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Social Media and Business for 2010

February 23, 2010

Over the past few weeks I’ve been amazed at the impact a few social connections can have on a business’s success.  So I did some poking around online, especially on college websites, to see what I could find out about the trends social networks are creating in the business world, and where those trends are likely to lead.  The overwhelming opinion is that social networking sites will only become more popular as time goes on – which should come as no surprise to anyone – but it’s also interesting to see how businesses are responding to the industry’s growth (Twitter alone reported an increase of 1,382% from February 2009 to 2010).

One trend that is just emerging, but will likely pick up a lot of speed in 2010, is the use of social media by businesses to provide easy-to-use and inexpensive support.  Best Buy has a system called Twelpforce, which is basically a branded wrapper for Twitter, that allows hundreds of employees around the country to respond to customers’ questions immediately.  And the system keeps track of which employees are participating and rewards them.   This is the type of social media I could get behind – kind of like the next generation of a support forum or bulletin board – and I hope it’s an idea that will catch on quickly.

Another interesting response in business to the social networking explosion is the implementation (and enforcement) of social media policies.  Don’t be surprised if over the next year your company implements an agreement that formalizes participation in social media, both from the perspective of what is or isn’t appropriate, and what is considered competition or disclosure.  Along those same lines, as social networking websites increasingly become banned on business networks, the rapid increase in sales for SmartPhones looks to keep employees addictions alive and well.

Last, new networks that provide incentives for social activity are being leveraged by businesses to spread advertising, branding, news, and the like.  Many of these new networks, like Foursquare, even add a bit of competition by making networking success into a game.  Spread more news, and you may rise higher in the social chain.  That’s exactly the type of self-sustaining advertising that businesses have been looking to create for years.

I’d be interested to hear any other thoughts about how social networking has impacted businesses you know, so feel free to send your own thoughts and observations. 

Ben

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