November 15, 2009
social networking

Social Net-Work-Life Balance

Seeing as it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve been with the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (at various entry dates) I thought it would be interesting to analyze my own personal / professional network to understand if any trends might be occurring. Secondly, I’m using this analysis as a basis to personally reflect on the importance of such tools being made available inside an organization to facilitate a ‘culture of collaboration’.

First, to the data.

If you take a look at the following pie graph (click for larger view), you first need to make note of some context points:

  • Total number of network connections between Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is ~1650
  • Duplicate or triplicate entries have been reflected, and thus used to collapse the N value
  • Immediate family members were removed
  • Mutual Twitter entries (both sides following one another) were also reflected, and used to collapse the N value
  • No entries from Outlook/Blackberry contacts, Ning, Yammer or other online networks were utilized
  • Individuals not a part of any online tool (neighbours, friends, colleagues not in the systems) were not reflected
  • Irrelevant Twitter entries (orgs, companies, groups following me or associations that I follow) were also removed. Only industry relevant individuals were kept in the Twitter category
  • Thus, total N value equals roughly 1300

Alright, what have I observed?

  • Those that I’ve become more chummy with in ‘work circles’ (whether internal or external) seem to be found in both LinkedIn and Facebook
  • There is a very discrete line between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn connections
  • Disappointed that only 1% of my total collapsed connections are found in all three categories
  • Interesting that 16% of all connections are found in combinations of 2 or all 3 tools – will this grow in the future?
  • With cross posting of ‘tweets’ now available on LinkedIn, will this be detrimental or positive in terms of the quality of my connections (as well as pure number)
  • Twitter and LinkedIn seem more aligned for me professionally – Facebook is perhaps the odd ball
  • New ‘industry’ or ‘circle of influence’ connections seem to start at Twitter versus LinkedIn
  • I have only 1 individual on both Facebook & Twitter & not LinkedIn – do you know who you are?

Implications for the Org?

I think it’s fair to say that the sample size of ~1300 is stastically significant for purposes of juxtaposing against the organization of tomorrow.

Facebook is a place where I can share knowledge, photos, videos, a bit of lifecasting, documents and even engage in live chats, etc. This is social learning at its best from a personal perspective but throw this into the mix in the org, and you have something very powerful that’s brewing and only going to taste like a fabulous English Ale in the future if implemented and deployed properly.

LinkedIn is much better at the ‘who am I’, and ‘how can I help’ aspects of social networking … as well as the obvious network contact control mechanism. This too is something critically required in an organization through both hierarchical team structures as well as heterarchical/wirearchical teams or communities that come and go through the natural evolution of projects, ideas, and actions in the org.

Twitter (albeit relatively new versus the other two) provides a much deeper way of sharing concise pieces of knowledge, links, ideas, comments and ‘what am I up to’ that is important to have in the organization as society moves away from the physical water cooler, to the virtual water ‘schooler’.

Mix in the standard practice of wikis, blogs, federated search (including formal learning assets via a hidden LMS somewhere) and voila … you have the Social Net-Work-Life Balance an organization needs to drive a ‘culture of engagement’.

In summary, we need tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in the organization (not these ones specifically), but ideally (and somehow) federated with the other tools already in place, or being thought about for the future. Culturally, this is the right thing to do for tomorrow’s workforce.

Thoughts on either my data points, or the latter org points?

One Reply to “Social Net-Work-Life Balance”

  1. Interesting post, but I’ve heard this argument before (last time was when they pushed instant messaging – which was a partial flop).

    I have to disagree with you about “needing” social networking “tools” in an organization “to facilitate a ‘culture of collaboration’”. If you cannot collaborate effectively using e-mail, blogs, wikis, instant messaging, and the phone, then social networking sites like twitter and facebook are not going to help.

    It’s like back in the day when a company would say “we need to computerize everything” when they had yet to figured out an effective paper process. All it did was to make it FASTER to get things done WRONG. It’s the process and the habits people have that are important, not the tool.

    I can understand the value of LinkedIn, but I don’t see any reason for a professional to use Twitter and Facebook (posting on such sites can actually get you in professional trouble if you’re not careful).

    Family members can stay in touch VERY effectively using e-mail, private blogs/websites, and services like QQ. They too really don’t need to use twitter or facebook.

    I don’t use social networking sites like twitter, facebook, etc anymore. Neither do most of the people I know. Such sites turned out to be of little interest to technical people, as we’ve learned to make good use of existing technology. Social networking appears to be of most interest to the millennium generation (I’m a Gen-Xer), to types of people who buy into the hype, and to people who just don’t understand the value of keeping things simple.

    In fact, a bit of a reversal is occurring at the moment. Actually, it is not new; it’s been in the news since at least 2007. As an increasing number of people are jumping on the “always connected” bandwagon with smart phones, instant messaging, and social networking, etc, just as many people are realizing all of the recent social networking and mobile computing is having a negative impact on their work/life balance.

    While the ability to have instant updates and instant replies is addictive, it’s also distracting, and eventually gets to be a little overwhelming and even stressful as one contends with juggling being connected to everyone all of the time and being constantly prompted for an immediate response. The reality is that most things can wait a bit and don’t require immediate attention or an immediate response.

    It can also be expensive, as cell phone companies are eagerly scalping customers now that the demand is such that they can (the newest smart phones REQUIRE data plans which can almost double the monthly cost).

    Sure it was neat to message with anyone at anytime, to pull up information on something while at a store or a restaurant to reference or to compare, or to pull up a map when one is lost, but frankly that happens seldom or can be lived without, and the cost and poor battery life really isn’t justifiable.

    So, there is a segment of society that is now downgrading to using a phone just as a phone and are going back to using voice mail, e-mail, forums/blogs, and the occasional instant message conversation. No more social networking too. I’m one of those, as are my family, friends, and about half of my co-workers. We stay well connected and “engaged” without constantly interrupting each other, and without resorting to using social networking services.

    I’m sure social networking “tools” are of value to a segment of society, but it’s not for every organization and it may not be for yours too.

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