10 Ways Social Media Technologies are Adding Value and Productivity

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.10 ways social media technologies are adding value and productivity

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.

  1. Consumer packaged goods
  2. Consumer financial services
  3. Professional services
  4. 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.

10 Ways Social Media Technologies Add Value

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.

9. Collaboration

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.

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Image  by FG@flickr.com


  • Carol Tang

    Hi Jeff,

    Extremely insightful post! One area I think social media adds value and productivity that is not covered is simply the ability to connect with followers and engage on a personal level. A lot of times marketing communications are so general that users can’t relate, and I think social media could be used to build that relationship. We post photos of what goes on in the office, or memes that are just plain funny.

    We’re mainly using social media as a channel for lead generation, marketing communications, and customer care. Especially with lead generation, the Marketo software allows users to use tweets to score or accelerate leads, which helps sales reps prioritize their time.

    – Carol Tang at Marketo

  • CHopeMurray

    Good post that categorizes the different business value propositions very crisply. Underlying each of them is the inherent capture, analysis and use of social data, which is a major challenge for many organizations, but an imperative to overcome if sustainable success is to be ensured. Understanding the dynamics of social media allied to a strong a flexible governance framework and the ability to make necessary changes, including change to corporate culture, will be the key differentiators between long-term business success and failure.

    I would add one further category, that is being largely overlooked, but is also inferred by several of the entries in your post; namely extending the knowledge base. By this I mean condensing the signal to noise ratio, and augmenting factual or mathematical data with knowledge extracted through collaboration, human or machine analysis from Social information. Extending the knowledge base can be bi-directional and open or kept within the firewall, though the former is more likely to grow the base exponentially in both volume and speed.

    • http://twitter.com/AnnieintheSun Ann H. Shea

      CHopeMurray , are you involved with e-learning by any chance? As Carol Tang notes, social media is celebrated and carried on the shoulders of marketing professionals like the score-winning athlete it is. And thank goodness not only for lead generation, but for 180-degree feedback from consumers, as Guy Manningham , points out, allowing companies to both improve services and products.

      In the training field, many organizations are really getting on board now with the collaborative features of social media and they way it can be used to share knowledge informally and with a lot more users, much quicker. If you’re interested to see more on the topic, you can check out some presentations I helped put together http://www.slideshare.net/QuickLessons/bhg-quick-lessons-social-media-for-learning & http://www.slideshare.net/QuickLessons/social-media-for-learning-a-balanced-approach. Would love to hear from others on the topic of social media and learning.