Over the past few months, I have seen more and more banks, financial institutions and corporations announcing some type of foray into social networking. The desire to engage, connect and share with real-time with customers and internal partners by utilizing
Web 2.0 technology is critical in this age of 24/7 news, blogging and Twitter. And the great thing about all of this new technology is that most in the business world
recognize that there is no definitive roadmap for how to engage using Web 2.0 successfully. Everything is a matter of trial and error/ test and re-test to find out what works for you, your organization, customers and in some cases partners. But do you really want
to be social? If so, what do you mean by social?
There is a site that I found through a quick
Google search, whose mission is to explain social networking to non-techie people (or perhaps those who have been living in a cave for the past few years) and sell them social networking software. Which seems a little strange to me that people who didn't
know what social networking was until they came to your site would immediately be in the market for software to create their own online community but...whatever. Any way, it seems this approach is the one many organizations are taking in their rush to get
something, anything to the market. Some organizations are forgetting to think about and map out a plan that details exactly what they want to accomplish through social networking.
One reason for the explosion of social networking is the success of
Facebook. Take a look at the latest numbers from Facebook and you'll quickly see why so many organizations are jumping on the social networking bandwagon. After all Facebook=More than 175 million active users=On average each of these users has 120 friends
on the site=They spend more than 3 billion minutes on Facebook each day (worldwide)=They share more than 24 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, photos, etc.) each month.
However, in the rush to engage "a la Facebook", too many organizations seem to be forgetting about the qualities that have made Facebook so popular. Facebook and other social networking sites are meant to be fun--with a little something for everyone--where
you can be as visible as you want and as engaged as you'd like. I'm not sure that business social networking would allow this type of freedom or that it should.
In another part of my life, I wrote about a collaboration interface for business-to-businesss projects that my company recently launched. When it explaining the project externally, I'm sure we also referred to it as a social networking type solution because
people understand social networks, which just goes to show that I'm not picking on anyone with my critique. But, I would like to suggest that before anyone else launches a social networking site, maybe we should all get together and create a new term to use
in place of business social networking. A term that explains more about the real goal of connecting people in an organization to share project details, best practices, notes, etc. that has less emphasis on the social and more on the team. After all, while
business may be social, social is frequently not business.