Online Communities, Communities of Practice

Communities vs. Social Networks

These days “Social Media” has become a trigger word amongst the corporate world. The question is “what is social media?” Many seem to relate social media to Facebook-like social networking sites; others seem to think that they are blogs, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, or similar type of content sharing Web 2.0 applications. Yet, answers to this question may still range from social collaboration sites (like Wikipedia, or Digg) to online communities. The question posed is what does this all mean? I believe that all the examples above are correct to a certain extent, and these are functional classifications of social media.

What is the difference between Social Networks and Communities though? Lets have a look by first defining these terms

Social networks:

Everyone has their own social network (whether online or offline). Everyone has friends, family, and people they are acquainted with through one way or another. An online social networking site simply makes our social networks visible to others who are not in our immediate network.

With this knowledge, it should be obvious why Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn are social networks as opposed to communities.

“I have a friend request from some stranger on facebook and i delete it without looking at the profile because that doesn’t seem natural. ’cause friendship should not be as easy as that. it’s like people believe all you need to do is like the same bands in order to be soulmates. or books.omg… U like the outsiders 2… it’s like we’re the same person! no we’re not. it’s like we have the same english teacher. there’s a difference.”
― David Levithan,

Communities:

Unlike social networks, communities (both online and offline) are more interesting from a social perspective, because they often consist of people from all walks of life that seem to have no relationship at all. How do they form this common interest?

It maybe a hobby, something the community members are passionate about, a common goal, project, or preference for a similar lifestyle, geographical location, or profession.

After clearly defining a social network and community, hopefully you will find yourself associating social media tools such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Flickr with communities rather than social networks.

Pam Moore (@pammktgnut“You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.”

Social Networks are:

  1. Held together by pre-established interpersonal relationships between individuals. So you technically know everyone that is directly connected with you.
  2. Each person has one social network.
  3. They have a network structure.

Communities are:

  1. Held together by some common interests of a large group of people. Although there may be pre-existing interpersonal relationship between members of a community, it is not required. So new members usually do not know most of the people in the community.
  2. One person may be part of many communities.
  3. They have an overlapping and nested structure.

To tie this all together I found this short Youtube video very beneficial. This is a great informational video about how Online Communities can be better than Social Media Sites:

Small Business, Non-profits and Mobile Social Media

How can my business effectively employ social media techniques?

I only operate a small business do i really need to use social media to market my business? I don’t have time to use social media? If you ask yourself these questions then you should read on. I have done some research over the last couple of days about the effects social media has on small businesses, non-profit businesses and how mobile social media is becoming even more popular across the generations.

“First we thought the PC was a calculator. Then we found out how to turn numbers into letters with ASCII — and we thought it was a typewriter. Then we discovered graphics, and we thought it was a television. With the World Wide Web, we’ve realised it’s a brochure.”

― Douglas AdamsSmall Businesses

Facebook Statistics 

Total Number of Facebook Users 1.26 Billion (10/6/2013)

Total Number of Facebook daily active users 757 Billion (29/1/2014)

Estimated Percentage of Facebook User Growth in APAC by 2015 28-32% (20/2/2014)

Statistics obtained from : http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-17-amazing-facebook-stats/#.U0G_CFwappw

Taking into mind these statistics, for any company social media (Even just using Facebook) will be seen as a significant advantage to get your business or ideas out to the general public. In New Zealand we operate a lot of small businesses so I will focus on Small Businesses and Non-Profit Organisations, also finding out how they can employ mobile social media to gain a competitive advantage in todays markets.

 

Small Businesses and Social Media

Did you know that around 9 out of 10 small businesses use or are planning to use social media to market there goods or services?small-business

LinkedIn recently conducted a study to investigate how small businesses are using social media, and whether their investment is proving its worth. According to their research, the main problem facing most small businesses is attracting new clients.

The study also showed that over half have increased the amount they are spending on social media in the last year. What do you think could have caused this? Most social media forums are free to subscribe … Are we really changing to the digital age and focusing to much time on social media?

LinkedIn research is located: http://www.marketingprofs.com/chirp/2014/24479/a-snapshot-of-small-businesses-on-linkedin-infographic

 

Non Profit Organisations

Let’s be honest how many Non Profit Organisations do you really see marketing themselves with big marketing campaigns in todays market: the nonprofit sector doesn’t typically push the social media creativity envelope at the moment. We often see the most creative campaigns come from brands that have big budgets and cutting edge marketing teams behind them focused on brand awareness and gaining competitive advantage in the market. This doesn’t mean that small non profit organisations cannot be effective in the social media realm. Most Non-Profit organisations draw on their target audience to relate personally with them, a few examples are the SPCA, Coastguard , Westpac Rescue Helicopter. By using social media these organisations can effectively get their message out to the widerWe-support-Chopper-Badge-300x300 public and keep them engaged. I am a Coastguard and Westpac Volunteer and I subscribe to these Facebook pages. Companies can simply put a message out on a friday wishing everyone a good weekend with a underlying message about water safety for example and this will trigger in the audiences mind when they are out undertaking their activities.

