How does Social Media Facilitate Innovation?

Innovation should always be on the forefront for organizations, and needs to be applied to many facets – products, services and processes. The question is, how do organizations use social media to foster innovation in one or all of these areas?

The answer: use social media to bridge the gap between you and your customer. We all talk about continuously engaging with our customers by finding new ways to strengthen our relationship with them by coming up with new and improved products and services. Well, we have never had a better tool to research and get true insight into what customers think, feel, want, lack or need than social media. It provides us an open, one-to-one communications channel with hundreds of thousands of people! And it does it through an open, engaging and immediate response vehicle.

Consider how social media has innovated customer research. The way it used to be was you would offer an incentive to people, corral them in a room, expunge their opinions and hope they were honest and not just there to make a quick buck. Social media has advanced this process and subsequently the way an organization gets their market research. Now you go to where the opinions are housed, and since there is rarely an incentive or a filter, you know within social media that you are getting honest opinions in real-time. A great example of this is Dell Computers, who has used social media to innovate their brand strategy, and their online presence has positively affected their revenue. The millions of dollars in sales achieved by Dell’s social media strategy, is really attributed to them simply making a known online presence and listening to what is said about them within social media.

Social media need to become part of your organization’s day-to-day operations – much like earlier technologies, such as, faxing and intranets, had to be implemented in order to innovate your operations for the goal of survival. Social media is not just a tool for web companies residing in Silicone Valley, it is a tool for every start-up, entrepreneur and established company to positively exploit in order to better themselves.

This is an exciting time for organizations of all shapes and sizes, but this is really just the beginning. Ultimately, the true litmus test will be how companies not only embrace social media, but how they creatively use it to foster the next wave of innovation within their organization, within the industry and maybe to a larger extent society. On second though, maybe the initial question should be, how could an organization not use social media to innovate?

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