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What impact has social media had on marketing & product development?

I’ve been really fascinated to start to see the impact social media has been having on the marketing and product development teams of Publishing houses. Social media has created more channels for Publishers to engage with their audiences, and more quickly, but are they really listening? Have products actually changed significantly in light of market feedback and real-time market research? My background is mostly within ELT and Educational Publishers where materials go through lengthy approval and development processes. However, it seems that it isn’t until quite late on in a courses development that it gets taken to market for approval and this is then where there are often conflicting view points and markets that don’t feel it is the right product to meet their needs.

Here are some further questions to delve a little deeper into this issue – it would be great to get your feedback and thoughts!

  1. Have marketing departments been given the recognition and influence in the publication process they perhaps deserve? And more importantly need if Publishers are to sustain revenues through their educational publishing departments? Not to mention compete with technology companies that are taking products to market quicker and that meet gaps in the market?
  2. How much is the product design of new material being influenced by Marketing and user feedback?
  3. More specifically how much of a role do the marketing department have in taking a prototype to market, to get real time and useful feedback, before a Publishing house has invested a lot of time and money in generating a series/concept that thinks will sit well in the market place?
  4. Once a prototype/launch has been taken to market how much of the feedback actually affects the finished products? Are teams willing to listen to the feedback and change their plans accordingly?
  5. Where is the tipping point financially for this change? If too much has been invested in a potentially flawed product who is ultimately responsible for pulling the plug? Or is there a ‘wing and a prayer attitude’ that has up until now got everyone through?
  6. If marketing teams were to get involved earlier on in the concept stages do you think there would be less time and money wasted on producing irrelevant/past it content/products that don’t meet a market need?
  7. Have recent developments in the Publishing industry (ie all the digital explosion, production but also marketing channels, of the last few years) affected the structure of publishers and the status quo amongst differing departments?

Would love to know your own experiences if you work at a Publishers or your thoughts on any of the above?


Sophie O’Rourke

Sophie O’Rourke works at emc design, a leading print & digital design agency for publishing. She is interested in how education is being transformed by new technologies, the web and social media. You can find her writing for emc design’s blog (emcdesign.org.uk), on Twitter @sophie_orourke or at the next Book Machine social!

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