The LAB: Innovating Social Media Apps with SIT (August 2012)

Academic Focus: University of Chicago Booth School of Business
August 20, 2012
Washington Speakers Bureau
August 27, 2012

The LAB: Innovating Social Media Apps with SIT (August 2012)

Marketers have such a wide array of social media apps to choose from that it can be overwhelming. Tools such as Go2Web20.net can help sort through the maze and narrow down the search to catergories of apps such as mobile, Facebook, gaming, and so on. But to squeeze more out of social apps, the savvy marketer looks for ways to innovate in a way that supports the brand. For this month's LAB, let's apply the innovation method, SIT, to social media apps as a means of brand building. This is not the first time we've applied innovation techniques to social media. In the October 2009 LAB, we demontrated how to apply social apps to a large field organization such as a sales force or delivery fleet. The key was using the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the SIT method. To use Task Unification, we take a component of a product, service, system, etc, and we assign an additional "job" to it. For this month's LAB, we will apply the same basic approach to brand building. Imagine you are the brand manager for the billion dollar Febreze® franchise, and you are looking for ways to stretch the brand into eliminating pet odor. Here is how it works.

Marketers have such a wide array of social media apps to choose from that it can be overwhelming.  Tools such as Go2Web20.net can help sort through the maze and narrow down the search to catergories of apps such as mobile, Facebook, gaming, and so on. But to squeeze more out of social apps, the savvy marketer looks for ways to innovate in a way that supports the brand.  For this month’s LAB, let’s apply the innovation method, SIT, to social media apps as a means of brand building.

This is not the first time we’ve applied innovation techniques to social media.  In the October 2009 LAB, we demontrated how to apply social apps to a large field organization such as a sales force or delivery fleet.  The key was using the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the SIT method. To use Task
Unification
, we take a component of a product, service, system, etc,
and we assign an additional “job” to it. For this month’s LAB, we will apply the same basic approach to brand building.  Imagine you are the brand manager for the billion dollar Febreze® franchise, and you are looking for ways to stretch the brand into eliminating pet odor. Here is how it works.

We start by visiting Go2Web20.net.  I randomly pick an application from this list.  Then I assign the app the additional job of promoting Febreze® for eliminating pet odor.   I create this statement: “XYZ App has the additional ‘job’ of promoting Febreze® for pet odor elimination.” This is our Virtual Product in the SIT method.

The key is to imagine non-obvious applications for creating new, innovative services. You have to literally force yourself to imagine the brand using the inherent aspects of the Web 2.0 application to increase awareness or loyalty.

Here are examples created using Task Unification:

1. MicelloMicello is the leading provider of comprehensive indoor venue maps for mapping and navigation companies, retailers, hospital groups, mobile carriers and application developers.  To innovate it, we imagine assigning this app the “job” of promoting Febreze® for pet odor elimination.  How would it work?  Suppose the Micello technology is used to create an internal map of your home – each room, each piece of furniture – and it tracks where your pet spends its time.  It uses this information to create an odor “heat map” where Febreze® will be needed the most.  It suggests to the pet owner that Febreze® can tackle the toughest pet odor jobs in the house.  This reinforces the brand promise.

2. ZamzarZamzar converts files to different file types and does it all online without having to download any software.  To innovate this app, we have to understand the essence what the app is trying to accomplish.  Zamzar is a conversion tool – one format changes to another.  So we imagine giving the app the “job” of promoting Febreze®. It seems very odd at first, and that is typical when using this method. Let’s imagine Zamzar is converting one odor type to another.  Perhaps it is converting different types of furniture or carpet to a specific Febreze® product or dosage.  The key to think of it from the consumer’s point of view.  Pretend Zamzar is a smartphone app that let’s them input the type of odor and the fabric that smells to get recommendations on how to remove it.  Again, the app connects the brand to the odor elimination brand promise.

3. Tupalo:   Tupalo lets you discover, review, and share the best local businesses with friends.  There many apps that do this type of function across various domains – restaurants, stores, movies, and so on.  In our example, we could imagine Tupalo lets pet owners share their success stories and recommendations managing pets and pet odors.  Perhaps it is an app that recommends parks, hotels, or other venues that are friendly to pets.  The app associates the Febreze® brand to the “pet friendly” promise.

4. eFamilyeFamily lets you connect, share and preserve memories in a private, safe and intuitive social network built for families. Your most valuable digital content is preserved in high definition and password protected.  Most pet owners see their pets as members of the family, so this one is almost too obvious.  The trick here is to imagine some non-obvious applications.  The essence of eFamily is privacy.  Perhaps Febreze® sponsors a pet owner version of this app that lets owners of the same breed be part of their own private social network.  Pet owners often take pride in the breed of the pet, so this site would create a sense of prestige and belonginess.  The goal, again, is to connect the brand to positive attributes in the minds of pet owners so they are more likely to see Febreze® as an essential product in managing their pet.