Product Managers Need To Master The Art Of Social Media Listening

by drjim on June 2, 2014

This just might be a product manager's most important tool

This just might be a product manager’s most important tool

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As product managers we are responsible for using our product development definition to create products that meet the needs of our customers. However, in order to do that well, we need to do a good job of understanding what our customers want. The good news here is that more often than not, our customers are more than willing to tell us. This is especially true in this era of social media. All we have to do is teach ourselves how to listen to what they are trying to tell us…

The Importance Of Listening

In product management school there is something that they never take the time to teach us. We all have a lot of communication skills. We can create marketing collateral, we can create product presentations, and we can even use social media to get the word about our product out to our customers. However, it turns out that what’s even more important than any of these communication skills is the ability to listen. Get good at this and it’s something that you can add to your product manager resume.

Why is this listening thing so important? It’s pretty simple actually. It’s by taking the time to listen to our customers that we are able to uncover what they really want both from our companies and from our products. They are not trying to keep their desires a secret from us. Rather they are always telling us what they want, it’s up to us to take the time to listen to them and digest what they are telling us.

The world of social media has opened an amazing number of new ways for us to communicate with our customers. However, as we try to create new Facebook pages and Twitter identities for our products it can be all too easy for us to spend our time thinking about how we want to talk to our customers. The other side of social media just might be more important: how can we use it to listen to what our customers want to tell us?

How To Listen To Social Media

What you need to realize right off the bat is that your customers are already using their social media tools to talk about your company and your product. You just need to learn how to listen to what they are saying. The first step in doing this is to set up searches on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and various blogs for your company and product names. You should also be searching for key phrases that have to do with your market. As long as you are at it, you should include searches for your competitors and their products also.

There are many different tools that you can use to “listen” to what is being said about your product in the social media realm. Some of these products are available for free (“Hootsuite”) and some may end up costing you some money. No matter, evaluate your needs and make the investment of time and money to get these tools working for you.

The process of listening to what your customers are saying about your product in the world of social media is a form of market research. What this is going to reveal to you is the language that your customers use to describe both their problems and the solutions that the use to solve their problems. Using this information you can adapt and modify how you communicate with your customers and you’ll find yourself becoming more and more effective.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to create products that our customers are going to want to buy, we need to first listen to our customers and understand what they want. Using social media tools, our customers are more than willing to share their needs with us.

Product managers, no matter what their product manager job description says, need to understand both where they need to do their social media listening (where their customers are) and how to do it. Taking the time to map out the key phrases that customers use to talk about your company and your products is an important part of this task.

The fact that much of the social media listening task can be automated does not relieve a product manager from their responsibilities. It’s the process of taking a look at what your customers are saying, and then taking action based on it that will lead to product success. Use the tools and do your homework and you’ll have become a good listener.

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

Question For You: Do you think that listening to social media should be somebody’s full time job?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

How much should a new car cost? More importantly, if you were a product manager in India where many people don’t make very much money, what would you price a new car at in order to create a product that just about anyone could afford? The product managers at Tata Motors though that they had the answer: the US$2,000 Nano was designed to capture the India auto market. Only, it didn’t. What went wrong here?

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