Just a few years ago, if I discussed using Web 2.0 tools, including social media connectivity to clients, they would often show me the palm of their hand. Both the hand and the dismissal missed the point: social media is changing the way business connects with its audience. Today, I still see the hand, but it’s waving me to share additional information.
The results are starting to tilt heavily in favor of a Big Business and social media marriage. Forrester Research says the sales of software to run corporate social networks will grow 61% a year and be a $6.4 billion business by 2016.
Forrester surveyed several hundred large companies and two third indicate they use Web 2.0 tools such as social networks or blogs. Not only are these blogs used for clients and the public, but internal blog use is up 50% during the past five years.
Another survey, this time by The McKinsey Global Institute, suggest that social tools have a direct correlation to profitability. The three key uses include reaching customers, connecting employees, and coordinating with suppliers.
At R/com Creative, we use a variety of tools, including this blog, and cloud-based project management. We subscribe to Basecamp from 37 Signals and use other tools from this upstart and highly focused supplier. The results for us are clearly defined: we have strong client interaction – and we save tens of thousands of dollars a year relative to managing projects.
This also means that employment is impacted – if companies are using these tools effectively, then their head count can be reduced. Empty spots don’t need to be replaced in many cases. While we can’t relate our own savings to the overall employment situation in the US at the moment, we do see most of our clients being more productive with fewer employees.
So, where will this lead us? Social media and web tools are evolving rapidly. The use of email is changing, and video chat, visual meetings, and other corporate functions are rapidly migrating to the Internet. Just remember – some of these functions require commitment and expertise. Just having a Facebook page doesn’t mean anyone will visit it. You need the proper program to effectively work the web. The good news is – if you commit, the results are real.