Understanding how social network operates within the context of social collaboration requires understanding of an interdisciplinary framework consisting of subjects as diverse computers, mathematics, Sociology, Psychology, and Ethnography.
In effect, it requires the understanding of the inter-relationships between people, organizations, and societies as a whole. We can consider individuals, organizations, or groups as separate units. The key is to understand the ties and interactions that happen within these units.
Implementation of a social network with enabling technology is complex. It is complex because, the interactions and the ties between the units is continuously evolving and self-organizing.
Let us consider a social network model called the Albert Barabesi model to understand this. The model is the fundamental principle on which current day ‘internet’ works through its associative links connecting one web page to another. The model works on scale-free networks. Meaning, the networks can scale by associating themselves with each other in the network and grow exponentially. Scale free networks correspond to power law distributions. It is similar to how the inbound links on the internet websites operate.
The Barabesi social network model has two parts to it. The first part is the number of new nodes attached to it. Nodes could be people or groups. The second part is the number of connections connecting the new nodes.
The greater the nodes and connections, the more likely the social network will grow. It is like a catch 22 situation, when there is greater social collaboration; there is every chance that the connecting social network will also grow.
Coral reefs around the world are great tourist attractions. Nature provides some of its greatest lessons in some of its unlikeliest places.
The coral reefs are filled with immense bio-diversity with millions of distinct species of tiny organisms all living in harmony and teaching us the virtues of being altruistic, helping each other in difficult circumstances, to adapt and collaborate for mutual benefit and sustenance.
Back in the 1980’s a very popular television video series called ‘The undersea world of Jacques Cousteau’ was aired on television. The series was telecasted every Sunday. Some of us would know it. The legendary Jacques Cousteau, a filmmaker, explorer, and researcher, hosted it. Jacques had received several awards including the National Geographic special gold medal.
As a middle-schooler, I was biding time for my parents’ nod just to watch the television series. Watching an underwater film with explorers venturing the depths of the ocean was rare and a treat during that time. The videos presented an incredible view of the marine biodiversity of our planet and the content was excellent. It was educational, informative and at the same time awe-inspiring.
At that age, the term ‘Bio-diversity’ seemed alien to me and I hardly knew what it was. However, the pictures and memories are still vivid.
Now with knowledge, advancement and the internet, our awareness has only expanded. It was not just for the educational content, such videos at a very fundamental level helps us understand how the marine diversity of our planet influences it. It is intricately connected to the natural cycles of the earth and helps regulate our climatic conditions.
We all know that 2/3rds of the earth’s surface is covered with water. A vast number of marine organisms live in the ocean. Researchers are still not able to come to terms with their numbers. It is so complex that there are unexplored depths of the ocean. Some are obvious like the ‘fish’ and still there are others hidden at the edges of the ocean that perform marvelous jobs.
These marine organisms actually help in building new land and some even extend the shorelines (Like the Atoll) by just recycling waste.
We are talking about the humble Stony coral, which creates new land on the ocean through its own excretion. Although its use comes after its death, the tiny marine animal grows in vast colonies at the edge of the ocean.
A theoretical state called the ‘edge of chaos’ prevails at the edge of the ocean . A state neither too rigid nor too loose, enabling molecules to collaborate for new life to evolve. That is exactly what happened to the vast colonies of the Stony coral. They collaborated with other species and evolved.
During its course of life, the Stony coral builds a calcium-based exo-skeleton. This exo-skeleton is so strong and stable that it can remain pristine for hundreds of years even after its host organism; the Stony coral is long dead.
In effect, the Coral reef is a stable ground – building new lands at the edges of the ocean. Thus, millions of these calcium-based exo-skeletons joined to form a Coral reef.
We just need to take a step back and look at it from an inter-disciplinary point of view. These tiny organisms were actually building a scalable network, a dense structure for millions of other organisms to thrive and evolve. This remarkable structure happens at the edge of chaos and that too in ocean waters that are not rich in nutrients.
