“Everyone is entitled to my opinion” – this famous tweet from Madonna, and a good definition for what Twitter was really meant for, became timeless just like the performer herself. Ever since the word “social” became a famous consumer token that is overused and overhyped every minute of every day, the business world started wondering about how to build an enterprise social network that had all the right and relevant components. Let’s build an enterprise social network together and let’s highlight at least some areas that would make it a huge success.
Remember High School? I found an awesome infographic (courtesy of Flowtown), which highlights various social ‘heroes’ and assigns yearbook pseudonyms to each. So first, take a look below, and then let’s brainstorm…
My verdict – to build a good enterprise social networking platform we will need ‘Twitter’, ‘Google’, ‘YouTube’, ‘Flicker’, ‘Linkedin’, ‘Quora’ and ‘StumbleUpon’. Let’s take each component and highlight why those specific parts, not the actual products themselves, are all vital components to truly draw people in and make the concept business relevant.
Google – we will need a Google-like component because search is simply the most important tool for the masses. Social networks are meant for the masses and content is overly unstructured, so make sure that search rocks and most of the other components will subordinate. Many technology vendors underestimate search and end up with content that isn’t discoverable. That’s a fail.
Twitter – we will need Twitter-like micro feedback, one-to-many content sharing engines because over 95% of the information is spontaneously created. The easiest way to support this phenomenon is to offer truly frictionless ways to constantly contribute bits of information that amounts to a body of knowledge. After search, this component is truly one of the most important ones.
YouTube – did someone say ‘social learning’? One of the most effective social methods to generate content and to spread it is through video. Enterprise social network without video channels is like a broken TV – you hear “them” but you don’t see “them”, so at the end you don’t really ‘get’ them.
Flicker – experiences are important parts of corporate community. Much of the learning occurs via people’s ability to capture and share experiences. It just so happens that experiences are stories and stories are interesting (for the most part) – this phenomenon makes visual sharing a huge success. Did you draw something on the whiteboard? Don’t write it down! Snap a picture and build a content recognition engine that resolves it into knowledge that’s spread to everyone.
Linkedin – we know more about people we are about to hire than about people who already work for us? That’s in large part because we check them out on Linkedin. The networking platform that was originally meant to connect professionals is now a full-featured applicant sourcing, social job boards and social recruiting engine – the most popular one that exists today.
Quora – ability to ask questions is a skill acquired early by good students. Employees now use this skill to brainstorm ideas and build consensus. Remember this Chinese proverb – “He who asks a question is a fool for 5 minutes. He who doesn’t is a fool forever”. Another important part of quora-like functionality is the ability to follow conversation threads that are centered around experts and thought leaders.
StumbleUpon – James Joyce famously said “I have not told half of what I saw”. If enterprise social networks are meant to fuel social learning and improve productivity and performance, accidental learning (via social discovery and recommendations) becomes a key component of a good platform.