To many, the process of developing a successful product can be a mystery. Sometimes companies will spend months of development time to create a product that doesn’t reflect the needs or the scope of its intended market. And other times, successful products are developed completely on accident. Because of this, it can often seem impossible to develop successful products. However, if one takes the time to listen to their marketplace and plan the development process accordingly, they are more likely to succeed.
In my last post, I talked about how to use social media monitoring tools to build relationships and links. In this post, I would like to discuss how to use the same tools to aid in product development and market research.
There are many steps to developing a successful product. But the first step is always concept creation. Here we are thinking about broad-based ideas. Using social media monitoring at this step can help form a direction and scope for the rest of the development process. For example, if we want to develop a product focused on online video, we might monitor such terms as “video”, “video sharing”, or “video rating”. During this first stage of monitoring, we will want to focus on what aspects of online video people are talking about most.
Sniffing user needs out of social media
Identifying trends and audiences is extremely important to defining the scope and direction of your product. With our example, we might find that the largest demographic for video consumption are young adults and predominately focus on music and entertainment.
After we have used our monitoring tools to identify trends and audiences, we now begin to monitor scope and direction. Understanding how your target audience is using products is important in your planning process. With our example above, we might monitor conversations to determine where and when video content is being viewed the most. Questions such as “are the users using handheld devices or traditional desktop machines?” can be helpful when determining the scope and direction of your product.
While observing how the market uses similar products, you can begin to make a potential features list. For example, you might observe some users prefer video playlist and some prefer video sharing. Making a features list based on actual user conversations/engagement can be extremely powerful when deciding how to delegate resources during the development process.
Prepare your competitive position
After you’ve completed your features list, research other companies and products that meet the needs of your target audience. Use this list of companies and products to begin brand monitoring to aid in competitive analysis. Here, we will be looking at users reactions and sentiment towards competitors in your marketplace. Pay attention to any gaps between your target’s dialog and what your competitors are offering understanding these gaps can help develop a strong point of difference with your product.
At this point, you should now have a direction, feature list, and definitive point of difference that is all reflective of your marketplace. Now its time to send your ideas off to the engineers! But wait, don’t stop monitoring social media! After you have launched your new product, you are going to want to continue to monitor social media to identify flaws and improve with extended feature sets that are now more apparent after you have launched.
Understanding your marketplace and target audiences are important to product development. Whether it is concept creation or refining your feature list social media monitoring can help with the necessary research in building the perfect product.
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