Collaborative Conversations: Using social media in product management

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Social media presents many opportunities and challenges for product managers. In this presentation brainmates outlines how how social media is being used by to help define, develop, deploy and maintain products and services.


Using social media in product management

Page no.

Collaborative conversationsUsing social media in product management

white paper presentation | August 2010

Paul Alex Gray, Senior Consultant at brainmates has published a white paper on a topic that is highly relevant to product managers.


Overview of social media

Four functional applications of social media within product management

Three case studies representing different applications

The opportunities and challengesfor product managers

An action plan to begin using social media in your role

To get your free copy of the white paper please visit or email

What is social media?

Conversations across boundaries

Sharing of ideas and opinions

Instantly accessible and spread virally


Owned by the audience

Facilitated through technology

Social Media is


5Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships. David Alston

Old world:I speak, you listen

New world:Many conversations

8Like it or notEveryones talking about your product


5 of the global top 10 sites are social media (Facebook, Youtube, Wikipedia, Blogger, Twitter) source: May 2010

B2B and B2C marketers are increasing spend on social media initiatives faster than any other category. It will account for almost 18% of marketing budgets by 2014source: CMO Survey, American Marketing Association Feb 2010

Every negative comment shared via social media reaches 30 other peopleSource: Convergys Corp, Nov 2009

85% of social media users believe a company should interact with customers via a social media presenceSource: Cone Business in Social Media Study 2008


Social media is part of modern life


Social media implications for product managers


Product managers must join online conversations to understand what customers like, what they dont like, what they want and how they want it. This insight helps in the design, development and deployment of products that are relevant, compelling and competitive.

Paul Alex Gray, brainmates

Product managers define, develop, deploy and maintainproducts that:

1. Deliver more value than the competition

2. Create a sustainable competitive difference

3. Generate business benefit to the organisation

Now weve got social media that allows both B2B and B2C product professionals to engage in dialogue with individual customers and users to give them a much deeper, more nuanced understanding of the products and services being offered and in turn gain a deeper understanding of what customers like and dislike about the offerings

April Dunford, founder and principal consultant at Rocket Launch Marketing


Applications for product managers

brainmates has conducted research which suggests product managers use social media in four ways:

13Download the white paper to learn more about the four functional applications.

Visit or email

Functional applications of social media

Monitoring & Listening

67% of product managers and marketers are already using monitoring tools

such as Google Alerts or Backtweets to find references to their products or

services and any references related to their market, customer segments or


As this function was so common, many expected to do about the same although

those yet to start using social media stated that this would be their stepping



No, 33%

66% of product managers and marketers use social media tools to promote and

share information about their products.

Most expected to significantly increase this in the next twelve months, mostly

through major services such as Twitter, facebook and RSS feeds although some

individuals are using niche networks or developing their own proprietary social

media tools.


Promoting and sharing

Only 29% of product managers and marketers report that they use social media

tools such as Uservoice or Crowdsound to gather feedback.

The expectation was that this would significantly increase in the next twelve

months as organisations became more receptive to accepting feedback and

input in product development cycles and for existing products.


Gathering feedback

65% of product managers and marketers reported that they used social media

tools such as Wikis, LinkedIn Answers or Google Wave to collaborate with


The view was that this would also increase with a major focus being on involving

external parties such as suppliers, partners and customers.



The white paper provides detailed summary of three case studies in which social media has supported product development and ongoing product management and marketing efforts.

Download the white paper to read the full case studies. Visit or email

As a new business with limited marketing funds, Shoes of Prey had to invest wisely to not only build brand awareness but also create demand for the product.

From day one we nurtured relationships with customers via social networking. Michael Fox, Director of Operations and Co-founder

The customers determine our product roadmap. They tell us which features they need most and provide feedback on all our ideas and developments. Its a collaborative effort that helps us ensure we delivery quality and value to our

customers Nicholas Muldoon, Technical Product Manager

Good social media focuses on what can be provided beyond the core product. Its about giving something back to others. Engaging and inspiring your fans and customers, your partners and suppliers and fellow producers Jared Gulian, Founder

Social media in action




Applying social media in product management

Effective product management requires practitioners to solve lucrative customer problems that drive significant value for businesses over a period of time.

Supporting the product management process

The brainmates Product Delivery Cycle provides a structure that outlines the activities and deliverables used in creating profitable products.

