“Everything I’ve seen from the Web 2.0 camp has pretty much indicated it will only appeal to people who want to spend all day diddling around with “interactive” websites to find inaccurate information created by other ill-informed people who also want to spend all day diddling around with “interactive” websites.” – Matt Wolejko
Matt has outlined a popular point of view regarding the latest social media technologies on the web. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and WOMF are used daily by predominantly, but not entirely, the younger generation to waste time, chat with their mates and share drunken photos from the weekend. What value can there possibly be in sharing the minutiae of your not-even-remotely-interesting life? Who cares if you’re brushing your teeth at the moment or feeling depressed because you are the only person left on the planet still watching LOST?
Well, a lot of people apparently.
Social Media sites are a valuable and up-to-date source of an enormous variety of information, but they are also extremely time-consuming. There is an argument that will rage until the end-of-time or until Apple make an uncool product, between the diddlers (usually employees) and the non-diddlers (usually employers). It goes like this –
Employer: “Social sites are a complete waste of company time?”
Employee: “It’s like the best way to network and find info, dude!”
As an employer, but also heavily involved in building afore mentioned diddling sites, I am caught right in the hey-diddle-diddle (that’s middle for Gen Y’ers).
I have seen buyers’ choices swayed 180 degrees by popular opinions on WOMF. A recommendation from a stranger will always hold more weight that an ad, no matter who the stranger may be or how few brains they may have. We have developed an immense distrust of advertising. So, an opinion from someone on our side of the retail fence will hold more weight, simply because it’s a third party endorsement.
Today, in fact, we were looking for some low-level HTML coders for a short-term summer job. The prospect of writing a job ad and then interviewing all the candidates just seemed too difficult and expensive. We mentioned it to our team to see if they had any friends looking for some part-time work. They didn’t, but our head-diddler suggested Twittering it. He has an enormous online network and uses Twitter to find a wide range of answers throughout the day from coding problems to wedding planning. A few moments later we had a hand-full of willing HTML coders that came with an in-house endorsement.
We have another client who runs a climbing gym. What better way to create a community around the business and organise events (with RSVPs) than Facebook. All the functionality is there to use for free and most of his customers are already in Facebook, so the viral marketing immediately extends to all his customers’ friends.
As is often the case with new technologies, they start out just for fun, but eventually find themselves in commercial or serious applications. Take the Wii for example. It’s now a “serious” fitness tool. Larger companies are increasingly requesting tools that provide the same functionality as Facebook or Twitter. They obviously need to communicate internally, usually over several locations. They want to keep an open conversation across the business for rapid problem solving and keep a record of it. Sharing documents and collaborating on projects and events is another popular request. This is essentially social media with the drunken photos and minutiae removed and project documents and collaboration in their place. Suddenly the information being shared is not so inaccurate or ill informed.
I think we will see a gradual migration of social media tools moving into the commercial environment over the next two years, just like Wiki’s, Forums and Blogs have done. Perhaps the key is not to call it social media. After all, fun has no place in the work environment, apparently. So, we’ll call it an Intranet, swap the fun colours for corporate colours, add a bit of jargon, some document handling and reporting and, alacazam, we have non-diddling social media in the work place.
Now, I better go and check on the development team. Bloody Twitter!Chris Garrett on 18 December 2008