Here is an interesting and mind shaking article from the Harvard Business Review about the social media Bubble : http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2010/03/the_social_media_bubble.html
The author argues that the Internet as created a big inflation of relationships that are getting thinner and thinner in terms of value. Umair Haque argues, and I think he is right, that social media have multiplied the number of relationships one can have while diminishing the value and depth of these relationships.
His provoking article raises one key questions for any organization or company today : what value are we expecting form our relationships ?
We, at Dialog Solutions, believe that there are some smaller on-line communities which can deliver highly valuable relationships. We believe that highly selective communities can enrich any organizations' value chain. Remember Bill Joy, "there will always be more smart people outside your company than inside". Let's enter in to dialog with them to start with. The challenge of the near future is to focus less on how to spread the news across all the most famous social networks and tools like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter and to focus more on how these networks can feed the community your company needs with the kind of people they think are valuable for their future. Companies should start looking at the integration of social networks with their own corporate website. Companies will need to reverse the stream and stop inviting people to leave their corporate website in order to follow them on Facebook or Twitter with weak relationships. On the contrary, let's invite the most interesting people on the generic social networks to join the company's corporate social network, the web2.0 corporate website. If you don't believe me, just think about who owns the Nestlé KitKat page on Facebook : Nestlé of greenpeace's activist's?
The Nestlé case shouldn't keep you from having you page on Facebook. But it shows that you'd better build you own social site.
I've been told that a company like Karmaloop makes 15% of its sales with its fan club. This is just one example of how qualified communities can help you strengthening your business faster and cheaper by investing in the right relationships, hence the right communities. Can our solutions resolve everything ? No software can do this. A software is a tool which can help you building relationships but the quality will depend from what you are willing to give in order to get into a high quality relationship. Buiding on-line communities requires a mental shift. You're not doing this in order to sell but in order to share, teach, help or ask for help. You're not doing this in order to push but in order to attract. The name of the game is not about buying attention, it's about deserving it and earning loyalty, it's not about talking, it's about listening.
What do you think ?