A powerful component of social media from a business perspective is the ability to listen to what consumers are saying. Social listening technologies are available to track conversations around specific phrases, words or brands. As a result, companies are able to identifying new opportunities that may not have been on their radar, and many are responding with innovative product development or design. Twenty-five years ago, it would have been costly and time consuming to gather focus groups in order to gain feedback. But today, this valuable market information can be gathered in a matter of minutes—assuming of course that people are in fact talking about your brand. The food industry is a specific sector where product development is critical to success. There are a number of reasons why this specific industry is constantly creating new products or innovating existing ones. I chatted with my colleague, Karen Proper, who is a technical manager in the product and process development department at NSF International to gain more insight on this topic. Karen and her team work with clients in the food and beverage industry to help bring a product concept to life, overcome production challenges or to innovate an existing one. When asked why product development is so integral to business, especially in the food industry, Karen replied, “Product development keeps companies competitive in the marketplace, compliant to regulations, able to react to ingredient and manufacturing process changes, and also responsive to trends and consumer demands—all of which are critical to success in the food industry today.”
As I sit, and write this blog today I am sipping on nothing but Mildmay’s finest alkaline spring water, Flow. If you haven’t experienced Flow water yet you truly are missing out. This naturally alkaline spring water is from owner’s (Nicholas Reichenbach) , own family farm in small town, Mildmay, Ontario. The water is packaged into a recyclable Tetra Pak box that is PET and BPA free. This packaging is the first of it’s kind to be used in North America. Since beginning packaging the water has become recognized across North America, and has even gained Josh Donaldson from the Toronto Blue Jays as a spokes person for the brand. Flow prides itself on having a package that is ‘as positive as their water’. In Canadian Grocer article, Canadian company gets into the Flow with spring water, Reichenbach quotes, “It appeals to conscious consumers… people who like high-quality, healthful water and really care about what they put into their body. They also equally care about minimizing their carbon footprint and minimizing their impact on the environment”.
If you were using social media for personal or business use in Canada during the summer of 2016, you will have no doubt heard at least something about The Tragically Hip. The favoured Canadian band was touring in what likely would be their last, due to frontman Gord Downie’s onset of brain cancer. Concerts sold out and media of all sorts took note of what was developing into a notable time in our country’s music and lifestyle history. As the final concert came to pass in August – complete with the attendance and interaction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – an influential social media phenomenon was occurring. Ensight Canada reported, “In addition to multiple trending topics throughout the weekend of the concert, social media posts about The Hip and (Gord) Downie’s First Nations comments generated roughly 20 million potential impressions across Canada over the past week. What’s really telling is that Canada has about 14 million daily Facebook users, so when we look at the impressions generated, we can conclude almost everyone in the country who used the internet or social media came in contact with the story in some way.”
Social Media has proven to be a great tool that companies can use to research their target market. Traditional market research can be expensive, but with social media companies can now reach out to a vast audience for feedback and opinions. The benefits of using social media to gather information include low/no cost, instant results, and simultaneously creating another channel of communication with customers that make them feel valued. One downside is of course the potential for customers to provide negative feedback on something as public as Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms, but negative feedback is still very valuable if not more valuable than the positive.
In Spring of 1998 after recently being fired from a brewery, three friends set out on a canoe trip. That canoe trip would lead to a campfire conversation that would change all of their lives. Greg Taylor, Cam Heaps and Greg Cromwell “The Three Fired Guys” wanted to make a Pilsner that would compete with the best in the world. They did just that! Their brewery is named Steam Whistle, drawing from the inspirational sounds of steam rushing from factory whistles, signalling the end of a fulfilling workday and a time for personal reward.1 The Three Fired Guys built their company with a retro feel, when marketing of goods relied on the trust between manufacturer and consumers. Steam Whistle understands the importance of listening to their consumers and makes ever effort to do so by utilizing social media.
The advent of social media opened so many doors for businesses. It also brought about opportunities to build new doors or alter the old ones. Product innovation has changed rapidly in recent years, as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest exploded to become the social media titans they are now. Brands are becoming more and more daring with their innovation initiatives, bringing about bolder and bigger campaigns every year. Kalypso notes that many of the companies they polled on the topic don’t use it for sweeping changes or big projects – it would seem many companies are just dipping their foot in to test the water. Or maybe they are waiting to see how their peers succeed and/or fail?
Organisation Name: Lolly Wolly Doodle. Website: http://www.lollywollydoodle.com/ Industry: Personalized children’s wear and accessories. Started as a way to use up extra fabric from crafting clothing for her own children, Brandi Tysinger-Temple used social media with some unexpected results. When looking at the clothing available to children in stores, Brandi Tysinger-Temple felt they didn’t reflect her view of how a child should… Read more »
Organization name: GitHub Name of Contacts: Tom Preston-Werner, Co-Founder and Former President, GitHub Chris Wanstrath, Co-Founder and CEO, GitHub PJ Hyett, Co-Founder and COO, GitHub Industry: Code Sharing Network – Social Networking Site for Programmers Web references: GitHub – @GitHub Twitter – @Twitter Mark Otto – @mdo Jacob Thornton – @fat Company Overview College drop out, Chris Wanstrath began development of GitHub in October of 2007. By… Read more »
Organization Name: Kickstarter Industry: Investment/Crowdsourcing Web References: kickstarter.com Description of how social media is used for business performance: In the business world, where many aspiring entrepreneurs and early startup companies to start a business in hope that he or she would have something that is groundbreaking, a revolutionary new business idea or product that can change the way to we… Read more »
Seen above; a Youtube video released to subscribers and social media followers to promote an upcoming expedition and release of a cask that was stilled in honour of the Highland Park founder; Magnus Eunson Case Study: The Edrington Group Industry: Wine and Spirits Raise a dram to the innovative and proudly Scottish global enterprise; the Edrington Group. Makers and custodians… Read more »
Organization Name: Sunday Afternoon Productions Industry: Entertainment, Romantic Series Contact: Elizabeth May, MBA Liz, what social media tools did you use to help launch your series? “We started a customer engagement strategy before we even started shooting. It began with Facebook and Twitter, and coincided with the launch of an Indiegogo Campaign. Once we started gathering production stills we also… Read more »
Organization Name: Grounded Coffee Company Inc. Industry: Retail, Service Name of Contact: Nicole DiPinto, Scott Campbell Grounded Coffee Company in Midland, ON serves the freshest coffee in town. A bold statement, maybe, but one that’s hard to dispute, mainly because of the Probat professional coffee bean roaster located on-site, in the cafe and the burlap bags filled with fair-trade, organic… Read more »
“93% of digital marketing and advertising professionals believe that utilising social media as a mechanism for customer feed back provides an exceptional opportunity for product development.“ ~ Crimson Hexagon With consumer opinion and feedback so easily accessible to corporations through a multitude of social media channels, organizations have started to realize that these tools may serve a larger purpose… Read more »