Silicon Snake Oil / Being Digital: the wheels keep turning

In recent quest in my research arena, and in work practice I face the mixed feeling of dejá vu to the internet heydays. Social Media has reached the peak level of exposure, and the examples brought to mind by evangelist (including myself) do realise new ways of connecting the business to the business ecology. In the very same space I also get this picture of ‘true’ and real values, and pumped up storries that never will be able to go through a sanity check in the first place. One of the most tangible and visible proof of evidence is the rush to get a ‘social media’ sign-post in all hubs, like facebook, twitter, flickr and youtube without first asking common sense questions. What will our (corporate brands) conversation in these space be with the people interacting with us? The management get stressed pitched voices realising that their end-user base who used to visit their now very dead corporate sites don’t feel like going there to pay a visit. People connect with people, simple as that!

I recall reading the now famous book Being Digital and getting hooked to the promised land way back in the 90’s, and in the same time reading the very fun counter story Silicon Snake Oil. All of us who got onto the internet bandwagoon first time around, and crashed in early 2000’s will probably get a gut feeling of dejá vu today.

For me the use of Internet has always been a social journey with peers and friends, from early (1989) mailing-lists, newgroups sharing C++ conversations outside the corporate firewall without the corporate bosses knowing about this social interaction. Solving day-to-day things and socialise. Internet has always been a social media for me, so the phrase is really a oxomoron/paradox. The contrast is that unsocial-media? spellt as dead-end no conversation corporate sites and marketing mambo-jambo that the Internet has been digitally landfilled with the last decade or so. Tim Berner-Lee‘s vision of the web still prevails as my ambition to everything I do, and the social fabric of friends, family, coworkers, peers and hangarounds is nowadays almost embodied since the event of mobile internet experiences. Never unconnected?

Social Media with a grain of salt, please! Connect with people, engage in on-going conversations that will make your business and life more prosperous. Another thing that makes me curious, is why it is said to be difficult to measure the business effect of social media use, internally and externally? In all business processes that will be infused by social media, it should be pretty key to set key-performance-indicators. In customer/market related activites, one ought to find brand exposure, e-commerce turn around, and improved customer support. For innovation climate, it falls down to strategic collaboration to improve the pipe-line of products and services with greater speed to deliver, and so forth. All these KPIs will be possible to measure through analytics, since all traces of activity leave raw data to capture and monitor in a pace never ever seen before. Keep an eye on process improvements as always in times of change, and you will find good metrics for Social Media. Get away from the hype-valuation-formulas, since that only distract the actual values. What were the business values for connecting the Internet last time around? or getting a working telephone infrastructure? When people connect and engage in conversations to socialise it will create value. The economy of networking is solid proof.

The future is bright, if not all spaces will be eroded by corporate BS.  Having the on-going Climate conference in Copenhangen in mind. Keep the nature clean, as well as our collective mind 😉


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