Social media technologies have touched humanity in a primal way. You only need look at the adoption rates of Facebook and Twitter to realize that the web is indeed connecting human consciousness.
At almost no cost we can connect with like minded tribes globally at scale and speed. We can share ideas and knowledge in words, images and with the virtual face to face technologies of online video that transcends time and place.
Knowledge transfer is almost instantaneous. It is transforming humanity deeply at the personal and business levels.
Social technologies are unlocking ideas from isolation and allowing them to be free to roam and add value to our lives.
This process is also being accelerated and amplified by the wide adoption of the smart phone.
The potential value of this transformation has been estimated by a study from McKinsey Global Institute as having a value of up to $1.3 trillion across just the 4 industries that they studied.
- Consumer packaged goods
- Consumer financial services
- Professional services
- Advanced manufacturing
This is just a sample of the potential that awaits globally across many more industries that could benefit from the efficient use of social technologies.
Potential is Largely Untapped
The potential for the enterprise is still largely untapped despite the widespread adoption by consumers as evidenced by the following facts and figures.
- There are 1.5 billion social network users
- 80% of online users interact with social networks regularly
- 70% of companies are using social technologies
Social networks can add value to almost any business but companies that will benefit most from social technologies will have these characteristics.
- High percentage of knowledge workers
- Business success is dependent on brand recognition and consumer perception
- Need to build credibility and trust to sell their products and services
- Digital distribution of products and services
- Experiential or inspirational products and services
The report estimates that consumer goods companies could increase their margins by up to 60% using social technologies through goods that better meet customers needs and improve the productivity of knowledge workers.
Ten Ways Social Technologies Add Value
Across every industry there lies enormous potential to add more value through implementing social technologies from better customer insights, improved marketing to social commerce.
Here are ten ways social technologies are adding value that are revealed by the study from McKinsey.
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1. Co-Create Products
Companies using social platforms can crowd source ideas from their consumer community. This could include product ideas, evaluation of the ideas by the crowd and the continuing modification and evolution of the products and services to produce a better product that better meets needs. It could include consumers submitting designs.
2. Demand Forecasting
Through multiplying the the potential sources of information about demand, companies can obtain more accurate and granular data. This could lead to better inventory control and better placement of stock where local demand is higher. The buzz from social networks can help pinpoint where the first responders are and allow staff to redirect additional stock to the highest buzz spots.
3. Distributing Business Processes
Companies such as TomTom and Google Maps are using inout from users to locate and qualify mapping errors and the latest updates to road networks. TomTom is even now adding crowdsourced real time traffic flow to its service that provides the latest data on traffic jams and accidents provided by users from their cars.
4. Market Research
Market research can be costly and take months but now you can gather online chatter about your competitors in real time. There are now tools that can measure sentiment as it happens that allows companies to see if the latest feedback about a product is positive or negative. Brand health can be now checked by the “Chatter” tone online.
5. Marketing Communications
Marketing interaction was limited in the past to snail mail and was costly and slow. Now we have communication that is effectively close to zero cost and provides feedback in minutes. You can see what types of marketing communications are engaging and what aren’t. Online customer communities are being created by the savvy enterprise with Adobe’s forums having one million members.
6. Lead Generation
Sales opportunities required telemarketing and expensive advertising to make the phone ring. B2B companies are now discovering the power of social networks to attract customers and drive inbound inquiries. Displaying a companies expertise via blogs and online whitepapers and ebooks are transforming how professional services companies market their business. Software companies such as Hubspot have created online tools that allow companies to become much more efficient with their marketing.
7. Social Commerce
All of us listen to the recommendations of friends and family and social commerce allows companies to make it easy for their consumers to share what they have bought or “like”. This amplifies the marketing message and also improves conversion for online stores.
8. Customer Care
Companies such as SouthWest Airlines use channels like Twitter to respond to potential PR issues that are quickly diffused before they turn into public relations disasters. Agencies and larger brands are monitoring social media channels with community managers who monitor social networks such as Facebook to turn customer care problems into opportunities to impress customers with the speed of the response.
Social technologies are improving organisational performance by making collaboration and co-creation efficient both internally and with external suppliers and partners. This reduces time spent in face to face meeting and ensuring that best practice is followed and shared. Companies such as 37Signals uses social technologies to run a multimillion dollar company that operates with only 16 employees and is spread across 6 countries.
10. Matching Talents to Roles
Social platforms such as LinkedIn provide insights into people’s skills, passions and interests that provide a more complete picture of a candidate than a one dimensional resume will ever achieve.
What About You
What ways has social media unlocked your personal or business potential. Which of the ten ways outlined above excites you most as a business owner.
Which of these would you like to implement this week that would take your business to the next level.
Look forward to hearing your stories.
Image by FG@flickr.com