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?

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