Social Media & Product Management (Pt. 4)

(Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  See also, supplement)

Continuing the discussion of employing social media as a component of the product management toolset…

Advertising

jtpedersen_AdWords_product management_innovative_business_leaderProduct management is a role defined differently by almost every company.  Product management tends to focus on the holistic view of a product: lifecycle, customer expectations, feature specifications, roadmaps, and so on.  Product marketing tends to look at messaging, advertising, and promotion.  Crude, but sufficient for our purposes.

In the context of product management it may seem strange then to discuss the advertising aspects of social media.  After all, if you’re thinking about what features you’re going to put into your product or service, ‘advertising’ seems premature. Right?

Despite what zealots may profess, even now most people do not fully understand social media, tending to simply lump ‘social media’ offerings together without distinction. That is perhaps no more true than for product management professionals. Consider the 2009-2010 Pragmatic Marketing Survey, that asked: Do you use social media to listen to the market? 62% of respondents said No. Only 27% use social media personally and another 11% ‘as an individual or as the company.’

What Are the Options?

There are a number of online advertisers available.  You are likely familiar with  Google AdWords.  Perhaps less familiar are relatively new offerings such as LinkedIn Ads, and Facebook Ads.  The latter two are relatively new and growing in popularity.

Even though there is similar functionality (e.g. you can loosely, or tightly narrow your ad’s visibility), each has a distinctly different audience.  Google AdWords lets you reach the largest audience.  LinkedIn and Facebook focus on business professionals or social interests respectively.  If your focus is a B2B customer, you may wish to leverage AdWords.  If your focus are church youth program administrators, you will prefer Facebook.

Here is why considering social media advertising, as part of product management can be important:

AdWords is actually a cheap and highly reliable wind tunnel you can rent by the click to discover and validate your market… (Howie Jacobson, HBR Blog Network)

I am really happy I discovered Howie’s article because its well worth reading (link).  he points out that most people simply think of site like AdWords (LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.) as, “…a [way] to generate leads and sales from online searchers.”

Some practical examples to show how ‘running an ad’ can be used to improve (your) product or service.

  • Book Title Selection (via Howie)
    Timothy Ferriss and his publisher wanted to find a title for his upcoming book.  They used AdWords to test several titles.  Search feedback provided feedback they had not anticipated.
  • New Features, Pricing
    When considering development of new features, one of the hardest things to determine is market pricing and acceptance.  These are typically key components of any Market Requirements Document (MRD) or related ROI justification.  Running a ‘micro’ advertisement gives you the ability to test the market.Run multiple tests.  What price points capture the most attention? Which product feature packages gain the best reception?  Best part: applies to online and ‘off’line products—anything people may search for.
  • Alternative Focus Groups
    Tightly target advertisements to specific customers.  I really like Alec Brownstein’s approach.  Looking for work, he ran an AdWords campaign specifically targeting individual people he wanted to engage.  Cost of his campaign, $6.  Might you have a person, or group, that you’d like to query…for $10.  What could you do with $100?

Between the Lines

A key product management skill is the ability to read between the lines.  To see trends, connections, needs, and desires, where others have not.  And then, you need to test your findings.

Consider this a unique opportunity to be innovative in your role as product manager.  Who says the marketing folks are the only ones that can expense their AdWords efforts?

Image credit: Dominik Dwarek

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