What social media tools are a must for business?

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If you could only use/choose (up to) 10 different social media tools to enhance your business/organization’s performance and ability to get the job done — which ones would you choose….and why?

27 comments on “What social media tools are a must for business?

  1. beau says:

    Depends on two factors, minimally: 1) the particular business, and 2) the definition of “social media tools”.

    That said, US Postal counts as A-Number 1. The telephone right after that. FedEx third, and the copy machine fourth. Although there are plenty of businesses that don’t really need these last two at all.

    Not that I’m a naysayer, not that I’m a Luddite. Just that we all to often (and that’s an inclusive pronoun on purpose) take for granted our familiarity with toys like twitter or myspace or email or our crack-berry and forget that however late we personally came to the parade we are still “early adopters” in the grand, global scale.

    The only social “must have” for a successful business is “salesmen” in the Gladwell sense of the word.

    Cheers,

    Robert Link
    (one of your twitter followers)

  2. Kelly Rusk says:

    It would totally depend on the company target audience and having the right resources, but I would say some to definitely explore in one way or another:

    1. Twitter – what can I say, I’m hooked! And works wonders for my blog. (Also, I got here through Twitter!)
    2. A blog – it’s becoming essential.
    3. LinkedIn – builds online credibility & good opps with Q&A
    4. StumbleUpon – loads of fun & drives tons of traffic. win-win!
    5. Measurement tool – I just started researching social media monitoring tools and I’m convinced to really demonstrate ROI and worth, you need a specialized tool. I just reviewed Social Radar on my blog & there’s many others popping up everywhere.

    That’s all for now, I could easily think of 5 more though!

  3. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    AWeber software – can’t do without that anymore (and can be used by any type of business)
    Already mentioned but blogs – interactive webtool
    Specialised forums – our ‘forte’ are the DIY forums where we give out free advice, using our business name as nickname – again a great webtool. Investment is more in time than money but works a treat for us.

    Hmmm, all I mention are ‘conversation’ tools – must tell me something ;-

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweatheart, specially in business)

  4. Paul Soldera says:

    Hey Drew,

    I think internal tools are going to be a huge necessity in the coming years – wikis, CMS, internal blogs, IM etc, etc. In fact, I would go so far to say that internal tools for employee collaboration will be the leading edge of the social media wave for businesses. The generation of workers coming through the ranks now are going to be able to wield these with incredible effectiveness. I see it happening in a lot of businesses I deal with.

    Paul

    PS: @Robert, you couldn’t be more off the mark imho. You could have said the same about Internet advertising 10 years ago and would have missed the rise of one of the largest industries to spawn in recent decades.

  5. Kendra says:

    Drew,

    I’m very impressed with what we’ve done for clients using Twitter. I love Gather to reach certain markets, Ning to reach others. And Facebook is getting me contributors (writers) for an upcoming publication.

    I’m a big fan of Del.icio.us.

    But my auto responder as the way to stay in touch with my list is essential. I’m using it through 1shoppingcart and it supports people signing up for free ebooks in exchange for email address.

  6. Easy!

    Technorati, flickr and 7 blogs.

    Find your key audiences on technorati, build multiple blogs to focus and talk to each audience, post good copy and throwin a few flickr images and youtube video’s.

    And then write a book about it.

  7. Gordon,

    Interesting…tell me more about the multiple blogs angle. What are the advantages of that versus having a single blog? I get the multiple audiences…but boy, that seems like a way to spread yourself too thin in a hurry.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

    Drew

  8. Robert,

    Without a doubt, we cannot abandon the old for the new. I think the trick is learning a new recipe that blends the best of both.

    I am hoping that as the early adopters, we can make it a little easier for others to see that the water is just fine and they should wade out a little.

    Drew

  9. Kelly,

    Tell me how you use StumbleUpon actively. I love it when I get stumbled…but do you stumble yourself? Should we all be doing that?

    That’s a tool I’m not as sure about. Not that I question its value but I question my knowledge about how to get the most value from it.

    Drew

  10. Karin,

    Ohhh, the DIY forums. Nice thinking. Do you go through a certain website or portal to find the best questions/prospects?

    You guys sure are smart!

    Drew

  11. Paul,

    You’re right — the companies that can harness the collaborative power of some of the social media tools are going to have a huge advantage.

    The reality is…today’s 20-something is entering the work place already using this stuff. Employers are wise to tap that natural gift.

    Drew

  12. Kendra,

    Were you surprised at the results you got with Twitter? Were your clients surprised?

    What lessons did you learn that you’ll apply next time around?

    Drew

  13. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew (thanks for the compliment, we’ve been taught to work smart – not hard ;-))

    We’ve become regulars at two very different DIY-forums (found them when I did research for my own website – they were already well established forums – means high ranking incoming links when I manage to add a link in our reply – only when it’s appropriate otherwise it might be considered advertising).
    And because of the amount of free advice we keep giving we’re receiving a lot of ‘cloud’ there. It does happen sometimes that the subject of the question is something like; “Question for WoodYouLike” 😉
    Or that other regular posters tell the person who asked the question to check out our website – now who’s that for worth of mouth?

    In the last two years we gained 6 -7 clients (for large floors) directly or indirectly from these forums – and it only costs us a bit of time to respond to the questions there – ‘easy money’ 😉

    Karin H.

  14. Karin H. says:

    Oops, make that WORD of mouth (it’s worth a lot however)

    Yesterday, on one of the forums which has a category Trade Talk to put in a link to Richard C’s new software program, specially created for small businesses (works like a ledger book, but than more advanced but very simple to use). Richard told me just now he gained two sales from it already!
    (Would he ever thought of ‘advertising’ his program on a DIY forum?)

