Gathering feedback is crucial when you're building a product. And while user testing is typically the best way to gather that feedback, you don't always have the time or budget for it. Thankfully, the web plays host to millions of users ready to try a new product and share their input. With that in mind, here are some tricks to help you get design direction from social media.
1. Set up alerts
Mention, Google Alerts, and a host of similar products let you eavesdrop on specific conversations on the vast interwebs. Using these services, you’ll find conversations you might miss monitoring social media yourself, especially if those conversations don’t include your Twitter handle or are about your industry rather than your product. While you’re at it, make sure to set up alerts on your competitors, too. Monitor their replies to understand what features their users are asking for and what questions they want answered.
2. Find your people. (Haters are people, too.)
It's easy to find out where your audience hangs out online. Once you’ve found them, sign up to people watch, listen in, and even join the conversation. Then, follow the leaders. Literally. Using Twitter lists, private or public, create segmented channels for influential people in the communities you care about.
Listen closest to the complainers. Their grumblings can actually give you invaluable insights on their needs and struggles. And if those grumblings are about your own product? Reach out and ask them to rip apart new features while they're in beta. They'll appreciate the opportunity to share their thoughts, which could turn a hater into a loyal fan.
Grumblings can actually give you invaluable insights on their needs and struggles.
3. Test ad designs with remarketing
Ever feel like you’re being chased around the internet by ghosts of searches past? You’ve been segmented into a remarketing campaign. Remarketing lets you deliver specific ads to visitors of your site based on where they’ve been and what they’ve shown interest in.
Let's say you've got two versions of an ad. Try setting up a remarketing campaign by cookieing links to each ad and tweeting them out to lists you've created in Twitter. This will let you A/B test design and copy variations in your ads to see what performs best for your audience. The advantage of these campaigns is that you can segment your audience with razor sharp precision, so you can confidently say version A works for product managers, but B is better for designers (for example).
4. Just ask
Of course, relying on naturally occurring conversations can be limiting. If you have a specific design question, ask your audience directly. Ryan Hoover from Product Hunt has done this a few times to great effect. By sharing his project’s prototype as he works on it with InVision, he gets users engaged in the design process and excited about the end result. Another option is to invite your social following to participate in this-or-that polling. If you or your team get stuck between two design options, open up the discussion to a democratic vote.
Relying on naturally occurring conversations can be limiting.
Social media teems with conversations that can hold the answers to your product design questions. There’s an innate power to these channels. They let users speak up about what you and your competitors are doing right—or wrong.
And one last note: if someone replies to you when you’re using these tricks, nurture your relationship with them like it’s a valuable new friendship.