Marketing and Operations together to leverage social networks to conduct business – that’s what social business is. This includes Product Management, Product Marketing, Product Development, Sales, Service and Customer Support. All of these groups within a company need to leverage social networks in an organized fashion to conduct business – i.e. generate revenue, improve customer satisfaction, etc.
As with any earth-changing technology, social networks are changing the way business needs to be conducted – companies need to get involved in the conversation as an integral part of they way they do business – Product Managers especially. Testing new ideas, improving existing capabilities, watching your competitors, etc. are all activities that the Product Manager needs to do on social networks – Twittter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. The first step is to identify your community – in other words the people and companies in your target market. Find out where these people have their conversations? All / some networks? This includes customers, prospects, competitors, influencers, users, etc. Product Managers must be part of the conversation to help achieve your company’s business objectives.
The challenge for product managers and product marketing managers is that they are extremely busy and adding another place to go to and look for and disseminate information is a challenge. Having been a PM and PMM for nearly 20 years I have lived this challenge. But Twitter is such an easy mechanism for doing research, publishing material and connecting that I feel it’s worth adding to your list of locations. Blogs are good for details, but you need lots of time to devote to following bloggers. Tweets are short and therefore quicker to read and follow – some have links to blogs or articles, others are part of a conversation and others are live. Luckily I’ve come across a couple of tools that make it easier to focus in on what it’s important to your PM/PMM life.
Twinbox– This is a newly released Twitter add-in for Outlook. Let’s face it, most PM’s and PMM’s live in their email tool – and in most cases that tool is MS-Outlook. This add-in is great. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks and find it very easy to setup, use and filter on what’s important to me. Once you have downloaded it and installed it, you simply set your Twitter userid and password and you’re good to go. What I really like is the ability to set up Outlook folders with search criteria for that folder and then all tweets that match your criteria are deposited in that folder. This way you can set up folders that will hold tweets related to topics that you are interested in. It also has the ability to Tweet, RT, etc. directly in an Outlook toolbar.
TweetDeck – This has been available for awhile now – many fellow ‘tweeters’ use it. I blogged on this in early May; so without repeating the entire blog … with Tweetdeck you can define panes and search criteria for that pane (similar concept as with Twinbox). Tweetdeck then channels tweets that match your criteria into the appropriate pane. A very easy tool to focus in on what’s important to you.
TwitterBerry, Blackbird, UberTwitter, etc. – Applications that you can use to tweet, search, etc. from your BlackBerry device. All have different strengths and weaknesses – I suggest reading some of the blogs that compare the various applications to determine what will work for you (e.g. CrackBerry.com).
OK – so now you have your tool of choice … what do you follow? Clearly you can’t follow everything; so here are the 3 categories that I believe PM’s and PMM’s should follow (check out my blog on using Twitter for business to learn about #hashtags):
#prodmgmt – set up a search criteria to channel all tweets with the #prodmgmt #hashtag into a folder or pane or a direct search. This is thee place where product management folks tweet. It alerts you to upcoming webinars, it holds live “tweet-inars” (ok, that was made up), people ask questions and answer questions, etc. etc. It’s a great source of information to get ideas on how to improve your PM/PMM practices and by contributing ideas it establishes yourself as a PM/PMM “expert”.
Business Interest – set up search criteria to channel all tweets about the business that your company is in into a folder or pane or a direct search. Using #hashtags such as #SCM, #FOI, #DRM, etc. you can read Tweets about the business/market and contribute to the community – making you a subject matter expert. Gain incite into what’s going on in the business that you’re in.
Your Company/Product – set up search criteria to channel all tweets about your company and/or product into a folder or pane or a direct search. This way you can easily catch what people are saying about your company and/or product and respond quickly.
The best thing to do now is to try it. Good luck … have fun!
Honestly – I’m probably the last person on earth to have figured out how to use Twitter. Ok, since I don’t know everybody there’s no guarantee that I’m the last. I’ve had a Twiter account for a year or so and it was not until a couple of days ago I figured out how to use it for business. I’ve tweeted on my half-marathon training, the weather, news and other personal topics, but never on business. So for those that have figured this out, no point continuing on. But for the others read on.
I wanted to get my early thoughts down while they are fresh – so here goes. I was stumped for months on figuring out who to follow, when I had no clue as to who was using Twitter. I managed to find some interesting people and began following them, but it was a stream of conversations that I couldn’t follow and frankly missed most of them as they scrolled by everyday. Over coffee with a local social media expert he put me on to Tweetdeck. So between Tweetdeck and the concept of #hashtags, my Twitter experience improved dramatically. Honestly!
With Tweetdeck you can view tweets that fall into categories that you define. For example, I’m interested in product management. So I set up a Tweetdeck search on all tweets that contain the #prodmgmt hashtag. Every time a tweet occurs with the #prodmgmt embedded in it, the tweet appears in my #prodmgmt search pane. Employees of companies, especially those involved with the core business have interests in the subject matter of their business as well as the role they play in the company. For example, if you are a product manager with a company that sells to the supply chain management space, you could set up a search pane for product management (#prodmgmt) and one for supply chain management (#scm). If you deliver your software as a service, set up a search pane with #saas as the search keyword, or #agile if you develop software using agile methods … you get the picture. On the subject matter end, if you’re in the DRM space use #drm as your keyword or if you’re in the FOIA space use #foia and so on. The #hashtags site allows you to search for registered tags – make sure that you pick ones that are active (i.e. there are posts at least hourly) for you to get any value.