Social Product Development

Friday, February 5, 2010

1 + 1 = 3

Greetings! If we haven’t met, my name is Alan Belniak, and I’m PTC’s first Director of Social Media Marketing. My first few orders of business include better connecting the PTC company, brand, and its products to our customers, using some of the newer social technologies (and good ol’ fashioned face-to-face technologies, too – look for me at the PTC/USER events!). I’m excited to be in the role, and have been busy behind the scenes getting some things in order so we can best leverage these connections. I’ll be guest blogging here from time to time, so if you like what you read (or, even if you don’t), drop me a note in the comments.

Introductions aside, I’ve been thinking lately about the word ‘social’ in social media. One of the things that drew me to the social media space was the notion that we can all connect and (typically) arrive at a better solution collectively than any one of us individually; akin to the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Crowd-sourced content – intentional or otherwise – lends new insights into a problem or an issue. Whether or not the feedback is solicited, it’s often useful.

How does one go about finding that feedback, though? With the Internet expanding every day, it’s a challenge to find the best channels for listening. Finding those few nuggets, at times, can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. I’ve presented some thoughts on the matter – on how to go about listening in multiple social channels. There are many free tools, and even some for-pay tools that will help separate the signal from the noise, based on some refined keyword searches. PTC currently uses and will continue to use a combination of these technologies to listen to the conversations happening on the Internet, in conjunction with our user events, technical committee meetings, and regional user group meetings.

I’d like to crowd-source my question with you, fellow readers and product-developers. What sites, channels, forums, and groups do you visit when researching product development-related questions? Where are you spending time to research, learn a tip or trick, help someone out, or conduct a poll to aid your work? What sites have provided you with enough value that keeps you going back? I’m sure some of these sites have surfaced in PTC’s listening, but I know there’s more (there always is!). So, let me know in the comments – share with me a link or a site where you socialize with others on work-related topics.


If you like what you’re reading here, consider subscribing to the RSS feed to be alerted when more new posts are added.

image source: Needle In a haystack / 335350003 (Ram on Flickr:


  1. Google Reader is my biggest asset, second only to the network of people that I trust to be the repositories of specialized, expert knowledge. More important than knowing every answer is knowing who knows what I need to know or where to look it up.

    I read widely on a variety of subjects because I never know where an answer will come from. Something seemingly orthogonal may give you the key to solve what you're working on. Synthesis is only possible if you're listening to other people, things outside your core comfort zone, and only when you're feeding the need for knowledge for curiosity's sake.

    Periodically, I grow my reading list and just as periodically, I have to trim it down. It generally hovers around 300 feeds. In addition, I read something close to 50 mailing lists, follow discussions on so many groups on LinkedIn, that I can't join any more groups, listen to Facebook, Twitter, and always, always, the network of people I know and trust.

  2. Liz, thanks for the comment. I, too, use GReader as a central hub for curating my news. And then I also branch out from the trusted sources, uually learning from comments made in posts. But what are (some of) the feeds to which you subscribe? You use GReader as the aggregator, but what are the sites to which you subscribe? Can you maybe post your public profile link?