Three times this week, I have stumbled across discussions of ‘online tools’ in relation to product management. And, in each case, numerous software solutions were named, yet no one specifically discussed social media. How’s that?
At first, I noticed that social media wasn’t being included by virtue of, what seemed to me, a glaring omission. After all, in today’s world, consumers can rip a company a ‘new one’ quite readily. Don’t you think more companies would want to pay attention?
Better yet, why not engage in the discussion? If someone verbally assaulted your spouse, you’d get engaged right quick, right? And, as a product manager, you probably spend more time with your product than your spouse.
So, if you’re not already engaged in social media in relation to your product, why aren’t you?
Now, keep in mind, what I’m mentioning thus far shouldn’t be new to you. There have been numerous examples of companies like Ford, Microsoft, Comcast, and others doing just this. Personally, I like the @comcastcares story the best.
The question is, with so many good examples, visible successes (despite some early failed attempts sometimes), why are they also, well, rare?
Perhaps the crux of the problem comes down to two things. The first is that it just plain takes time to develop effective communities. It takes time to get yourself (you, your company, your product, your…whatever) plugged in, recognized, and established.
Until you’ve put in the time, it is hard to quantify any amount of meaningful return on your investment. Indeed, there’s a plethora of articles out there decrying the tremendous returns on investment of social media, and just as many (I’m guessing, just seems like it) decrying it’s a waste of time and you’re better off having gone fishing.
In its simplest form, investing in social media (selecting an appropriate medium to your needs), is to build relationships with people that care about what you’re doing. And, who wouldn’t want to do that? It is no different than the formation of “users groups” around popular software products in decades past.
These relationships, both good and bad, give you the ability to learn from others. Learn from more others than you likely could ever do in face-to-face interactions.
Conveniently enough, most of these interactions are text-based, which means you can archive, categorize, sort, and search the inputs for later use. And, with the raw data, effectively currated, begins to form the foundation for knowledge.
And, Knowledge is Power!
So, if you’re a product manager, if you’re someone in a leadership role, that needs every bit of help you can get to innovate, to fight competition, to stay ahead…then ask yourself what better you can do with social media tomorrow than you’ve done so far today.
(image credit: Rore D)