question to innovate

How can my company use social networks for innovation?

question to innovate

This is the sixth of a series of weekly posts where I will answer a few common questions about innovation. Please feel free to add your own response. Also, if you have any questions you think we should discuss, let me know.

Stefan Lindegaard published a blog post recently about how to use Linkedin for innovation. It is a good post and you should definitely read it. Today, I aim to fill the gap with some tips for Twitter

There some fundamental reasons for using social networks. To connect with people, to share stuff you find interesting, to discuss things of interest, to participate, to contribute. With that said, if you really want to use social networks for innovation, you ultimately have to add value.

There are social networks such as Behance that are specialized for creatives. But, just like Linkedin, you can use Twitter, Quora, Google+ and others for innovation purposes. What are these purposes?

Here are a few:

Insights

You can find both customer and marketing insights. For example, there is the unfocused chatter that is all over the place, and the chatter that is focused. How do you remove the noise? You can start by monitoring specific hashtags, specific topics, creating a list of people of a certain topic and participating in discussions.

Look out for people who participate and cross-post on other social networks like Linkedin and Quora. If you have a blog and think you can add value to these discussions, you can cross-post it on your blog. This way you can bring the conversation to where you are and hopefully discover insights.

Collaboration

I’ve found collaboration opportunities with a handful of people just through Twitter alone. On Twitter, there are chats you can participate it. For example, #innochat is popular with innovation professionals and provides an outlet to discuss an innovation topic during one hour. Some people have ended up collaborating together in advancing the knowledge and practice of innovation.

Your company can do the same. See if there’s a specific chat about your industry and participate in it. If there isn’t one and you feel like you can “own” a certain topic, create one.

Responsiveness

An important piece of news can be communicated by people on the ground faster than by a news stations. This dynamic also applies to business intelligence. People are talking about your product, some frustration or complaint and you need to be there.

This point goes hand in hand with “insights” because you are listening to your customers or market to see what is going on. This will also force you to become more agile, which a critical innovation capability.

Boost Creative Thinking

Innovation starts with creative thinking. With that said, having access to so much diverse knowledge gives you the opportunity to connect with people who are in different industries than you. This is an opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas. It is an opportunity to elevate your creative IQ, and develop a capability for thinking creatively.

Develop Strategic Thinking

It goes hand in hand with creative thinking. Put simply, if you are participating in various discussions, reading a wide variety of material from diverse types of people, you are developing your business acumen. But to fully take advantage of it, you have to reflect on what you read, discuss, observe and listen to. Only then, will you begin thinking strategically.

Thought Leadership

Every company out there has to innovate to survive and thrive. And innovation, distinguishes leader from follower. So, if you are an innovative company, you can’t rest on your laurels. You have to look for ways to keep innovating. Social networks will help you do this if you do all of the above points.

Employee Engagement

The new type of employee lives on social networks. They expect to work and collaborate in social networks. And a company that is innovating, is ahead of the curve when it comes having employees who are engaged with their work.

Put simply: Creating value hasn’t changed, only how it gets done.

Your turn, how can my company use social networks for innovation? If you are already using social networks for innovation, how are you doing it?

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