IdeaBecause sourcing ideas for new products and services falls under the innovation umbrella, some companies may look at it as something that happens off in a Research & Development silo, where social media doesn’t apply – but nothing could be further from the truth.

Think about it – companies create new products to SELL to their customers. If they don’t consider their needs, desires, and behaviors in the process, they’re innovating simply for the sake of it – and not many companies can afford to do that.

And yet, too many brands have been slow to embrace the idea of social listening as a component of sourcing new product ideas. Here’s why they should get on board:

It puts the focus on the customer, not the product – It’s easy to get wrapped up in the shiny newness of an innovative product idea and lose sight of the people for whom it’s being created – but that can spell disaster.

For example, a leading crayon company thought colored bubbles were a great idea – but the reality for parents was that they stained everything in sight, from the carpet and drapes to their kids’ hands. Had the company used social listening to take the temperature of their target audience, they’d have saved themselves from implementing a bad idea.

Similarly, fashion designer Kate Spade could have known her handbags were falling out of favor in time to make a change – if she’d paid closer attention to consumer sentiment on social media.

“Historic” data is meaningless – The CRM and VOC approaches of the past – reports that analyze the previous month or quarter of data – don’t cut it anymore, since they can’t tell you what’s happening now, or what’s coming.

With data available in real-time, businesses don’t have to wait to learn how consumers feel about their products – they can gain insights right now (“rn” as the Millennials say) and use them to inform function and design choices in the moment, as they’re building new products.

Passion is the key to everything – The real root of actionable insights lies in consumer passions. In the way they LOVE or HATE a product or brand and how intensely they feel those emotions and share them online.

How can you make these emotions work for you? Lassen Innovation CEO Nicholas Webb shared the story behind Hanz construction toys in a recent webinar. Using social listening, Lassen discovered some areas where consumers were passionately dissatisfied with the Lego brand building toy.

They created their product entirely based on consumer passion around what parents wanted for their children (ability to innovate themselves vs. simply assemble), what added value to the toy (more flexibility to create, educational components, and a community of users to engage with) – and had huge success.

That’s the power of social listening: Understanding what consumers want can be the inspiration for a new product you didn’t even know you wanted to make.

Which is much better than spending time and money making something and discovering after the fact that nobody will use it.

The bottom line is, social listening is not just for marketers anymore – it’s a mandatory core competency that can be applied to numerous aspects of the enterprise, from customer service to new product innovation.

Companies that embrace early adoption of social listening as an overall business tool will be the ones on top in the next few years. You want to be one of them.

For more about how NetBase can help your company source new products using social listening, contact us here.

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