Social Media Monitoring Proves Its Worth to the Product Development Department

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1 Social Media Monitoring Proves Its Worth to the According to the January 2008 benchmark report Social Media Monitoring and Analysis: Generating Consumer Insights from Online Conversations, less than one third (32%) of companies with social media monitoring and analysis solutions in place utilize the insights they derive from consumer-generated content in the context of new product development activities. While the insights gleaned from blogs, discussion forums, peer-to-peer networks and other types of social media are used extensively in such departments as product marketing and public relations, only 32% of companies report using the insights in the development of new products and services. But this percentage is likely to increase as companies become increasingly adept at leveraging the value of social media monitoring across the enterprise. March, 2008 Research Brief Aberdeen s Research Briefs provide a synopsis of the principal findings derived from primary research, including key performance indicators, Bestin-Class insight, and vendor insight. Understanding Consumer Wants and Needs Aberdeen research reveals that the top pressure compelling companies to focus resources on social media monitoring and analysis is the need to gain better consumer insight (50%). Of the companies that already utilize the insights generated through social media monitoring in the product development department, 29% cite the need to develop new products and services as one of the two top pressures that compelled them to deploy a social media monitoring solution. Figure 1: Top Actions Improve ability to respond to customer wants and needs Product Development 48% 54% Align social media monitoring capabilities to overall business objectives Build social media measurement into marketing campaigns and brand promotions 27% 37% 40% Maximize marketing campaign effectiveness 41% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Source: Aberdeen Group, March 2008

2 Page 2 Companies understand that blogs, discussion forums, and peer-to-peer networks contain a wealth of information related to untapped market opportunities that can be integrated into the tradition Research and Development (R&D) process. This helps explain the ranking of improve ability to respond to consumer wants and needs as a top strategic action (Figure 1). It also helps explain why 71% of companies that use insights derived from social media monitoring in their product development activities have launched company-hosted blogs or discussion forums, compared to 41% of companies that don t use these insights. Social media monitoring allows designers, engineers, and others in product development to observe a universe of consumers freely discussing their unmet wants and needs. Further, it allows them to interact with these consumers online to test and refine product development ideas. According to Aberdeen research, two-thirds (67%) of companies with social media monitoring and analysis solutions actively engage with online customers, rather than passively observe. In fact, the more often a company engages with consumers online, the more likely they are to experience yearover-year growth in key performance metrics. For example, 76% of companies that frequently engage with online consumers improve yearover-year customer satisfaction levels, compared to 50% of companies that rarely engage with online customers. Aberdeen found that nearly three-times as many Best-in-Class companies as Laggards have deployed a social media monitoring and analysis strategy in response to the need to find alternatives to traditional research methodologies. And 38% of Best-in-Class companies, versus 16% of Laggards, have put defined metrics in place for measuring the value of market research. Aberdeen also found that companies that utilize insights from consumergenerated content in the product development department are more likely than those that don t to implement key capabilities that maximize the value of social media monitoring and analysis. For instance, they are more apt to invest in organizational resources, such as dedicated personnel (45%) and operations resources (52%) devoted to social media monitoring, compared to 31% and 26%, respectively, for companies that don t utilize insights from consumer-generated content in the product development department. Figure 2 shows performance measurement capabilities related to social media monitoring in the context of new product development. Interestingly, 28% of companies that utilize insights from consumer-generated content in product development, compared to 16% of companies that don t, have defined metrics for measuring new product development opportunities. These defined metrics provide a way to track the value of social media monitoring as a catalyst for new product ideation, testing, development, and launch over time relative to other approaches and, ultimately, provide a way to measure the return on investment. "We can pinpoint players likes and dislikes with our games, our services, and our company. We can track true sentiment and understand where we're falling down. We re also able to glean what additional features players are looking for. ~ Torrie Dorrell, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment

