Preparation and Savvy Keys to Successful Corporate Social Networking

Carl Weinschenk

Companies increasingly look at social networking as a key element of their ongoing marketing plans. It's a confusing world, however, with new platforms and applications arriving on a regular basis. The key is to use these tools wisely and in a way that doesn't hurt the parent brand, waste a lot of time and effort or compromise security.

Eric Lundquist offers five very important elements to a successful rollout. He suggests that a plan-including input from both the business and technical sides of the house-must be in place. Goals and effective means of measuring progress must be established. Internal advocates, such as people who are familiar with social networking tools from their non-business lives, should be used. Tools must be chosen carefully and, finally, innovation should be encouraged and embraced-when it makes sense.

Small and medium size business (SMBs) have to be careful simply because they don't have the margin of error of larger organizations. The Daily Camera offers a nice local story (from the Boulder Colo. area ) focusing on the way in which social networking is superseding the old-fashion means of business networking-which is to attend go to chamber of commerce meetings and similar events to get to know people in the flesh. It's interesting, however, that one of the social networking sites featured in the piece, and a success story in general, is -- which uses modern social networking tools to encourage physical meetings.

The one constant refrain from experts counseling companies seeking to get involved in social networking is that they should look before they leap. Joining Twitter, LinkedIn or any other site or service is easy. But doing so without preparation will be at best a waste of time and at worst something that will materially hurt the company. In this Houston Chronicle interview, Julie Freeman, the president of The Internal Association of Business Communicators, offers a listing of dos and don'ts about corporate social networking. The dos include listening to what is being said about the company by folks using social networking sites before launching the project, positively identifying the company in social networking situations, and taking the time to do the project right. A big don't is to start social networking simply because it is the trendy thing to do.

There are many types of social networks, from blogs to sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Though they are unrelated to unified messaging and mobile unified messaging, they share businesses' desire to use modern technology more efficiently and in a manner that will provide them with a competitive advantage. What both also have in common is that they are complex and challenging to implement effectively and securely even if a good game plan is in place-and just about impossible to do effectively if one isn't.

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