Why Products Need to Be Social
At Peerlyst, we’ve developed a social network for products. What? Products are people too? Not exactly, but there are some very interesting and important benefits from creating a space on social networks for products.
When I mention this, I’m not thinking of consumer campaigns where the objective is to have thousands of followers “Like” spaghetti sauce on Facebook. I’m thinking about products that require a lot more consideration before purchase, like enterprise technology products, industrial equipment, and healthcare products. All products that cost thousands, or maybe millions, of dollars.
Of course, products can’t speak for themselves. But the users of products can certainly speak up, creating a product-centric social network that will help others better understand how a solution can help them too.
I’ll give you a couple of firsthand examples from my recent experiences.
When I showed our Peerlyst video to a friend who’s a restaurant owner, he said, “Wow, I wish I’d been able to reach out to my peers before I leased our point of sales system. It looked great on paper, but it’s awful in practice, and now we have to replace it. If I could have seen other restaurant owners’ experience with it, I would have saved a lot of time and hassle.”
A few months back, I met with the head MD at the Kaiser Garfield Innovation Center (kp.org/innovationcenter). He told me how Kaiser nurses wanted a specific medical cart, so much so that they were really lobbying hard for it. So he set up a workflow test of the cart with 10 Kaiser nurses in their 40,000 square foot facility. Within an hour, the nurses discovered that they hated the cart. It was hard to use, they bumped into beds and walls, and had to go back to the supply room too often to replenish the cart. The nurses rejected it out of hand. Just before I got there, a delegation from Singapore’s healthcare system was visiting the Innovation Center. The Kaiser MD told them the same story. One of the visiting doctors got dizzy and seemed to be passing out. The Kaiser MD asked if he was having a medical emergency. The MD from Singapore replied, “No, I just purchased 1,000 of those carts.”
Can you imagine if the products in both of these cases had a social presence, a spot where the product’s users could share their experiences, maybe rating them on key criteria like reliability and ease of use?
There are many other potential benefits from products having a social presence. For example, a manufacturer would get fast feedback from users on what works and what can be improved. Many users would be happy to share their insights with manufacturers, if they just had an easy way to do it.
Giving products their own social presence could grow our economy by billions of dollars by creating better products based on user feedback. The quality bar would be raised, and weaker products would improve or disappear.
Check out this article. http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-03/23/facebook-of-things
Andy Hobsbawm, the founder and chief marketing officer of Evrythng, talks about a “Facebook of things” that would give products a unique profile, one that connects to related content and services. “From a business perspective, this creates an interesting opportunity,” Hobsbawm observes.
That’s what we have built at www.Peerlyst.com. We hope you’ll explore the possibilities of our network—and help build the powerful change agent we know it can be.