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Social Media & Product Management (supplement)
Social Media & Product Management (supplement)

Social Media & Product Management (supplement)

(Parts 1, 2345 See also, supplement)

New Tools in the Bag

In Part 2, I will discuss the ‘new social media tools’ available to the Product Manager.  However, consider this segment a ‘supplement,’ or an appendix, to the overall discussion.

jtpedersen deep endWhy?  Because I continue to run into a tendency that needs to be addressed, without unwittingly diverting the larger topic’s focus.

Time and again, I go to social media friendly events and hear the same comment.  It goes something like this: Everybody is using…(take your pick).  Well, it still isn’t true.  Speakers, marketers, developers, and yes bloggers, need to take care to avoid an assumption of widespread social media literacy.

For many people, their understanding does not extend past posting what they just had for lunch on facebook.  In the November ’09 issue, Fast Company discussed Twitter, saying,’…69% of U.S. adults still have no idea what it is.

We tend to assume everyone else is ‘just like us.’  And why not?  For each of us, our closest friends, colleagues, and acquaintances generally tend to reflect, well, us.

According to Pew Internet Research (August, 2010), 66% of American adults have broadband internet at home.  The University of Maryland’s R.H. Smith School of Business, partnering with network solutions, released a 2011 report pointing out that 56% have a website and almost a third use social media.

Flipped the other way, that means 44% of small businesses have no website.  And, more than two thirds do not use social media at all.

It is easy to be dismissive of ‘small’ businesses.  Before you do, consider the following.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small firms with fewer than 500 employees represent 99.9 percent of the total.  There were 18,469 large businesses in 2008. (source: SBA FAQ)

So, what does this mean?  After all, the numbers can seem to be swirling about us like snow flakes in a blizzard.  The short take is this:

Product managers need to make use of social media.  It represents a family of tools with incredibly broad reach.  Knowing its limitations is important though.

At the same time, it is incredibly important to understand its limitations.  If your focus is consumers, and your target customers live in outlaying areas (think farmers), then maybe its worth knowing 34% have no broadband and won’t view your beautiful, large, promotional videos.  Or, if your focus is B2B (other businesses), there just might be a reason why you can’t research your target customer online (hint: they don’t exist there).

This post is a bit ‘dryer’ than my usual fare.  But rather than continue to propagate unsubstantiated myths, I wanted to give you some hard numbers, with their reference points, so you can go poke around.  If nothing else, if you’ve been afraid you’ve fallen so far behind that you can’t catch up, you can now see it probably isn’t true.  Well, unless your neighbor the Jones’ have internet and you’re stuck with smoke signals.  Then you probably are:)

(image credit: Julia R.)

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