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Social Tools in the Business Environment

Scott Brown

Scott Brown, Owner, Social Information Group and AIIP president, said that the merging of social tools and mobile platforms will be a very interesting space to watch.  He spoke about what is most useful now and how it can be used and why it is important, and then where this is going.

Traditional tools include company statistics, company information, market information, legal information, etc.  Social sources can help uncover quite different information, as shown here.

Social tools help provide leads and result in a richer picture.  They do what knowledge management tried to do in its early days–get information that is stored in employees’ heads.  The social part points to the human side of the business.  These are some of the prominent tools.

Scott’s book, Social Information, is a source of information.

Here are some of the companies operating in this space.

  • LinkedIn. LinkedIn now allows users to identify their skills, and then other people can tag those skills.  If you go to the company page, the Employee Insights tab lists the most common skills of employees at those company (obviously, the employees must be using LinkedIn).  Many of the skills listed cannot be found anywhere else.  Related locations can also be searched, as can company groups.LinkedIn Todaylists the news and links that people are sharing.  It is a social view of a topic.Signal allows a search of peoples’ interests and shows related companies and articles or groups.  For example, search on Google and Big Data and see what Google employees are saying about Big Data.

    Original Content finds the most commented items and is a way to find conversations.

  • WhoGotFunded.  Find out who raised funds and who is funding the next big thing.  It contains venture capital information and lists deals, companies, countries, and the funding that is occurring.  “Hot deals” are identified.
  • MarketVisual.  Search professionals by name, company, or title.  A visual view of the relationships that a person has been involved in is available.
  • TheyRuleShows relationships between board directors and the companies on whose boards they serve.
  • Twitter shows top stories and tweets and also identifies top trends.
  • HootSuite.  Invite people to a group and share information in that group.

Trends and information that are useful include government sources, social product development, competition in crowdsourcing, the ability to rate and comment on proprietary products.  Here are some of them.

  • HASTAC is a blog platform that builds posters’ social equity as they contribute postings or comments.
  • CapLinked is a network connecting investors and people looking for funding.  It is a useful source of company information.
  • Governments use crowdsourcing to comment on proposed solutions to crises.
  • Kaggle posts data challenges and groups can sign up to solve the challenge, submit their solutions, and receive votes on them.
  • First Street maps content from lobbyists and creates visualizations of the connections between them.


  • Wikihood:  identifies information on nearby businesses and locations based on your location.
  •  Find opportunities to do good in a location.
  • SpotCrime:  See crimes that have happened in an area.
  • YouTube Around:  See YouTube videos based on your location.
  • TweetMyJobs:  Find who is hiring in the neighborhood.

Scott’s advice on using and citing social sources:

You never know what you will get when using social tools.  You must keep on top of them.  Use a sensible approach and know when to step away.  The approach is different than conventional research, and creative searches are often needed.


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