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How IT Companies Have Leveraged Social Media

587214_hands_revised.jpg How are technology companies incorporating social media into their corporate marketing campaigns? We all know that most tech companies already use podcasts, webcasts and video to market their products and services, but what other tools are being employed by IT companies both large and small? By reaching out to users with interactive tools, technology companies are finding that there is a place for social media in their marketing departments.

I visited websites of 10 large technology companies to learn more about how organizations have implemented social media into their corporate websites. Each of the companies I researched is using social media in some form - check out what I found below:

Cisco Systems
When visiting the Cisco site you can easily navigate to their "Human Network" - a place where users can log in to watch videos, read and share stories about their experiences with Cisco technology, and communicate with their network members. In their blog, Cisco touts the success they have had with collaboration tools such as wikis, forums and other interactive technologies - and from looking at the site, you get the impression that they know what they're talking about.

Dell
There is a prominent link at the bottom of the homepage on the Dell website. By clicking the link, users are directed to the Dell Online Community. On this site, Dell offers a portal filled with user-generated content (reviews, conversations, suggestions), rich media (podcasts, videos), and other social media tools including a Dell Wiki, a link to Dell on Second Life, and Member Spotlights (profiles of Dell Community members).

Hewlett-Packard
HP has jumped full-force into blogging, and publishes blogs on a range of categories - from Innovation to Mobility & Wireless. When you're on the HP Blog site, you have options to view other rich media (podcasts, videos, webcasts), but there is no robust HP online community. And while you can read about Customer Stories, the stories are actually more like case studies, and users are unable to contribute their own. One unique feature of the HP site is their Online Classes - where users can log-in, register for a class, and learn about different topics online.

IBM
IBM has developed an Executive Innovation Channel that works as a forum for users to investigate specific technology topics, find resources related to those topics, and connect with IBM employees about the topics. While there is no user-to-user interaction, IBM has clustered rich media content (including Flash videos and audio files) that relate to the topics, for easy access, and they also track your interactions with their content as you move from topic to topic.

Nokia
Nokia's slogan is "Connecting People," and they make that possible in their "Forum Nokia," an online community site where users can learn about Nokia products, visit the Nokia blogs, contribute to the Nokia wikis or join the discussion boards. Nokia has implemented popular tagging searches on their blogging site, and users can search their blog posts by keywords. When you view the Nokia product pages, there are RSS feeds to user blogs, videos and news. You can also visit the Nokia Workshop, where users write about their experiences with Nokia technology.

Research in Motion
Research in Motion, best known for their BlackBerry smartphones has a "BlackBerry Owners Lounge" on their website where BlackBerry devotees can log in and communicate with other BlackBerry users, read member stories, download free games and applications for their devices and share tips and tricks about their BlackBerries. Community members are granted access to free ringtones and downloads that non-members are unable to access, and you're given the impression that membership makes you part of an exclusive club.

SAP
The SAP Business Community and SAP Developer Network are both online communities that provide a place for SAP customers to share their experiences, find useful information, and easily locate upcoming events - both virtual and live. While the SAP communities don't have the flashiness of some other social media sites, they have forums for users to discuss individual products in-depth with others, and also access rich media content.

Sun Microsystems
Sun Microsystems has created interactive experiences that give users the opportunity to "Discover" and "Participate," and also join one of their ten communities. Sun has developed communities for all kinds of users - including the press, their customers, and their investors. By clicking on any of their community portals, you are taken to sites that offer news, rich media, online discussion forums, blogs, and resource centers. While Sun's sites lack the flashy experience found on some of the other tech company websites, they provide high-quality information, a place to share and collaborate, and regularly updated news and opinions related to their products.

Symantec
Symantec offers a user-based network on the Symantec Technology Network (STN), a community that includes links to Symantec blogs, forums and videos. The community network is resource-heavy, and provides easy access to a range of Symantec product information. The forums and blogs have lots of posts, but given the topics, the site is geared more toward highly technical discussions of Symantec's products than toward the sharing of user stories and experiences.

Toshiba
Looking around the Toshiba website,there was a lack of social media allowing user interaction with the site. After clicking around the Business Products Services and Support page, I was able to find a few "forums," but to use those you have to navigate to a specific product's support page, and hope that they have a real forum setup - not just a page with contact information or a web-form to complete. In the consumer products area of the site there are user reviews (and a way for you to submit your own review), but overall Toshiba offers few ways for users to interact.

Stay tuned for more! Next I'm going to look at 10 small technology companies and see what they're doing with social media on their websites.

Comments

Thanks for compiling this list, it's interesting to see how these companies are leveraging social networking after hearing many argue that it has no place in the B2B model. The beauty of social networking is how it facilitates a conversation among your customers, and the B2B conversation will be a lot more rational in nature, yet just as worthwhile to monitor. The challenge for B2B companies is simply achieving enough reach to create such a dialog, but these (granted, very large) companies give some great examples on how to build an engaging platform for a such a conversation.

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