Use Conversation Audits for Your R&D

With the recession in full swing, new product launches are down 51% in 2008. Firms are taking a more cautious approach to finding and developing new products, and axing ideas earlier in the development cycle.

In this environment, how do you ensure that your research and development moves you toward creating new products that will resonate with customers? Social media conversation audits can quickly pull out important trends and track what your current and potential customers want and need.

conversation audit scrapes all of the posts that people are sharing across blogs, review sites, forums, commenting sites, complaint boards, social networking site, voting sites, and any Web site that has a social element. It is the fastest, most comprehensive, and cost-effective focus group ever. And the insights are significant.

Think about how useful it would be to see how people end this sentence: “I wish these guys added _____” or “I love this company, BUT it would be great if they _____.” It’s open-ended, so the results are much wider than a questionnaire, survey, or focus group. And it’s within the context of everyday conversation, so the discussion reflects a real-world scenario, not a contrived setting.

It’s important to do these audits early in the product development process to determine what to make; it’s also important to revisit them once it’s time to plan a marketing strategy around your new product, to gain insight into the most salient features. Using the power of this social feedback, you may have less new product launches, but you will definitely have less new product flops