On Thursday June 19 2008 the Axis braves bundled ourselves in to the good ship Bongo and headed off to Leicester for the Nlabs Social Networking conference hosted at De Montfort University. Jonny, Bjorn, Mark, Joyce and me ventured not a million miles down the road but the Bongo road trips are becoming a staple part of being a full on axis community member. As an advocate of Social Media commissioned to deliver Social Media and Second Life workshops for Axis Centre in the Autumn I was thrilled to be going with a group from Axis to see what they made of this mad mash up Internet frenzy I have been preaching since I began as a student on their Enterprise Webmaster course last October.
The thing I was most interested in was listening to business people and web practitioners define Social Networking. I have been immersed in "Web 2.0", "Social Media" and "Social Networking" long before hearing those terms. As concepts I have come to define them from experience and try to explain them without using the buzz words themselves. A techy form of the family naming game Taboo!
I first discovered Badges and Widget. They opened a world of active content I could offer clients without ramping up the cost of a website. But if you search generically for badges and widgets you get a multitude of stuff. I began to see that the stuff I was interested in on my quest for websites with content I could embed in my websites talked about Web 2 and Social Media and so I found those concepts. It was in Web Designer Magazine issue 134 that I saw it first in print. The main article named "Web 2.0 is history..."
During consultations I talk to my clients about their web habits. I asked them what sites they liked, what sites they use or benefit from and delved in to why. Reviewing their answers later I would find site they used providing embeddable badges and incorporated their most productive habits in to the new site. Maximum benefit with little additional effort!
This also started the conversation about what they want their website to do apart from attract visitors and increase turn over. Because surely thats essentially why the conversation is taking place in the first place? I need to know how a businesses activity translates in to content then select from the myriad of Social Media sites which ones will be worth investing in. The investment being time and as we all know time is money.
- Is it a buzz around the workplace, more ways to communicate?
- Is it to join together a branch network, fan base or create an enthusiast community?
- Do you want to effortlessly include pictures or video clips on your website from an event or product launch?
- Do you want to relay live images taken out on-site back to a colleague in the office or to a meeting?
- Do you want to increase the ways customers can contact you?
Social Media can provide these services for free. It takes time to perform the action to make the content. Do you incorporate that in your marketing strategy of get a professional to create it?
The Nlab conference gave me the opportunity to listen to experts talking about the academic theory's behind the phenomenon and helped me understand the big business approach to Social Networking.
From reflections in Nature -
Bioteams: what can we learn from nature's social networks?
to parallels with the modern urban sprawl
"Are Online Social Networks the New Cities?"
I still struggle with the justification argument as I have found most clients already use services covered by the buzz words they just don't know it's Social Media or Web 2.0. It is such a wide range of applications and services I find it difficult to provide answers on the spot for "What can it do for my business?" I need to sit down and find out what they want then offer platforms that can do it. There isn't much it can't do.
In the final panel discussion I asked the panel - If they could keep only two Social Networking services what would they be and why? I find clients new to social media platforms have a threshold of 2 or 3.
I did find the term Social Networking as a blanket phrase to cover the entire Web 2.0, Social Media, Social Networking gamut slightly misleading. Its like saying humans, chimps, gorillas and orangutans are monkeys.
More on how I define the world another time!
But I would be interested to know your 2 top "wouldn't want to give them up" social media, web 2, social networking, how ever you define them services you use today and why. Over to you.