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How Social Networks Can Improve Product Testing

By Roderick Ioerger.

Social Shopping has already become a popular phenomenon with a number of sites out there promoting the experience. But leveraging these communities for product testing still seems to be far behind where it should be. The availability of willing product testers has never been higher and the ability to locate just the right demographics has never been easier thanks to the copious amounts of information that social networks provide about their users.

Have social networks created the nirvana for product test marketing? With the ability to create a social network of almost any demographic and be able to quickly and easily grow or shrink the size of the network to have precisely the desired mix of individuals, have social networks created the ultimate product testing ground?

Ripl.com is a social network, but it has also latched onto the social network phenomenon to help it create and test their new product. Ripl.com built their test marketing group out of students who were already active in the social networking scene and have since then begun to build their business with those same students becoming interns and employees.

Take the following two examples of business prime to leverage social networking for product testing:

BzzAgent.com is a very appealing web site for product testing. It creates word of mouth marketing via the delivery of free product samples to their appropriately developed list of volunteer test candidates, who then get to try the products and hopefully endorse the products to their friends and family creating a viral word of mouth buzz. What if they went one step further and began to take the process into an online social network where they could classify and manage the process in a nearly live environment instead of having to wait weeks for feedback? What if they could measure the number of new adopters by inviting them into a new social group? What if other people could find out about and join in on the test even after it had begun? The potential benefit to their business and the value to advertisers using their services could expand exponentially. All of this could easily be done through the adoption and implementation of a social network either via an existing service of through the creation of their own social network.

Woot.com is the other site that calls out for a product testing group based on their existing social network. Woot.com provides a single daily product for sale, and a forum where hundreds if not thousands of people every day provide their feedback on the quality of the product, compare it to other similar products, and give pricing feedback on whether the Woot Deal was good or bad. It seems that this site is already performing the product testing long after the product has been released to the market. What if the site could leverage the feedback on new products before they hit the market and still get consumers to purchase the product? Instead of having to give it away for free like the BzzAgent.com site mentioned above. Talk about a product testing ground with an added benefit of revenue where price could be tested along with all of the feature and qualities of the product itself.

Now with all of this being said, I don’t expect either BzzAgent or Woot to go out and expand or change their business models, but it seems many businesses are failing to grasp on the additive benefits that social networks present. Social networks are changing the way businesses do business, now the real question is can they change the way businesses build products? And I think the obvious answer is yes.

About Roderick Ioerger

Roderick Ioerger is a long time internet marketing and travel industry veteran.