There are millions of distinct species, which live in these coral reefs around the world. The ‘Great barrier reef’ in Australia is the greatest and biggest organic bio-structure in the world.
‘The tiny organisms and plants that live on the Coral reefs actually recycle the nutrients’ says Steven Johnson in his book “where good ideas come from’. You can find the book here. Scientists have actually studied this seamless flow of energy within the Coral reefs Eco-system.
Collaboration is way of working with others with shared understanding to achieve mutual goals. Sometimes collaboration goes outside of our comfort zone to accomplish goals. It is critical to understand it to be more effective at it.
Collaboration helps us solve big problems this is a known fact but unfortunately we get confused sometimes and we get lost in a rigmarole of ‘thinking about its inefficiency’, we feel to it is ‘too risky’ to get out of comfort zone.
We might also have our concerns on the ‘unconscious’ signals we are sending to others on our over zealousness and sometimes we are afraid that our image and our relevance might take a beating.
Under such circumstances, it is essential that we clarify ourselves what collaboration is and is not.
It seeks to lay rest to our concerns and when the value of collaboration is clear, we will willingly seek out value added cross- functional projects to contribute and develop the necessary skills to effectively collaborate.
Here are some pointers to help us navigate the difficult waters.
What it is not
Knowing ‘what it is not’ helps us to come out our comfort zone fast. Knowing that we are not alone and there are others in the same boat as ourselves, helps us psychologically.
When I first heard about business tutoring – I wasn’t fully aware of how beneficial it could be for my business.
I’d been quite successful in my area, and I wanted to give something back to those just starting out in the industry – so I was willing to volunteer some of my time to a few local business learning hubs and enterprise networks But I thought it was just going to be a one-way street. I was wrong.
My initial idea was that I was going to help out with a few up-and-coming entrepreneurs and that would be that. I didn’t realize becoming a business tutor could actually help my business. In reality, the process wasn’t just about sharing my knowledge with others – it actually helped me learn, and gave me a number of unique ways to collaborate and draw on a range of different skill sets.
How my collaborative efforts improved with the new network of talent I had access to
Because I was now working with a lot of motivated, inspired young-business people – the opportunities I had to collaborate on different projects skyrocketed. I was now drawing on a wide-range of talents and ideas – some of which I could use in my own business.
I was tutoring different people with different skills – and more than just sharing my knowledge with them, they were sharing theirs with mine. Not only did I collaborate with them to help on a few of their ideas and projects – but they actually helped me with mine. It was now a two-way learning street.
Local private tuition companies like Smile Tutor offer these collaborative opportunities in the Singapore area.
How becoming a tutor helped me learn new ways of doing business
I might have been the senior businessperson – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have things I could learn. Through our collaboration, I knew that some of my ideas were stuck in the past. I got some great new ideas that I could implement in my business.
I was actually tutoring someone who ran an online business and was very interested in social media. It was at a time when social media was just taking off, but I’d been so busy I’d sort of neglected getting involved.
He needed some help with more traditional aspects of his business, so we worked together so I could set him straight. While collaborating helped him immensely – it also helped me. I saw how powerful social media could be in promoting a new business (especially on a budget). It was so effective, I implemented it in my business and started seeing positive results. Through our collaboration – we both learned something to improve our skill set.
Everyone knows the brighter side of social media platforms, where users can interact with the people of different cultures and ethnicities. Long distance relationships are enabled to communicate with each other with the help of text messages, audio, and video calling by using different instant messengers such as Facebook, Tinder, Line, Vine, Yahoo, Snapchat, WhatsApp and plenty of others alike.
These social media tools are the best for online communication. People make friends online even whom they don’t know in real life. People use these platforms free of cost, without paying a single penny to these digital media services.
People have cell phone devices in their hands and they can get access to instant messaging apps. Having the brighter side of the online media, there is also having the darker side which is continuously influencing on the positive side.
