Your business’ social media community can be an invaluable asset when working through product or service development.
At Squishable.com, a stuffed animal maker in NYC, they’ve used Facebook as a research and consultation tool to help inform product development.
When Squishable began using Facebook in product development, they were a six-person company. As a small company with limited finances, they couldn’t afford to risk investing time & money in new products without doing their due diligence to increase the chances of product success.
Engaging their active Facebook community was and still is key not only from a cost perspective but also for receiving input at several stages along their product development process.
The Development Process
Squishable starts by encouraging fans to submit their design ideas & if accepted, fans are given the opportunity to cast their vote on which designs should go to the next phase of development. Think democratic development!
Founder, Zoe Fraade-Blanar told Facebook “People will say, ‘no’ and I’ll try again or they’ll say ‘yes’ and those are the designs we send to prototype. It’s just a safer way of developing new things, especially when you’re on a tight budget.”
Winning concepts are then posted on Squishable’s Facebook Page for the company’s fans to review. Fans can then vote on their favorites and leave feedback as comments on each status update.
Fans of the toy maker have a vested interest in the design and development of their favorite toys. If their design is selected by the voting community, the winner is rewarded with $ and the chance to have their prototype to be added to the current year’s Squishable line.
Squishable first launched their Facebook Page early in 2009 and has grown their following from 133,000 in April 2011 to its current population of over 824,000 fans. The company recently shared with Facebook that 29% of their website traffic now comes from the social network.
Lessons for Others:
Customer input can be incredibly valuable in the planning, development and launch of a new product or service. For small companies with limited budgets, this can be a cost effective way to approach product or service development and the incentives you give back to your fans can help fuel the growth of your online community.
Submitted by: Melanie Marsland, SMBP, University of Waterloo
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