3 Page 3 Figure 2: Performance Measurement Capabilities measuring campaign and promotion success Defined campaign and promotion analysis metrics measuring the value of market research measuring new product development opportunities 18% 16% 54% 31% 48% 28% 28% Product Development We want to make sure we re listening intently to any particular audience that is predisposed to having conversations about Microsoft products. ~ Sean O'Driscoll, General Manager of Community Support Services, Microsoft 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Case In Point - Microsoft Source: Aberdeen Group, March 2008 Microsoft Corporation has long understood the value of social media in the context of product development. In 1992, the company launched its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program to find, recognize, and engage the leading volunteer contributors to online discussions about its products. We want to make sure we re listening intently to any particular audience that is predisposed to having conversations about Microsoft products, says Sean O'Driscoll, General Manager of Community Support Services at Microsoft. To date, the company has designated more than 4,000 people from 90 countries as MVPs, engaging them in such a way that they become an additional voice into the Microsoft s product development lifecycle. Each month, the company holds 50 or more private conversations between MVPs and its product teams. According to O Driscoll, the personality type that is active in answering technical questions in online communities also tends to be interested in providing product feedback pre-release. In addition, the quality of the feedback tends to be far more actionable than that which is generated through generic, carpet-bomb betas. It s no surprise, given that these individuals not only have an obvious passion for the product but also encounter an endless array of product-related issues due to their activities in online communities.

4 Page 4 Delivering Against Consumer Wants and Needs Companies that use insights derived from social media to advance their product development agenda are more likely than companies that don t to improve their year-over-year performance in a number of key metrics. These include customer satisfaction and customer retention, as illustrated in Figure 3, the hypothesis being that by delivering against customer wants and needs with desirable products and services, companies are better positioned to boost both customer satisfaction and retention. Figure 3: Key Metrics Actionable Insights Derived from Social Media Monitoring 34% 69% Customer Satisfaction 45% 61% Customer Retention 43% 53% Ability to Predict Consumer Behavior 51% Product Development 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2008 Companies that utilize insights from consumer-generated content in the product development department are twice as likely as those that don t to improve the number of actionable insights derived from social media monitoring and analysis. While these insights provide guidance on how to retool a marketing campaign midstream to maximize its effectiveness, they also help determine what features and functionalities are missing and need to be incorporated into the next generation of a given product or service. Aberdeen Conclusions Companies that use social media monitoring only to track consumer sentiment or gauge reception to a new product launch or marketing campaign aren t taking full advantage of the capabilities at their disposal. And companies that disseminate the insights gleaned from consumer-generated content only to the marketing and public relations departments are selling themselves short, given that the insights may be equally, if not more, valuable to the product development department.

5 Page 5 The good news is that a growing number of the leading social media monitoring solutions vendors TNS Media Intelligence / Cymfony being just one notable example now enable companies to generate contextualized, function-specific insights that can cut across departmental silos to reach the right decision-makers, wherever they may reside within the enterprise. Of course, success means putting not only the right technologies in place but also the right business processes and organizational resources. For the product development department, the insights derived from consumergenerated content have the potential to fuel the creation of any number of new products and services, ultimately driving increased customer satisfaction and shareholder value. For more information on this or other research topics, please visit Protecting the Brand by Using Social Media Monitoring As an Early Warning System; March 2008 Active Engagement with Online Consumers Maximizes Returns from Social Media Monitoring Solutions; February 2008 Related Research The Rise of Social Media Integration: Monster and Wal-Mart Lead the Way; February 2008 Social Media Monitoring and Analysis: Generating Consumer Insights from Online Conversation; January 2008 Author: Jeff Zabin, Research Fellow, Customer Management Technology Contributing Author: Alex Jefferies, Senior Research Associate, Customer Management Technology Since 1988, Aberdeen's research has been helping corporations worldwide become Best-in-Class. Having benchmarked the performance of more than 644,000 companies, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to provide organizations with the facts that matter the facts that enable companies to get ahead and drive results. That's why our research is relied on by more than 2.2 million readers in over 40 countries, 90% of the Fortune 1,000, and 93% of the Technology 500. As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte- Hanks (Information Opportunity Insight Engagement Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen or call (617) , or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) or go to This document is the result of primary research performed by Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen Group's methodologies provide for objective fact-based research and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group, Inc. and may not be reproduced, distributed, archived, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent by Aberdeen Group, Inc.

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