The Socialization of Social Networks

January 20th

Perhaps its the movie The Social Network, perhaps something else that’s going on in the marketplace, but it’s not hard to to encounter a conversation about Facebook and Linked in and other networks these days.

Many adults (who don’t use Facebook much) are worried about the way that barriers between private lives and work lives are being broken down. Others are worried about the very real issues of privacy and Internet security. Some lament the way in which lives are being changed by electronic media (there is a temptation at this point to ask whether that’s not locking the barn door.)

But the undeniable conclusion of these conversations is that the social networks and social media are being socialized and its just a matter of time for this rear guard. Marketing campaigns, corporate communication campaigns, supplier relationship management, customer service, customer experience management – there are a very long list of commercial best practices in communications that are already being challenged by the existence of social media. “See us on Facebook and Twitter” is a common corporate marketing statement these days.

Last June at the Nielson media conference Sheryl Sandberg (of Facebook) talked about the “End of Email”.  Now it may be more faithful to her pitch to say that she was arguing that using Facebook where relationships are more “authentic” and far easier to reach was a more effective way of advertising than email.

So through one path or another I have been left to think about the future of social media and the role that these networks will play in strategic communications in the future.

And this inevitably raises the question of whether social media really will be authentic or at least whether communications will necessarily come from authentic people.  If a company is using social media to manage relationships (with employees, customers etc.) why stop there?  Can’t the network itself anticipate who should be in the conversation?  Why not have the platform monitor the nature of the content?  They do already.  Why not use this knowledge to shape the conversation?  The makings of a novel, for sure…

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