As more and more companies are using social media to connect with their customers and spread the word about their products, it makes sense that as business researchers we need to keep these social sites on our radar. We wouldn't dream of not scouring the company website for insight, and now we should feel the same way about the company presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Social Media is extremely important for researching smaller private companies and start-ups because you won't find reports or news on them elsewhere. LinkedIn - Search for the company and link to the "Insightful Statistics about Employees" section to see which employees are on LinkedIn, where they have worked before and where they went after they departed. Look to see what Groups the company belongs to.
Facebook - Look for who the company "Likes" to see find vendors, partners, suppliers, and enthusiasts. Keep an eye on the timeline for product announcements and progress reports.
YouTube - Search for the company channel to see videos. You can see who works there and sometimes their customers. A video can tell you a lot about corporate culture.
Twitter - Consumers are using Twitter as a complaint line, so watch how the company handles those issues and interacts with the customer. You can use HootSuite or TweetDeck to follow multiple companies and/or keywords of interest.
Pinterest - The fastest growing social media site right now! Search for company name under the people search or just Google company name and Pinterest. Companies can show you in images what represents their values and culture.
The Offical Board - Organizational charts of the world's 30,000 largest corporations. Find contacts at companies and see the reporting lines.
CrunchBase - Free database of technology companies, people, and investors. You can find funding information here that you won't see anywhere else.