional. We see it as having multiple functions. Social media provides avenues for gathering insight from customers + partners, competitors, suppliers.
  • piplzchoice: Product Management owns listening, hearing, and the analysis of social media conversations.
  • Brainmates: Product Management is not responsible for using social media to “market” product or service. Product Management should use social media as a tool to gather market insights.
  • cindyfsolomon: I think social media is considered the same as the website used to be, same as direct marketing. At best product marketing should own strategy defined within marketing requirements.
  • rcauvin: Product Management determines product positioning, not tactical communications. Positioning should drive most product decisions, spanning strategic and tactical decisions. We in Product Management have an important opportunity to identify prospects from which we can learn more about our markets.
  • isdscuba: Product Management needs to understand social media trends, monitor social media for their product – to pick issues & ideas.
  • gavincostello: Social Media is used for a diverse mix of communication, but it’s just another channel – part of the
    overall product marketing mix as well as for other sorts of communication like customer feedback, service and support.
  • lmckeogh: Social media provides a nice conduit to converse with customers.

The second question Paul asked the group to consider was “How are you using social media to monitor references to your product or conversations relevant to your product?

  • cindyfsolomon: I use google alerts to monitor all kinds of relevant key words – of course there are sophisticated tools.
  • isdscuba: Due to the amount on a Product Manager’s plate, social media monitoring can be easily automated providing daily/hourly emails/RSS. Pay for services like @cision / @radian6 / @vocus or a range of other startups.
  • stacymonarko: Creating alerts for social mentions, listening on twitter/LinkedIn/FB etc – depending on organisation’s customer interactions.
  • rcauvin: It depends on channels of interest.
  • paulalexgray: http://www.socialmention.com/ is a good free tool for monitoring – checks blogs, tweets, posts, comments etc.
  • Brainmates: Many ways to monitor references to your product. Challenge becomes understanding and analysing the data to make good decisions.

The third question; “How are you using social media to promote your product, or provide valuable knowledge to your customers?

  • paulalexgray: I see lots of Product Managers doing this on Quora.
  • stacymonarko: To follow up with customers via social media, organisations must have a program or strategy in place.
  • lmckeogh: I think that it is expected or even desired to have a comment followed up on. Product Management can inform about tips/tricks/best practices, etc. More meat to Marcomm’s message (cough, fluf).
  • isdscuba: Support via twitter, promote via Facebook, and use a mashup of other tools to gain market insights.
  • wapolanco: I use social media largely to gather information from customers and learn behavior and trends. Customer service replies to the customer. As a Product Manager I focus on gathering intelligence from customers i.e. market trends. Getting your customers to be your advocates is key…. Product Leadership.
  • Brainmates: We blog about our opinions on Product Management, reach out to customers on twitter & linkedin. It drives our business.
  • sean_campbell: Providing tidbits of information, links to insights (ours and others), etc. – keeping up a heartbeat.
  • paulalexgray: A nice touch is when you as a Product Manager can create forum for your customers to do the promoting for you. Ford’s Fiesta movement seems like marketing campaign – but it delivered feedback and use evangelists to help promote new car. paulalexgray Even at small scale – can you create a way for custs
    to share stories, give feedback, be celebrated. Remember 1-9-90 rules.
  • lmckeogh: Tweets can only go so deep, but useful to direct to blogs, white papers, other resources.
  • cindyfsolomon: Must identify which customers are on which social media to target most effectively.
  • gavincostello: If you are still thinking of Social Media as a way to broadcast to your customers wake up, it isn’t 2009 anymore.
  • erikalandersen: Seems like socia media gives us chance to be fly on wall when customers talk about our products.

The fourth question; “How are you using social media in your product development process?”

  • paulalexgray: Product development. Atlassian is a great example. They use public wikis, forums and feedback tools. Atlassian posts their product development ideas and lets community vote/feedback. Similar to Dell Ideastorm but more focused.
    Think about steps in product development. How would you normally get insight? Then look for social media tools that can help.
  • lmckeogh: Post your roadmap and see what response you get on blog/wiki. Solicit beta customers to test and provide feedback via FB, twitter, and corporate blog.
  • vfigatelix: Getting fback through social media is cheap and fast! and customer are expecting it! so it’s a must. Customers engage at deeper level with the brand allowing product “mistakes” to happen and still love u!
  • wapolanco: Engage your customer from the outset. Very early. Turn your customers into influencers and they will be your brand.
  • rcauvin: Set expectations (new product development) with customers by orienting conversation around understanding the challenges they face.
    Sometimes social media is too cheap & fast. Need to engage in depth with customer for understanding.

On to the fifth question; “How do you use social media to engage beyond your customer? i.e. withsuppliers, partners, distributors & other team members?”

  • paulalexgray: A celebrated example is Deloitte’s use of Yammer to encourage all team members to share ideas and or feedback. I see things as conversations. Some conversations are more private, others are more public. Use the right conversation.
    I saw an interesting comment yesterday – fear of some organisations to allow social media internally compared to fear of email back in the day.
  • lmckeogh: Haven’t done much there, probably leave it to marcomm and partner marketing. Good oppportunities for cross pollination and promotion.
  • macmyday: We use social media mostly among team members only, but it’s not even encouraged. Purely use it out of our own drive.
  • aussiegoldy: Often it’s not possible to successfully engage with suppliers, partners, distributors because they don’t use social media to engage.

The sixth question; “Do you think Product Managers ‘get it’? Or do they view social media as ‘just a marketing fad’?”

  • sean_campbell: Depends, for some it’s a megaphone not a tool for conversation. Others don’t extend into new pockets.
  • stacymonarko: Some Product Managers think its for marketing only and frankly some don’t have the time. I barely do!
  • mmccarrell: I think they get it, as long as they don’t get too caught up in one channel. There’s always a new channel around the corner.
  • macmyday: Social media is driven very much out of personal interest. If you don’t use it personally & organisation has no policy to use it, social media remains unused.
    Social media can be an extraordinary tool beyond marketing Eg: used for customer service. But org needs to be daring enough to be open.
  • paulalexgray: Important to have the right frames of reference with this. Look at normal Product Management duties, then see where or how social media might help.
  • saeedwkhan: That’s a bit of a loaded question. Some get it, some don’t, but there’s not absolutely right answer is there? It’s not about the specific channel, but about using social media wisely and appropriately.
  • aussiegoldy: Product Managers only ‘get’ social media if they actively participate and engage with many communities. Otherwise they use it for promotion.
  • thefairdesmondo: I think many do, but their use of it will depend on how active their customers & market are in social media.

The final and last question for the session; “How do you get senior management on board to endorse using social media in Product Management?”

  • thefairdesmondo: You need to get them onboard with using it firstly, so they understand it better.
  • mmccarrell: It’s all about ROI. What’s the benefit of spending time on SM when I can be using it for other advances?
  • paulalexgray: Case studies help. Excellent resource of social media examples with some specific Product Management ideas http://wiki.beingpeterkim.com/.
  • vfigatelix: Big Bosses have fun tweeting and we have to follow them! i.e. Movistar’s CEO latam is a tweet superstar!
  • aussiegoldy: I have always told execs about the COI – cost of inactivity – online conversations where we weren’t involved.
  • saeedwkhan: … start with skunkworks social media efforts…get results…show results to mgmt…expand…. Nail it then scale it!

Product Management Talk is the fastest hour of the week. Its a great, effective way to keep your Product Management skills sharp.

Get prepared to debate agile versus waterfall with Mark Mansour of Agile Bench on Tuesday 9 AM Sydney time.