Web 2.0 Product Management: It’s All About Participation

by drjim on March 30, 2009

Web 2.0 Tools Allow Product Mangers To Build An Online Community

Web 2.0 Tools Allow Product Mangers To Build An Online Community

As a product manager you know that you should be using shiny new Web 2.0 stuff to market your product. However, the sticky question is what exactly should you be using and, oh by the way, just how should you be using it?

Traditional marketing has always been pretty much a one-way street – you to them. However, the beauty of all of these new fanged Web 2.0 tools is that they pretty much turn this all upside down: now marketing can be a  two-way conversation. With such great opportunities also comes great challenges. That’s what we need to talk about!

The most powerful thing that a product manger can do is to set up an online community that his/her existing and potential customers can use. The key here is to allow them to network amongst themselves and to allow them to talk about whatever they want to.

A toy company set up such a community in order to get opinions from mothers. The mothers came and then used the community to set up their own blogs and proceeded to write about family issues. This was pure gold for the company because they were able to learn a great deal more about their customers this way.

The key is to get your customers to come to your community and to participate. There are lots of ways to make this happen. Two of the most popular are cash rewards and peer recognition. The attraction of cash (or products) is obvious; you just have to make sure that everyone understands that these prizes are only available to members of the online community.

Awarding “stars” or “points” to users every time they post something or interact with the site is another way to create an online  sense of community. Everyone like to be recognized and this is a great way for both you and the online community to identify the experts amongst you.

One final thought is that a moderator for your online product community is critical. It’s the Internet and we all know how wild things can get if they are left to their own devices. The role of a moderator is to keep conversations going, make sure that everyone feels as though their voice has been heard, police what is being posted, and to basically maintain order.

It’s also the role of the moderator to make sure that the consensus of the online community gets communicated back to the product manager. After all, that’s why you created the Web 2.0 online community in the first place!

Are you using any Web 2.0 tools to market your product currently? What tools are you using? Have you had any success in building an online community? Who is your moderator? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tabita Green April 4, 2009 at 10:01 pm

I’m currently implementing what I call “User Assistance 2.0,” which is an online support center for the users of our B2B hosted services. We are most likely going to use Community Server. We are going to have searchable help articles, FAQs, tutorials, forums, and other feedback capabilities. I agree it is important that the feedback from the community makes its way back to the PMs. It is a powerful new mechanism to get quantitative feedback.

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Dr. Jim Anderson April 9, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Tabita: That sounds like a great project. Keep in mind one of the key features about the Web 2.0 is that you get the greatest benefits if you allow your users to talk with each other. Adding a blog or wiki function to your Community Server could be just the trick…

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