By Jim Zimmermann
There are two main categories of enterprise social media – inward facing for interaction among employees, and outward facing for interacting with customers, business partners and the general public. Inward facing social media tools include SkillSoft’s inGenius, which facilitates social learning and collaboration. The concepts of inward facing social media have been discussed in several earlier posts in this blog.
Lately I’ve been seeing some interesting articles on unique ways enterprises are using outward facing social media. These go way beyond simply having a corporate Twitter feed or a page on Facebook. Take a look at some of the ideas below – it may inspire your organization to take the next step towards an outward facing social media strategy.
Promoting corporate charitable and philanthropic activities: Does your company engage in philanthropic and charitable activities? Then consider using social media as a way to promote those activities.
Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer for SearchCIO.com, writes in the article “Social media and networking ushering in a ‘third wave’ of capitalism” that “Instead of spending $20 million on Super Bowl ads in 2010, PepsiCo Inc. launched the Pepsi Refresh Project, a social media site that is doling out $20 million in grants this year to projects submitted by and voted on by the public. The Coca-Cola Co. went one better. It launched a social media and networking promotion that called attention to its philanthropic arm, Live Positively.com.” Hyundai is also supporting a charity called “Hyundai Hope On Wheels” in which it is donating $200 to help fight children’s cancer for every car it sells. Along with a dedicated web site, you can also “follow” their efforts on Facebook and Twitter.
Add an “extra dimension” to live events: If your organization puts on live events for customers, consider adding a real-time social component to the event. One of the simplest methods is to set up a Twitter “hash tag” for the event that presenters and attendees can use to share their comments and insights, as we did this past May at our Perspectives conference. There are also social tools that allow you to set up virtual “lounges” where attendees can meet, greet, and interact with other event attendees – and some of these tools can even allow you to create completely virtual events and shows (check out the On24 platform).
Solicit new product ideas: Instead of trying to come up with what your company thinks your clients and prospects would like to see in new products, why not use social media as a tool to solicit their input before you create the products? According to Patricia Seybold Group, “50% of your innovations can come from your customers. Why not spawn innovation by letting your customers co-design your next products, services, processes and business model?”
There are a couple of ways your organization can do this, depending on how daring you are. The safest way is to create a closed community that is “moderated” by one of your employees. You can pick and choose which customers and prospects you want to involve, and you can control the conversation. The more daring approach is to open it up to the entire web. Although you will probably get your share of inappropriate suggestions, you just might uncover some great ideas that otherwise would not have surfaced.
Look for new business models: Is there a way that your organization can use social media tools to radically improve your business model? The current ways of doing business (I create a product, I sell a product, you buy my product) are being supplanted by new models that engage customers from before their purchase, through the purchase process, their ongoing use, and hopefully their recommendation of your products and services. Is there a great new business model for your industry sitting out there waiting for your company to grab it and run with it?
Now is the time to start thinking and planning how your organization can take advantage of the benefits of outward facing social media.
There are some great titles in our Books24x7 digital books collection that can provide more insights on outward facing social media. If you are a Books24x7 subscriber, try searching on “social media and customers” or “web 2.0”. Here are a few of the titles that you might find interesting:
Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media to Maximize Value and Build Their Brand
Jossey-Bass © 2009 (321 pages)
by Paul Chaney
John Wiley & Sons © 2009 (272 pages)
Leveraging Social Media in Your Business (A Report)