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IDG’s Carrigan urges companies not to overregulate social networks

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New York—A key factor in making social networks viable is for companies to not overregulate them, Bob Carrigan, CEO of technology publisher IDG Communications, said Wednesday at the Software Information Industry Summit.

Developing social networks for a particular audience “usually starts with a few employees with an idea, and we let them run with it, which is better than talking about it for months,” Carrigan said during a panel titled “B2B Social Networking: Content Provider Strategies.”

The panel addressed the surge in social networks and the potential stumbling blocks in making them available to constituents.

“You have to make sure you’re connecting [the networks] to work flow and maintain standards of privacy,” said David Mather, president of business information provider Hoover’s, which on Wednesday debuted Hoover’s Connect, a business networking tool that helps users get introduced to and establish relationships with targeted prospects.

“Once you provide security, users are willing to use new forms of media,” Mather said. “Think of the knowledge that can be unleashed in a corporate network and the wealth of that knowledge given to a sales force.”

Clara Shih, product line manager for the AppExchange Directory of Salesforce.com, said there are three main areas companies need to invest in if they want to develop social networks: content partners, online communities and networking systems designed for users to conduct business transactions.

Shih also stressed that companies have to factor in ROI when building social networks. “It’s end-to-end prospecting,” she said. “All the way through the close, and you need to calculate how much spending there is throughout the sales cycle and how much information can be captured.”

—Matthew Schwartz

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