Thursday, 9 February 2012

Reflections on social strategies from #E20S

 

   So in my last but one post I wrote about some of the common experiences that organisations tend to face in their Enterprise 2.0 ‘journeys’, eg the one year tipping point.

To an extent that ‘route map’ type things are ever useful I think you can see a few more common factors from this type of analysis as well.  One for me would be the common delay at the start of this sort of strategy before organisations decide to take the leap.  I’m not suggesting organisations shouldn’t develop a strategy, I think they should – but once they have this, supported by a clear series of next steps (allowing for emergence) they just need to get stuck in.

But you can also see various differences between organisations embarking on their journey.  One of these relates to the fast adopter premium which John Sumser has been writing a lot about – the fact (and I think it is a fact) that early innovators in the social space gain a disproportionate share of the benefits.  Employees and others associated with these implementations see these as new and exciting and are therefore more likely to engage with them than employees in similar organisations doing similar things later on when these won’t be perceived as so special.

Of course can still get this feel of newness if you’re operating in a sector or country etc where not many people are using social media (eg I certainly think this is still the case in most of Asia and Africa).

But I suppose all I’m arguing about here is the shape of the curve, rather than whether or not there is a standard curve at all.  In fact, thinking it through, I can see further evidence for there being a curve (though I still don’t agree that it progresses from IT to OD).

For example, you can see the curve taking place at an individual level too.  There’s the same reticence to jump into social media use (I started posting here over four years ago, but that was six months after actually having set my initial blog up).  There’s the same one year tipping point (at which a lot of bloggers give up).  And I think you see the same disproportionate benefit (readership, links, page ranking etc) going to early individual adopters of social media too.

For example, I believe I put high quality material on my blogs but I still consider myself extremely fortunate that I took up social media quite early on (this applies particularly to my Strategic HCM blog which was one of the first blogs in the HR space, at least in the UK and Europe).

But once again, you see the same variation between sectors and countries etc.  Even when I first got in blogging I remember seeing that some of the very first adopters, particularly in IT, who had been using bulleting boards for years and years before, were already predicting the death of blogging.  I think that’s complete rubbish as, even today, most people haven’t got into the social media habit at all.

That’s why I think any talk of ‘peak social’ is completely missing the point.  If you’ve been using social media a few years it may feel less exciting than it was (hence the one year tipping point).  But you’ve got to remember that most people haven’t yet experienced that sense of excitement (even if it will be less) at all.

Plus of course, even when / if we do reach the real peak of social media use, social media is only one part of a broader more social approach.  We’re getting to grips with social technology but we’re still in the very earliest phase of understanding how we can make the social organisation work.

And that’s the biggest reason of all for not subscribing to any adoption curve that stretches beyond the specific implementation of social technologies.  For much of the rest of it, we simply don’t really know, and it’s much too early to tell.

 

 

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