Social Networks 101: Using Personal Tools to Be Business Competitive

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Most people are familiar with the term “Web 2.0,” which refers to a second generation of Web development and design that focuses on fostering social networking via the Internet. Innovative companies are beginning to embrace Web 2.0 as a way to enhance communication, information sharing and collaboration, thereby allowing them to work smarter rather than harder.

The business use of Web 2.0 represents a new trend called “Business 2.0.” Aside from being the name of a defunct magazine, Business 2.0 is about using the new Web-based social-networking applications—many of which were originally created for personal use—in a way that fosters teamwork, customer touches, and internal and external collaboration in a low-cost seamless way.

Unfortunately, many businesses feel that Web 2.0 and social networking are for the younger generation and a waste of time when used by employees. However, once you understand the power of these applications and how to use them in your company, you’ll quickly find they can be invaluable tools to boost your bottom line. Following is an overview of the best Business 2.0 tools.

Personal Tools With Business Applicability

Facebook

Personal use: Facebook enables you to connect and share with the people in your life. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school and region to connect and interact with others. People can add friends, send messages and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.

Business 2.0 use: Large organizations can connect all employees or members with Facebook. Some are finding an added advantage of using an internal, secure version of Facebook. This has helped organizations dramatically increase internal networking and collaboration.

Ask yourself: Could we use Facebook, or our own internal version, to get people to collaborate at a higher level?

Twitter

Personal use: Twitter is a micro-blogging service that asks users: What are you doing? It allows friends, family and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of short, quick answers using up to140 characters per message. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or co-workers. Users can receive updates via the Twitter website or other social-networking sites such as Facebook.

Business 2.0 use: Business users could change the question to: What problem are you trying to solve? Several companies have used this as a fast way to solve problems. Hotels, airlines and airports are using Twitter to pitch services, travel updates and respond to travelers needs.

Ask yourself: Could we use Twitter to solve problems faster within our organization or for our customers?

Wikipedia

Personal use:Wikipedia is a free, online encyclopedia people can use to find information on virtually any topic. Anyone can edit the content.

Business 2.0 use: A large manufacturing company with engineers around the world increased problem solving and collaboration by creating an internal, secure version of Wikipedia for sharing information on parts and service offerings as well as repair and maintenance instructions. Retailers and suppliers could create a version of Wikipedia to foster education and training as well as enhanced information sharing.

Ask yourself:Could we create an internal version of Wikipedia to foster better information and knowledge sharing?

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