You know about Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You might be using them every day for business and consider yourself a social media professional. The fact is there are a lot more social tools that aren’t social networks, and quite a few of those definitely deserve your attention.
1. Social Intranet.
What if Facebook included all the elements of SalesForce, Dropbox, Google Calendar, BaseCamp, RememberTheMilk and WhatsApp? That’s social intranet for you – a private corporate social network that helps you work with clients, collaborate with co-workers, share files, exchange ideas and vote on next week’s cafeteria menu – accessible 24/7 from PC, mobile phone or iPad. Social intranets come in different shapes and sizes – some are small business friendly with a generous free package (like Bitrix24), while others are created for Fortune 500 type companies and can easily cost over a million dollars (like Jive Software).
2. Social Bookmarks.
Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious and Digg are just two examples of social bookmarking sites. While they are fun just to browse, they do have a business angle to them. First, influencers (journalists, bloggers, early adopters) read them. Second, they (especially Reddit) are capable of driving tens of thousands of visitors to your site in a single day – that is, if the news about your website or service makes it to the front page. Finally, most social bookmarking sites offer very affordable (3-5 cents per click), ultra-targeted PPC campaigns that you can run in relevant subsections.
3. Social HR
Social HR solutions tend to fall in two categories. The first kind, like TribeHR, is a lot like social intranet, making it easy for workers to communicate with their HR departments online for things like vacations, benefits and sick days. The second kind, like TalentBin, are used mostly for recruiting. They scan social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, Klout, LinkedIn and suggest candidates who have the biggest social footprint in the field you are interested in.
4. Social Outsourcing.
OK, so it’s really called crowdsourcing – but since you have multiple applicants with ratings and different feedback mechanisms, that’s what modern crowdsourcing is – social outsourcing. Unlike social networks, where bigger is better, you’ll get the most value from relatively small highly specialize sites. Need cool domain name? For 50 bucks, the crowd at PickyDomains will generate hundreds of awesome unregistered suggestions and you only pay if you decide to use one of them. Need a new T-Shirt design? Yes, there’s a crowdsourcing service that does just that called Threadless. Ran out of marketing ideas? IdeaBounty to the rescue.
5. Social CRM
Customer relationship management solutions that integrate social media (Nimble, Insightly, HootSuite) are now growing faster than traditional CRMs. Suppose you are about to meet a new client. What’s on his or her mind? With social CRM, with one click of a button you’ll see the last 10 tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates made by that person. Social CRMs are also capable of instantly notifying you when your company is mentioned in social media. You can also set it up to alert you of certain keywords, like ‘trademark lawsuit’ (if you are a lawyer) and create your own list of prospects as soon as these people need your services.
6. Social Learning
While a lot of people think that the term ‘wiki’ comes from Wikipedia, the opposite is true – wikis were first and Wikipedia came later (the first wiki was called WikiWikiWeb and debuted in 1996). Modern social learning management systems (like Litmos, Moodle or Outstart) go way beyond simple wikis, and incorporate all the advantages of social networks into the learning process. You can use them to store knowledge inside the company, create learning materials, and test your employees.
7. Social Reviews
While website owners tend to ignore social review sites like Yelp and Qype, talk to any restaurant owner and they’ll tell you how much their business can be affected by a single Yelp review. Social reviews are starting to play an important role internet based businesses as well. Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic, for instance, already have a visible effect on Netflix rentals and game sales. As with crowdsourcing – watch for small niche sites that can be highly relevant to your line of business.