At the center of the Social Web and the shared activities that define it are the online personas of participants: More than with prior anonymous discussion boards or cloaked personas, it’s an actual identity that is of value in a business context, since it is generally the motivation of an individual to be noticed as such that drives social participation in the first place. Though detailed personal information is (still) generally not available except to trusted friends or colleagues, the use of a real name or photo in one’s social profile is becoming common. Along with any optionally provided information, the result is a a basis for understanding who it is that is actually participating.
Premiere Global: A Practical Example of Profiles
In my experience working with Atlanta-based Premiere Global on the implementation of a community, the role of the social profile in activating and sustaining the community is particularly instructive as regards the role of the profile in a community application. This particular projecta developer’s community built around PGi’s communications API was intended to bring independent developers and internal PGi experts together in a collaborative venue that would spur the development of new and innovative communications applications.
The Profile and the Social Graph
Recall the discussion of the social graph in The New Role of the Customer. Looking ahead, The Social Graph”, will provide an in-depth treatment. For now, understand that the social graph includes the set of profiles that describe T he Social Business Ecosystem members of a social network and the interactions, activities, and relationships that connect specific profiles on the Social Web.
In perhaps the simplest view, the social graph defines the way in which one profile is connected to another, through a friendship relationship perhaps. Because the profile itself is tied to a person however vaguely that profile may have been defined there is a sense of accountability and belonging that translates into shared responsibility between those so connected.
Taking the four basic building blocks together consumption, curation, creation, and collaboration one possible model (there are many) for driving engagement emerges. Engagement can be tapped for marketing purposes by anchoring it within the context of the basic social structures communities, social applications, and similar and then connecting these back to your brand, product, or service. In this section, social applications are the focus.
If support forums and similar social applications provide the connections between communities and your business, what is it that is actually shared? This is where the content creation and sharing tools come in. Recall the engagement building blocks consumption, curation, creation, and collaboration. Sharing first emerges in the curation phase of engagement as people rate the works of others in a public setting. Content creation is almost universally undertaken specifically for the purpose of sharing.
Using Brand Outposts and Communities
It’s time to connect the basics, to put in place the beginning of a framework for a social business. Chapter 1 covered the basics of engagement, Chapter 2 covered the new role of the customer as a potential participant in your business. Chapter 2 also touched on the social graph and social CRM, highlighting tools like BuzzStream that help you identify and build relationships with people who are talking about your brand, product, or service and influencing others in the process.