The more I watch, study, learn, and interact with others on the Social Web, the more convinced I am that Social Technology is a Game-Changer in business. Now I know that some of you will say, “Well, of course you do, Mike. That’s your business. You’ve got a vested interest in saying that…” Yes, that’s a true statement. I AM driving revenue for my little enterprise. But a statement like that is yet another example of very simplistic and dismissive brush-off’s that executives and business leaders at all levels are making – one that completely misses the point of emphasis. A few more:

  1. “Why would I use Twitter? What do I care what Charlie Sheen had for breakfast?!?!”
  2. “I don’t want my people using Facebook at work – it’s a waste of time.”
  3. “YouTube is nothing but a bandwidth problem on our network. We shut it down.”
  4. “I’m on Linkedin, but I’m just connecting with people. I have no idea what the value is.”

    Pick your Social Network

    Pick your Social Network

  5. “Show me the ROI of Social Media and I’ll be more than happy to use it.”
  6. “I can see using Social Media if you sell consumer products. But we’re B2B.”
  7. “I can’t keep up with email. I can’t imagine keeping up with Social networks, too!”
  8. “I just don’t have time for all that nonsense.”

Let me get right to the point of how I’m seeing Social Tech accomplish business goals. The following is a VERY brief list of 12 undeniable ways smart companies are leveraging Social Tech. Remember that, as I say in Boot Camps and Keynotes, Social Tech boils down to this statement: “The goal is to 1. build your Social Networks through which you can 2. share Social Media and thereby 3. amplify your Social Relevance and influence.” In other words, build your connections, develop and share helpful stuff, and drive your business objectives, whatever they may be. Just like you can’t mail people stuff without mailing addresses, you can’t call people without phone numbers, you can’t email without email addresses, you can’t reach people via the Social web until you make the connections. And with ALL of them you have to have a solid , meaningful, and compelling message. And the holy grail is word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations that amplify your efforts. Pretty basic stuff. Social Tech is just making it a whole lot easier – and trackable.

1. Recruiting – Linkedin is so incredibly powerful, even the novice is finding utility with it. If you know how to get up to 4th and 5th gear in the system, holy cow! And that’s just one tool, not to mention others like Twitter and hashtags, Online Reputation Management, Viral Video’s, e-Word of Mouth, and more.

Laptop or Smartphone?

Laptop or Smartphone?

2. Information Gathering and Education – Who hasn’t used Google to feed their brain on some topic? Well, the same concepts apply to Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, RSS, and a host of other tools that can be positioned to feed your brain on any topic you want – on an automated basis. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best kept secrets of Social Tech savants – and will be the key differentiating skill for employees in the years ahead.

3. Customer Service – Many, many smart companies are using Twitter and Facebook as customer service channels. Why? The vast majority of Americans are using Social Tech at some level. And they often use it to solve routine problems – as efficiently as possible. That’s a big reason why they are following their brands and business partners across the Social web. FAQ’s?? OK. But at the same time as your customer service rep sees the tweet, the crowd also sees it, and maybe has had the same question and already has the answer. And this concept will only grow.

4. Relationship Management and Nurturing – Man, once you get someone on board, don’t you want to keep them there? Of course. So how do you do that while at the same time getting more people on board – all as efficiently as possible while keeping overhead low? Create reusable, sharable content and make it easy for your fans to share it with their networks. Create useful content – stuff that answers questions, expands the utility of your gear or services – blog posts like this, video tutorials and aids, in-depth e-Books, real-time and archived Webinars, Tweet-ups, infographics that educate, inspire, and otherwise communicate. People want to business with people that help them, not just sell them.

5. Sales – The Social Web was practically MADE for sales people. Man, if you’re in sales and you don’t know how to leverage Linkedin yet for warm referrals, just like you might at an industry conference or networking event, get on Google and start feeding your brain. Social Tech can feed the pipeline, shrink sales cycles, improve close ratios and competitive advantage, and of course generate referrals to feed the pipeline. If you do it right, it’s Revenue on Demand, no matter what business you’re in.

6. Marketing – Inbound marketing to drive leads is where it’s at. I’ve got one word on that – HubSpot. Beyond that, Social Tech helps enterprise marketers with Reputation Management, Organizational Voice, Advertising, Public Relations. How many times have you Google’d an unfamiliar person, brand, or product that you needed to know more about? Every day is a common answer? So what makes you think that people aren’t doing it WITH YOU??? Don’t you think it’s thus kind of important to have a powerful presence across the various Social Channels?

A Socially-enabled Conference

A Socially-enabled Conference

7. Getting things done – Crowdsourcing is simply a huge, largely unknown and untapped opportunity in American business, especially in the insurance space. Sites like LogoTournament, PopTent, TopCoder, and Chaordix are huge opportunities to help companies increase their velocity. One insurance company I’ve mentioned before leveraged PopTent for video content – and accomplished something in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost, and with a terrific end result. You know the dreaded IT Project Priority List? Use TopCoder for the bottom third that will likely never get done, or be too late, off-target, and hastily made. How about product innovation, creative writing, adjudication, the list goes on and on. Yet sadly, most executives are at 0 or 1 on a scale of 10 relative to Crowdsourcing. Yikes. Huge opportunity for the competition, eh?

Well, that’s all the time I have for right now. I’ll get back to this list later.

The Next Five:

8. Reputation Management

9. Environmental Influence

10. Work Spaces

11. Efficiencies

12. Cost of Doing Business

How is Social impacting your day-in-day-out activities?

What’s the next big thing?

What are your comments and questions, barriers and obstacle?

Perhaps I, or another reader, can help answer them.

What d’ya say?