Technology is an enabler. Click your heels together and keep repeating that. Modern technologies keep evolving and providing us with faster, more integrated, more productive ways of connecting and sharing ideas and content. They help us to bridge boundaries of time zone and geography as economies and businesses become more global and interdependent. What they don’t do is magically transform introverts into social butterflies, or make stakeholders care about what you have to say, or tell you which relationships to build and how to build them (ok, you can use them to “listen” and identify the relationships, but do you want to rely entirely on a machine for that?). What you need for that is a strategy and an engagement plan that begins with identifying and listening to the different stakeholder groups in your value network and then determines the appropriate channels and approaches to use with them.
The announcement this week that Google is scrapping its much-trumpeted Wave platform is what prompts me to jump on this bandwagon. It is a concept that I’ve shared repeatedly when speaking to others about building communities of practice or embarking down the social media path. I remember clearly the big Google event, very much a staged exhibition, that unveiled Wave as the Second Coming. It had the big name behind it; they seemed to have done their research; it did magical collaborative tricks that we’d all dreamed about; it looked like it was disruptive. But for all of the hoopla and for various reasons which I won’t attempt to deconstruct here (plenty others are doing that), it didn’t fly. So what if we had bet the organizational farm on it?
I repeat: It can’t be about the technologies. If you bet the farm on the technology itself and don’t focus on the relationships, you’re nailing the proverbial jello to the wall. Technologies are evolving too fast for that in this day and age. Instead, figure out how you’re going to build the relationships, and let them follow you when the technologies evolve and change.
Information Week supported this sentiment in a post entitled, “IT Neglecting Social Media,” , in which they cite strong numbers from a report by WildfirePR for provision of social technologies in Tech enterprise platforms, but also report a lack of engagement strategy, workflow or integration planning that results in low adoption rates.
Put relationships and meaningful conversation front and center when building community or social media strategies, or else the baby will go out with the bathwater.