The negative side of the digital media is progressing no time ever before and young kids and teens that are very fond of social apps are facing nightmares. Let’s take a look on the darker side of the social messaging apps.
The Dark Side of Social Media
Everything has its dark side, so the technological creatures are not pretty different. Young kids and teens use the social media apps without the consent of their parents. On the other hand, if parents are totally non-tech savvy, then there huge chances that young kids and teens get harm online by using the social media apps. All the social media mighty messengers have become the safe havens for evils. Young kids and teens sometimes adopt these evils and most of the time becomes the victim of these evils.
We all know about bullies and bullying, cyberbullying means bullies present in the digital world and bullied online to others by using technology. The technology can be used devices such as laptops, computers, and gadgets such as cell phones, tabs, and pads. It further added communication tools such as social messaging apps and websites, chats and text messages. Cyberbullies chase young teens online on different social media platforms and bullied them by using sexual language and by using sexual explicit photos and videos, with racist sentences and with many others. Once teens got bullied online, the results could be long lasted and swear such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
Here is a small story of a dog, which became a micro-influencer to millions. It was in those years when there was hardly any social network on the Web and Television ad campaigns were popular.
It was in 2005 that the advertising campaign in TV for the Vodafone brand came out in India. Vodafone was called Hutchinson Essar then and it was a company buyout. In the ad, a small dog (a Pug) follows a small boy wherever he goes, to all the unlikely places, the barbershop, playground, bath and to the school. It was hilarious and at the same time touching. It caught the interest of the TV audience across the country. Vodafone used the analogy, “Wherever you go, our network follows” and conveyed it through the advertisement. Ogilvy and Mather the famous advertisement company was behind that TV ad campaign.
The ad was a huge hit. The pug raised the popularity of the Vodafone brand in India. The pug was so much of an influence on the Vodafone brand that when people saw it on the posters they immediately recollected that it was the “Hutch dog” brand. The sale of pug dogs also increased during those years. In fact, customers had even downloaded wallpapers of the pug on to their phone screens further creating an indirect endorsement. The pug dog was a good example of a micro-influencer.
Now fast forward 10 years and what we have is the latest band of micro-influencers, who are actually users of popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. The micro-influencers have thousands of followers, who send in their likes and comments for their posts.
Micro-influencers are different from celebrities. Micro-influencers in social networks are individuals with smaller fan base groups and they specialize in a specific vertical or subject area. There is usually high level of engagement on their activities from their fan base.
Infact, many of the digital marketing professionals agree that you cannot apply a blanket ad campaign across the entire population of the audience. Managing the millennial crowd is different.
What professionals say is that it would be more effective if the ad campaigns were used on smaller groups with ranging consumer interests and lifestyles. This is exactly where the micro influencers play a very effective and important role in spreading the word and their role is cut out in the world of digital marketing.
Product brands can leverage micro-influencers to their advantage. Offering free goods and services to your customers in return for good will is one excellent gesture. A restaurant on a brand awareness campaign can offer free dinners to couples on certain days. The couples most likely would spread the good word to their friends and relatives.
This simple gesture not only increases the brand awareness of the restaurant but also will have a strong positive impression in the minds of people in that locality. It helps build a loyal customer base.
We have been seeing the increasing usage of micro-influencers for brand awareness campaigns. They are genuine and sincere and they connect with their audience unlike celebrities who may sometimes be passé with changing times.
It was a busy day. As I drove down the road during one of those errand trips, I heard the local radio channel go boom with this question, ‘Did Stephen King narrate bedtime horror stories to his children?’ The radio jockey further asks the reasons for our ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I sat bewildered. Stephen King is a very popular and celebrated author who is known for his work on horror stories, fantasy, and science fiction. I did not know the answer nor I could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question.
I thought about it the next day. It hit me as a father. I had narrated hundreds and hundreds of bedtime stories to my kid daughter. My daughter is quite demanding at that.
