Is there a social solution in innovation?
Social media is seemingly limitless, connecting people from all over the world. By design, its accessibility and cost effectiveness presents a potentially powerful tool for innovation, but the key is using it correctly.
Stefan Lindegaard, author of “Social Media for Corporate Innovators and Entrepreneurs,” believes that while social media is not a Holy Grail, it offers another way to build communities where employees and external audiences can exchange ideas and collaborate.
Social media has the ability to complement and assist innovation. Not only can you personally connect and interact with your customer base, but you can identify people who can help solve problems for you.
Using social media for open innovation has its pitfalls, however. Most companies have social media strategies embedded within their overall marketing strategy; however, Lindegaard says it’s imperative that your innovation efforts with social media are not for the sake of marketing. You must understand why you are using social media to innovate and what it is exactly you are trying to achieve.
In his book, Lindegaard talks about three circles: the innovation community, the innovation ecosystem, and customers and users. In order to target these various circles, different types of social media should be leveraged.
“It’s about using different tools for different situations based on challenged you’re currently facing,” Lindegaard said. For example, LinkedIn is useful because of its search functions, while Twitter helps provide insights on trends.
As with any product or service, your social media following will ask “What’s in it for me?” In order to engage an audience through social media channels, there must be a benefit in exchange for their time and attention.
“Convincing your audience to help you with your social media efforts is something they must want to do; offering worthwhile content, perks, and exclusivity is a good start to cultivating your organization’s social circles,” Lindegaard said.
The formula to make social media work will be unique to your company depending on what it’s trying to achieve, he says.
In his book, Lindegaard conducted a conversation with Clorox on its endeavors with social media for the sake of innovation. Clorox created an internal/external platform that connects everyone from consumers to suppliers, each group providing input at every step in the process. Clorox demonstrates that the use of social platforms allows companies to not only receive invaluable input and ideas, but also test ideas quickly in a willing group of followers.
One size does not fit all in social media. Lindegaard says the key is to determine specific goals that fit with your organization’s innovation goals and select the appropriate social media channel that will help achieve them.