Independent Thinking Blog

10 Social Tools to Help Your Business

We talk a lot about the “big 5” social media platforms (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr).  But the conversation universe is a much bigger place, and there are other platforms, channels, and tools that just might make sense for your business too.

Here are 10 of them (thanks to a terrific closing session at the Frederick New Media and Technology Conference on February 24 that featured 10 speakers, three minutes each, talking about 10 less-well-known social tech tools):

1. BuddyPress. Beth Schillaci said that this “social networking in a box” open-source WordPress add-on lets you build a community within your own space (e.g., where you have control and own your data). Suggested uses, said Schillaci, include a safe space for a student community and an in-house (employee) community that you can tuck behind a firewall.

2. Tumblr. Jessica Hibbard called the microblogging site “an elegant solution” for curating content. She said it is an easy way to post content as diverse as video, photos, and chat scripts. Hibbard said business uses include showcasing your thought leadership by creating a central location for industry news (LL Bean does this) or as a way to connect with your community. There’s even an “ask me anything” button.

3. Meetup. Kelly Beach said that you need to give to your community before you can start selling, and a Meetup group is one way to do this. She also pointed out that, with 250,000 meetups monthly, it’s a great way to connect with like-minded people in your community.

4. SlideShare. See my 4 tips for using SlideShare.

5. Quora. Lisa Byrne said that the fledging Q&A site is great way to both be helpful to your community and to ask for help. She said one way to use Quora is to ask questions that will help you deliver a better service or build a better product. (See here for my early take on Quora.)

6. HootSuite. Like TweetDeck, Hootsuite is another popular Twitter client designed to make social media monitoring and engagement easier. Sandy Sponaugle said that Hootsuite supports several multimedia sites and recently rolled out a new analytics tool.

7. 3D Visualization. Darian Robbins talked about using Google Earth to layer information to create a 3D representation about your business. Can you say cool?

8. Open Source E-Commerce Systems. Nick Damoulakis talked about six good e-commerce products. UberCart and WP e-commerce both work with WordPress. His favorite: Magento, which he termed a “” (lots of functionality, but it’s not plug and play).

9. HTML5. Jon-Mikel Bailey said that HTML5 is all about user experience. He said that the code is easier to develop and maintain, and that it gives you lots of options (including chat features and better form management). This is developer geek chic. While the rest of us don’t have to know how to do it, it helps if we know what can be done.

10. Google Instant. Jeannine Morber said that Google is moving increasingly toward valuing relevance in search. She said that the biggest implication is that content is and will continue to be the most important and relevant element of your Web site.

What’s your favorite “outlier” social platform or tool?

Photo by tuppus (Flickr).

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