Leverage the collaborative power and accessibility of social networks to drive innovation within your organisation.
Samantha Scott, Business Operations, Idea Drop
Harnessing the power of collective thinking is the most effective way to maximise innovation output. In other words, the more minds, brain power and insight you can gather, the better. Crowdsourcing from within your organisation is great, but limited in comparison to the vast possibilities that social networks offer.
It’s no secret that research, collaboration and inspiration are the building blocks of innovation. Maximising collaboration and contributions from both employees and customers has been made easy through social platforms. With the potential to reach not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of customers, social media needs to be integrated into your innovation strategy. Here we share our tips and tricks for driving innovation with social media.
1. Filter and interpret consumer data
With information readily available at the touch of a button, gathering data and monitoring industry trends is cheap, quick and straightforward. However, you are not the only one with invaluable knowledge at your fingertips. The crucial difference is in how you monitor and use that information. Clever interpretation and fast implementation will give you the upper-hand in the battle to stay ahead of your competitors.
Accordingly, it is important not to base all business decisions solely on the feedback generated from social media. Instead use it as a guide to shape and tweak your product or service. Filtering out the golden nuggets of information from the considerable noise that permeates social networks is challenging but necessary and will set you apart from the competition.
2. Maximise crowdsourcing
Social networks provide a platform for all stakeholders of an organisation to get involved with the decision-making process. As a result, ideas will be generated at an unprecedented rate and the range of input will help to shape key business decisions. Furthermore, any challenges can be presented to this large group of people, making the problem-solving process easier than ever before. Ultimately, you should be building a network of collaborators who can continuously contribute to your innovation output and consequently achieve consistent business growth.
According to Daily Crowdsource: “Both crowdsourcing and social media owe their existence to the power of connections. When people come together to work towards a common cause, great things are born.”
Data-driven decisions are important in guiding the innovation process and you should utilise customer and stakeholder insights wisely. For example, prior to social media, the process for testing new ideas was convoluted and costly. With feedback now available on tap, use it to develop a new product or service by working in an agile way with fast experimenting, instant reviews and speedy amends. Get customers involved as early as possible and cut development time as a result.
3. Prioritise customer engagement
Consumer attitudes have shifted in line with the rise of social media and there is now a need to meet a set of new expectations. These revolve primarily around transparency and responsiveness – customers are all too happy to share their opinions and in return they expect to be listened to. As mentioned above, this feedback loop is at the heart of successful innovation.
According to MarketingSherpa: “33% of millennials identify social media as one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses.”
In order to keep this loop running effectively, companies need to be nimble in their social media management:
- React fast to @mentions and #trends
- Ask carefully constructed questions to generate the feedback you need
- Measure engagement with your content to determine what works best
- Reward and motivate customers with incentives
Keeping your customers in the loop and engaged is key to driving innovation. Never underestimate the power of personal interaction with customers that social networks allow. Just remember to use it wisely and cautiously.
4. Leverage the accessibility of social networks
Social media is everywhere. It is so accessible, it is harder to avoid it than engage with it – whether you are in Central London or halfway up a mountain. This permanently switched-on culture means businesses have had to adapt. Now we are not suggesting you adjust your office hours to 24/7! Instead, you need to be persistently aware of your social network and ready to react. Flitting in and out of engagement just won’t cut it – innovation doesn’t wait for anyone, so don’t hang about.
You will never be short of inspiration when you have access to social media. Everyone hits an idea block every now and then; yet it needn’t be long-lived when there is a wealth of inspiration at your fingertips. Research trending topics and get a flavour of the hot talking points. Even better, monitor the social media activity of your competitors so that you never miss a trick. With astute research and agile responses, you will be able to stay afloat in a flooded marketplace.
- Establish a system for picking out the genuine and useful ideas from the clutter and noise when filtering social media feedback.
- Build a collaborative network and utilise crowdsourcing to unearth the brightest ideas from partners and customers alike.
- React quickly to consumer input, prove you are listening to their feedback, and incentivise customers to drive your innovation process.
Use social media as a source of inspiration by analysing trends and industry conversations.