Product Development Powered By Social: Chicago Social Media Professionals Panel

Product Development Powered By Social: Chicago Social Media Professionals Panel

We get it – you know what social media is. But do you know how to test products and build interest in a company using social media? That’s part of what product managers do.

You can produce content all day long – but if no one is looking at it or interacting with it – then you’re kind of just talking (to yourself).

We know you’re a girl boss who wants to build her brand and empire – so there’s help. Taylor Gaines, Chief Executive Officer at T&T Digital Media Agency, started networking classes once a month. Her current series, Powered by Social Media (R) brings together digital media experts to discuss how social media is changing the landscape not only in marketing but business in general.

Powered by Social Media touches on topics from search marketing to cyber security to highlight differences, overlap, and trends in every area of the online world and how it can be applied to everyday decisions.

In their April Powered by Social Media event, the topic was Product Development Powered by Social Media. Digital experts gathered at Breather in the West Loop for the panel discussion.

The Gist:

Yes, product managers do mock feature releases. Yes, it really is all about the money – if you don’t have revenue, you can’t keep developing your product. And finally, message boards and feedback can make or break product development, but also knowing what your product is intended for and if people are using it as intended is imperative. The right people need to be testing the right products.

“Just because someone doesn’t like x,y,z maybe they are not the right fit for your product,” one of the panelists said.

Read below for more detailed answers from the product development panel discussion.

The Product Development Panelists:

Heather Campos is a Senior Manager of Digital at Brandmuscle. Campos oversees digital marketing strategy and solutions for spirits, wine, food, and hospitality clients.

Chris Kelson, MBA, is a Global Product Manager, IoT & Connected Home, at Whirlpool Corporation. Kelson is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a Masters in Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Colleen Wilson, MBA, is the Founder & CEO of Collaborate Chicago – a product strategy and product marketing consulting firm. Wilson has 12 years of financial services, fintech, and SaaS product leadership experience. Most recently Colleen led product strategy and product marketing for the small-business lending platform Square Capital, turning it into the fastest growing product at Square.

Amanda Elliott, Founder of Windy City Cosmo with panelist Colleen Wilson, Founder and CEO of Collaborate Chicago at the Product Development Powered by Social Media event in April 2017.

Social Media Conversation with Product Managers:

In an hour panel discussion, these product managers answered questions by Gaines that helped social media experts understand more about how product developers leverage social media to test products and how end users engage with their brands.

Question: How does social media affect what you’re doing?

“I work with a Fortune 500 companies that have local entities. They are looking for ways to break through,” Campos shared, “For independent retailers – 9 times out of 10 don’t know how to market themselves. Then we’ll do audits and pull up the responsiveness of their site or their Google maps. Some people post one star, and that can kill you.”

The Product Development Process:

“We will take any data we have access to, and then within 2 weeks, we’ll spin off a lean product and see if we have any bites. That would take anywhere from 4-12 weeks. When you’re rolling out to 5k users it’s a little different than 200,” one of the panelists described.

“It’s very easy to have analysis paralysis. You don’t want to handicap yourself and never take action. Ask yourself, is there a huge regularity constraint that you need to consider?”

“When you have more users, it’s faster. If you see a product selling, you can literally test anything. The more users you have, the more a/b testing you can do.”

“We do fake lead pages. I want to see if people want it. Are they enticed by the tagline and the product?”

Question: Do product developers utilize emerging technology?

“AI is huge. Budweiser just integrated AI into age drinking,” Campos shares, “I work in Alcohol/Beverage, there are 15 documents that you have to look to. There are lots of things that you can’t say online.”

Question: How closely do you work with other departments?

“In tech organizations, product manager, engineering manager and UX designer. At Square, we had a product marketing person, too,” Wilson shares, “Product marketing is how you tell the world about your product.”

“We monitor social to get personas from them, then we look at Open Table and Yelp for the bar industry – based on user personas, we determine who is going to use the product and how,” Campos shared.

Automated Responses (Twitter DMs, etc.):

One of the bigger discussions of the night was whether to automate responses or respond personally.

“If you have an auto DM – save a customer by not using auto responders. If it’s your company, then turn your notifications on and answer. It’s the hustle,” an audience member shared.

“AI is intelligent enough to get the tone and emoji right,” a panelist added.

One of the audience members shared that the CEO of Amazon – social media is used to start conversations. No one said they wanted Prime, but they created it. So, how do you know if they need the product?

The panelists shared that you can’t create pain points – they need to exist. They [customers] don’t know they need Prime, but they know that they want to get a product in a week.

Question: Where are there unmet pain points?

Panelists agreed that social media is a necessary evil – people will BITCH about things that they will never say about to you to your face. That’s their job.

Take a look at Powered by Social’s previous events below.

Want to be part of this exclusive monthly social media mixer? Email Taylor Gaines at

Do you organize social media, blogging, or marketing events in Chicago? Email Amanda at if you would like Windy City Cosmo to cover your event.

Happy networking and learning!

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