THE BLOG
10/01/2012 03:07 pm ET Updated Nov 27, 2012

How Do You Take Your Product or Service to the Next Level? Make It Social

Now that we have over a billion people on Facebook and millions of tweets being tweeted every day, it's time to think about how you could add a social element to your existing products and/or services to engage with a much larger audience.

For example, how about social books where you make the book both social and interactive? As the author is writing the book, he or she could post it on their social network and allow people to both see installments of it and make additions to it. Or, when that book is finished being written, it continues to be written by readers within your social network, who put in their ideas, share their stories, etc.--basically creating a social book.How about a social textbook? In this case, students and teachers can connect through a classroom or school wide social network and add articles and links of relevance to the textbook. Students on opposite sides of the world can both share and learn from each other, taking textbooks and teaching to a new level.

How about social ads? We've all seen traditional ads. Now let's make them social and interactive to get people engaged with the product or service. We saw an early version of this when  Doritos™ had their "Crash the Super Bowl" campaign, in which they let individuals submit their own product ads. The winner got to see their commercial aired during the Super bowl. To make this type of ad more social, you could let different people co-create the ad and then use their social networks to get feedback and suggestions. You could even let them add new video inserts to the ad.

But what if the ads continued on afterwards, long after the ad would normally run, and it became even more engaging and could continue to grow in popularity thanks to contributors from other social networks? Perhaps we could do that by creating contests and other things to motivate people to continue to socialize the ad or create new social ads based on the original.

How about social health and wellness? Many people have a focus on wellness and a desire to prevent disease. They go to gyms, they exercise, and they go to doctors to get screenings. They get colonoscopies to make sure they don't develop colon cancer, and they get breast exams to try to stop a problem before it develops.

There are literally millions of people involved in wellness and disease prevention. What if all those millions were talking to each other about prevention and wellness in the health subjects they are interested in? What if they were creating social wellness sites (beyond the ones we have today), where they are, indeed, sharing their experiences and personal best practices? What if there were social wellness products? What if we had social health and social disease management? Many people with diseases like diabetes go on the health journey alone. What if they could connect and engage with other diabetics? Even if their disease isn't curable now, they could at least get support and help from others. Some of this is happening now, but it could and should be on a much bigger scale.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a form of social therapy. But could it be bigger? Could it bring people in that don't attend the meetings? Could we have social network type of Alcoholics Anonymous, so people get support in e-ways? Likewise, could we have social education and training, where you're learning subjects and getting people engaged in sharing, learning, discovery, and collaborative insights?

All of these things are already starting to happen. Maybe you just haven't noticed. What we could do, from a business standpoint and from a societal standpoint, is take this all to the next level by simply picking a subject, adding the word "social" to it, and see if you've got something. You probably do.