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How social ideation can drive brand engagement

by on February 8, 2013

Many businesses are trying to find new ways to use Facebook to build meaningful relationships with their customers.  They engage their fans by posting updates on new product launches, posting links to special promotions or encouraging their fans to upload their own content.  However, now brands are realizing that Facebook is an untapped community of fans that can provide feedback on how their brand is performing.

Social ideation has emerged as a new method to generate social media buzz while keeping your finger on the pulse of your fans’ interests, purchasing behaviors and product feedback.  Social ideation is the method of generating product feedback through a self-selected fan base: members of a brand’s social media network.  Social ideation is an essential component of the R&D value chain, driving project selection, project development and even the commercialization of new products.

Social ideation through Facebook

Typically, the social media team and the R&D team are separated, keeping ideation solely in the hands of “specialists.”  While consumers may lack expertise, they can have a fresh perspective.

Ideation is a process that most Fortune 500 companies have been implementing for the past decade to stay ahead of their competition.  For example, Procter & Gamble’s recent expansion of their Connect+Develop platform, which links innovators with the company’s current projects.  Or Dell’s IdeaStorm community, allowing consumers to submit ideas to a portal, which are then vetted and completed if Dell selects the project.  These ideation platforms are innovative ways for brands to co-create with their consumers while continuing to drive brand engagement.

But what does the consumer get out of this?  Several studies have shown that consumers who participate in ideation projects have a higher level of satisfaction.  Additionally, consumers who contribute ideas are likely spend more money with the company than consumers who don’t participate in ideation.

B2C companies are good candidates for social ideation because they already have have a pool of potential inventors that they can draw ideas from: their Facebook page.  They won’t have to use extra resources to run focus groups or search for external specialists.  Social ideation is also effective for companies in the early stages of product development and want to get real-time feedback from their fan base on whether to bring a product to market.

Rewarding fans for participating in social ideation

If companies are going to be tapping into their fan base to generate ideas, they will need to give their brand enthusiasts a reason to participate.  Rewarding customers who submit ideas with discounts, special promotions or even recognition on your Facebook page for contributing will give fans a sense that they are a valued member if a brand’s community.

Social media ideation can drive revenue, increase customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty.  At the moment, many businesses have developed closed ideation platforms.  While these private communities can give brands valuable insight into their customers, it doesn’t give customers the same sense of being a part of the brand community as social media channels can.

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