Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It’s So Easy to Say It’s So Hard

Thinking of the big picture makes enterprise social software very intimidating, almost overwhelming. What do we need? How will it work? Who can we trust? Like any project, it is vital to understand the goals you want to accomplish.

The Purpose of Enterprise Social Software

The primary reason to use social media within a company is to improve quality and efficiency. Isn’t that the reason for all the tools you use at work? Today many individuals work is collaborative. Making it easier to find the right individuals and simpler to work together improves efficiency. Being able to discover experts, and information, that helps you with your current task helps improve quality. A person doesn’t have to struggle to find an answer when they can ask an expert. The purpose is improvement, and this improvement occurs through better communication and collaboration on an as-needed basis.
There are additional benefits and some will be more tangible than others. An organization’s use of social media may help foster a culture that will appeal to potential employees. The use of social tools at a company will influence how the company is perceived, especially by younger workers who are used to the type of interaction the tools enable.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

LinkedIn to More Than a Million

I noticed recently that I am linked to more than a million professionals on LinkedIn. The number of people in my network has been growing since I began using LinkedIn years ago. However, I noticed that within the past few months it was growing at a faster rate and even approaching 1,000,000. I planned to write a blog post on the accelerated growth and my excitement that the number would soon be more than a million. Alas, I waited too long. Within a few days of considering the idea it was too late. I already passed the mark. I've also discovered the rapid increase is continuing.

The thing I find exciting is during the last several months I have added very few connections on LinkedIn. I connect with one or two people a month. So the number of my connections hasn't increased that much but the number of people I am connected to is growing faster and faster. Pretty cool. Building my network has gotten to the point where it grows with or without me. This is a really powerful phenomenon. I have been very particular who I connect with on LinkedIn. I currently have just over 100 connections. If you're not familiar with the way LinkedIn works you have three degrees of separation included in your network. So the group of people you are linked to includes your connections (1st level), their connections (2nd level), and their connections (3rd level). If you have 100 connections and the same is true for each of your 1st level connections that would add up to 10,000 professionals as 2nd level connections. Add in each of their 100 connections and you find your way to 1,000,000 3rd level connections.

Now for some fun. What happens to the number of people you are linked to if you add 1 connection? If that one connection has 100 connections who also have 100 connections you just increased your network by 10,000. If each of your 100 connections added one connection, each with 100 connections, your network would increase by another 10,000 people. This means if everyone added one connection a month you would gain 20,000 new members in your network.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Social Media Suprise

I happened to fill out an additional field on my Blogger profile. After adding a couple of items to the interest field and saving the update it refreshed to the view profile page and my interests were displayed as links. By clicking on the links, Blogger let me know how many other users had the same interest. That is interesting, pun intended. I discovered more than 80 other Blogger users are interested in Grails, my favorite development framework. A few I was familiar with but the vast majority were new to me. I clicked through to a few profiles and found links to their blogs. I ended up discovering a new blog I really enjoyed, Fermentedly Challenged. You might guess this blog doesn't focus on Grails development but the topic of craft beer is equalling appealling. In case you're wondering, there are over 20,000 Blogger members interested in social media. That was a few too many to click through but it is a fascinating statistic.

After the pleasant suprise of finding other people with similar interests I filled out the ocupation field. The results were not as thrilling. Only 5 Blogger members listed Portal Administrator as their occupation. Oh well. I didn't find any new portal people to add to my network but I did begin to follow @ChipperDave on Twitter. If you are interested in craft beer you may want to do the same.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Morning DJ is on Twitter

During my morning commute the DJ mentioned his Twitter account. It shouldn’t have surprised me, he’s always talking about texting and he seems to keep up with technology in general. For some reason it still came as a surprise. He is from old established media, what is he doing using social media? If you want to follow along and find out check out @mikewheless.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just Don’t Be Friends With Crazy People

“You’ll be OK, just don’t be friends with crazy people.” That was the advice my colleague gave someone who had just signed up for Facebook. I laughed out loud. I certainly understand why some people don’t participate in social sites. It can seem dangerous to make even more information available to the masses. Isn’t Google frightening enough without adding more personal information to the mix?

My take is to try and feed the web what you want to be there. For years I didn’t make it easy to find out who I really was online. It could still be done but I hesitated to make it obvious. I would use nicknames or handles and seldom posted items with my full name. Now I want people to see that I’m me. Although there are many individuals with the same first and last name who could be confused with me I try to make it easy to see who is behind the short username.

I do understand there can be consequences to being yourself online. As another colleague found out, old girlfriends can find you on Facebook. This might be bad if, as in his case, they are people you would rather not find you. So I think the crazy people advice is right on the money. Be careful about who you associate with online, but be open to meeting new friends. It is easier every day to find like-minded individuals with whom you would enjoy sharing ideas. Search out people you would like to be associated with while being careful to accept as a friend those you know nothing about.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Facebook Knows What You Did Last Summer

In the column The Medium - Facebook Exodus the author gives several examples of individuals abandoning Facebook. One of the users profiled quit Facebook because after recommending a movie on a different web site she found it had updated her Facebook page. Facebook was spying on her.

I think this is the future of online updates. Google is getting into the game too. You can passively update your friends to let them know what you've been up to online. Several sites already aggregate updates from individual web sites to give a stream of what you been doing. You don't need to post on Twitter that you updated photos on Flickr. Everybody can already see that on FriendFeed. Sooner or later status updates will not be necessary because everything you do online will be available in a feed somewhere.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Social Media at Work in Athletic Department

NC State designed new basketball uniforms and posted an image to their Twitter home page. The response from fans was so negative that the athletic department decided to scrap the uniforms and go back to something similar to the previous design. It may be embarrassing to some extent but it certainly beats what could have happened if the image hadn't been seen on Twitter. Although the story is being portrayed as making a mistake I think it avoided a much larger one.