I think we will see significant growth in the way Non Profit organisations use social media and we will find ourselves subscribing to more of these pages on our personal social media mediums. As most people have some kind of social media application and nearly everybody has a smart phone these companies can effectively reach their target audience anywhere in the world any time of day.

Links To Mentioned Non Profit Pages:

https://www.facebook.com/CoastguardNorthernRegion?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/Rescue1Chopper?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/spca.southland

Business Value of Social Media and Crowdsourcing

How much value does social media actually add to a business

We all know how social media has a big impact on businesses in today economy but does it actually make a difference to the operation of your business?

Sean Gardner (@2morrowknightSocial media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not just support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence”

It’s almost impossible to imagine a life before social media, Facebook and Twitter have been around for less than a decade however I find myself struggling to remember the times i spent on the internet not looking at this websites. As businesses look back over this short amount of time, they can easily see how these sites are changing the way they do business. Business professionals use these social media sites to network, interact with customers, and bring a new dynamic with how they interact and bring their team members together.social-media-revolution

Social Media is a undoubtable a great tool for any business however it has the ability to divide and destroy industries, with outdated companies falling behind their competitors. Social media can be a distraction for majority of the workforce, quickly diminishing employee productivity throughout the day, but it can also be a way to open up opportunities that would never have existed in the past time. This the current day and age social media is a effective tool for any business.

As businesses continue to try to redesign themselves in this new technology-driven environment, customers are crucial to those changes. While a director may not be required to spend all day tweeting or posting insightful and motivational comments on Facebook, it is important that they consider the value of social media to their business.

Do you think a director will need to consider how many complaints or praise came through via Twitter last month? Which company posts on Facebook received the most “likes” or “shares?” Do the customers react better to quotes or pictures?

I think using these tools are essential as the Directors can use this information to gain a competitive advantage over their competitors

Crowdsourcing

What is Crowdsourcing? First we must understand this term the oxford dictionary defines crowdsourcing as : obtain (information or input into a particular task or project) by enlisting the services of a number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet.

social-media-revolution-2What does this mean for my business? Is this something that I should be worried about to gain business value?

Whether you like it or not, you are either crowdsourcing or being sourced. The information we are generating in a big data world is starting to funnel into specific areas of interest to companies and people. And it’s only going to get bigger as technology advances.

You need to know just how crowdsourcing actually works. It starts with your overall business objective and your target audience. The better the story you pitch, the more likely you will receive effect feedback and buy in from your audience. I recommend you spend majority of your time crafting an genuine story, and how it clearly ties back to your business or product. How did your experience lead your to coming up with this idea? How did a tragic or terrific time in your life inspire the need to change it for others? People innately look to connect with others on a personal level and with those who share their own personal values.

This approach gives better insight to a company or person about the overall level of interest in what they’re offering to their audience. It’s almost like market research that actually pays you in the end. The level of support you get for a project can be used to determine overall supply and demand, and help you figure out the best strategies to move forward and grow your business.

Building a online community by crowdsourcing has massive value when your brand or product has an authentic value and story behind it. You’ll collect an insider audience of buyers eager to talk about it, share it and be a part of your brand for life. This will expand your  product and increase the footprint your business has in the online environment.

 Bonnie Sainsbury (@bsainsbury“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.”

Issues and Challenges of Social Media

How to take your business “Online”

How do i go about marketing my business on Social Media ? Do i need additional Staff to ensure my business goals effective? Some of the questions that have been on my brain today. I have been thinking more and more about the implications and challenges of social media as I’m writing not only an Assignment but this ongoing blog about social media.

Im left wondering what is actually needed to get the social media aspects of your business online?

“All one needs is a computer, a network connection, and a bright spark of initiative and creativity to join the economy.” -Don Tapscott

Issues Surrounding Social Media

I have decided to investigate 2 main areas around the issues and challenges of social media that I feel are key to any business using social media:

  1. Managing the time taken to effectively use social media
  2. Hiring dedicating staff to manage social media relations

Managing the time taken to effectively use social media

Social-Media-Time-Consuming-ClockSocial media is one of those things that small business owners know they need to do, but they are not quite sure how to find the time to do it. As commented earlier you don’t need to necessarily be the most tech-savvy person to effectively maintain a effective social media presence. A few key steps to effectively manage time spent on maintaining the social media aspect of your business could be:

  • Have a Plan of Attack

Research and find out where your customers and prospects are having conversations and where your business can add value.This will help your business reach its target audience and also grow in the right area of the social media environment. Google alerts or other such apps are effective in achieving this

  • Don’t worry about perfection in every post. 

Start by listening and learning from others, Research into other companies operating close to your business will help you understand what traction is needed to grow your business in the social media environment. As your confidence grows you will become more confident and can become more effective with your time management.

  • Master one Social Media Tool at a time. 

It is much better to be effective using one social media tool than to use five of them poorly. Choose the tool based on where most of your customers and prospects are, this will be important while your confidence is still growing and your will effectively reach your target audience.

