Social media has proven to be an invaluable tool for businesses of all types and Direct Selling is no exception. While focus groups and surveys can be effective tools, Direct Selling executives should consider turning their R&D efforts to mining social media. However, Direct Selling, by its very nature, may be better positioned than many other channels to harness the power of social media for product development. The long-term relationships that Direct Selling fosters between customers, distributors, and by extension, the company itself, gives the channel a unique vantage point as leaders look for the future.
Direct Selling, by it’s very nature, may be better positioned than many other channels to harness the power of social media for product development.
Search for and ask about your own products
Learn what customers and distributors are saying. Make note of the good things, but also pay particular attention to complaints or wishes. “This product is great, but it would be great if it…” or “I really want…” are just some of the key phrases to listen for to see what developments might be possible. Direct Selling consumers and distributors know your product best and can offer the most powerful insights in the most organic fashion via social media.
Search for and pay attention to the competition
Monitoring what people are saying about products in your field as well as the competition can also offer useful insight. The goal is to not play catch-up, but see how to put your company on the cutting edge of innovation and service. Listen around product categories similar to your own, but also pay attention to consumers who are in a different location than your usual customer base or from a different demographic. What do they love? What do they wish was different? What these consumers offer is a window to a world of use and brand perception that is, again, utterly invaluable.
The goal is to not play catch-up, but see how to put your company on the cutting edge of innovation and service.
Investigate developing markets
Social media data can provide more detailed feedback on a larger scale in a shorter period of time for less cost than tradition R&D methods. When researching developing or emerging markets for expansion opportunities, possible business partners or even distributors, social media can give company executives a clear idea of what’s happening on the ground. It can also prove to be a goldmine of insight into the nuances of a new market in terms of product or service delivery.
One of the additional benefits Direct Selling executives already know is that it is relatively easy to revisit distributors and consumers when doing product research by the very nature of the relationship. Approaching them again to request further information or clarification on a particular point is not out of the ordinary nor considered odd. Even so, what social media allows is a faster turnaround on the question and answer process, which can mean a faster route to product development and a greater return on investment.
What social media allows is a faster turnaround on the question and answer process, which can mean a faster route to product development and a greater return on investment.
Deliver on promises
By paying attention to the market beforehand, a great new product is now available. Tell distributors and consumers how this product, based on their feedback, is satisfying like nothing they have ever experienced before. This builds on the natural community sense that Direct Selling fosters and deepens the relationship even further. Then start listening all over again to get ready for the next innovation.