Many times, I had run out of stories. Sometimes I concoct and make it up and sometimes my kid daughter insists that I retell the stories. I later found out that each time you repeat the story, kids start seeing it in a new angle. They reinterpret the stories and the characters.
Each time they hear, they see a new meaning in it and their imagination has no bounds. It lays the seed of creativity in them. What happens without saying is that you are effectively collaborating with your kids for their development and it is fulfilling for you as well.
I later researched and found out that, two of Stephen King’s children have become authors.
Creativity is something that we need to nourish it from a very young age.
Even within an organization, nourishing creativity and cultivating it is a skill. We are all waiting for the next big idea and a potential break through. We cannot afford to look at it as counterproductive to productivity and control.
It’s not easy to create an office environment where knowledge sharing is a common practice.
One of the most common barriers to sharing knowledge is fear of rejection. If employees think that their ideas will be rejected, they are far less likely to share them. Another problem that inhibits knowledge sharing at the workplace is the hierarchical structure prevalent in many office environments.
Now that you know what the two biggest obstacles to knowledge sharing are, here are 7 tips to help you encourage employees to share their knowledge with others and build an open environment for knowledge exchange that will drive innovation.
1. Learn what’s their passion
It is common for employees to have their most and least favorite parts of a job. There may be areas about which they feel especially passionate and excited. Identify these areas and find a way for employees to spend more of their energy there. You will be rewarded with a higher quality of work and potential pathways for knowledge sharing. For example, a successful social media manager may be able to share their methodology that will benefit other areas of your marketing department.
The moment we hear the term ‘social collaboration’ what comes to our mind is people interacting and sharing to achieve common goals. That is correct. But little do we understand that this simple behavior has deep roots in the very survival and evolution of the human species.
Not withstanding, the Twitter wars of our world leaders.
Social collaboration is multi disciplinary in nature and involves in good measure, disciplines as diverse as Sociology, Cognitive Psychology, Computers, Mathematics and Ethnography to name a few.
In most of the cases it is viewed from an enterprise perspective, but we should not forget that our immediate surroundings, the environment where we live and work and our upbringing have a huge impact in the way we interact and share with others. There is diversity.
Needless to say that it is the social behavior that we exhibit in our personal lives is what we bring it to our professional lives as well. How much of this diversity is respected and accepted as part of an inclusive development within an organization and the society at large remains to be seen.
I have always emphasized that social collaboration is art as well as science. The following books give us a good starting point to understand as well as a first hand account of the experiences of thought leaders and examples from industry practitioners. Just like in other fields, to excel in it we need to practice it.
Please excuse me. I have not provided direct links to the book author’s site nor to any online store. Lets do our bit on the online search.
Book 1: Social collaboration for Dummies
This book cannot be understated. Dummies as a book brand with its various titles and subject topics provides for simple reading with friendly instructions. The book series serves as a great reference book for starters and learners. It has around 2500 titles under its kitty.
‘Social collaboration for dummies’ written by David Carr details how social collaboration and social networking can be applied and put in place within an organization context for achieving organizational goals. Specifically, it looks at
1. How to introduce social collaboration practices in workplaces. 2. How to transform an organization into a social business. 3. The book also presents case studies and best practice examples of adopting social collaboration and creating a learning environment.
This is a good book for anyone looking to understand how social collaboration can be used to enhance productivity, innovation and creativity within the workplace.
Book 2: The social life of information
The book is written by John Seely and Paul Duguid. John Seely was the former chief scientist at Xerox corporation and Paul Duguid is the professor at UC Berkerly school of information.
The book argues that increased digitization cannot necessarily give us a better future. Organizations need to rethink the how information is shared within organizations and not follow the tunnel vision methodologies of the technology enthusiasts.
This book gives us a solid grounding as to how information needs to be managed, shared and the business practices that need to be followed in a business context. Though it is written in the year 2000, the principles stand relevant even today.
Harvard University reprinted it in 2002. Undoubtedly one of the best books for social collaboration.