When Social meets the Enterprise there is one of a few reactions:
A) How can marketing tap into an audience of one billion? or
B) Is it productive to let our people access social media at work? or
C) Can I use social media to cut my cost of recruiting?
Now these are the obvious uses of the various social sites out there, and they are being leveraged. For example it costs organisations tens of thousands of dollars in commissions when a ‘head hunter’ finds a candidate. However, if an employee refers a candidate it’s more likely to be a successful outcome both in terms of skills and experience as well as cultural fit. Today LinkedIn is becoming one of the leading employment sites on the net.
There is also interesting work being done with Facebook whereby you can assume that people who like similar things are similar. So by analysing what individuals have ‘liked’, may tell us what they would like to buy!
However what is the underlying value of this area? Let me suggest that understanding the social network is not as powerful as leveraging the community it represents.
Let’s explore this idea a little bit. Matt Barrie, BRW entrepreneur of the year 2011, is tapping into the global human capital with his website Freelancer.com, (here). The idea is to crowd source expertise on a global basis. By posting a job on the site, interested suppliers bid to do your work. Now you might think that is fine and probably useful for web-site design and coding. However review the categories on the site and you will see that work is being done from Aeronautical Engineering to manufacturing a “Variable Pitch Quadcopter”.
I remember when I was part of a start-up we got a logo designed. It took about 4 months from start to finish and involved an extraordinary amount of time from preparing and briefing an agency to continual refinement until we eventually settled on a final design. Using matt’s site you can put a similar brief up and within hours, people submit their ideas from which you can choose from. Substantially cutting the time and cost and dramatically improving the talent pool that you are drawing from.
We can go further and tap into the knowledge of the crowd! If you haven’t visited the Kahn Academy, (here or downloaded their App), then you are missing a major source of education as their tag line says, “Learn almost anything for free.”
Now it’s not just knowledge and expertise that can be crowd sourced. The now famous case study of the “pebble watch” financing through Kickstarter.com. If you don’t know the story; some guys thought it would be cool to design a watch using liquid-ink technology, (used in e-book readers), to create a smart watch that would show the time and link to your phone. They estimated they needed about $100k to develop it and put the project up on kickstarter.com. At the end of the period they had $10Million in orders! Today a substantial % of movies, charity drives, theatre productions are being crowd funded.
So where is this going? I would suggest that the power in social is actually the value of the crowd. In the future tapping and leveraging the crowd is going to be essential to the longevity of any organisation.
So does Social = Crowd.