Using Your Blog to Listen to Customers

Angry BirdCan you use Facebook followers to create focus groups?

That’s just what one company, Modify, did.

The company, headed by Aaron Schwartz, partnered with a company, Napkin Labs, to funnel followers out of Facebook via a Facebook application or to an entirely new Website to setup a focus group.

At this point, Schwartz and his company were able to figure out a few directions their custom watch company should go.

From Turning Facebook Followers Into Online Focus Groups:

So Mr. Schwartz turned to a relatively new service called Napkin Labs, which essentially helps companies funnel followers from Facebook and other sites into more intimate, more structured online communities intended to serve as focus groups. Mr. Schwartz has used his online “labs,” which can run as a Facebook app or on a separate Web site, to get people to chip in ideas about what new colors and designs they’d like to see, and where they’d like to see the watches sold. Each lab poses a “challenge,” such as “help us design a new watch,” and anyone can pitch in with ideas.

The idea is great.

You have a group of people subscribe to content (Facebook updates) and you’re able to bring them in closer for feedback that can lead to product and service improvement. I’m sure Schwartz and his partners found some good information from the feedback and some information they ignored.

The results, though, appear to be profitable and the idea of using social channels to create feedback loops is gaining more attention.

And it brings us back to the idea of using your blog as a feedback loop.

Using a Blog to Improve Products and Services

Previously we’ve talked about how a blog can help answer customer questions and help lead to a new blogging strategy.

In the case of using followers to influence products and services I think there is even more opportunity for your business to use a blog to improve your own products and services.

Your blog is about generating profit first and foremost, but the act of blogging touches various points in the actual purchasing process.

In the case of feedback, it would seem you’re looking for customers that have used your products and services and potential customers that are only just at the very beginning stages of a purchasing decision.

Your business blog can serve as a way to engage both of these target audiences and try to get feedback on your offerings.

An example of a blogging strategy that should gain attention from your customers is to give a sneak peek at a new product or service. The post can discuss details of how you feel the new offering will add value for your customers.

Throughout the post you can ask for feedback with the hope that your most vocal customers or potential customers will share their thoughts on the upcoming offer.

The fact that you’re sharing unreleased information is exciting to blog readers. They’ll come to the post to learn about the product and from there a few will share their thoughts. They might leave comments on the post. They might send you an email is you provide the information. Others may simple share your post on Twitter and give a few quick thoughts of their own for their followers to see.

What the most important aspect of this process is would be putting some of your own beliefs into the blog post. You have to take sides on the issues at your company. You have to share how your company views certain situations.

This will set you up to spark emotion in people and that is when they’ll share their own thoughts.

If you’re vanilla with your posts you won’t get feedback because people won’t care.

Put yourself out there a little if you’re looking for feedback.

Your company blog can be a great place to gain insight that can lead to better products and services.

And the best part is you’ll own all the content instead of having it belong to a social media channel like Facebook or Twitter.

Angry Bird image courtesy of Noël Zia Lee

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