Unlocking the power of social technologies for improved career and industry IQs

By Scott Klososky

While many organizations are focusing on using social media/networking as a way to communicate with constituents, the most powerful benefit may be learning to use social tools to build powerful rivers of information. Very few teams have accurately installed this powerful aspect of Web 2.0, and it’s a shame, because there is zero cost and huge upside when done correctly.

We live in a knowledge economy, and a big part of the value that associations and organizations can provide is in leading the discovery, aggregation, and distribution of information about the industry to members. In a knowledge economy, the smart people win, which means those with a deeper industry knowledge bank have a better chance of prospering. In other words, people get smarter by simply improving the volume of information about a subject that can be jammed into their brains. If business leaders will accept that simple formula, they will understand that the Internet and social tools now supply the most powerful way to digest content we have ever seen.

Defining the River

According to Eric Schmidt, chairman of the board at Google, “Every two seconds the equivalent of 380 million 20-sentence news stories or articles of information are being created, filed, and dispersed throughout the globe. If each news story were a single drop of water, this deluge of information would fill up Lake Erie every 13 minutes.” We can safely assume this means gigabytes of information created in any industry today will only increase. But the reality is that most organizations are only able to harness 2% or 3% of this bounty via traditional methods. That’s a shame because most would agree that knowledge is power, and yet 97% of the powerful knowledge these members could have is not being absorbed. The same dynamic holds true for members of an association sharing information.

Bloggers, analysts, “Twitterati”, vendors, government agencies, observers, consultants, and consumers supply this huge new flow of information, and it will only grow. Not only is the volume of information increasing; the speed at which it’s being publically delivered is also increasing in velocity. For example, Twitter posts now average around one minute from the time an event happens to the moment they’re delivered online; 29 minutes faster than any other form of traditional news delivery.

As a result, a goal for any business leader in this Web 2.0 era must be to institutionalize the ability to glean as much information about its industry, influencers, governing bodies, and relevant trends in real time as possible: filtering, sharing, and archiving for all staff and departments to benefit accordingly. In addition, associations should take a leadership role as a recommending body of the most quality sources to follow rather than leave members to assume best sources as they stumble upon them.

Best Practices for Harnessing a River of Information

The following is a list of best practices for building a River and embedding it into the culture of an organization or association:

  • Use index sites like, and to identify top bloggers and twitterers by industry, and follow the top 10 in each.
  • Find any online newsletters that pertain to specific industries and sign up for them.
  • Learn to use alerts systems like Google Alerts,, or Then set up alerts for your most prominent executives and members, any politicos that impact specific industries, and competing organizations or associations to know instantly if something has transpired.
  • Use aggregation tools like Google Reader,, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc. to bring many streams of information to one screen.
  • Install applications like Flipboard, Zite, and to turn information streams into an easy-to-read magazine format or intuitive aggregator.
  • Commit at least 30 minutes a day reviewing your River to grab the most important pieces.
  • Have HR create a list of 40-50 news sources every employee must follow and have them distribute the list to all new employees so they can get up to speed quickly.

At this point, allow me to repeat: It’s a knowledge economy, and the smarter organizations will win. Not only will installing this vital system instill a hunger for knowledge, it will improve career and industry IQs immensely. When an organization becomes a filtering and distribution source of information for its members it will become invaluable. The problem has never been that we have an Internet information overload problem; we’ve just responded with a failure to filter and absorb it efficiently.

Scott Klososky, a former CEO of three successful tech startup companies, and recent founder of, specializes in looking over the horizon with how technology is impacting the world. His unique perspectives on technology, business culture, and the future allow him to work with senior executives in organizations around the world from Fortune 500 corporations to universities and nonprofits.

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