Finding value in Social Networks

This is my first blog, and I had a hard time thinking of what I should write about. I have never blogged before because I am not sure what is there I can bring value to. At the same time, I’m looking at the social networking sites that I participate in, and what value do I get out of it. I do not have time to search for what I need or read a lot of information. So what value does social networks bring?

Obviously, social networking have different values to different people. So how can a social network bring value to the masses so that more people will join and participate.

I look at how I use social networks. I think the key is to not target the masses but to target only those that brings value to them. I look at how I use LinkedIn. It is a great network but what do I do after adding these contacts to my contact list and joining social groups. For me, I didn’t find much use for it as an engineer. After awhile, I have stopped checking it or updating it. But for another friend who’s business is in consulting and trying to grow his business, it became a valuable tool for him to try to network his way into a company. He has gotten some business from networking with different people.

For me, a social network will bring value when it can aggregate all the information to me and forecast what I will like to know based upon my interests. Bringing attention to news or information that I would be interested in learning. Show me all the topics, blogs and etc that most interest me daily and refresh it based upon my participation during the previous week. In other words, push the data to me so I don’t have to mine it in the networks. I would like a social network that will help me find connections, interests, information that is relevant for me instead of me having to mine that data.

The value of social networking is to help find data that interest me the most and constantly keep me up to date on the latest changes that is of value to me. Social networks should be able to adopt to different ways that the users uses the network. It should provide multi-dimensional interaction instead of a contact list. I want to be able to network with people outside of my network, outside the country that I live in and speaking a language that I can’t understand.

What else do I look for in a social network? I look for the one that is easy to use. That provide good search capability so I can easily find information that I need. I am not interested in contact networking, but more of mining data from the network. I look for the ones with cool interface that keeps me intrigued and a mobile application is a plus.

So how does it keep me in and not lose me? Continuous innovation with new capabilities, more topics, integration to other networks. Find it all in one place so I keep coming back to it as a starting point.

At the end of the day, it is the people and content that makes a social network successful. So an innovative network that provides tools to help bring knowledgeable experts to the network and retain them to actively participate in the network.

Comments:

Danny, Welcome to the world of blogging. IMHO, the social networking aspect is completely different in C2C, B2C and even B2B. I've long since learned to leverage on the power of social networking sites like linkedin (it got me my last 3 jobs). For me the key point behind a social network is that it requires people to voluntarily participate and invest their time. The overall value of the network is directly proportional to it's peers. But I am still trying to get my head around how Social CRM fits into all of this. Is it about extending a social network for commercial purpose or creating an entirely new one?

Posted by Mayuresh K on October 26, 2008 at 09:32 PM PDT #

Nice post. Seeing as that there are now so many social networks catering to such a wide range of niches, my biggest problem is finding ones relevant to me and related to my specific interests or product niches. Google seems to be inefficient and returns alot of irrelevant results. A cool resource that I use is this search engine called findasocialnetwork.com

Posted by social networking sites on October 27, 2008 at 09:15 AM PDT #

An interest post and one that I know attracts alot of debate. Here in the UK we have a new social networking site specifically for Oracle - The UK Oracle Community Network - www.oraclelink.com. As a provider of services into the Oracle community (Oracle Contractors mainly) what we particuarly like about the site is that it's not 'another' LinkedIn and that it is very specific to our area of interest; Oracle Technology, Applications, Jobs, Events, Forums, Blogs etc etc. Importantly for us it brings everything together all in one place, it's very easy to use and members seem to like it (over 6,000 todate). The communications we receive are also very clear and for people unfamilar with social networking, adoption in a business context has been very easy. With alot of the UK Oracle Partners already on board as well as the end users, the contractors and Oracle employees, I think this sort of site starts to demonstrate what can be achieved and just how receptive business can be when approached with more of a niche and compelling social networking type proposition.

