Hopefully by now we're all aware of how important social media can be to market a product or idea to a large audience. But did you also know how much social media can affect the research process? A few weeks ago The Guardian posted a great piece about how social media can be utilized during all steps of a research project. Though the article was geared toward academic research, the key messages are important for industry or market research as well. Jeff Jarvis, who wrote Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live, learned a great deal about alternative uses for social media while working with the NYU Wagner School of Public Service to improve their use of digital media and marketing. Here are some key points Jarvis shared:
- Professors have expressed the same concerns about utilizing social media as many corporations: once out in cyberspace, their words can't be deleted. They also fear exposing too much information about their work and themselves. (Learn how to counteract those fears here.)
- Social media can help you "form powerful connections and reach new audiences." Engage with individuals who want to learn more about your product or service, and introduce potential customers to your organization.
- Use social media throughout the research process, from gaining a sense of how customers feel about your general sector all the way through promotion of a new product.
NYU Wagner faculty offered some first-hand insights on how social media has affected their work:
"We are also using our networks to better understand which issues are important to various stakeholders, to get feedback on our work, a faster and in more ways more effective form of peer review, and to meet other academics and other who are interested in our work." - Karen Grepin, assistant professor
How much of what Grepin says is applicable to your business? You want to know more about your stakeholders (customers, shareholders, etc.); you want feedback from those stakeholders on how you're doing; and you want to connect with people who are interested in what you have to offer (potential customers).
"As a forecaster, I'm constantly on the lookout for what early adopters, innovators and forward-looking people are doing and thinking. My Twitter feed is a torrent of high-value signals of trends that may grow in the future." - Anthony Townsend, an adjunct assistant professor, on how he uses social media to keep abreast of trends pertaining to his work
The article also talks about using social media for marketing purposes. Academic researchers have found that by utilizing platforms like Twitter, they can target specfiic audiences, or reach groups of people who would not previously have known or cared about their research findings. Now replace the words "research findings" with products, services, or even organization, and this becomes sound reasoning for any business.
Who knew that professors could continue to teach us things even in our post-academic careers! Are you surprised at the paralells between harnessing social media in an academic environment versus in your office? What other tips on networking do you think could be drawn from other industries?