A useful concept to start with: There are more smart people outside your company than inside it.
1. Make your data accessible
One of the first things that twitter did was create an API that allowed developers outside the company to build things they thought might be relevant. Twitter gets about 180m uniques per month, of those 135m are from third party apps. The Netflix prize worked by giving people access to purchasing data and TedTalks are “free to the world.” Innovation is fundamentally the question of “How can we make this better?” in order to provide a relevant answer innovators need details on what’s happening now.
2. Make easy portals between real world identities and online personas
A lot of those third-party twitter apps are for mobile devices. When people could interact with twitter in groups conferences started to list twitter usernames on badges. Facebook publishes event attendance to the wall. Eventbrite can publish event attendance to both facebook and twitter.
3. Structure your technology to foster longer term relationships
Quora and Twitter are both reputation systems that allow people to categorize useful data based on the people that provide it. Technology that helps people build connections will engender collaboration that leads to innovation.
4. In whatever you do, I would suggest community moderation
5. Virtual rewards are important
This speeds the conversation up and provides reciprocity for those who contribute.
6. Project Specific Subgroups
Probably mini-groupings so like minded people can contribute in a given area. This mimics rooms in the real world, but allows enough flexibility to move from topic to topic.
7. Project flow
This is used in Google docs & used a bit in Basecamp. This allows the team to see progress quickly easily.
Forums, focus groups, panels or Q & A area with a way to “on board” new members as well as to ask quick questions.
Depending on the generational focus, if working with people who were introduced to social at an early age and/or who are actively using it regularly and successfully, innovation may come more easily through the social venue rather than the real-time, face-to-face venue as those with well-developed social skills can function well completely within that environment. It may then serve the group well to have periodic face-to-face meetings to work more in-depth on details once a general approach/project/plan is worked out.