People who need people.

# Just as with technology my thoughts seem to be moving away from just social media for the sake of it and instead trying to focus on what it allows us to achieve.

In my time away from the blog it seems that very little has changed with the same conversations still doing the rounds. It's almost like I've not been away (or rather than the past few weeks didn't happen) - almost like those in the social media space have been caught a time loop. Perhaps this is the danger of being an early adopter stuck in the echo chamber - caught in perpetual echoes. Occasionally a new stone gets thrown in the pond but the ripples bounce back off the sides and cause interference patterns preventing us from seeing clearly and moving on.

Looking back

I want to take you back to the conversation started by Alexander van Elsas regarding TV as a social media channel. This was an example of social media at its best but, even then, things can only so far when the conversation is contained within a few early adopters.

It did illustrate how different people from different walks of life all around the world can get together to consider a particular issue. It's not because they are experts in the field or engineers but because they share an interest and passion for improving the way they communicate with others.

If we use this as an example we can see how social media can translate to a business environment.

There are two potential target areas for social media in a business environment: the internal network purely for employees; and the external - be it for connecting to partners or vendors, or to your customers. A social network established in both of these areas could be used for good effect.

Interest in any given subject extends beyond our normal work hours, duties or opening times and the uptake in social media shows that people like to communicate and discuss issues even on their down-time. We may have great ideas but if they are not written down they are soon forgotten so is it not best to provide a forum where they can be stored?

Many a true word

Imagine if the above conversation was being held on an internal social network by engineers and developers working for a cable company (maybe it already has been). The old maxim says "many a true word said in jest" and often great ideas arise from just chewing the fat and jokingly suggesting 'fantastic' propositions. We throw mud at the wall and see how much sticks then, before you know it, you have a viable product idea created by a 'free' think tank.

Why limit this process to your staff? As part of your customer outreach why not allow your customers to provide a 'wish list' and demonstrate that you are listening and taking valid requests under consideration?

As people, we benefit from having a sense of ownership and inclusion and are more likely to remain loyal both as employess and customers if we feel we are valued especially if contributions are incentivised. Social networks provide an ideal way to facilitate this.

Going forward

It has been interesting to see that, despite me having absolutely no presence on any social media service or the blog, that there have been quite a high number of posts by other bloggers over the past few weeks referencing me or my content - obviously out of sight isn't out of mind. This is quite refreshing and helps to confirm that quality content can exist on its own without being permanently shoved down peoples throats. But published content is only one side of the conversation.

Sal nailed it in her recent post about social media and mums: do they need it? No! But used in the right way and at the right time it can be incredibly beneficial.


The weekend of father's day (15th June here in the UK) saw me have a great time with the family and it is times like this that make you realise it's people that are important and this extends to social media. It's not the tool, it's not how many 'friends' you can gather but it's the people behind the avatars - what they think, what they've got to say and how we can connect to affect change.

It is great speaking to a number of like minded individuals who view social media in a similar way but everything we discuss as early adopters is just speculation until we start getting some real world examples to show that social media can penetrate the world outside our little bubble. It needs this validation or all our positing and gestures are effectively empty.

Chris Brogan asked on Twitter what the early adopters will do once the rest of the world "get's it". Instead, I would ask what will we do when we realise the rest of the world doesn't care?

  1. robdiana says: #
    Good to have you back! When the rest of the world "gets it" with sites like twitter and friendfeed, early adopters will be long gone. They will be on the next big thing, with only some presence remaining. What if the rest of the world does not "get it"? Well, some of the sites will disappear, others will continue to get good traffic, just not make me millions type of traffic. Such is the world of the web.
  2. madpotter says: #
    Glad to read you here, too. Thanks for the heads up on Sal. Type A mom, I love that. Who knows whether social media is this or that. Don't get me wrong, I love reading your ponderings, hence my comment. But, it draws me and yes it is personal and no maybe not rational but neither are free markets. Those don't seem to be working because, well, human beings run the world, at least the human world and here we are chatting it up and we have never met but if we do meet well, we'll feel like we HAD met. THAT is interesting....
  3. Stephanie says: #
    To your point about Twitter, I organized a bunch of folks to go to a NY Philhamonic concert in Central Park last night. In my Evite I said that I would Twitter folks that followed me to tell them where we had planted ourselves in the Park (rather than sending a mass email because I didn't have everyone's email address on my blackberry). This was a group of smart and dynamic people from 25-50 years of age from all walks of life - investment bankers to artists to Fortune 100 execs to non-profit folks. Not a single person knew about Twitter - they all asked "What is Twitter?" Was a good reality check that a lot of this stuff isn't permeating real life.
  4. Colin, I agree the leap to full social media participation is not a given and that is a huge factor in the equation. Great post, as usual!

    Maria Reyes-McDavis

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