Social: Bugger All New to See Here

In the context of business, social content does not exist. Social describes the nature of the forums in which the content is generated; social does not describe the actual content. To be honest I don’t even like using the word “social” to describe the forums in which the content is generated. This “new social business” thing is really nothing more than an extension of the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) models.

Business has been taking place socially since time began. Get over it; we aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before. What we’re doing is using new tools to do it faster, capture more stuff, and do it better (we hope). We’re also creating a whacking great amount of new buzzwords and revenue opportunities for vendors, SI’s, analysts, and fly-by-nighters based on not much more than new and improved products without the new and the improved part is suspect in some cases.

Truly social content is that stuff we see on Twitter, Facebook, and a host of other channels (that are shared with business activities) about how much you drank, what you had for dinner, who’s doing bouncy-bouncy with whom, etc. It’s not that the content isn’t valuable to some (nice take on it here by Cheryl McKinnon), it’s just not business related content so from a business point of view we really don’t care (and do not confuse business value with historical or archival value).

Bduhon asked this yesterday: “The phrase “social content;” is there any there there or is it a BS concept-content is content is content?” Wanna take a shot at what my opinion is?

2 Comments on “Social: Bugger All New to See Here

  1. Hi Chris,

    As I noted on Twitter, I think there is a key difference, regardless of the term, between social and other content – in fact I think there are several grouped around:
    – Co-creation – that is, the traditional collaborative model like a wiki, a blog post with comments, or even an aggregation of tags.
    – Aggregation – as for example with an activity stream on Facebook, including the comments, likes, etc. in context. The Twitter stream falls into this to some extent as well.
    – Fragmentation – the individual Tweets, Facebook likes, etc. that form the activity stream but are not themselves disintermediable in most cases without losing the context.
    – Additional context around things like geolocation and, in some cases, “logilocation” – think physical checkins for the former, and logical checkins such as “Independence Day 2011” where it’s tied to a phrase, a date, or some other non-physical attribute.
    – Finishedness – that is, content might be content but it may not lend itself to traditional IM-type activities until it is “done” – so when is an activity stream or blog post with comments done and worthy of the control and formalization required for example of formally declared records?

    Not sure where it fits, but I think there is also something “there” with regards to the trend towards gamification, badges, etc.

    The other social content you mentioned I agree with – and is just as readily found in email, phone calls, texts, and the like.

    Hoping to do a lot more thinking and writing about this over the summer but I’d welcome your thoughts….



    • Hi Jesse

      So let’s agree, for the moment, to disagree about the terminology. I think we can also agree that socially generated content is subject to the same legal and regulatory considerations as other content.

      There is absolutely a difference between content generated by social technologies and content generated by more traditional tools. I just don’t think that the differences warrant labelling the content as social, provided it is actually business related content. From a systems point of view the differences are in the technical and non-functional requirements, not the business or functional requirements.

      Regardless of how the content is generated it must, at some point, be tied to a business process. Once that’s done you can categorize the content and apply your governance policies to it. I think the differences in how you go about doing that are mechanical. I.e.: how to do it vs what to do.

      Fragmentation and aggregation aren’t that difficult to deal with once you’ve determined at what point to start capturing a stream, which I think is the tougher issue to deal with.
      Co-creation and finishedness can likely be dealt with by applying concepts of active/inactive content, case files, and compound documents to them.

      I don’t really know enough about gamification or badges to have an informed opinion, so I’ll leave well enough alone for now. As for your comment about the true social content appearing in emails, texts, etc.; too true and can we fire the ones that mix business and social content in the same object?

      I like this discussion. Curious to see where it ends up.


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