Enhancing Product Development and Design Through Social Media

BradenPomeroy    May 29, 2017

The amount of time, money and research Metroland Media has put into their products and services clearly shows. Having over 110 weekly and daily newspapers, numerous amounts of magazine publications, e-commerce websites, community news sites and many other online websites offering all distinct types of content and various properties, they know how substantial product development and design is. Innovation takes time, Metroland being industry-leading marketers, understand the innovation process, the amount of time that goes into research and development, and the strategy behind commercialization. Maybe this is why we haven’t seen the use of social media or the offering of social media services through Metroland Media yet.

Most of Metroland’s products have been around for well over 100 years. Their products, brand reputation, and long-term customers have lasted this long due to their expert consumer research, marketing, cost, quality and speed, which ultimately covers most of the product and design process. They also know how important the many stages of product development and design are, that is why they pay close attention to detail, consumer feedback and data. I will say this again, Metroland is a unique organization keeping everything secretive, while slowly integrating new ideas and products into the marketplace and not really utilizing social media at this moment. Their community newspapers are one example of their development and design process. Metroland knows they have some of the highest quality and trusted print publications and services in Canada; they also know how much of an audience they reach through these products, that is why they strategize and organize effectively before introducing a new print product or alter their existing community newspapers. They designed these community newspapers years ago and they still work effectively. There really isn’t much to change in terms of layout and design, so they have remained the same for many years. This is completely okay, the content in the newspapers is what draws the customers and readers to these publications. Design and modernization is important, especially for the new generation who need to see new and fresh products to be impressed. That could partially be why Metroland just recently changed the titles of most of the community newspapers to a more generic Metroland-ish logo, maybe they are truly starting to brand Metroland.

Metroland Media, being a marketing and advertising organization, know the steps behind creating, implementing and introducing a new product or service to the market. The size of the organization and the industry is what makes them put their full attention towards product development and design. They are marketers, researchers and analysts, meaning every step they take in developing and designing a product or service extremely time-consuming, costly and they take those steps at a very cautious rate. We constantly innovate the local media industry, that doesn’t mean they have a bright idea and throw it into the market the next day. Metroland understands their consumers and target market by researching trends and behaviour through copious amounts of data and learning from outside organizations. The data they collect from their own online products and services, along with their extensive line of print publications, is what allows them to develop healthier quality products and services in a timely matter. Not all organizations have this data and that is why organizations are turning to social media for alternatives and solutions, which are showing signs of faster, cheaper, higher quality product development and design.

Metroland has been talking inside the organization for years about implementing social media. Unfortunately, they usually keep the timelines of their new products and services top secret, even to the majority of their employees, and for good reasons. Developing and marketing a poorly thought out or poorly designed product may lead to negative brand impact. That is why the development and design process is strictly structured, carefully managed and strategically implemented and commercialized. Reaching over 5.6 million readers each week, Metroland understands how their consumers will react to a poorly developed product and what type of impact it can make on their sales, branding and overall organization. They truly understand the complexity of social media, the power it holds and that is why they are spending an adequate amount of time and money innovating, organizing and generating many different ideas in which they can use social media for consumers and inside their organization.

Most organizations have a preconceived notion of social media and how it can be integrated with product development and design, this leads to a high number of skeptics and organizations choosing to opt out of social media in general. Social media is progressing at such an outstanding rate, that it’s altering the way we think, granting us alternatives to traditional advertising and now allowing us to create cost-effective high-quality products with the data that is now available and easily accessible. I strongly believe that organizations who do not utilize, maximize, integrate and apply social media effectively will not be able to succeed. The thing is, social media has a tremendous amount of excitement behind it, as it should, but we can’t forget that proper applications, organization, and strategies need to be in place for it to be successful. Listening to the wrong people can lead you to believe social media is a goldmine, social media can also generate thousands of product ideas which then leads to jumping on a potentially bad idea to quickly. Social media also allows organizations to connect and engage with consumers quickly, this can also lead to misleading comments, so taking the proper precautions and interpreting the message with care is essential to your organization’s success.

Lessons for Others

Social media is opening the innovation process; it is making the development and design process faster, more cost effective, higher quality and potentially creating a better overall brand impact. Integrating social media can improve any organizations product development and design process, but understanding the complexity and power of social media will lead to a better grasp on how it can help or diminish your organization without proper care. The audience social media reaches means it will have a larger brand impact, the effectiveness will speed up the development process, and the consumer data available will create higher quality products. Every positive has a negative and that’s where the skepticism has been created and why most organizations have chosen to continue without it. Hopefully Metroland is nearing the end of their social media product development and design process and we get to witness the effects it has on their organization.

Organization: Metroland Media Group
Industry: Media
Name of Organization Contact: Ian Oliver, President

Authored by: Braden Pomeroy

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


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