Marketing April 28, 2011 Last updated April 28th, 2011 1,112 Reads share

Real Innovation Through Social Media

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“Using” social media doesn’t mean innovation.  The definition of innovation according to Peter Drucker is “…any change that creates an added dimension of performance”.  Social media is a chance for us, marketers to step beyond the realm or our core duties and add some real innovation to the firm.

Real examples

AA RoadWatch is a great Irish example. They’ve used their Twitter account to crowd source information about roads and delays.  They couldn’t possibly achieve this using a formal network of people reporting from the road.

AA Roadwatch has increased the reach and penetration of their information provision by using social media, which is fundamental to their business model.

Traffic is not the most exciting topic but human nature likes to help (just like the retweet pictured above). They made the change of sourcing information from the public through Twitter, and this increased their performance and exposure.

In my opinion, online apparel company Threadless.com, rules the roost for social media innovation. Threadless crowd source their tee-shirt designs, getting their community to submit designs and also vote for their favorites. Only the top ones make it to market.

They have started using Facebook and other platforms to encourage people to engage and ‘like’ their designs. They gauge, and therefore know they have a demand for their product before it’s ready to sell.

Threadless.com Facebook page

You’ll see on their Facebook page pictured you can post a design to your wall, ‘like’ and even get involved in Threadless meet-ups in your area.  The communities’ (public as designers and public as consumers) perception is that they control and own and are willing to get them involved in a fun way that has a real sense of community.

A far cry from a simple post about the latest special offer. It’s real innovation.

What can we do to start innovating?

As with everything, I suggest simple exploration with your key stakeholders and colleagues.  Below are some examples.

Why don’t you give us more and we can start sharing ideas and gauging results?

  • Could you incentivise Facebook check-ins for your staff i.e. get them to check-in every morning on Facebook in work to let people know what they are working on and tag your page?  (this could encourage people to get in early and showcase their hard work to their network)
  • Could you use Facebook/Foursquare check-ins for discounts in your canteen? (give people some real incentive to get in on your social media buzz – if people understand from  experience, they will see real value in future ideas)
  • Could you send motivational emails internally with QR codes encouraging people to explore?  (again, like the above)
  • Could you run a Youtube campaign of a day at your office for your HR department when recruiting?  (showcase the efforts you go to make a positive working environment through video  – you could even encourage Youtube applications which is currently a growing area)

As marketers, we may know more than our colleagues about social media and therefore we’re in a prime position to be real leaders in innovation.

Educate people in your company that social media is not just for you but has the potential to create real change and increase performance in many areas outside of marketing!

The possibilities are endless. Let me know what you’ve done to stand out among the crowd. Please share your ideas and previous experience below. Thanks you!

Connor Keppel

Connor Keppel

ME: Marketing Manager, SaaS; co-founder of FobaJob.com; Social Media Junkie; MSc in Strategic Management; Opinions my own and they may offend (not intentionally of course).

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