The Social Web visibly connects your business or organization and its stakeholders—customers, suppliers and influencers, each of whom have defined new roles for themselves very much in control of the information they share as they evaluate competing options. This chapter explains these new roles in business terms, showing you how to determine who is influencing whom and where the next great ideas are likely to originate.
The New Role: Social Interactions
The “social” in “Social Web” implies more than technology, more than the networks where people post photos and review books: It’s less about the “what” and more about “how, why, and among whom” that distinguishes the Social Web from earlier, transactional online technologies. The term “social” refers to the ways in which people connect—friends, requiring a two-way acknowledgement of a relationship are different than more casually associated followers, for example.
The Social Graph
The term “social” also provides insight into why they are connecting—perhaps to learn something, to share an experience, or to collaborate on a project. As such, a great place to start learning about the Social Web and its connection to business is with the basic relationships that are created between participants in social networks and social applications, and to then look at the types of interactions between them that follow.
People Want to Make Friends
Friending—the mutually acknowledged linking of profi les within or across defi ned communities—is the cornerstone of collaborative social interaction. Just as in real life, the various relationships that exist between profi les (people) often imply certain aspects of both the nature of the expected interactions and the context for them. Relationships at a club or church are different in context—and therefore in expectation —from relationships in a workplace, for example: When someone elects to follow another on Twitter, or inside an employee network built on a platform like SocialText, there is likewise an expectation of value received in exchange for the follower relationship, all within the context of the network in which this relationship has been established.
Compared with a website—where navigating a self-service library of content is a typical interaction path—the extension of a link between profi les and the formation of a relationship between the people they represent is a fundamental requirement for value exchange between community members. Without these links, people can post content, rate submissions, and similar—but to what end?