Whereas social media has traditionally been embraced by marketing teams as a way to build company name recognition, there are an increasing variety of use cases emerging. For example, social media strategies are used by sales, customer service and customer support departments for lead generation, cross sales and up sales opportunities, Nelson says. This social customer relationship management (social CRM) industry is growing fast -- Gartner estimates that by the end of the year software licenses and subscriptions will total $2.1 billion, up from $850 million last year. Vendors offering such services include Jive Software, Lithium Technologies and, increasingly, Salesforce.com with its Chatter feature.
Still, Nelson says those social CRM practices should be used to supplement, not supplant existing business processes. "You've got to make it fit with your other products and strategies," he says. A business using social media to drive people to a website should be incorporated with an e-commerce strategy that leads them into a sales deal, he says. Whether these products or others are used by an enterprise, Nelson says the advice is simple: "Have a plan."
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