4 Ways to Co-create Value Through Social Media

4 Ways to Co-create Value Through Social Media

Have you considered getting your customers involved in the creation of new products and services? Are you curious about how customer involvement can benefit your business? This form of collaboration is known as co-creation, a concept that has received a great deal of attention from academics and marketing practitioners alike. Successful co-creation can produce higher quality work done at a greater value—customer satisfaction guaranteed.

Co-creation is customers’ active participation in creating new products and services. In fact, many leading brands have taken to co-creation in recent years. A study conducted by Standard and Poor’s 500 Index shows that companies investing in co-creation are more likely to be more profitable.

Social media is one of the best ways to attract customers to co-create. Through social media, you can engage, interact, and collaborate with customers.

Here are 4 tips to help you leverage social media as a means of increasing your business’s online presence, and helping you create products that your customers are more likely to purchase. 

#1: Empower your customers to develop products that sell.

Some global brands are already taking co-creation very seriously in terms of product development. For example, Starbucks was among the early adopters of social media engagement, and the company recently launched a platform called www.mystarbucksidea.com.

The platform is designed to engage customers and encourage them to offer their feedback and ideas regarding the Starbucks experience. In just one year, Starbucks received more than 88,000 ideas from customers, and the company has been awarded by Forrester Groundswell for its innovative use of branded social communities.

Each time Starbucks takes a photo; the company shares the image on key platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. When companies engage with customers where they are the most likely to engage, there will be more opportunities to co-create. Through the My Starbucks Idea project, the company gives customers and suppliers a voice in shaping the business model, not to mention a say in the creation of new products.

How it helps your business:

When your customers have a stake in your product pipeline, it helps you boost sales and build loyalty. Customers who collaborate with you feel more invested in your company, and are more likely to buy your products—especially when they’ve contributed. By collecting customer input, you access information on trends and customer needs that you would otherwise have had to purchase through costly data mining and focus groups.

#2: Transform customers into partners to build brand loyalty.

The conventional wisdom is that co-creation helps companies stay competitive in an ever-changing business landscape. Coca-Cola leverages co-creation with social media to stay relevant by customizing its products. The company made a splash when it placed customer names alongside its famous logo, allowing people to “share a Coke” with the important people in their lives.

The “Share a Coke” initiative has proven one of the most successful marketing campaigns in recent years, with an impressive social media legacy. The numbers tell the whole story: Over a thousand names on Coke bottles, 988 million Twitter impressions, 235,000 tweets from fans using the #ShareCoke hashtag, more than 150 personalized bottles sold and over 730,000 glass bottles personalized through the Coca-Cola e-commerce store. 

How it helps your business:

Initiatives like the “Share a Coke” campaign create a buzz that leads to increased brand loyalty. After all, people feel they have more of a stake in a company that is willing to put customers’ names on its product packaging. These forms of publicity come at little or no additional packaging costs. For companies, other low-cost tactics that build brand loyalty include re-tweeting customer content and putting customers in the spotlight on social media.

#3: Innovate with customers to streamline development.

By treating customers like partners, companies can promote innovation, new product development and new ideas through mutual collaboration. At Procter & Gamble, Connect + Develop is an open innovation platform that empowers partners and stakeholders to offer product development suggestions, in addition to new ideas in general. P&G estimates that 20 percent of its ideas, products, and technologies originally came from sources outside the company. Today, however, that figure—and P&G’s target—is closer to 50 percent.

How it helps your business:

By tapping stakeholders, P&G has reduced research and development costs, as well as product development costs. P&G’s example suggests that, for most companies, the invent-it-ourselves model is a sure path to diminishing returns. In fact, engaging customers can streamline the costly research and development process, and ultimately save money in the long run.

#4: Improve the customer experience to elevate brand reputation.

Social media has removed many of the communication barriers that customers faced in the past. Consequently, it offers more opportunities for interactions that produce deeper relationships, which is precisely why co-creation leads to enhanced brand management and better customer value.

Value, moreover, develops from past experiences, because customers have become very active players in the market. As such, brands can improve the customer experience by building strong relationships by way of direct customer and stakeholder interaction.

Dell, for example, uses co-creation to improve the customer experience through its collaborative platform IdeaStorm. Through IdeaStorm, Dell has gathered more than 10,000 ideas from customers—and some of these ideas have been implemented in order to improve customer service.

Social media, correspondingly, has facilitated the ongoing conversation between brands and customers. In fact, it is estimated that Dell has engaged in over two billion conversations with customers via social media channels and its collaborative platform. As a result, the company launched the Social Media Listening Command Centre, which aims to improve customer service and technical support by engaging with customers. 

How it helps your business:

Customer experience is a critical component of brand reputation. Websites like Yelp have made customer experiences available to the public with just a few clicks. Dell, furthermore, demonstrates that firms can use co-creation to improve transparency, engagement and customer service. Improving the customer service experience will guarantee that your brand receives a boost in both status and reputation.


A study conducted by Forrester Research shows that more than 60% of online consumers in the U.S. are willing to co-create, helping companies design new products and improve their services. Customers are especially willing to take this leap in communities that emphasize collaboration.

Ideally, co-creation not only creates value for customers, but it also elevates brand reputation, builds brand loyalty and increases sales.