Social media and social business are hot topics right now. And the Microsoft Partner community is on the leading edge of the trend. A large number of Microsoft partners are not only leveraging social tools to share their message, but also to connect and collaborate throughout the entire year—and beyond. Many Microsoft Communities help facilitate these productive connections. You can find them at WPC, as well as on community sites, including groups over at LinkedIn and Facebook. You’ll have several opportunities to connect with fellow attendees over the course of WPC, from following the WPC hashtag (#WPC12) on Twitter to checking out MPN Live broadcasts. 

 
 
According to Knowledge Networks, 60% of people use social media to discover new brands or products, 46% say it strongly influences purchase decisions and 40% check social media before making purchase decisions.
 
Given these statistics, many organizations are starting to realize that just being on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn isn’t enough. They’re finding that in order to have a relevant voice in today’s marketplace, they need a social strategy that encompasses multiple media messaging—and, of course, great content! As a result, an increasing number of organizations are looking at how they can leverage their investment in SharePoint as an enterprise collaboration platform—to drive social engagement in front of and behind the firewall.  Telligent and NewsGator are two Microsoft (and Perficient) partners that are leaders in the social business space. They’re both leveraging social to drive greater collaboration, community engagement, and customer retention.
 
I recently spoke with NewsGator’s President & CEO J.B. Holston about social business trends. Check out the full video here; it contains valuable information on the future of social.
 
If you’re looking for guidance on how to drive social strategy, regardless of where you are from a maturity perspective, Mark Miller, founder and editor of EndUserSharePoint and NothingButSharePoint has put together a step-by-step process to help organizations evaluate the progress of their community and social media efforts. Miller’s Community Engagement Project includes five competencies. Each competency has a standalone, graduated matrix for positioning an organization within a community through social media efforts. They can be used for the individual analysis of a specific competency or as a whole to create an integrated community and social media program. It’s a process that’s well worth checking out.
 
What does social media mean to you? How will you leverage different social channels as you head into WPC—and beyond?
–Liza​