Revolutionary Measures

Putting the social back into networking

Received, Daily Mail-style wisdom has it that social networking is destroying our social skills – turning us into grunting savages hunched over our keyboards exchanging tweets with people hundreds of miles away, but unable/unwilling to communicate with our neighbours.

How wrong an assumption that is was demonstrated during yesterday’s Suffolk Twestival. Brilliantly organised by the tireless Emma Jell and team of volunteers, not only was there a great turnout at a series of (real) events across the county but there was an amazing mix of folks at the final evening party. Held at the very excellent Brewery Tap in Ipswich, over one hundred people came along – clearly the only thing they had in common initially was an interest in Twitter in particular and social media in general. But this sparked a whole range of conversations and the physical networking (plus good beer and hog roast) reinforced the friendships that had begun on social media and now became ‘real’.

A demonstration, if anyone needed it, that a healthy mix of social and physical networking is perfect for both enjoying an evening out and making strong friendships. Only thing to work on is a way of making the hangover virtual………



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March 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Delivering a social nudge

Cover of "Nudge: Improving Decisions Abou...

Cover via Amazon

I’ve written before about Nudge, Thaler and Sunstein’s riveting textbook on how organisations can make it easier for people (whether citizens or customers) to make the right choices to fit their needs. Essentially, it is a question of the choice architecture – how choices are presented to you – that influences behaviour. People tend to take the easier option (say when it comes to complicated things like picking a mortgage or a pension), so it is important that this default option is as beneficial as possible. Another example is how organising a self-service restaurant affects what food people choose – put the chips up front and more people shovel them onto their plate than if they come to salad first.

When it comes to social media often choice architectures seem stacked against the non-specialist. The issue is that so much personalisation is available within social media that the vast majority simply don’t bother changing things. That’s fine when it comes to background colour, but a real issue with security and privacy. Take Facebook. The default option often involves sharing personal details with a lot more freedom than you think (or necessarily want). Or the numerous apps that use Twitter to spam your friends with news that you scored XX in some lame game. As social media becomes mainstream its time that developers started adopting positive choice architectures to protect us humans from the perils of not choosing – the alternative will be more Daily Mail rants and the looming threat of increased regulation.


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February 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Can Facebook bridge the business/consumer divide?

Image representing BranchOut as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

When it comes to social media most people are schizophrenic – using specific tools for business and personal life. Generally this means your contacts on Facebook are different from those you interact with more formally on LinkedIn. Twitter can be either (dependent on the person) while blogs tend to be either ‘What I do in my spare time’ or ‘Why I know what I’m talking about in my field of experience’ (hopefully Revolutionary Measures fits into the second category).

But as part of its plan for world domination Facebook is looking to change this, with the launch of BranchOut. Essentially it builds a LinkedIn-style network on top of your Facebook friends, using the power of your contacts to find and match you with job opportunities. It is simple to import your LinkedIn profile so you can be up and running quickly, but here are five reasons I don’t think it will work:

1          People

Your Facebook friends tend to be just that – mates, mates of mates or people from down the pub. Do any of them have access to the jobs you are looking for – and after seeing you down the pub, would they employ you?

2          Language

I may be forty something and out of date but how I talk to my friends and business contacts is different. Even if someone spans both groups you change your approach and language dependent on context. Hence using different networks for each group makes sense.

3          More spam

Due to the opt-in nature of BranchOut you need to request your friends to join your network – which could well be seen as more spam from people you only vaguely know – and then not in a business context.

4          No interactivity

LinkedIn worked hard to move away from being a static CV database, introducing news, company listings and relevant groups you could join. At the moment BranchOut seems to be early LinkedIn – you sign up and then not a lot happens.

5          Flavour of the month

There’s a tremendous number of apps, widgets and games available for Facebook with more being launched all the time. Evolution dictates that lots of these wither and die, while others retreat to their niches. BranchOut is the current new great thing, but after the initial euphoria has waned, will users still sign up?

Time will tell, but my bet’s on BranchOut not having enough to dislodge LinkedIn from its top spot – even with the backing of the world’s biggest website.

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January 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments