Four Ways to Make Social Technologies Relevant to Your Business

Social media technologies can drive revenue and benefit back office operations.

Social media/networking and the collection of tools they have spawned have moved solidly into the strategy toolbox for organizations. If you want to be the Zen master of social tools, then first understand the need to implement elements of social that will both drive revenues, and cut back office costs. Too many people think of social tools as only being for sales and marketing when in reality, there are valuable uses in the back office. With that thought firmly implanted, there are a handful of social tech concepts that are mandatory for every organization today:

1. Building Rivers of Information - One of the least talked about dynamics of social technologies is the massive amount of real time information flying around the Web - on any subject. If you are a CPA, doctor, lawyer, baseball player, or basket weaver for example, there are megabytes of data that could be critical to your performance uploaded each day. The reality is that you will harness maybe 3 percent of what could be valuable to you. Social tools give us the ability to aggregate and filter this explosion of information so that it can be funneled into your brain. Every organization can institutionalize this process by teaching employees which information sources are valuable, and what tools can be used to aggregate and filter them to a manageable state. It is a knowledge economy after all, so the smarter teams win. Ergo, use social tools to harness relevant and timely industry information, and you will be smarter.

PS. Don't use the excuse that you do not have time to digest this information. That is like saying you don't have time to be relevant.

2. Organizational Voice - Every organization can benefit from building a powerful Web-delivered organizational voice. There are many channels through which this voice can be delivered, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, text messages. The organizational voice gives entities a way to create a conversation with constituents so that they can earn the right to grab their mindshare. The only way to earn that right is by providing a valuable flow of content through the voice. The three biggest mistake companies are making when using tools like blogging, Twitter and Facebook to connect with customers/prospects/clients are these:

  1. Lack of a specific and human sounding tone. Every communication through whatever channel you use must sound human, and have a tone that is interesting, intriguing, or unusual. You don't want to read boring things so why would you think your constituents will?
  2. Mistakes with the frequency of delivery. If you deliver content too often, you annoy people and they begin to tune you out. Even if your content is great, it becomes overwhelming and people just stop paying attention. If you deliver content too infrequently, they lower the perceived value in their minds. What is the perfect frequency? It depends totally on the audience, and the type of content, there are no hard and fast rules.
  3. The mix of content is all wrong. As you send content through the organizational voice, you must be mindful of delivering nuggets that are valuable. For example, if you fill 80 percent of your content with sales related information it appears to be spam. If you do nothing but deliver your opinions, people might get tired of the editorial. A valuable stream of content includes a mix of stories, facts and figures, and links to valuable resources, opinions, and product or company information. Get the recipe wrong and it is akin to dumping too much cayenne pepper in the soup.

3.Online Reputation Management (ORM) - Regardless the size, or type of business you are involved in, an online reputation is forming - like it or not. Internet users (which now number nearly two billion) are increasingly sharing their opinions about service providers and retailers through conversations and comments online. Every time they mention your company, or your products names, these comments become searchable. That means that when any prospective customer searches to find information on you, they will find these comments. For this reason, organizations must have today a formal ORM program. The steps are simple, build a listening process, document and engagement policy, and then implement a measuring system.

4. Crowdsourcing - Who wouldn't jump at the chance to get work done cheaper, faster and with more innovation! That is the promise of crowdsourcing. There are somewhere north of 75 sites on the Web that now assist people with the crowdsourcing process (CrowdSPRING, 99designs, logo tournament, Innocentive, mturk, etc.) Learning to tap into the Internet herd to get work done that traditionally was sourced in house, or by local vendors is a strategic advantage. The quick way to learn how to use this tool is simply to dive in and start experimenting. The risk is low and the rewards are tremendous. The crowdsource market is growing quickly, now is the time to give it a try.

For extra credit, go back and examine these social tech concepts and note that two can directly help the front end revenue generation, and two will help with the back office operation, thus fulfilling the promise mentioned at the beginning of this article. There are too many leaders that still believe that social technologies equal Facebook and Twitter. The reality is that every company can use the four concepts listed above to get a fast return on the investment of their time. You might see them as a luxury right now, but they will soon be mandatory if you want to stay in business.

Scott Klososky, a former CEO and author of the new books, Enterprise Social Technology and The Velocity Manifesto, specializes in having the vision and ability to see trends in emerging technologies, which allow him to be a thought leader who applies his skills to help organizations thrive, leaders prosper, and entire industries move forward. His unique perspectives on technology, business culture, and the future allows him to travel the globe as a speaker and consultant, working with senior executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to universities and nonprofits.

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