    Karin H.

  15. Eamon says:

    Depends a lot on the business (I think).

    If I was in an entertainment environment or associated with a brand which is associated with entertainment, i.e Guinness, then social media tools are high on the agenda. But if you are a utility company then social media tools are going to be further down on the agenda (I mean, it’s kind of hard to invite an audience to have a ‘conversation’ with you about gas or electricity).

    However, regarding utility company / brand.
    Never say never. One of the best ads in the UK was Nick Park’s Creature Comfort animation ads for a UK utility company (Head Electric). If you had a fun campaign like that, and kind of mashed up a bit up with some environmental project the utility company was involved with, as well as the utility company sponsoring some community initiative, then social media tools might be back on the agenda again.

    I think it is best to focus on just one good, strong blog. There are hundreds of different ways of promoting that blog through a mixture of SEO, traditional marketing, PR, much smaller blogs, social networking, and more.
    Social networking to promote your business but, also, you main blog. Your blog is like the heavy cavalry and your social networking tools: like the scouts or the light infantry.

  16. P.S. I said I favour one strong blog.

    I, also, said that smaller blogs can be used to promote the larger one. But I would only do this where your main blog is heavily dependent on key words (and you are trying to boost your keywords through links from other blogs). However, the search engines are pretty smart now, and even this could be considered not a good idea anymore (any thoughts on this point?)
    So generally, I would just stick to the one strong blog now and focus on the kind of techniques I mentioned to promote it (including social networking) – techniques that are familiar to most people I am sure.
    But, above all, focus on content. Most cliches have more value in them than are given credit for so I am going to repeat what everyone has heard a thousand times before: Content is King (so focus on building up quality content on one blog, as opposed to diluting down that quality over a range of blogs).

    (i think ..)

  17. Eamon,

    You’re right….some industries are custom designed for social media and others need to be a bit more inventive to take advantage of the tools.

    But your example is perfect one. I think the trick is think different. See what the others in your industry don’t see.

    The utilities category is a great one. Don’t talk to me about utilities…talk to me being green or keeping my family safe at home. One of the things I believe most businesses miss when it comes to social media is that it’s not really about them or what they want to talk about.

    Drew

  18. Karin,

    That’s excellent advice — thanks for sharing it. It sounds like it is really paying off.

    I’m curious — how many of the people in the forums are from the UK? Can you service most of them? Do you have strategic partners in other parts of the world that you can refer to?

    Drew

  19. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    Both are UK-based forums and we can serve (supply the whole of the UK, supply & install in Kent area) all of them.
    With one of the other regulars on one of the forums we’re in the process of just that: strategic alliance – he does Underfloor heating, more and more of our clients are looking into that, his clients need to know/find a quality wood floor that can handle underfloor heating – we’re going to share information to both sets of clients.
    It’s a start.

    Karin H

  20. Karin H. says:

    Hi Eamon

    I’m with you on combining one strong blog as traffic builder for your ‘static’ website. My experience shows just that – our FAQ blog on wooden floors links in almost all articles to our static website and webshops. Both types of sites always score very high in the search-results (75% of the visitors through search-engines find us on the first page of the result, no matter what keyword, key-phrases they used). It took a while – investment in time and reading loads of clever webmarketing articles, books (Ed Rivis’ Ultimate Webmarketing Strategy is a very good one (http://www.thekissbusiness.co.uk/2008/02/when-web-market.html) – but it’s gives us an enormous ROI!

    Karin H

  21. Mike Sansone says:

    Depends on the relationships you’re trying to build — where are they hanging? What tools are they using? Who will be the face of your business?

    It’s not about the tools, but it IS about the talk. That said,

    For listening (which always comes first), FriendFeed. For quick chat, Twitter. And of course….a blog site.

    Are strategies a tool?

  22. Adam says:

    Definitely agree that it depends on the business. A single strong blog (or two) with a good combination of business/semi-personal content and other social media to draw traffic to those blogs sounds like an effective recipe.

    Similar behavior on Twitter (professional mixed with semi-personal) works well… there are some CEOs on Twitter who are utilizing the tool beautifully.

    Excellent mention of tapping the DIY forums! Will have to look into that!

  23. Karin,

    Sounds like the strategic alliance may pay off in a big way. It’s a great example of collaborating rather than competing!

    Drew

  24. Mike,

    I agree, if you are trying to really drill deep — the type of business matters. The type of relationships matter. But we’re talking someone wading into the water and wanting to stay a little current.

    We all need a computer in today’s world. But you might need one with a killer graphics card. I need one that edits movies. Someone else just needs a word processor.

    I’m talking computer level. What are some of the social media tools that just about any business professional should/will need to know about.

    Drew

  25. Adam,

    Do you think someone can be engaged with social media without being a blogger? Can you be an avid listener/reader and use some of the other tools but not blog? Or does the immersion require being a blog author?

    Agreed on the DIY forum idea. Could be applied to many an industry.

    Drew

  26. Eamon says:

    Karin / Drew

    I kind of like to think of online marketing as a game of chess. You need both strategy and tactics. And with chess, you, also need to surprise your competitor with unexpected / creative moves.
    It might all be hard work but I also think it’s great fun (and, actually, it’s so more than just a games of chess – it’s also, story-telling, PR, writing decent copy, publicity and so on ..).

  27. Eamon,

    A blend of strategic thinking and unexpected creativity is an unbeatable combination. The best chess players are the ones who don’t always follow the rules!

    Drew

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