Monday, November 17, 2008

Best Practices for Business Social Networking.

Hi Again.  A lot of my clients are asking me:
"What are the best practices for business social networking?"
So, I'm submitting the following brief assessment, with more to come I'm sure.  First, I'm recommending that businesses set up their own social network.  See to learn more about a free service that you can link to from your main site.  And, if you don't already have a blog to showcase your expertise, and allow prospective clients to 1) easily find you online and 2) "get to know you" by reading your published thoughts, you'll want to seriously consider starting a blog.  
Many small businesses can develop a much stronger presence online, reach more prospective clients, and send out the right message when prospective clients do a background check on the business owner(s).  If small business owners are smart, they will recognize the need to be aware of industry trends.  In what are the larger companies investing?  Is it important for a small business to adapt to the market?  I'd suggest that those small businesses who do not place themselves in front of their prospective clients, whether online or offline, are far less likely to attract new clients.  Larger companies invest a lot of money into following consumer behavior in order to generate leads.  Let's take a look at what the trends are in general... then, you'll want to study the bigger players in your industry.

Industry Trends

See the above graphic as it relates to the below quote from Forrester Research regarding the affect of social networking on businesses.  They said...

"In a new report written for the market research firm, as detailed by Larry Dignan at CNET's sibling site ZDNet, analyst G. Oliver Young predicts that "Enterprise 2.0" applications--buttoned-up versions of the Web 2.0 apps we all know and love--will be a $4.6 billion industry by 2013. Social networks, Young wrote, will make up the bulk of that, with nearly $2 billion invested in them.

This means we'll probably see a lot of intra-company networking tools (souped-up corporate directories, for example, or internal forums) as well as more interactive varieties of technical support. Not surprisingly, Young's report predicts the biggest adopters will be large companies where you can't just stroll over to the HR or IT folks for a little face time, and where instituting collaborative tools from 37Signals or Zoho could speed things up when not everyone's based in the same building (or time zone).

Smaller businesses, meanwhile, seemed a bit skeptical. Sixty-eight percent of small businesses (fewer than 99 employees) surveyed by Forrester said that they had no intention of instituting "Enterprise 2.0" applications, compared with 51 percent of global companies (20,000+ employees) who said they were already actively buying them up.

Behind social networking, the Forrester report asserts that the "Enterprise 2.0" landscape of 2013 will consist of mashups ($682 million), RSS technologies ($563 million), wikis ($451 million), blogs ($340 million), and podcasting ($273 million)."

That's a lot to invest in social media.  How is your small business going to navigate these new waters?

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