Social Networking’s Future?

June 26, 2008

As I blogged after attending the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, the social networking boom amazes me. I continuously ask myself questions to better understand the future of social networking. Most of the answers are speculation, but with knowledge of the history of social networking one can formulate educated predictions. Please take a look at these questions and provide your predictions in the comments section.

Questions?

Is there a need for both formal and informal personal profiles? Will social networks provide users the ability to create multiple profile view options for select friends (personal view, professional view, family view)? (ie. A shared picture marked for friend and family view will NOT be available to friends with professional view access)

Will people join niche social networks? Or are niche groups on larger social networks sufficient?

What is the future for applications? What tools exist for application management? What are the wants and needs of people regarding application management? Do applications need social networks?

Will the larger social networks expand beyond their current services and release new products targeting specific customers (ie. Facebook Corporate Edition, LinkedIn HR Solutions, Etc.)? What is the future of corporate social networking and file & knowledge management? Will the established social networks enter corporate social networking and file & knowledge management?

What is the lifecycle of a social network? Why have successful social networks failed? What activities cause users to delete profiles?

The Ultimate Question: Will one social network become the “one-stop-shop?”

Interesting Statistics:

According to Compete.com over the past year the number of visits per month for MySpace is down 27% (buts still over 830M visits) while Facebook is up 36% (with almost 361M visits), LinkedIn is up 749% (with only 20M visits), and Twitter is up 8373% (with almost 15M visits).

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The Art of Corporate Blogging

June 23, 2008

Last week I cam across a great blog post titled “7 Reasons Why Corporate Blogs Are Absolutely Useless.” Eventhough I disagree with the author, Ben Jones, I find the post thought provoking. Please find the 7 reasons from Ben’s blog (http://ben-means-business.com) and my response following the excerpt:

Reason#1: Fear of Transparency

People who read blogs expect to “know” the author, and participate in discussions with the author and other readers. They enjoy an atmosphere that is genuine and has a “living room” feel. In other words, they expect you to acknowledge problems, fixes, and incidents instead of using your blog to further validate cover-ups. Remember, PR ploys are for people who read the newspaper. Blog readers are a different breed and they respect and embrace what’s “real”.

Reason#2: Infrequent Posting

Even if you’ve created great content on your blog, people will stop visiting after they drop by a few times and there’s nothing new. A blog requires time to maintain and is important enough to assign somebody to the task exclusively.

Reason#3: Too Much Advertising

Advertisements, product introductions, and the like are great material for blogs. However, don’t overdue it. Remember, you have a website to market your great products. You have a blog to market your great company. Don’t confuse the two.

Reason#4: Blog is Just Plain Boring

Doesn’t have to be stocked full of information…Give them a peek “inside” the company. Tip: Post pictures from company gatherings, employee awards, run contests, polls, etc… Just make it interesting.

Reason#5: Blog Doesn’t Allow Feedback

Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that blogs were meant to create discussion. If not, what makes them different from a website? Needless to say, I was absolutely floored to find that most corporate blogs don’t allow comments. Interesting…to say the least.

Reason#6: Lack of Participation

People want the chance to hear you respond to their thoughts, concerns, feelings, etc… It’s makes your customers feel like they matter. Don’t just ask their opinion and leave them hanging. Respond, and do so with grace, confidence, and a nice disposition.

Reason#7: Blog Lacks Substance

Your company already has arms, legs, and feet(yours and your employees), but none of those things are more important and/or powerful than having a voice. A blog gives your company a voice. So value that voice and use it with purpose.” (http://ben-means-business.com/7-reasons-why-corporate-blogs-are-absolutely-useless, June 16, 2008.)

I responded as follows:

First-rate blogging organizations benefit both the organizations and their customers. Well done corporate blogs are dynamic; they provide value to the public (hopefully future customers), but the blog has no value unless the public utilizes it, thus the organization must convince the public to choose to read it (while not seeming self-serving). The best strategy to direct people to a corporate blog without seeming self-serving is to create one which is NOT self-serving; create value for the public, embrace and promote participation, interact with the readers (reply to comments), and DO NOT promote. The best corporate blogs artfully present problems, which they have the ability to solve, and provide a piece to the solution. For many, the piece is good enough to independently solve the problem, but others will research further into the corporate blogger and become quality leads. The small sample of corporate blogs I’ve read impress me, and I’ve learned some great knowledge from them. One blog continuously comes to mind while typing this post: HubSpot out of Cambridge, MA… http://blog.hubspot.com/.

