Social media is an economic and fluent way to build awareness, and a return loops with your customers.
It enables accurate shots, targeting successive online communities, with creative opportunities at limited expenses: Facebook “like” and Twitter can contribute strongly to spread the virus of your innovation pool by pool.
Early Adopters and Curators
An environment where your early adopters are overwhelmed with request and lack time to talk positively about your product, social media is a fine approach to save their time. You need to support them with tools that will facilitate and value curation of early adopters influencers. “Create, update and distribute bundles, reorder things, editorialize, add participation widgets, and track the audience” are some needs of real-time curators or influencers, that will relay positive (hopefully!) opinions about your innovation.
Context and Dialogue
Social media is not like traditonal marketing, pushing a message in a one way path: social media is centered around the digital user, not around the product. Create context: social media stages an interactive story about your product, enabling multi way interactions, from sharing, commenting, to playing with the story, testing on line or creating content. Set a place to hold the conversation with users, not only between your innovation and them, but also between users.
A conversation needs a good story, and a good story includes an ideal: true innovators want to change people’s life. Check how society needs could be filled with your innovation. It needs a structure, managing progressive engagement of the viewer from passive to active listening and key influencing.
Social media is a switch from monologue to dialogue: therefore, consumers expect to be listened and answered. Complaints, ideas, comments, all need to be processed and addressed in a timely manner, monitored and measured through dashborads: the help of a community manager is not a superfluous commitment.
You don’t need to start everything in parallel like on TV, where spots are concentrated in a narrow window time: social media enables to progressively scale desire toward your product, and it’s better to speak up regularly and clearly rather than loudly and noisely. Don’t forget social media strategy is part of a more global and comprehensive e-marketing strategy.
Corporate social media can also be useful to reinforce the links between sales, customer care, marketing, and innovation teams. It might be wise to open the network to partners involved in the marketing campaign and distribution. Matt Heinz considers “three distinct” audiences and contexts you should separate and consider with a unique strategy to engage, influence and mobilize: employee network, customers network, and product network”.
As during the innovation design, handle openly knowledge circulation in short cycles (Berkhout) through an holistic approach involving multiple communities is the best lever to ensure consistency and cohesion of your marketing launch. “The way ideas are spread is changing” says Seth Godin, “and the way we make change is by leading”. We leave massive marketing, and hypnotization: “Tribes are what matters now: it’s about telling a story, connecting a tribe, leading a movement, and making change.”
Finding the Right Balance
“Leadership needs to be immersed in the deployment zone” says Paul Hobcraft. Marketing launch involves close monitoring of sales and relevant collect of qualitative feedback, to gauge issues in real-time, adjust your campaign properly, and fine tune your product offering like “heavier advertising, repackaging, repositioning or product adaptation”.
As a new entrant, you’d better keep the sense of endeavour, avoiding exhausting market evangelisation, aligning constantly your marketing steps to the unique selling points of your innovation: stick to your identity.
Marketing your innovation successfully through social media is about finding the right balance between your belief and market feedback, keeping up to your personality, and being permeable to comments at the same time, leading and letting-go.
Nicolas Bry is a Senior VP at Orange. He developed a strong experience in innovation management, creating digital business units with international challenge, and completed a professional thesis on rapid innovation at HEC Business School.