Social media can be used at multiple stages to support the definition, development, deployment and maintenance of products



Stage 1 - Idea

Key stage actions & deliverables Ideation and innovation workshops Interviews and discussions with customers Market analysis including foreign markets Market opportunity discussion report

Social media opportunities Listen out for customer demands Investigate market problems Ask market for feedback on ideas and concepts

Social media challenges Most vocal customers may not be representative of your audience Finding pertinent content amongst high volume of conversation data Balancing espoused market requirements with commercial constraints


Stage 2 Product Strategy

Key stage actions & deliverables Investigate concept and contrast market problems against organisational capabilities and competitive threats Conduct due diligence to determine feasibility Develop competitive analysis, product comparisons and business case

Social media opportunities Incorporate internal and external input and feedback on ideas Develop more rigid business case and platform pre-testing

Social media challenges Opening up to market presents competitive risks Challenging established processes and politics can distract stakeholders

Stage 3 Product Planning

Key stage actions & deliverables Identity and understand customers and articulate market problem Develop market segmentation and targeting, personas, use cases and requirements documents

Social media opportunities Validate assumptions and unearth new facets about market problems Develop more realistic personas Tap into customers, community, partners and others for early-stage feedback

Social media challenges Involving more stakeholders adds time and cost pressures Can create expectations that all proposed ideas will end up in final product leading to potential let-downs

Stage 4 Product Definition

Key stage actions & deliverables Articulate solution that will solve market problem and satisfy needs/wants Provide product requirements for development and other teams to build and deliver prototype and solution

Social media opportunities Validate features and benefits via internal and external stakeholder reviews Prioritise elements on product roadmap Provide guidance for internal colleagues who work on subsequent stages

Social media challenges Additional inputs can impact timeframe and cost of product definition and development Focusing on moving targets can distract team Finding balance between market requirements and commercial feasibility

Stage 5 Launch Planning

Key stage actions & deliverables Prepare customer facing messaging and ready teams for launch and ongoing support Develop value proposition, sales collateral, marketing launch plans

Social media opportunities Test marketing messages and ideas with evangelists and fans Compare with competitive offerings and position your product on its strongest points Develop pre-awareness and excitement in market

Social media challenges Getting messages to your target audience via the right social media channel(s) can be complex Pre-awareness can provide competitors with insight to your product and plans

Stage 6 - Launch

Key stage actions & deliverables Coordinate internal and external teams Manage product launch, maintain velocity and act on feedback quickly

Social media opportunities Maximise awareness within target audience and create buzz Tap into tools to spread word via conversations and engagement with customers Immediately capture and act upon feedback

Social media challenges Overly selling a product via social media channels can lead to backlash Not sticking to promises or assumptions by customers can lead to disappointment Products that fail to meet customer requirements will be mercilessly grilled


Stage 7 Day-to-Day Product Management

Key stage actions & deliverables Continue to refine and improve product Assist marketing, support, sales and other teams Provide in-life product reports, updates to roadmap and relevant collateral

Social media opportunities Engage customers and transform them into evangelists Alert customers of new features Listen to what people say about your product and take necessary action

Social media challenges Additional time and effort required to stay across social media In certain segments or industries, customers may still not be that connected into social media More responsibility and pressure for busy product management teams


There are thousands of social media tools

Focus on what youre trying to do first. Then select the appropriate tools.

Monitor & Listen

Gather feedback

Share & promote


Choosing your tools



Starting your social media journey


Product managers should follow this model to integrate social media within their existing job functions and responsibilities

Social media action plan


Find the spaces where your customers, competitors, partners, fans and critics are talking. Listen to these conversations.

Set up monitoring tools such as Google Alerts, RSS Feeds and Collecta to monitor references about your product and market

Allocate time each day to learn more about how social media tools work and think how they can relate back to your strategic and tactical product management responsibilities

Watch & Learn


Talk & Listen

Try out relevant social media tools. Be cautious and quiet until you feel confident. Consider using tools personally before professionally.

Join the conversation by registering with relevant tools and communities. Provide comments when you can add value to the conversation. Dont sell your product.

Activate your professional accounts and provide useful information. Feel free to let the world know youre learning as you go. Honesty is greatly appreciated.


Ask customers for their opinion. Invite them to share openlyand honestly with you. Accept what they say and act on it.

Apply more functional goals such as testing concepts, announcing product updates and providing additional useful resources.

Introduce other members of your team and organisation to these tools and help to educate them.

Share & Engage

Start engaging others on a regular basis. Answer questions when asked. Share ideas, opinions and comments across all relevant social media tools.


Look for internal and external opportunities to use social media in other business functions such as customer service, operations, crisis management and community engagement.

Share and help others grow. Youll learn more and feel good too!

Facilitate & Encourage

Develop thought leadership around your product or service

Go out of your way to provide value to customers and the broader community.


Remember its not about tools and technology


Its about listening, connecting and sharing


The collaborative conversations of social media bring new opportunities for product managers to enhance customer knowledge and create more compelling products.

The changing nature of buyer-seller relationships means customers are more empowered and interact with each other using a range of tools.

Product managers must join online conversations to remain aware of evolving customer problems, needs and wants and to continue to define, develop, deploy and maintain products that satisfy customers.


The full white paper is available for free.



Request the white paper

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Product innovation and design.

brainmates leads companies to define, develop and deploy customer-centric products and services.




Phone: +61 (0)2 9232 8147