Social Networks That
Boost Business: Applications to Make You Recession-Resistant
By Daniel Burrus
Most people are
familiar with the term “Web 2.0,” which refers to a second
generation of web development and design that focuses on fostering
social networking via the web. Innovative companies are beginning to
embrace Web 2.0 as a way to enhance communication, information
sharing, and collaboration, thereby allowing them to work smarter
rather than harder.
The business use
of Web 2.0 represents a new trend called “Business 2.0.” Aside from
being the name of a defunct magazine, Business 2.0 is about using
the new web-based social networking applications (many of which were
originally created for personal use) in a way that fosters teamwork,
customer touches, and internal and external collaboration in a
low-cost seamless way.
many businesses feel that Web 2.0 and social networking are for the
younger generation and a waste of time when used by employees.
However, once you understand the power of these applications and how
to use them in your company, you’ll quickly find that they can be
invaluable tools to boost your bottom line. Following is an
overview of the best Business 2.0 tools.
with Business Applicability:
Facebook enables you to connect and share with the people in your
life. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school,
and region to connect and interact with others. People can add
friends, send them messages, and update their personal profiles to
notify friends about themselves.
Large organizations can connect all of their employees, or members,
with Facebook. Some are finding an added advantage of using an
internal, secure version of Facebook. This has helped organizations
to dramatically increase their internal networking and
Could we use Facebook, or our own internal version, to get people to
collaborate at a higher level?
Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows friends, family, and
co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of
short, quick answers using no more than 140 characters per message.
Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or
co-workers. Users can receive updates via the Twitter website or
other social networking sights such as Facebook. Young people use
Twitter for answering the question: What are you doing?
Business users could change that question to: What problem are you
trying to solve? Several companies have used this as a fast way to
solve problems. Hotels, airlines, and airports are using Twitter to
pitch services, travel updates, and respond to travelers needs.
Could we use Twitter to solve problems faster with our organization
or our customers?
Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can use to find
information on virtually any topic. Anyone can edit the content as
A large manufacturing company with engineers in locations around the
world increased problem solving and collaboration by creating an
internal, secure version of Wikipedia for sharing information on
parts and service offerings as well as repair and maintenance
instructions. Retailers and suppliers could create a version of
Wikipedia to foster education and training as well as enhanced
we create an internal version of Wikipedia to foster better
information and knowledge sharing?
YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view, and
share video clips. YouTube displays a wide variety of user-generated
video content as well as movie clips, product demonstrations, and
commercials. Unregistered users can watch the videos, while
registered users can upload an unlimited number of videos.
Businesses are posting humorous commercial videos to generate
interest in their products with great success. The more entertaining
it is, the more people watch it. Business partners could create a
YouTube like channel for the purpose of educating and training.
Could we enhance our marketing efforts as well as general
communication by using YouTube?
Digg is a social news web site made for people to discover and share
content from anywhere on the Internet, by submitting and accessing
links and stories.
thumbs up or a thumb down is the site's cornerstone function,
respectively called digging and burying.
Many organizations have found this to be a good way to track the
most interesting advances in technology or the most useful business
news. Large organizations can create their own internal version for
sharing what employees consider to be the most useful information.
we use Digg, or our own internal version, to get people to share
their most interesting and valuable web-based information with each
Delicious is a social bookmarking web service for storing,
sharing, and discovering web bookmarks. It uses a non-hierarchical
classification system in which users can tag each of their bookmarks
with freely chosen index terms.
Business 2.0 use:
Business users can share their most useful websites with
co-workers or business partners. If a customer purchases a product,
sellers could share relevant bookmarks that keep the customer coming
back for more information and hopefully more products.
Could we use
Delicious to share important new web sites faster within our
organization or with our customers?
Communications, unlike traditional video conferencing, uses your
desktop, laptop, and soon your smart phone to hold a quick, anytime,
anywhere videoconference with one or more other people. Travelers
who must be away from home are using their laptops in hotel rooms
with broadband access and free software such as Skype and AIM to
communicate with family and friends to enhance their personal
Business 2.0 use:
Businesses are discovering the power of Visual Communications to
enhance the connection with their sales force, business partners,
Could we use Visual Communications to enhance communications
internally and externally?
Purely Business 2.0 Tools:
Wiki is a collaborative web page or collection of web pages designed
to enable anyone to create a quick web page that allows visitors to
search the Wiki’s content and edit the content in real time, as well
as view updates since their last visit. Wikis are often used to
create collaborative Web sites and to power community websites. On a
moderated Wiki, Wiki owners review comments before additions to the
main body of the topic. Additional features include calendar
sharing, live AV conferencing, RSS feeds, and more.
yourself: Could we use Wikis to enhance internal and external
LinkedIn is a business-oriented professional networking website for
exchanging information, ideas, and opportunities. There are over 35
million registered users spanning 170 industries actively networking
with each other. For example, large insurance companies use LinkedIn
to foster networking with their independent sales representatives.
HR professionals from all over the world could use LinkedIn to share
Could we use LinkedIn to expand our organizational network for
enhanced knowledge sharing?
Computing & Software As A Service:
Computing, some or all of the storage, software, IT processes, and
data center facilities you use can exist on your provider’s server,
which is maintained and cared for by your provider, giving you 24/7
access from any device anywhere. The cost of upgrading hardware and
software, maintenance, and associated IT labor costs can be
dramatically reduced or eliminated. Currently, the ideal
organization would be any size company that’s facing big investments
in computing and communications infrastructure. For example,
Amazon.com can give you an entire e-commerce back end. Software as a
Service (SaaS) such as SalesForce.com has a CRM package, SciQuest
has a spend management package, and Google, Microsoft and others
have a suite of offerings.
Could we use
Cloud Computing & Software as a service to streamline our IT needs?
Gain a New Competitive Advantage:
By reframing the
use of social networking technology, companies can increase
communication, collaboration, problem solving, and competitive
advantage with little cost. Remember, many of these tools are free
or nearly free, making them accessible to even the smallest of
businesses. Therefore, the sooner you embrace Business 2.0 and put
it to work for you, the faster you can penetrate new markets and win
the lion’s share of business.
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