What’s so ‘social’ about the social web?

To me it always seemed obvious why we called social software or social media the way we do. I have read a number of articles talking about dispersed knowledge workers who are collaborating via the Internet. But does it really have to be that sophisticated? In Niall’s book I found a small collection of activities that make the web social. This is how we derive the meaning. The former description is still correct, yet the activities named below better reflect our real world behavior.

A Global Map of Social Web Involvement by @globalwebindex

via globalwebindex.net

Above you can see a world map of social media involvement. The study was conducted by Trendstream, a research consultancy. The map shows the popularity of different social media services around the world. Trendstream provides total user numbers and the national penetration rates.

What’s the most common pattern of social media engagement?

  1. Managing a social network profile
  2. Uploading photos
  3. Uploading videos
  4. Writing a blog
  5. Using a microblogging service

It is interesting to note that managing social network profiles and uploading pictures seem to be the more common activities regarding social media engagement. Many countries have penetration rates approaching or even exceeding 50 percent. Uploading videos, writing blogs, and using microblogging services are clearly niche activities with the majority of adoption rates being well below 20 percent.

What seems to stand out?

  • Japan’s low overall engagement is due to the high utilization of mobile devices, which have not been included, according to the authors. I feel this is a weakness of the study.
  • India leads the table in terms of photo uploads.
  • Brazil displays the highest rate of users maintaining social network profiles.
  • Russia has the highest rate of video uploads.
  • China counts the highest amount of bloggers.

I would be very interested in finding out why certain technologies are particularly popular in one country, but lag behind significantly in others. Why is blogging so popular in China? What’s the reason behind Brazil’s active usage of social networks? If you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment or email me.

When Real-Time Isn’t Fast Enough by @jowyang

via ustream.tv

This is a video of Jeremiah Owyang, who is a Partner at the Altimeter Group, a strategy consulting firm. The other day he gave a presentation at LeWeb, Europe’s largest internet conference. The points that he makes are quite interesting. Below you can find a brief summary of my notes.

1) Start listening now, and quickly offer social personalization features

  • Include contextual information based on social profiles
  • Allow access to services such as FB connect, analyze behavior, and customize the product offers accordingly

2) Develop an unpaid army of advocates who can respond when you’re not there

  • Work with customers and evangelists and use them as an unpaid R&D team
  • Give them recognition and access to exclusive information, not cash

3) Start to invest in systems –like social CRM– that can support the overall strategy

  • Integrative strategy counts; all customer data needs to be stored in one location
  • Future: match Twitter and other accounts with trad. CRM systems and detect customer problems as they occur

If you would like to have a look at the entire presentation, check Jeremiah’s blog.

Social Media Strategy Framework by @rossdawson

via rossdawsonblog.com

I like the Social Media Strategy Framework because it focuses on objectives. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to listen to potential customers or better engage existing ones? Would you like to identify influencers and other key players in your market? You surely can do all of that but not every tools fits every pupose.

The Conversation Prism by @briansolis and @jess3

via theconversationprism.com

The Conversation Prism nicely brings together tasks, tools and (corporate) uses of social media. The number of different ‘leaves’ gives you an idea of how many different uses there are. The logos within each ‘leaf’ represent the various tools you could use to get the task done. Are you working on the same business report with your colleagues from around the world or sharing personal photos with friends and family? Do you want to keep in touch with old colleagues or expand your existing network? Would you like to start publishing yourself as I do now 😉 ?

Social Media Revolution by @equalman

via youtube.com

Although I am sure many of you have seen this video before, I would still like to include it. I think it makes a good point: social media is here to stay. It represents a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. It changes how companies do business. I will talk more about this in the sections on ‘Knowledge Management, Collaboration and Learning’ and ‘The Future of Work’.

So, you’re doing research on social media. Sounds interesting . . .

. . . but what do you actually do?

This is a question that I hear very frequently. By writing this blog, I hope I can shed some light on the life and the daily work of a PhD student.

Right now I am in the process of narrowing down my research focus. Admittedly, there are a lot of people writing and talking about social media. Many of them call themselves experts 😉 Apart from the academic literature, I have looked at a number of presentations on slideshare and read even more blog posts. I will share the most interesting bits with you over the coming months. What intrigues me most is to see what kind of people write about the subject and what professional background they have. Legal professionals, for example, tend to view strengths and weaknesses of social media tools differently from people in the communications sectors.

These are the areas surrounding social media that I find particularly interesting:

  1. History/Evolution
  2. Knowledge Management, Collaboration and Learning
  3. Human Resources
  4. Psychology
  5. The Future of Work
  6. Legal Issues
  7. Social Network Analysis
  8. Social Capital
  9. PR/Marketing
  10. Analytics/Metrics
  11. Science

Over the next few days, I will introduce each of these themes separately and explain why I think they are relevant. I will also provide a few references for existing literature and mention the people, events and institutions I have come across so far. Is there an area that you think I have missed? Where do you believe social media has the greatest impact?