5 Tips For Using Social Media To Drive Innovation.

Twitter logo on computer screen symbolising social media.

Are you using social media to help with innovation?

Facebook and Twitter are now an established part of many people’s lives. As such, any business looking to communicate with customers and potential customers must at least consider using social media.

Recent research has found that 60% of FTSE 100 companies are not using social media effectively.

Social media of course has advantages over earlier media. Critically it is two way/multiway rather than a one way channel of communication.

One of the most revolutionary opportunities for businesses that follows from this is to combine two business activities:-

  • Brand communication
  • Market research and innovation.

On first inspection doing so would appear to offer potential savings in both time and money. No longer any need to commission expensive market research studies – we can get the info straight from the horse’s (consumer’s) mouth...

The Opportunities Emerge Over Time.

However, the full implications and applications of using social media in business go further. So far indeed, that one of the key things to remember is that we don’t yet know its full potential - it can only be learned over time. What works in social media for any particular company will differ from what works for other companies. It will depend on the target customer, the business model, the purchasing cycle of the product, whether it is a b2b business or a b2c business, sales channels and a whole host of other factors.

Forward looking businesses have been diving into social media and exploring it’s potential - and allowing their customers to see how it could help them.

Recently we’ve heard about the airline industry and how overseas airlines are achieving much more with social media than UK based airlines.

British airlines it seems, have mostly only developed online capability to cut costs in terms of booking and check-in. By contrast, overseas competitors have moved way beyond their own web presence to explore the potential of Facebook and other social media.

It is often younger people who will help companies identify what the beneficial applications of social media might be for a particular product or service. As the article mentions – young people value the opportunity to find out which of their Facebook friends might be on the same flight, and also through Facebook to be able to arrange to sit together.

Another example of innovation through social media is BraveNewTalent which is seeking to revolutionise the recruitment market.

Again, this is not just about creating online space for old style recruitment practice to take place – posting up CVs and providing company info etc. No, the whole vision is to build relationship. It is about providing the opportunity for people interested in a particular company to learn more about it and interact with it over time. Ultimately this may lead to an offer of employment. A key benefit must be that by the time any such offer is made, it is likely that employer and potential employee will know more about each other, thus lowering the risk of the recruitment process.

5 Tips For Using Social Media To Drive Innovation.

Here are a few suggested starting points for those looking to see how social media may help you innovate.

1.       Better understand your customers’ needs.

By monitoring social media you can gather feedback about your own and your competitor’s brands and products. What’s working? What’s not working? This can suggest ideas for product improvement

Also what other problems are your customers having that your products are not solving? This can throw up ideas for new product development.


2.       Discover if there is a more social element to your brand.

 In the airline example – the airline discovered that some consumers value the opportunity to know if friends are on the flight.

 What are the potential social elements of your brand? Would customers be interested in forming a community?


3.       Segment your market better.

This can help you customise your product better.

By using a good analytics package you can learn more about the different segments that visit your website and where they spend most time on your site.


4.       Involve customers  in a co-creation process.

Have an ongoing dialogue with customers as they help you develop products. Do you want them to be involved at the front end offering designs and product ideas? Do you want them to help you select ideas by voting on them? Do you want to engage with experts to help you solve technical problems?


5.       Improve innovation capability in your organisation through collaboration tools.

Social media is not just about companies communicating with their customers. The innovation process can be speeded up and knowledge management improved through using social media within organisations. Would collaboration tools for idea generation, selection and idea development help your innovation process?

Maybe social media can help drive the innovation process in your sector – maybe it can’t. However, if you haven’t already looked into it, perhaps it’s worth doing so before your competitors do...

How airlines are using social media.

More about Brave New Talent.

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