  • Dedicated Time to Social Media.

If you can only spend one hour a week, consistently manage your time so that you meet this expectation. This is a much better strategy than spending 2 hours one day and then 5 minutes the next week. Your target audience will likely respond better to consistent and effective social media use.

Extra Staff to manage social Media Relations

great-social-media-manager

Does it make sense for a small business to hire someone to manage the businesses social media presence?

Absolutely, small businesses should work with someone on social media. It’s not as clear-cut as posting every other day or sending a few tweets every other tuesday, to keep your audience entertained and engaged. You must develop a game plan, and then follow it through with the appropriate actions.

Effective use of social media combines excellent customer service, expertise in the market, dependable and engaging content, and the delight of engaging with your audience online. Social-media presence must also reflect a company’s advertising, marketing and public-relations strategies.

In an ideal situation it would be far better for one person or team to handle public relations, marketing, advertising and the social media aspect. This helps keep the message or campaign cohesive and consistent. However, that can become pricey and isn’t necessarily attractive for most budgets, especially small businesses which are a huge part of the NZ economy.

If separate departments are used then it is particularly important to ensure both departments have oversight, this will ensure the message and campaign objectives are met.

“The best way to engage honestly with the marketplace via Twitter is to never use the words “engage,” “honestly,” or “marketplace.” ― Jeffrey Zeldman

Government and Social Media


A soldier of the Kenyan Contingent serving the AMISOM gestures at an al Shabaab flag painted on a wall at Kismayu airport

Government Organisations Using Social Media Huge Advantage or Huge Mistake.

Information is not knowledge. ― Albert Einstein

As social media becomes more popular it makes me think about how much official information that has been leaked onto the internet. How many  times have you posted something on the internet in the heat of the moment? Have you ever let your emotions dictate a post on social media that could compromise security ? What checks and balances does a government organisation have on social media, and how do they control what is posted on the internet?

These are all hot topics up for debate in todays digital age, I’m all for social media and how information is shared as long as its controlled and there are guidelines in place to prevent security being compromised.

Military Operations and Social Media images

Coming from a military background i think it necessary to comment on how a large government organisation uses social media to engage with the public while ensuring its goals are maintained and information is secure. Social Media is fast becoming the easiest way to share information, this has its advantages such as being able to reach such a large audience almost instantly however with the ease this information is available its always a huge security risk if not managed properly.

The New Zealand Defence Force has strict guidelines on what information can be displayed on social media forums and also about securing its employees profiles so that they can remain safe at all times. I think its essential for all companies to accept that social media is a great tool readily available and essentially free as long as the guidelines are adhered to and that the expectations of the organisation are outlined to the employees.

Government Departments setup to Troll the Internet for Information

Troll-Warning-Photo-by-Gil

With all this information readily available it would be pretty safe to say that there are organisations out there setup to find this information and turn it into intelligence for other government organisations. We live in the age where computers are in most households and most people have a form of social media like Facebook,Twitter,Instagram ect… These are great sources of information for intelligence for the right people. However as i said as long as the posts are regulated and the guidelines are outlined to all personnel using this systems the treat to information compromise is minimal.

Importance of Operations Security (OPSEC)

This short video describes the everyday threats to operational security and some security measures taken by military organisations to ensure the security of information and personnel. Its a good watch and opens your eyes to the everyday threat of unauthorised disclosure of information for government organisations via social media.

 

A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both. -James Madison, 1832

Web 2.0/Web 3.0 Technologies and Information Architecture

Many of us did not know, myself included there was a “Web 1.0” until we heard about “Web 2.0” being used. Awesome we are already 2 steps behind the playing field. Before an accepted and standard use of “Web 2.0” was achieved for many, “Web 3.0” was being referenced and rolled out into the market. So what is this all about, let’s make this as easy and basic as possible to understand. For starters, each of these terms represent use of the internet. Each number represents more complicated functions the internet can provide as technology advances and more features become available.

“In other words, the more frequently you repeat a given word, the LESS likely you’re going to rank well for that word.”
― Michalis Kotzakolios

Web 2.0: Web 2.0 sites allow for user interaction and participation by having a user-friendly interface where one can edit and publish the existing information.  The term “architecture of participation” or “Web-oriented architecture” is often used because the viewer has some power and control over the data.  Web 2.0 also utilizes social networking tools to further increase the level of viewer participation.  Examples include podcasting, blogging, tagging, and social bookmarking

Ok, so we understand the concepts of Web 2.0 now…but what’s Web 3.0? 

 

Web 3.0: As generally predicted, web 3.0 introduces, in some respects, the “persona” of the web browser. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome etc. will be capable of tracking and synthesising information about a user’s history, and from this provide suggestions for future browsing. Web 3.o has been described as having a digital personal assistant that knows practically everything about you and can access all the information on the Internet to answer any questions you may pose. What does this leave for us to think about? I don’t know about you but I personally like to read and discover new things on the internet rather than have it arrive on a plate, it will definitely be interesting to see how we use the internet in 10 – 20 years.