E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Addressing Social Networking Gripes with Shared Value

Tenerife - Mount Teide in the WinterI am sure that if I would go and ask you folks about naming over here some of your pet peeves from traditional collaborative and knowledge sharing tools, you would probably be getting on a roll for a good while and share all of those gripes you have been exposed to and that you wish something could be done about them. I am sure that if I would go ahead and ask you the very same question for social networking tools, they may not well be the same pet peeves, but I am certain you could name quite a few of them as well. No doubt! Well, that’s exactly what the folks from Dice News did just recently, while at SXSW, by interviewing a whole bunch of people about that topic. Calling it rather revealing, thought-provoking, mind-bloggling and sobering would probably fall short altogether. Just think of it, what’s your social media pet peeve? Ready?

Hang on for a minute though. Let’s go first and have a look into what some of the folks who were interviewed briefly by Dice News said about what were their main gripes with regards to social networking tools and the Social Web in general. Here’s the embedded video clip that lasts for a little bit under two minutes and which can surely make up as well for some really good fun to kick-off another week at work! Get your bingo cards out as well to see how many of those pet peeves you get to experience during the course of the day and check them all off! Oh, and don’t cheat!! This one is going to hurt a bit! Here it comes:

Frightening, don’t you think? I am not sure what you folks would think about this one, but when I watched it for the first time I just couldn’t help identifying a good number of the same reasons why I stopped using corporate email at work living “A World Without Email” over four years ago, without opening up another can of worms along on my pet peeves on corporate email itself, thinking we could do better, much better, with social technologies, to help make us much more effective and productive at what we do at work, and yet we are finding out, probably through the hard way, that’s everything, but helping us out!

I am sure that at this point in time you may be wondering what would be my main gripes, right? Well, at the moment, and judging by my own user experience over the course of the years I guess I could just nail it down, for me, to three different items:

  • Social technologies themselves: I mean, when was the last time you were 100% happy and content with the potential and your overall end-user experience from any of the external social networking tools out there, as well as your favourite Enterprise Social Software platform? If you have been reading this blog for a little while now, you can see how I still think we are at the infancy of defining truly inspiring, engaging, rewarding social technologies experiences and, when we do we seem to nail it, we mess up with other things like privacy, security, copyright infringements, and whatever else. And we are back to square one.
  • Think of social networking as just another marketing channel: This just would apply not only to Marketing and Communications, for which it’s a given, as I am sure you would agree with it if you have been exposed to either of those groups in social channels, as they themselves call them. Well, no, this is out for everyone who thinks that social tools are just another means of blasting out messages, their messages, broadcasting them along with very little interaction along the way. If anything, social networking is all about building strong personal business relationships, networks of people with a common interest, a common passion, wanting to do things better at their jobs, while still having fun, and still learning along the way. Remember “Life in perpetual beta?” Well, 10 years later, it’s still about conversations!
  • Distraction: This is probably the one that most of us would feel identified with big time and probably right so, because the amount of noise one gets exposed to over the course of the day on the Social Web is starting to become mind-boggling, if not too worrying! Never mind my cry-out from a few weeks back about embracing a much more focused and purposeful social networking experience. We still aren’t there yet! Therefore, we need to work harder, smarter, on it.

And we probably won’t be able to address it and fix it properly during the course of 2012 either, as my good friend, Bill Johnston, annotated a couple of days back on a brilliant tweet he shared over at his stream:


Spot on! That’s what I will certainly be looking into over the course of the next few months, so that when 2013 kicks in, I’ll be ready, if you can ever say that for the Social Web, because you are never ready. It’s a constant learning experience where every day there are dozens of new precious gems you get exposed to that you didn’t know were going to help or benefit you, and, yet, there they are for you to embrace them and make you better at what you do, if you can find them amongst that noise, that is.

So, a little bit of homework for us social networkers out there, I would think, if we would want to turn the tide around of bumping into more and more pet peeves around social technologies, and our consistent and growing abuse of them! We may as well start doing something about it, before it’s too late and break them like we have done with *cough* email *cough* over the course of the years. Now, I am not going to propose what folks can do, or should do, about it, since I have always felt it’s a very personal opinion, and experience, engaging with social networking tools, which is also the main reason why I have never believed in best practices for social networking in the first place, nor for knowledge work, for that matter! There aren’t any! What works for some people may not work for others, so where is the “best” in that? (More on this topic on an upcoming blog post, not to worry… hehe).

What I’m planning on doing myself though is continue to focus and redefine the purpose of my social presence, both internal and external, with simple activities like doing a bit of virtual hygiene of the social tools I rely the most on, like Twitter and Google Plus, for instance, so that over time I can continue to fine tune the overall experience, reduce the noise to a certain degree, and bring back that building of personal business relationships that Bill mentioned on that tweet, but, specially, focus, even more, on that shared value, because, at the end of the day social networking for business is all about: the value add (that shared value) you can provide to those who care about you and your business. And that all starts by asking yourself how can I help you today to become better at what you do?

Let’s bring back the focus on the WE, and move on from the ME. We will all be much better off. I can guarantee you all that!

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  1. Great post, Luis. Unfortunately, I cannot give you any hope.
    If “doing a bit of virtual hygiene” would solve the problem, it would have also solved the *cough* email *cough* problem. And as a matter of fact, that is what they also teach you in the various “Mastering the *cough* email *cough* demon” training sessions.
    Unfortunately, it is not a tool problem. It is a human problem. And while tools can be improved…
    At least, not at my age.

    1. Hi Marc, great feedback! Thanks much for dropping by and for sharing it along! I think you are on to something with those thoughts validating what some of us have been saying all along: not much of a technology problem, but a people problem. Actually, a people’s habits problem. That’s just something that we have been trying to tame with corporate email all along, but that we keep failing for. No matter how hard we try in helping people make smarter use of email we keep failing, because we have got plenty of bad habits we just can’t get rid of!! Yes, no matter what!

      That’s where things may be different for social technologies, because they still haven’t got that flavour of being seen as biz critical by the biz like email is, so we, end-users, can still influence that user experience with virtual hygiene, looking after our networks, pushing the limits on the social technologies themselves, but, above all, showing and educating people how they can make smarter use of the social tools right from the beginning, when bad habits haven’t become a norm, like with email. At that time it’d be too late. That’s why I still feel confident we would be able to revert things back and make much smarter use of those social tools. And in our lifetime, Marc ;-)) hehe

  2. Hey Luis. Great post. Two things.
    1. Are you a football fan? Im a Liverpool fan and there’s an AMAZING soccer player with the exact same name as you. Hahaa.
    2. I just stumbled upon your blog as I was researching on some stuff, and I have to say I was impressed. I appreciate the intelligence and amount of thought put into your posts. Well at least the rest I’ve read so far.

    I’m trying to work on something meaningful too. Would love to pick your mind for ideas too if you would. Couldn’t find your email, but you have mine. So let me know if you’re interested. Thanks mate.

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