I am interested in knowing others thoughts and feelings about corporate blogging. Please utilize the comments section for your opinions.


Get Out or Get Out!

June 19, 2008

Get Out or Get Out! Get out from behind the desk or get out of business. My former company’s downfall was partially due to my affinity for staying in front of my computer, I was scared to “get out.” Tearing myself away from the task at hand scared me; I was scared the business would fall behind and ultimately fail. My business ended up falling behind and failing, not because of incomplete tasks, but rather due to alienating the company from the outside world. Disconnect yourself from the business, go outside, observe your surroundings, and implement your observations into your business.

 


Enterprise 2.0 Winner

June 16, 2008

Earlier this week I attended the Demo Pavilion at the Enterprise 2.0 conference at the Westin Waterfront in Boston. I find the current social networking in business boom quite trivial. Opportunities in business social networking are apparent, but I believe corporate demand is much less than the supply of start-ups attempting to capture the market. Most companies fighting for the limited demand at the demo lacked completeness, only single pieces to the business social networking puzzle. I question the future of many of the Enterprise 2.0 exhibitors, but one company stood out as the shining star; IGLOO Corporate Social Networking encompasses solutions for internal business needs such as collaboration, knowledge sharing, and content management.

IGLOO Corporate Social Networking was the most promising business social networking software at the demo because it provides organizations with the ability to leverage talent, knowledge and relationships. IGLOO has a laundry list of academic, non-profit and policy making clients including GovernanceVillage.com (the Canadian government’s knowledge sharing website), Amnesty International, Harvard University, Hopespring, McGill University, and the University of Toronto. With the ability to create up to ten communities and unlimited number of user groups within each community, unmatched content management features, and secure collaboration IGLOO’s attraction of such high profile customers is not surprising. The management team of the Kitchener, Ontario, Canada based company were on the front lines at the demo instilling their passion for turning the hypothetical People, Process, and Information wheel. CEO Dan Latendre showed the ease of mobile use on his personal cellphone and demonstrated the simple customizable user interface. He also showed the file sharing capabilities, which was simple and easy. I am not going to go any further into the specifics of the product, but please check out their website to learn more about IGLOO (www.igloosoftware.com).

Next Post: June 23, 2008 by 5 PM


Expectations for The Boston Entrepreneur

June 2, 2008

The Boston Entrepreneur is a resource for venture profiles, current trends, business strategy and entrepreneurial insight. I am former small business owner and current MBA student at the #1 Graduate Entrepreneurship Program in America with a 4.0 GPA. The reason for my blog is to communicate my acquired knowledge from readings, podcasts, blogs, networking, and course work in a manner that inspires readers to implement strategies, trends and insights into their everyday professional (and personal) lives.

Venture Profiles inspire and teach. All entrepreneurs struggle; if you don’t enjoy a good struggle, then you are probably not an entrepreneur. Sharing our entrepreneurial hardships teaches us to avoid mistakes, and sharing our entrepreneurial successes teaches us best practices keeping us inspired during our struggles. The Boston Entrepreneur provides not only profiles of current entrepreneurial ventures to inspire, but also profiles of defunct ventures to teach. Venture Profiles will profile the venture, its founders, its people, its competition, and its costumers.

Current Trends dictate consumers’ wants and needs. Without customers a great idea is just that… a great idea. The Boston Entrepreneur identifies current and future trends; who are the customers? Where are they headed? And what strategies are being used to reach them?

Business Strategy directs entrepreneurial success. The Boston Entrepreneur will share, analyze and recommend business strategies for starting, running, adapting and directing entrepreneurial ventures in the direction for success.

Entrepreneurial Insights push creativity. Businesses are established to fill voids in the marketplace, as businesses develop and time passes customers’ wants and needs create new voids. The Boston Entrepreneur provides entrepreneurial insights about current trends and businesses strategies to fuel the entrepreneurial creativity of its readers.

At times The Boston Entrepreneur will use venture profiles to demonstrate the dynamic interaction between current trends, business strategy, and entrepreneurial insights. I hope you enjoy reading The Boston Entrepreneur and provide constructive feedback to help adapt the site to the reader’s wants and needs.

Next Posting: June 16, 2008 by 5 PM