Businesses use social media to increase visibility and awareness, raise their profile, promote a product or service and engage with their customers. At the same time, customers use social media to express themselves and their opinions about brands and their products and services, and relationships and issues they are currently experiencing in their day-to-day lives. If we pay attention and listen to those issues and opinions, social media can pave the way by inspiring us to find a solution—or the next great business idea.
Here are five social media tactics that aspiring entrepreneurs should employ:
Trending topics appear on both Facebook and Twitter. These topics represent hashtags and events that are trending on a global scale. Alternatively, these topics can be filtered to show specific events in your local community. Trending topics have come to represent the intersection of news and social media. They are the manifestation of social media chatter, buzz, and general conversation. This is also where complaints surface. Think of trending topics as your own personal focus group for any problem. Whether on a global scale, or in your community, if you listen and pay attention to trending topics, you may just be able to glean enough important information to get you started on a solution—your next great business idea.
Pinterest and Instagram literally provide us with snapshots of what people are interested in and excited about. These pages also house images of things that appear ‘too good to be true.’ Exploring popular pages and topics of interest will provide valuable insight and research to inspire great ideas for reaching potential consumers. Entrepreneurs can then reflect on what they think consumers would buy. What can I create to help better their lives? What would they be interested in?
Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are a great source for discovering trends, new products and services. Businesses and startups look to these platforms for funding opportunities from venture capitalists, angel investors and the general public. By determining which businesses received funding and what the general public is interested in, individuals are able to gain insight into what consumers are looking for, what interests them and what they are willing to pay for. What’s a better source of innovation than a platform that relies on the public to determine the success of an idea?
TV Shows and the Second Screen
Now that we’re fully immersed in the digital age, the rise of the second screen is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, television shows like Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den are taking the second screen into account when writing scripts and taping. When shows such as Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den air, entrepreneurs should tune in to Twitter or Facebook and read the feedback. Are these new business pitches going to succeed? Would people actually use the product being pitched? If not, what would make it more appealing? Can I improve any of these business ideas? Learning what works and what doesn’t work can help spark the next great idea. And, you have the opportunity to listen to and view and investor’s feedback right then and there!
We’ve already discussed trending topics, so think of this section as referencing a whole page of trending topics. StumbleUpon and Flipboard have a plethora of trending topics from all industries that have been categorized into trending pages for you—all you need to do is look. Scour these pages for topics that are popular and then read the comments – what are people saying? If there is an issue, is this something you have the answer to?
All in all there is no shortage of inspiration for new business ideas floating around on the interweb. Social media is a medium where people willingly flock to share their ideas, comment on others and voice their opinions—negative or positive. If you just take a few hours a week to scour, pinpoint and consider solving problems or making a process easier somehow, you may just be well on your way to creating the next great product or service.
Gabie Boko is the executive vice president of marketing at Sage North America. She has built an 18-year career in marketing, sales, and channel development with leading technology innovators. For a large part of her career she helped growth companies preparing for acquisition or public offering.