Empathy, collaboration, human centered feature/functionality, storytelling, and culture are themes that drive innovation through design thinking. Core phases of design thinking: inspiration, ideation, implementation.
On inspiration of ideas: use the world as a source for new ideas; focus on research that is ethnographic, anthropological, and qualitative versus just quantitative; focus on extreme users and strive to understand their world from cognitive and emotional levels.
On ideation: build things to learn about your ideas; rapid and low cost prototyping and iteration is key; prototyping allows you, as the designer/innovator, to get a sense of what you’ve learned and refine your ideas over time with stakeholder feedback driving the process.
On implementation: use storytelling and construct a story around the ideas you have, the more likely that your idea will make it out of R&D; a story frames the idea.
Culture ties together inspiration, ideation, implementation. Culture is its own inspiration.
This New York Times article on how corporations can foster innovation within their R&D departments by adopting decentralized (i.e., “federated”) approaches to funding and team structure, spurred me to conduct some research regarding this topic; here are two great finds:
A quick perusal of Dell’s Twitter and Facebook landing pages demonstrates multichannel marketing at it best: Dell has Facebook pages and Twitter handles for Dell Lounge, Dell Outlet, Dell Small Business, etc. The beauty of this from a multichannel marketing strategy is that a consumer “subscribes” to a particular channel (out of a choice of many) and self-selects which topic (i.e., channel) is most important to them knowing that Dell will centralize almost all of its communication to them about this particular topic via this channel. This works well for the real-time search features of Facebook and Twitter.
As a real estate marketer you could do something like Dell by setting up niche-specific Facebook Pages and separate, corresponding, Twitter handles (for example, focusing on foreclosure investment advice in your market niche). Anyone who fans your Facebook page or subscribes to the corresponding Twitter channel has an expectation of receiving targeted advice related to the topic you’ve identified. For example, in the case of foreclosure investment advice you could update/tweet about listings, market stats, your general thoughts, etc, while cross promoting both channels (for example, on Dell’s Twitter page you will notice they promote their Facebook pages). The synergies realized between both platforms will go a long way towards reinforcing your expertise and further position you as a trusted advisor.