I will be giving a talk on the topic of using social media for innovation efforts at the upcoming Front End of Innovation EMEA conference in Copenhagen on March 4-6. I was asked to give a short interview as preparation for the talk so here we go…
So to start us off, can you talk a bit about what your session “Using Social Media for Innovation Efforts” is all about?
Social media is so pervasive. It’s everywhere. However, we are still struggling with the business benefits of social media and in particular for b-2-b companies.
In my talk, I will explain how social media can help companies get better at innovation by using social media. I will explain how Twitter can be used for business intelligence, how LinkedIn can be used to get in touch with the “missing” people in your innovation ecosystems and how social media can help improve your overall corporate innovation capabilities.
I also share my views on how you can get started with this and what challenges you need to be prepared for.
Your book “Social Media for Corporate Innovators and Entrepreneurs: Add Power to Your Innovation Efforts” also touches on this topic. Can you tell our audience a bit about what drove you to write the book and what it covers?
Open innovation is moving towards communities and they will not only be physical. They will also be virtually and an important element of getting these virtual communities to work is social media. I have been using Twitter and LinkedIn for a long time and I discovered that many corporate innovation teams did not really use these tools and services as much as they should.
I also remember a lunch with Ashish Chatterjee, former head of Connect+Develop at P&G, in which he said that he believed the Internet and social media will be key drivers for open innovation. I fully agree on this and thus I found even more reason to write this book as a guide for corporate innovation teams as well entrepreneurs. I want them to become more aware of the effect social media can have on building better innovation capabilities.
The book gets into topics such as the value of social media to open innovation, how to get started, the roles and functions you need to cover, how to use social media internally and how to build innovation brands through social media. An important chapter is about making virtual communities work and this is linked with some thoughts on how to drive engagement through gamification. The book also provides an overview of the key social media tools for innovation efforts. They are Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.
What’s the first step you’d recommend for someone just getting started with social media innovation efforts?
This starts with a simple question: “What’s in it for me?” If you can’t find “business” reasons for you to engage with social media, then you need to give this some thought first. The same goes for leaders asking their people to start using social media. This is worthless if you don’t have an answer to this question first.
The “What’s in it for me?” question is not about money; it’s more about how you can get better at your work by using social media. An example could be that a corporate innovation team can identify the right partners for innovation ecosystems faster if they know how to use the search functionality on LinkedIn. It starts with their challenge on finding the right people. Once they know this challenge, they can start looking into how – or if – social media can help.
This takes us to the next important step. Most corporate innovation teams – as well as many individuals – need to find ways to upgrade their mindset and skills on how to use social media for business reasons. Hopefully, they can find some good insights in my book.
Both social media and innovation are rapidly evolving fields. How do you think things are going to change in the next year or five years?
Innovation will become more social. As all these virtual communities start to grow, one of the key challenges for big companies will be to figure out what to “democratize” and what to keep under strict control. You need the right balance here and the companies that find this will be the winners in their given industries.
I also believe that we will have found ways in which we can handle intellectual property issues in such communities within the next 3-5 years. This is very challenging today and it keeps many companies from unlocking the potential of using communities and social media in their innovation efforts.
I look forward to sharing more on this topic at the Front End of Innovation EMEA conference in Copenhagen on March 4-6.