Social Media & Product Management (Pt. 3)

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(Continuing on from Part 2, See also, supplement)

Media

jtpedersen_product manager_social mediaFor fear of being long-winded, I had chosen to skim the top regarding Media.  In hindsight, I’ve decided to step back a moment and expand on my comments in Part 2.

Yes, Media is the multi-faceted mechanism enabling interaction between participants.  However, from the content creator’s perspective one might look at it this way:

  • Networking
  • Aggregators & Curators
  • Outposts/Websites

Networking…
or relationship building, is perhaps the ‘meat and potatoes’ of social media.  All of it, ultimately boils down to two or more parties wanting to form a relationship with one another.  In some cases, as in the case of companies, it can take the form of an individual giving a ‘face’ to the company they work for.

For instance, Ford Motor Company has received numerous kudos for its successful social media efforts.  The person most singularly responsible is Ford’s won Scott Monty.  Scott tweets, uses Google+, and other venues to build relationships with Ford’s customers.

Robert Scoble did much the same for Microsoft.  As an evangelist working at Microsoft from 2003-2006, he regularly interacted with customers.  They did well for each other.  His relationship with Microsoft certainly gave me a credible platform to lean against.  Yet, most importantly, by lending his ‘face’ to Microsoft, he lent a touch of humanity to a company frequently thought of as big, ugly, arrogant, and heartless.  And his followers loved him for it.

Perhaps the best example, is @ComcastCares.  Frank Eliason was Comcast’s Director of Digital Care.  He came up with the idea to create the Twitter personality, ComcastCares.  Customers could tweet their problems and ComcastCares quickly, actively, dove into solving their problem.  I’ve interacted with @ComcastCares and can tell you it’s better than the 800#.

In each example, a single person built powerful relationships—with millions of others—through social media.

Aggregators & Curators…
are platforms letting consumers easily share their social networking experiences and discoveries.  Stumbleupon is a perfect example.  You can tell the service what things you find of interest, and it will make recommendations for you.  These recommendations are found by people, like you, that ‘stumble upon’ things of interest, and tag them.

Another very good example of an aggregator, is Alltop.  Think of Alltop as your very own newspaper.  Alltop provides a broad range of categories populated with content from sites around the world.  You can simply view their most popular stories for each segment.  Or, you can build your own front page, or MyAlltop, by selecting those news sources you have found of interest.

A key benefit of these aggregators, or curators, is that they help consolidate the seemingly infinite amount of content on the internet.  Further, they help sift the wheat from the chaff as it were, helping good content rise to the top.  Much easier than wading through reams of search results, no one link better than the next.

Outposts & Websites

If you’re actively using social media, it is almost a certainty that you use more than one service.  For instance, you may maintain a blog, promote your products via your website, tweet to those interested in what you offer, have friends on facebook, and be exploring Google+.  (Note, I am only using the big, recognizable names.  There are thousands of lesser-known, niche-oriented offerings.)  Each of these can be thought of as ‘outposts.’

What is key in your social media efforts, is that you have—however simplistically—a basic strategy in mind.  You need to have a primary outpost to which all your other ‘satellite’ outposts point back to.  For instance, if you have a blog, it should take zero effort for a reader to get to you primary product site, if that’s what it is.  If you use Twitter, your profile and comments should point toward your primary outpost.

Each outpost serves a specific function.  You can use your blog to express the day’s thoughts; as product manager, what new directions is the team thinking of?  You can use Twitter to call attention to your blog; Hey, Everybody: My day’s new thoughts are posted!  You can develop very visible discussion using Google+, facebook, or even LinkedIn.

Chris Brogan is one of the world’s foremost bloggers and social media evangelists. His focus: Helping People.  He’s written a good article, “What’s Your Communication and Media Plan?” offering yet another take for you.

image credit: Ayhan Yildiz