Information overload causes even the best leaders to quickly become overwhelmed with today’s plethora of information resources. Social Networking is the new buzz for enterprise networking because it has inadvertently created a way to consolidate those various sources of information into useful communities. Controlling the flow of the information torrent coming at Enterprises is such a critical market space that Cisco, Google, Microsoft, and IBM are spending millions to exploit it.
Let me share with you a standard set of tools currently being used for corporate messaging (read marketing) and how you can configure them to channel the information you consume into a set of relevant views for yourself and others.
We will begin with the basics: corporate web sites, blogs, twitter, Facebook, and linked-in torrent site. These are the common tools of the web marketing trade.
Companies have spent millions of dollars building web sites that portray a corporate image for the masses thehiltonian. Spending millions in advertising, press releases and product announcements to drive people to those sites, web sites still tend to be static, like electronic catalogs and store fronts. Web sites are the destination that you, as a consumer, are being driven to.
Blogs, anyone who watches television has heard the term blog, but most consumers still do not know what it is or if they do, they are not comfortable with the concept of sharing their private lives publicly. Blogs are electronic diaries that popped up when technical exhibitionists found a way to share their lives with the world. The corporate world latched on to the concept of sharing information more dynamically without having to re-develop their expensive web sites. Businesses started to use them to have dynamic conversations with their consumers, market analysts and the public at large. The comments shared with the company could then be published with the original content and create a conversation. However, the consumer either had to be driven to the corporate blog or had to search it out.
Micro-blogs, like twitter, take the concept of a blog to a whole new level. They are a public record of thoughts expressed in only 140 characters or less. Millions of people now had a voice to participate dynamically in individual thoughts shared by everyone, celebrities, politicians, CEOs, musicians, and common everyday people. Communities formed to have electronic conversations. Simply by searching key words you could find people, companies, anyone who had posted a thought. Then you could follow them, keeping track of the conversations or the individuals.
Facebook and Linked-in gave protected forums to people to connect and share with people they already knew or had professional relationships with. They combined blogging with micro-blogging, organized communities with ad hoc communities,and social applications that could be used by all.
The population of these social communities is in the range of 100’s of millions of participants. That means the conversation threads are in the billions if not trillions. That information can be harnessed and provide you with a competitive informational advantage in understanding market trends, reaching consumers and building a corporate image.
I will not go into the entire ecosystem in this article but let present this example to tie the components together.
Let’s consider a small consulting company that has a web site and a blog. ( They did not spend millions on either). They have personal Facebook and linked-in accounts where they participate in several member communities. They also have personal and corporate twitter accounts. Their goal is to drive people to web site where the will learn that the company does things like VoIP training, technical and business consulting. In order to provide value they post articles to the blog and to e-zines. Up to this point in time they have relied on search engine optimization to get “found”. Recently they began to use twitterfeed.com to automatically post to the company twitter account every time they create a blog entry. Each post makes them a part of the search-able conversation, and they draw in followers who then monitor the tweets,then the blogs and finally the web site