We've seen many companies struggle with the question of who "owns" social media. In one sense, you are communicating to customers, so it must be a marketing function. But, isn't marketing usually "paid" and communications "earned?" If so, most social media profiles are "free," so it must be a communications function! Well, we've seen the most successful social media companies embrace both and use cross-divisional teams to find manage the space.

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This struggle, though, may actually be less important than previously thought, as social media is quickly becoming relevant to much more than communications and marketing. In fact, the next wave of the social media revolution will likely be in customer service and sales.

Imagine that you've just tweeted that you are tired of your current vehicle breaking down, and you are ready for an upgrade! What if a car company saw your tweet and someone from their sales team reached out to you with information about their latest models in your price range?

Sales teams have gotten pretty good at e-mail marketing, but I see a real lack of innovation in sales social media. Social media can give you a tremendous amount of input and insight on your prospects; you could even catch a lead in mid-status update. Imagine a time when all of your CRM databases include Twitter and Facebook profiles. You'd be able to really get to know your prospects and tailor your sales pitches to their specific needs. You might even be able to insert your brand for consideration with a prospect that wasn't even going to look at you. There's nowhere better to learn about your customers than from their own, hand-selected social networks.

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Anyone who watched the President's State of the Union address this week may have noticed the many times he used the word "innovate" throughout his hour-long speech. The morning after, many op-eds complained that for all the talk of "out-innovating" the rest of the world, the President didn't provide any concrete examples of how he envisioned America achieving this. According to a new article on Mashable, 2011's focus on driving innovation may have an unlikely leader in the Home Shopping Network (HSN), as their new crowdsourcing project suggests.

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Looking to disrupt the online retail market, HSN has announced an ambitious crowdsourcing project, in association with "social product development" firm Quirky, that allows its shoppers the opportunity to not just engage in the submission of ideas, but even share in the profits should the HSN online community push their idea to the sales / manufacturing stage.

The idea isn't necessarily new, as many good companies listen and act on what their customers want to buy in a product. But when HSN's CEO Mindy Grossman decided that her company would focus largely on curating a shopping experience from within, and combined that idea with the business' longtime emphasis on product storytelling, a hybrid model for leveraging, and (potentially) selling, products the community has committed to purchase was born. The process is an ambitious one, however, leveraging their massive and loyal community, HSN might be one of just a handful of businesses in the retail industry able to pull it off.

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It's an oft-discussed question in many IT departments and beyond: should employees have unrestricted access to the internet (including all the social networking they can get their hands on) while at work? A recent SocialCast report suggests that there might just be a productivity bump to be had from such access.

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PulsePoint Group
January 26, 2011

A recap of the previous week's POV posts:

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A clear trend emerged in business over the last decade: the rise of "open innovation." 

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Mashable recently featured a piece by Soren Gordhamer, founder of the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, on the evolution of the enterprise in the age of social media. It's a fascinating read, here, but there were two things I wanted to point a spotlight on here.

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PulsePoint Group
January 19, 2011

A recap of the previous week's POV posts:

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