Is Social Media Worth The Effort For Product Managers?

There is still much to be learned about social media
There is still much to be learned about social media
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Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, the list just keeps getting longer. Social media has certainly arrived. As product managers we all realize that these new tools offer us a fantastic way to get in touch with our potential customers and they need to be a part of our product development definition. However, it’s going to take a lot of effort and it’s going to cost a lot of money. Is it all going to be worth it?

Why Is It So Hard To Determine The Social Media Payoff?

Even though the basic social media tools are provided to us for free, it turns out that social media can actually be quite expensive. For a company to properly use social media to promote a product there may be many people involved. This can include developers, customer support staff, and perhaps even members of the sales engineering department.

Very quickly, the total cost of any sort of social media campaign to support your product is going to start to cost the company some money. Your ability to justify this expense is going to be questioned. Since all of the social media sites and tools are so new, to other parts of the company any money that you are spending on them may appear to be simply another case of the marketing team being attracted to the latest new shiny thing.

Your problems may run even deeper than this. One of the big problems with any marketing program, let alone a new-fangled social media program, is that it is very hard to measure any return on investment (ROI) that they may produce. It’s not that there is no ROI, but rather that we don’t yet know how to measure it. Starting with the product manager and running all the way up to the company’s CFO, this is an important question that currently nobody has an answer to. If you can come up with an answer, then that’s something that you could add to your product manager resume.

How Can Product Managers Maximize The Return From Social Media?

As a modern product manager, you understand how important social media can be to the success of your product. What this means is that even though it may be difficult to measure its ROI, you’re going to need to be able to justify the spending that a social media program is going to require. It’s not just your boss that you’ll have to make this justification to; it’s the rest of the company.

What we need to realize is that the payoff of implementing a well-run social media program for our product won’t necessarily be in an immediate increase in sales. However, we will see the benefits in other areas. One of these may be in more effective customer support. Providing tools that allow your team to do a better job of listening to your customer should help to reduce churn and boost customer satisfaction with your product.

Social media tools will also provide the product manager with a new set of ways to communicate directly with your customers. Using these tools, you can now have conversations about features that you may be planning, changes to your pricing program, and product related promotional events. This is where the real bottom line benefits of using social media will start to show up.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

The era of social media has arrived. As product managers we can’t ignore the new set of marketing tools that have now been made available to us. However, as part of our product manager job description we do need to make sure that we understand how to use them so that we can justify the expense that goes along with using them.

In order to be able to measure the impact that social media is having on the success of our product, we need to expand how we measure success. It may not have to do with product sales, but it may have to do with overall customer satisfaction. By making it easier for our customers to communicate with us, we may be able to do a better job of retaining our customers.

There is no doubt that the new social media tools are powerful. The challenge comes from the fact that they’ve arrived with no instructions on how product managers should use them. Take the time to measure the true impact that they are having on your products and you should find it much easier to justify the time and expense that it takes to use social media tools correctly.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What social media tools do you think provide the “biggest bang for the buck”?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So there is no delicate way to talk about this topic, but I’m going to bring it up anyway. As product managers, we’re often not above using sex appeal to motive potential customers to buy our product. However, what happens if the product that we’re trying to sell is sex itself?