Essential Tools for the Social Leader

This continues to crop up in conversation with my colleagues and customers. What are the essential tools for leading in a networked and social era. Here are my top 5.

  1. Evernote. Strictly speaking, not really a social tool. However, those that are living in the cloud (living the vida nuba) need a note taker that is versatile and available on any device that they have to hand. Evernote does this and much more. If you are not using it you are missing out. Check out Evernote Hello too.
  2. Buffer. If you have something you want to say to a community that spans the globe and that have busy twitter streams themselves then you might need to say it late at night or early in the morning. You might even need to say it twice. This needs a tool that manages your posting to a timetable so that your sharing can be sometimes scheduled and sometimes impromptu.
  3. Klout. Err, I’m sorry. I care about my social influence. Not obsessively you understand. I just want to understand if what I am sharing is working. One way of knowing if you are contributing something positive to the global conversation is to check what others are doing with your Tweets, Updates and Posts. That’s what Klout does … and there are Klout Perks too.
  4. Unfollow. If you follow me and we share interests, I follow you back. Unless you spam me, we will spend a long time sharing. I expect the same in return. Nothing anyone has to say is that important that they can’t listen from time to time. Unfollow will highlight all those one way conversationalists so that I can unfollow them. You are not Brian Solis, after all. Unless you are.
  5. Linked In and Twitter Apps. Yes, I know that this is two really but what I mean is native apps. Whilst I use aggregators  the native apps keep getting better so I use them frequently for new insights into how they can be used to  nourish my network.

That’s my list. My essentials. There are more of course including pocket (you really need this!), bitly, feedly and flipboard but I really could not function without these any more. If you are part of the connected generation you will have a similar list too and no doubt we some in common.

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Facebook Graph Search: The Power of the Nodes and Edges

According to Mashable, Facebook Graph Search could be it’s greatest innovation. I tend to agree. FB have eight years of Big Data (including almost over two billion new Likes each day) to help us identify products, services and brands that we might need through the experiences of those in our social network.

Actually, a graph consists of only two things; Nodes (people) and edges (their relationships) Analysis of these though can reveal much. The simplest is a measurement of neighbours, the number of edges and their direction. A node with a large number of inward edges (or indegree) can be thought of as popular. One with a large number of outward edges gregarious. If it were possible, Lady Gaga could make a whole boutique full of dresses out of her indegree. Simple analysis of these elements are behind ‘People You May Know’ features in LinkedIn, Chatter, Connections, Jive and Facebook to mention just a few.

New Nodes

Of course, the FB Graph includes other types of nodes (businesses, brands, products) and many other types of edge including the ubiquitous Like. FB also have demographics and psychographics because we surrender more information about ourselves to FB than we would feel comfortable doing in any other survey online or offline. We’re all concerned about privacy but generally end up somewhere around ‘what are you gonna do?’.

These simple elements add up to something very powerful. It’s possible not just to find French restaurants in Frimley but those that are preferred by frequent travellers to the Côte. Not just DIY stores nearby but those popular with power tool enthusiasts. Robert Putnam could have found countless examples for his book on the decline of social capital Bowling Alone. And it is just the beginning. Let’s not forget that those edges include ‘listened’, ‘read’, ‘watched’,’hiked’ and ‘cooked’ to name but a few of the verbs now residing in your facebook apps list and your personal social graph.

Big Data Breakthrough

This is a Big Data breakthrough for Facebook and puts some distance between them and their competitor, Google.  I am not sure that plus’ing is enough of an ‘edge’ at this stage. And for those that can’t see that FB and Google are competitors then remember that there is no revenue in Search. No one actually pays Google to organise the worlds information. Nor do we part with our cash for maintaing personal networks on Facebook. There is, however, a group of people willing to pay for connecting people to products they might enjoy. Advertisers. In other words there is revenue in creating new edges between nodes.  That’s the power of the graph.

Enterprise Social Circles

Paul Adams,  Facebook Product Manager and former Social researcher at Google led the charge into Social Circles.  Quite frankly, according to Adams, ‘Friends’ really didn’t cover it. We have family relationships, relationships with our colleagues and closer ‘besty’ friends. We also have relationships that are built during life stages (university) or around hobbies (football teams, diving) and those that are built because of locality (neighbours)

 

These are all social circles appropriate to (what I call) lifestyle social circles. But what about our professional social circles? Professional social circles, professional communities are built in Social platforms like LinkedIn or inside our own organisation. These circles, or communities, also include life (or career) stage communities such as inductees and locality (same office) But what other types of professional social circles are there? Some might be functional, customer specific, product or service specific?

 

I would welcome your suggestions and comments here:

Social Media for the Keen Amateur

Social So Far

This week, I was asked to contribute some comments for an article in Vision, an IBM publication about Social Media. Clearly this was in my capacity as a keen amateur rather than a Social Media professional.

My interest in Social is partly driven by the converging fields of Social and Business Intelligence into Collaborative Decision Making Platforms but mostly as a fantastic way of reaching out and being part of a global conversation with those that share the same (and somewhat eclectic) interests.

We Don’t Own It

The key to being involved in Social, Twitter et al in a professional capacity (I only really tweet professionally) is to remember that it is not a marketing platform. First and foremost we corporate folk don’t own it! Social is a public conversation and like any other conversation, good manners and an authentic voice go a long way. If we are mindful of making a contribution to a conversation in a human voice then all other positive behaviours follow.

Vision Contribution

The article required a number of quotes about our experience as relative newbies in the world of Social. Not all of them were used, as is usual with any contributed copy so I have repeated them below for ‘the record’ Apologies to fans for the Emmin reference but I couldn’t resist;

Our Social Experience

1. With Twitter, we took time to listen first. We wanted to discover what others were saying, what generated interest, what subjects compelled a flurry of re-tweets. It gave us some interesting insights into what conversations were already taking place so that we could make contributions that would be considered fresh. We wouldn’t jump into any conversation without listening first and jumping into Twitter is like joining a conversation already in full flow.

2. Our Facebook friends and Twitter followers expect a professional tone on subjects that are related to our field which is analytics and information management. However, they also want to know that they are following a human, not a corporate collective mind. We have found that the occasional insight into how your day is progressing, the interesting people you meet or even something funny you heard on the train will allow your own voice to come through and make your company real to those that are following you. We don’t do it too often, maybe 1 in 10 tweets, but it’s interesting how often they get played back when you actually get to to meet.

3. It’s interesting who we have chosen to tune out over the couple of years we have been using Social media. Firstly the promoters, those that only tweet about their latest product or service offering are not kidding anyone that they are not contributing anything to the conversation. Their tweets are ad breaks and they get tuned out in the same way that we fast forward through the ads with our PVR’s at home. Secondly the road warriors. These guys only tweet about flight delays and long queues at the airport. It gets old quickly. Finally, those that I call ‘Tracey Emmin Tweeters’. These tweeters think we are interested in the minutia of their lives and tweet too often on subjects that really only tell us something about them and their lives. Apologies to the fans of Turner Prize winner Emmin but good conversations like good art tell us something about the world, ourselves and others not just you.

4. Blogging also takes time to get right. Don’t be surprised if there are times, after that initial burst of activity, that you feel like you are running out of ideas. Don’t expect to be a natural overnight and prolific blogger but don’t give up either. You will find that you need to read other peoples blogs to find out what your community are finding interesting. Like all Social Media interactions blogging needs to be more listening than talking. Take a leaf out of Seth Godin’s book (literally) He is a professional blogger but also an author of many books. I heard him comment on a radio show recently that he read 150 books as he was writing his recent (and inspiring) book ‘Lynchpin’.