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Will Social Networks Really Help Product Innovation?

Posted on  28 July 11  by 

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According to the author of this blog, new social communication channels will not only lead to changes in the ways companies market products, but they will also lead to changes in the strategies and operations companies use to develop products – including less privacy and more input from consumers.

I would advise caution to those companies excited about using social networks to gather consumer input to innovation. We’ve already tackled the question of customer-powered innovation – concluding that following innovation leads from mass-market customers results only in incremental improvements.  Most customers simply don’t have the perspective to provide breakthrough ideas. Real breakthrough innovation comes from involving specialist users.

The rise of social networking technology offers a tantalizing promise of easy and quick incorporation of consumer feedback and input into the innovation cycle. And the engagement benefits of doing so, while hard to quantify, are also hard to dismiss. But how helpful will their input really be to innovation – and could it even be misleading?  MREB’s research on social media listening explains how using general social media data can undermine the generation of true insight – based on the inability of Research to identify who is contributing the data and whether what they say reflects their actions. This realization only increases the caution that companies should take when using social technologies for product innovation.

MREB members – learn how to engage lead customers for innovation and find passionate online communities whose feedback will be more useful for innovation and insight generation.

Comments from the Network (2)

  1. Outliers & Observations » Walmart’s Social Shopping Agenda
    on September 12, 2011

    [...] talked before about the challenges trying create insight gold from social media (in general, and for innovation in particular too).  And for those of us who don’t have our own tech start-up on the case, social media [...]

  2. Outliers & Observations » The Shiny Object Syndrome in Analytics
    on April 13, 2012

    [...] Will Social Networks Really Help Product Innovation? [...]

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