I get this feeling that there are a lot of industries that don’t truly understand the sheer magnitude of social media. There are tons of industries where we rely on social connections in real life to either facilitate or enhance the business transactions, it seems only logical to extend this to the web. Granted this is a purely superficial look at these industries, and a much deeper technographic and demographic study could help build a more refined social strategy for each one.

Travel
Aside from business travel, this is usually an activity done in groups. So leveraging the power of your existing connections and social graph to find more information on potential destinations or deals would be an ideal solution. Whose opinion would you trust more, your cousin Bob, or some anonymous web troll when you’re planning that trip to cancun?

Trip planning. Nothing is as much of a pain as trying to plan a trip with a group of people. So why not figure out a way to simplify things. Look at how dopplr and tripit are starting, and take it from there.  These are areas where the airlines and travel sites should be dominating.

Another key area where travel is failing on social media is in the post-trip/re-engagement phase. Why aren’t travel companies leveraging all the content these travelers just created (EVERYONE has a digital camera of some sort)?

Real Estate
Part of what you buy when you buy a home or condo is the community, a large part of it to be exact. So developers, realtors, and real estate information sites need to build the tools for connecting the property owners/renters to the community/web.  The stronger bonds that can be built through these networks, the stronger the physical community becomes.  This also plays well into the buying/selling of a home through the web, as it gives potential buyers access to the value-add that is the future neighbors and their wealth of knowledge.  Also correlate the value of where my friends might be living now, as that would definitely play a role in my house hunting.

There is a wealth of information out there today that is just waiting to be mashed up: photos (geocoded to boot), maps, zoning info, crime info, transportation, shopping, etc. This is definitely an example where the sum is more valuable than all the parts individually.

Apparel Shopping
Women’s fashion is built on one thing: what other women will think about each others outfits. Women don’t buy clothes to impress men, its to impress other women.  Women also tend to shop as a social activity, so why isn’t anyone translating this to the web?  Where are the sites that let people share fashion ideas, fashion tips, or deals? There are tons of visual tools out there that are just waiting to be pieced together.  I think a key component to this is for the fashion industry to understand what is driving web use, then see how these things can be leveraged by social utilities.

The branding potential in social networks for these brands to leverage is amazing. Its the ultimate use for social ads and leveraging personal recommendations. (Think, what do my friends think about this shirt, etc.) Imagine seeing on a shopping site “Your friend Jane bought this in red, you might also like the black.”

Entertainment
Last but certainly not least is the entertainment industry (movies, music, tv, games, etc.). The entertainment industry could stand to gain the most of all from leveraging social graphs and social media in a way that benefits both them and the consumers. Instead of running away scared of the beast that is the consumer and user generated content, they should take a page from Chamillionaire’s book and go to where the fans are.  Help them find/discover (like ilike or last.fm), help them create (video, audio, whatever), and help them make it dead simple to evangelize your product.

Realistically entertainment is one of the most powerful industries for leveraging social. Most of the activities we do in relation to this industry is social in nature (going to the movies, playing games, watching tv, and listening to music. They are all things we can do as individuals, but for the most part are improved when we add friends. They all also tend to be things that people use to identify themselves with (rocker, hip hop fan, jazz fan, anime fan, etc.).

Now this all may seem very superficial, and it is, but this post was really intended to spark the discussion within your organizations, not give you all a clear cut roadmap (that would make it too easy).