Product developers are finding social media sites useful for conducting product research, design development and test marketing. Social media feedback helps refine and improve current products and often leads to ideas for the development of new offerings.

Many consumers use social media to voice their opinions on the products and services they purchase. Beyond sharing their likes and dislikes on Facebook pages, consumers rate products and post reviews on blogs, shared interest community websites, and on Amazon, eBay and manufacturers’ websites.

Social media data can provide valuable insights because it is derived from unfiltered online conversations and reviews. The prevalence of online discussion forums and review sites provides massive amounts of data, enabling researchers to “crowdsource” product feedback and glean new ideas for development.

Insights gathered from online sources can provide researchers with faster consumer feedback at a lower cost than traditional focus groups and surveys.[1] Researchers can easily segment social media data by age group, geographic market or other demographic information.[2]

Another benefit of using social media to crowdsource product development is that it enables researchers to engage directly with consumers about product features, attributes and performance. They can converse on discussion forums, ask questions related to product enhancements, and delve deeper into the reasons behind consumer sentiments.

“Listening” to online conversations about products can reveal trends or yield new ideas for development.[3] Researchers can also review social media platforms to gather intelligence on consumers’ responses to competitors’ products. Monitoring conversations about broader product categories enables researchers to use a larger dataset to gain a better understanding of consumers’ needs and trends.[4]

New data analytics tools are expanding the capabilities of social media listening. With many consumers sharing photos and videos online, image recognition analysis is being used to spot products in photos. Researchers can count image sharing frequency to better understand context for how consumers use, share and enjoy their products.

Language analysis tools are being used to review consumers’ word choices more precisely to gauge their preferences or dislikes related to products or categories. This analysis can signal consumer intent to purchase a new product or move to a competitor. 

[1] “How to Use Social Media for New Product Development Research,” by Kit Smith, Brandwatch.com blog, Sept. 15, 2016. Available at: https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/new-product-development-research/

[2] “How to Use Social Media for New Product Development Research,” by Kit Smith, Brandwatch.com blog, Sept. 15, 2016. Available at: https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/new-product-development-research/

[3] “Social Listening in 2017: The Next Frontier in Social Media,” by Ulrik Bo Larsen, MarketingProfs.com blog, Jan. 30, 2017. Available at:  https://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2017/31504/social-listening-in-2017-the-next-frontier-in-social-media

[4] “Social Listening in 2017: The Next Frontier in Social Media,” by Ulrik Bo Larsen, MarketingProfs.com blog, Jan. 30, 2017. Available at:  https://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2017/31504/social-listening-in-2017-the-next-frontier-in-social-media

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