What are some of the macro effects of social media on the marketing process? At this stage in its development we typically tend to think of social media in terms of execution and measure it as such; number of followers, likes, clicks, etc. But maybe there is something we are missing. Can social media be used as market research indicator and a possible market development tool?
In the business-to-business market it is quite common for most products to be separated from the end-user consumer by at least one or two layers of distribution infrastructure. For instance, in the signage market, the substrate used by a sign company goes through an established sign distributor network. The substrate manufacturer rarely knows how the product is finally used by the end-user.
Social media can breakdown these barriers and open up a dialogue directly with the end-user without in any way interfering with the established distribution channel matrix. In fact, quite the opposite occurs, the distributor is now better informed as to his customer’s needs.
This new end-user project information can be used to identify product usage trends and possible new applications. As we all know new product development relies on up-to-date market information. I am not suggesting that we walk away from tried and tested market research techniques. I am just trying to demonstrate how I think social media can now be used as an enhancement tool for new product development.
I think also in the short-term this can be used internally to demonstrate to the manufacturers sales force that social media is NOT just a new toy for the marketing group to play with that has little or no effect on product sales.
Image courtesy of (C) Diffen