It wasn’t long ago that we had to actually pick up the phone to find out what our friends were up to. Today we’re inundated by their Tweets, status updates, Pins, video clips and blog posts. The social media phenomenon has ensured that at any given time we can find out what several of our friends are up to; for example, their passion points, things they’re interested in, changes in their family or new products they’ve recently purchased and how they liked them. This presents a potential opportunity for brands, but how? Effectively partnering with influencers and the creative use of technology has made it easier for brands to conduct research.
Why do we trust influencers? They help us cut through the clutter. They’re the experts in their respective categories, they have a passion for their category and through their posts demonstrate a knowledge of industry and consumer trends, and they have experience exchanging ideas in real-time with both brands and their readers. They share their own experiences in an honest and relevant way, which in turn, inspires action and welcomes conversation among members of the community as they share their experiences as well.
But this begs the question: how can we effectively partner with these experts? The competitive world we live in today has created an environment that necessitates the highest level of innovation at the lowest cost, and while new product development was previously a cumbersome task, particularly as it pertains to research, it doesn’t have to be anymore. We’ve helped clients get new products on shelf in rapid time, facilitating product ideation and testing with experts spread all across the country.
In one example, with the help of Google+’s new Hangout feature, we recruited industry influencers to sit down and ideate new product ideas with our client based on trends both parties have seen or had developed based on their knowledge of the category and everyday consumers. Our client’s R&D team could then take back those ideas for initial product development. After concepts were developed we used Google+ again to work with those same expert influencers in a round of qualitative testing, in which their insights and feedback allowed for final product adjustments and a move to market a few months later.
Today’s technology is helping our brands access experts and gain insights to help increase speed to market without jeopardizing quality. Not only was the infrastructure of influencers and consumer conversation readily available but the speed at which we were able to recruit experts to weigh in was faster than ever thanks to modern video chat capabilities. The culmination of this social infrastructure and technology has created great efficiencies for brands to conduct research. Ten years ago, a project of this scope would have been a much heftier task, both more expensive and time consuming.
Consumers rarely make a purchase these days without researching the product/service online first. We all want to hear about everyone else’s experience, before we commit our own selves to the brand. Consequently, there is no question that expert social media influencers can either make or break a brand through word of mouth. As Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. have evolved, with everyone openly sharing what they believe to be their “expert” opinions, how do you go about choosing, and then recruiting, the “real” experts for your Google+ ideation sessions?