Thursday, 4 July 2013

Use Social Listening to Fuel Software Product Development



Is social media effective in generating buzz and promoting uptake of your new software product?

We think so.

But it's so much more than that. Social Listening (which is using social media to monitor the dialogue surrounding your company, its' products and its' competitors) also works during the product development cycle, providing you with some pretty sound strategies for learning about your market, determining key competitors, identifying influencers, and testing your assumptions.

Because this is such an important part of product development, Sixgreen Labs has created Memesix, just to cover this aspect of business and product development.

How Does Social Listening Fit in with Lean Product Development?

Using Social Listening helps you to shorten your development cycle, producing products that users actually want, right away.  By releasing early and making adjustments based on real-time feedback, you'll get from concept to completion quickly, with fewer do-overs.  

It's not a case of 'fire and forget'.  It's more like 'fire and feed'.  You can use Social Listening to:
• Test product design and UI
• Test marketing assumptions
• Collect data from your core group of followers
• Correct and respond to mis-steps quickly
• Amass a group of brand evangelists, who will help you broaden your reach

This is not a new idea, Google has been doing this for years using their invitation model for new products.

Use Social Listening to Identify Market Gaps and Opportunities.

Once you've identified and successfully developed one product, it might be time to move on to the next.  The difference is - now you've got your finger on the pulse of a vast network of informed consumers who already have a positive relationship with your brand.  Use this to your advantage, and seek out new opportunities by paying attention and engaging regularly.

Those brand new opportunities may even be found in an existing product. You'll know because you're now paying attention to your consumers through Social Listening.

How? Ask them.  Or don't.  Let them tell you, naturally.  Knowledge is power, and for you and your customer it's win-win, so long as you provide them good value and backed up by amazing support.  Which brings me to my next point...

Social Listening is Part of Your Service Function

Whether you acknowledge it or not, your customers could be talking about you in a public sphere at any time. The question is - do you know about it?  Is there a complaint you could have handled?  By showing your customers that you care enough to meet them on their chosen battlefield, and that you're brave enough to face their challenge publicly, you're telling the world you'll stand behind your product. That's a powerful message.

Your consumers will speak up when they're unhappy with your product much more often than they will speak up when they're happy. Think about it. If its a great product, your consumers will simply use it, satisfied that it works and go on about their lives. The ones that come back to complain are usually unhappy, and it's on you to correct it.

In the world of software, it's easy to be faceless.  By establishing early and often that you're a customer-centred company you'll win the hearts and minds of your customers and those customers are the fuel for your next big thing.

Why Should the Software Company Care?  

Ever heard of the saying “fail quickly”?  It means that you mitigate your losses upon failure, and increase your chances of a pivot in the right direction by learning from your customer in a tight feedback loop.  We reach out regularly for real feedback, in conjunction with working up key features, useability and benefits.

Understanding what can go wrong can help us to react appropriately and it is is one way to ensure your success down the road.

At Sixgreen Labs, our focus is on the entire vertical stack.  We have capabilities in the realms of marketing, design and UI, support, and programming, and our Social Listening is handled by the folks at Memesix.

We are an 'all-in' solution, where we can harness the correct combination of talents for your product's success.

After all, your success is ours, too.