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Social Media: Four Ways to Make Social Technologies Relevant to Your Business

Social media and social technologies are here to stay, so it’s up to you to determine how to make the most out of them.

Scott Klososky

Social media and social networking—and the collection of tools they’ve spawned—have moved squarely into the strategy toolbox for most organizations. If you want to be the Zen master of social media tools, then you must first understand the need to implement elements of social media that will both drive revenues and cut back office costs.

Too many people think of social tools as only being for sales and marketing. In reality, there are many valuable uses for those tools in the back office—certainly within the IT group. With that thought firmly implanted, here are a handful of social technology concepts that are mandatory for every organization today:

1. Build 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’re a CPA, doctor, lawyer or baseball player, for example, there are megabytes of data uploaded every day that could be critical to your performance. The reality is that you’ll harness maybe 3 percent of what could be valuable to you.

Social tools help us aggregate and filter this explosion of information so we can funnel it into our consciousness. Every organization can institutionalize this process. Teach your employees about the most valuable information sources and about the tools they can use to aggregate and filter them to a manageable state. It’s a knowledge economy, after all: The smarter teams win. Use social tools to harness relevant and timely industry information, and you’ll be smarter.

2. Organizational Voice: Every organization can benefit from building a powerful organizational voice over the Web. There are many channels through which this voice can be delivered—blogs, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and text messages. The organizational voice generates opportunities 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. Here are the three biggest mistakes companies are making when using tools like blogging, Twitter and Facebook to connect with customers and clients:

  • Lack of a specific and human-sounding tone. In every communication through whichever channel, you use must sound human. Have a tone that’s interesting, intriguing or unusual. You don’t want to read boring things, so why would your constituents?
  • 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, there’s a lower perceived value in the consumer’s mind. What’s the perfect frequency? It depends entirely on the audience and the type of content. There are no hard-and-fast rules.
  • The mix of content is all wrong. As you send content out through the organizational voice, you must be mindful of delivering valuable information. 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.

3. Online Reputation Management (ORM): Regardless of the size or nature of your business, your business is forming an online reputation, whether you like it or not. Internet users (who now number nearly 2 billion) are increasingly sharing their opinions about services providers and retailers through online conversations and comments online. Every time they mention your company, or your product names, these comments are searchable.

That means when any prospective customer searches for information about you or your business, they’ll find these comments. For this reason, today organizations must have a formal ORM program. The steps are simple: build a listening process and a 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’s the promise of crowdsourcing. There are somewhere north of 75 sites on the Web that now assist people with the crowdsourcing process (like CrowdSPRING, 99designs, logo tournament, Innocentive and mturk).

Learn to tap into the Internet herd to get work done that traditionally was sourced in-house or by local vendors. This can be a tremendous 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 technology concepts. Note that two can directly help front-end revenue generation, and two will help with the back-office operation. 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 here to get a fast return on the investment of their time. You might see these concepts as luxuries right now, but they’ll soon be mandatory if you want to stay in business.

Scott Klososky

Scott Klososky, a former CEO and author of the new books, “Enterprise Social Technology” (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2011) and “The Velocity Manifesto” (Greenleaf Book Group LLC, 2011), Klososky specializes in seeing trends in emerging technologies. He applies his skills to help organizations thrive, leaders prosper and entire industries move forward. He travels the globe as a speaker and consultant, working with senior executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to universities and nonprofits. Read more at EnterpriseSocialTechnology.com or TheVelocityManifesto.com.

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