Posted by Matt D on October 28, 2008 at 06:24 AM PDT #

Thanks for the endorsement Matt. Another happy Oracle Partner! Just to add a little more context to The UK Oracle Community Network (accessible at OracleLink.com) as an organisation we decided very early on to adopt the concept of on-line business social networking to underpin both our Member (the users) and our Oracle Partner offerings. Within the Oracle space we now serve a significant UK based community including JD Edwards, Siebel, BEA, Hyperion, Stellent and PeopleSoft. We also have members from most European countries and beyond and we are growing very rapidly. Having delivered similar business and industry specific networks in the past but with a strong heritage in the Oracle space, the creation of a more complete offering for the UK Oracle Community was seen as a natural and obvious progression. Like most geography’s we do have a user group but this is still very much a ‘physical’ community based around ‘in-person’ events and a ‘one off’ annual conference, something that we feel has become very dated. What we particularly liked about the idea of a professional Business Social Network for Oracle is that when done well, they addresses most, if not all of the requirements expected of a growing and very active Community, including Forums, Blogs, Jobs, University, News, Events & Conferencing, Interest Groups, Lobbying, Peer Reviews and more, lots more. Importantly OracleLink.com Membership is not exclusive to those in the know or those with the deepest pockets. It is a fully open ‘Free to Join’ network, available on-line 365 days a year and it offers a level platform for all Oracle Community participants – end user customers and decision makers, technical authorities, Oracle employees and OracleLink.com Partners. Clearly the site is still evolving and we have very aggressive plans for improved functionality and marketing in all areas, much of which will be driven by technology innovation, our Members and our Partners.

Posted by Rob on October 28, 2008 at 10:10 PM PDT #

For those of you that are on LinkedIn you know that I was working on a presentation for a group of executives on the topic of Web 2.0 or "social networking". I had the opportunity to share my thoughts with the group yesterday, so now I am taking the opportunity to share my perspective with you and seek your perspective. In short, social networking is about relationships and trust, not about technology! I want to state for the record that I am certainly no tech whiz (I type with two fingers). I am no "hipster" as I am a 52 year old white guy. The reason I say tell me a story is because I believe that social networking is going back to the future. Once upon a time there was no media, no newspapers, and very few books. In fact the vast part of the population was illiterate, and the controlling powers liked it that way. We relied on an "oral" tradition. We passed along stories and legends from one person to another. We relied on relationships. I would submit that social networking is a return to that model, passing along information to each other. As I have talked, written and blogged about the need for a new social contract I have consistently talked about three foundational concepts: Engagement is a far superior environment to any other in a business or organizational setting. The foundation of all meaningful organizational systems is relationships between people. Trust is the essential element of functional relationships and engagement. The bottom line is you will never have engaged relationships with your employees, your customers, or your community without trust. Much of the "new" generations have lost trust in our current relationship infrastructure and models. Management expert Gary Hamel indicates that among other things the "Facebook" generations embrace a number of new "principles" that you need to be aware of: Contribution counts for more than "credentials" Hierarchies are natural not prescribed. Power comes from sharing information not hoarding it. Opinions compound and are "peer" reviewed. Users can veto most policy decisions. If you take a look at these things they represent pretty profound differences from how management and leadership is taught and practiced. To quote popular songwriter John Mayer (for those of you unfamiliar with his music he was the guy that "dumped" both Jennifer Anniston and Jessica Simpson, if neither of them is familiar to you then you live in a cave so it doesn't matter) "when they own the information they can twist it all they want". And we do; the biggest concern about social networking I hear from members of the "greatest generation" and "boomers" is "how do I control what they say about me on blogs, etc?" the answer is you don't! You participate and contribute you don't control. When I created my compliance to commitment model the third "pillar" is information. It is critical and the emerging generations have unprecedented access to it. Social networking is also based on the most powerful force in the universe (in my opinion), the power of relationships. When you have heard me talk about the "new" engagement model you have seen the five levels described by BlessingWhite: Satisfaction Loyalty Recommendation Best Product/Practices Excitement and Pride At the risk of being overly simplistic, I don't think you can create the higher levels without creating a relationship. When you see how social networks describe those relationships they use words like "friend" and "connection". There is an implication of trust and shared experience. For me when I write, blog, and speak it is always with that intent; to build and sustain relationships and trust. To inform, to share, and to solicit other viewpoints and perspectives. So I will leave you with a couple of thoughts; Engagement is the most powerful tool that organizations have to increase productivity, profitability, and sustainability. Engagement is built on relationships and relationships are built on trust. Don't try to "sell" your idea, share a story and invite others to share theirs. I am going to keep building "lighthouses" and telling "stories". I hope as I share them we will understand and join the "new" generations and build on trust and shared values. Commitment is better than compliance, period. Best regards, Francis http//www.hrdconsulting.blogspot.com

Posted by Francis Jeyaraj on May 06, 2009 at 01:53 PM PDT #

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