Consultants, focus groups and research only have so much power when it comes to meeting customers’ demands. Thanks to social media, companies now have a direct line of communication with the people who use their products and services.
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky spent Christmas night on Twitter after he posed a question to his followers: “If Airbnb could launch anything in 2017, what would it be?” The tweet transformed into a thread of brainstorming, troubleshooting and partnership-building for the home-sharing marketplace.
If @Airbnb could launch anything in 2017, what would it be?— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) December 26, 2016
Some followers pointed out gaps in the booking specifications.
Chesky engaged with many of the respondents.
@moaazsidat you are right, will fix— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) December 26, 2016
He was one step ahead of some users. His Twitter brainstorm session doubled as a way to gather ideas and promote forthcoming projects.
@andrewfoxwell broad, more activity oriented natural language search is coming— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) December 26, 2016
Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover reached out with an idea to collect the suggestions generated. Chesky said “sure” and replied with his email address.
Other respondents proposed new platforms or user categories.
@bchesky "business" accounts with volume discounts (for SMB, not just enterprise), filter for biz travelers, w/ meeting rooms, workspace...— Erick Schonfeld (@erickschonfeld) December 26, 2016
Some suggestions were a bit more ambitious, but Chesky took them seriously.
@bchesky airbnbs on mars.— Veeral Patel (@vral) December 26, 2016
@vral working on that... no joke— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) December 26, 2016
Chesky is not the only executive to solicit feedback via Twitter. Elon Musk often shares and workshops ideas this way. In September, he tweeted at government agencies for help with an investigation into a SpaceX rocket explosion.
Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey highlighted Chesky’s use of his company’s product, quote-tweeting Chesky’s thread and giving it more exposure and momentum.
Love this https://t.co/XBi9LCFDwW— ??jack (@jack) December 27, 2016
Less than 24 hours after his initial callout, Chesky tweeted that the experiment had exceeded his expectations a hundredfold.
1,000 ideas have been submitted. I was expecting 10. I think I'm now hosting a Twitter Radio show. https://t.co/DbrBSTDlCl— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) December 26, 2016