Friday, July 29, 2011

It's Not the Tools; It's About the People

We are all on Google+ now. It’s great because of who is here.
We were all on Quora at Christmas, because of who was there.
We continue to stay engaged on Twitter because of who is there.
We are bored with FaceBook because of who is there.
We use LinkedIn because of who we can find.
We use SocialCast in the Social Business Council because of who is there.
We use Jive with the Community Backchannel because of who is there.
We use Yammer in our jobs because of who is there.

It’s not about the tools, it’s about the relationship. The great thing about any social network is the socializing that takes place there. Yes, the tools are nice and a bad tool set can certainly squelch the conversation. But it's not about the tools it's about the relationships.

I've had the opportunity to speak with many people over the past few months who are not at all engaged in the social web. The line goes something like this…."I don't have time for all that social media." What they are really saying is "I don't value those relationships and what I learn there. I get all I need from other sources."

That’s fine. When people start to understand what they can get, the relationships they can build, and what an amazingly large diverse set of ideas is out there, they decide to connect.

Many stick with email and cocktail hour networking. That’s fine, I do that sometime too, but I find it is not at all efficient as a stand alone activity. It’s good when I want to go deep with someone, but at a typical event, I can only do that with 1 or 2 people. At best, I'll touch base with 5 or 10. During that same evening, I can touch hundreds or even thousands through online tools.

Through my Blog, Twitter, Google+ and various private communities, I can keep a conversation going with hundreds and my network can jump into overdrive when needed.

If you don’t want to use the social media tools now and think it’s too geeky, that's fine. We used to say that about CompuServe and then AOL came along to break the ice among the masses. Then came FaceBook and everybody went online.

It is indeed gone widespread. Google+ may not replace FaceBook. Everyone may not get on Twitter, but in the long run, the mega trend is that, more and more, our lives are moving online. What was once called a “virtual” meeting is just a meeting.

Do any of you call your FaceBook friends “virtual” friends? Do you call these virtual conversations? No, it’s a wall post, it’s a message, it’s real interaction.

Social is happening, it is happening in different rates for different people, but there is no going back. As my friend Chris Rollyson says, It’s an “and” world, not an “or” world. We keep getting more ways to connect, as a result we are more connected, and finally we can innovate and move faster.

That is just what’s happening. Don’t deny it.

So go ahead, get social. You can start by connecting with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+ and while you are at it, subscribe to my blog.

See you online!


  1. I have many of these conversations but I am starting to see many of the same people now ask me to connect them with people. My usual reply is, "I'll connect you to a few people but it is up to you to build your own tribe." I don't think they realize how much harder that is if they are not involved in some way on the tools you mentioned above. Coming late to the game just means it will be harder to catch up. Just my thoughts.

  2. Jim, love this playful post with a serious edge. For most enterprise execs, if they want to understand half of it, all they have to do is reflect on Web 1.0, as you reference ("AOL"): at first, (the Web) was "the other," the weird, the forest (Grimm), the unknown. Then it morphed to "a channel." This is instructive, but it's also deceptive. "The Web" was about transactions and information on demand, but Web 3.0 is about relationships on demand, and relationships take time, even online. People are people. None of us like spam or fakers. Fakers are people who try to use digital tools to chum up, but they are insincere. Personal attention, consistently, will never go out of style. How to do that and be true to yourself and your business is what I do 23.75 hours a day. The most awesome point you make is that relationships are relationships, you sum up adoption beautifully. Here's a post you may like in which I riff on how to be authentic and have more relationships by "adding more columns to your database":

  3. This is an extremely interesting post. I enjoyed reading it.

    Social Internet Interaction (SII?) is definitely here. It is entrenched in the world where technology is available. It has changed the face of news, finance, politics, music, business, and so very much more - and that's in addition to how we socially interact with our families and friends. For an example, my brother and I are a thousand miles apart on the map, but moments away from each other in interactive social mediums. From a business perspective, my son's local band has a following on Facebook that would not have existed in the same way if it were 40 years ago - many more tickets and songs are sold because of news feeds.

    Much like the evolution of Twitter and of Facebook, social interaction on the internet is also evolving. We will see changes in this interaction - some things will fade (MySpace), some things will become in the foreground (Facebook), and some things are coming that we've not yet imagined. Social interaction is woven into societal fabric now and for the forseeable future.

    Indeed, SII is definitely here. And if we embrace it we will be (largely) enriched by it.