If you intend to employ more social media in your new product development (NPD) efforts, it may be helpful to begin by re-evaluating how presentations are delivered within your organization.
At the Web 2.0 Expo in November 2009, the keynote presentations were enhanced using a live Twitter feed generated using a publicized hashtag (#w2e) and multiple WiFi access points for the audience.
I suspect that some of the Presenters were more comfortable with the established paradigm of delivering a monolog with a prepared set of images in a darkened room.
The addition of a live Twitter feed provided a public sampling of the realtime conversation within the audience.
What was revealed in the conversations?
Some tweets contained simple status information such as "The presentation is starting now." Commonly, audience members posted quotes from the presenter. Other tweets contained supplemental information such as 'The link for more information is ...' Occasionally, the tweets were fact checks. A few tweets contained a surprising insight or humorous anecdote.
Because so many people were attempting to use the WiFi, the system was overloaded. Joel Spolsky has an excellent post on "The WiFi at Conferences Problem." Additional suggestions are in the "Why is Interet access and Wi-Fi always so terrible at large conferences" discussion.
Benefits of having social media during a presentation
The addition of hundreds of tweets during presentations provided:
- Richer experience for the audience. Potential for more excitement and greater engagement.
- Realtime evaluation. When the presenter was motivational, the content of the tweets reflected it. When there was too much superficial content, dissatisfaction was registered in the tweets. The absence of feedback signaled that the audience was distracted and likely to be using the WiFi connection for other activities.
- Disintermediated information. Instead of a dashboard summary, the raw text is available.
- Traceable sources. Tweets are not anonymous. Authorship is revealed.
- Analytics. The tweets can be reviewed after the presentation to extract other information.
- A multi-perspective summary of the event.
- Feedback for the presenter. Opportunities for realtime adjustments. Insights for improving future presentations.
- Feedback for the event planners that complements survey information and subjective assessments.
After experiencing the enhanced presentations last month, it will be difficult to accept another dull PowerPoint monolog in a darkened room.
Don't feed the trolls (DNFTT)
During the Web 2.0 expo, the feed generated from #w2e (the publicized Twitter hashtag) was moderated. There was a mechanism to remove inappropriate comments before they were displayed on the big screen. Trolls were thwarted.
Implications for new product development
There seems to be a growing urgency to add social media capabilities to new product development efforts. The budget for social media capabilities has been increased in many organizations. Now, 'Social Media Strategist' is a job title. This is reminiscent of the job title 'Web Master' from the 1990s.
It will take more than adding Web 2.0 capabilities to your site and devoting resources to your Twitter effort to maximize the effectiveness of your development efforts. It will require more than mastering the jargon.
Perhaps one way to gain experience using social media is to evolve the established presentation paradigms to empower new communities and improve open innovation.
This is possible because social media provides a great method for listening. Likewise, new product development benefits from listening as the product evolves from a concept to a commercially viable solution