At the center of the Social Web and the shared activities that define it are the online personas of participants: More than with prior anonymous discussion boards or cloaked personas, it’s an actual identity that is of value in a business context, since it is generally the motivation of an individual to be noticed as such that drives social participation in the first place. Though detailed personal information is (still) generally not available except to trusted friends or colleagues, the use of a real name or photo in one’s social profile is becoming common. Along with any optionally provided information, the result is a basis for understanding who it is that is actually participating.
The profile is therefore the starting point of social interaction, because without it the interaction that would otherwise occur is purely transactional, between the participant and the online application or another unknown party. The existence of a profile or equivalent is, in this sense, what differentiates social platforms and applications from (online) interactive applications.
In an interactive application consider a typical website the interaction is between the application and the user: navigate to a help file, download a PDF, or place an item in a shopping cart. In each of these, the primary activity occurs between a user and an application designed to facilitate a specific task.
A Practical Example of Profiles
In my experience working with Atlanta-based Premiere Global (PGi) on the implementation of a community, the role of the social profile in activating and sustaining the community is particularly instructive as regards the role of the profile in a community application. In this particular project, a developer’s community built around PGi’s communications API was intended to bring independent developers and internal PGi experts together in a collaborative venue that would spur the development of new and innovative communications applications.
The Profile and the Social Graph
The Social Graph”, will provide an in-depth treatment. For now, understand that the social graph includes the set of profiles that describe t The Social Business Ecosystemâ members of a social network and the interactions, activities, and relationships that connect specific profiles on the Social Web. In perhaps the simplest view, the social graph defines the way in which one profile is connected to another, through a friendship relationship perhaps.
Because the profile itself is tied to a person however vaguely that profile may have been defined there is a sense of accountability and belonging that translates into shared responsibility between those so connected. This relationship might be highly asymmetric: Robert Scoble’s individual fans may get more from him than he gets from any one of them. Nonetheless, there is a set of rules and expectations that define these relationships, and in doing so set up the value-based transaction and knowledge exchange that ultimately occurs between participants on the Social Web.
An ambitious soul snapped a photo of the incredible Jimmy John Shark scene and posted it to social media, where it quickly went viral. So what’s the story behind this now-famous image?
Taking the four basic building blocks together consumption, curation, creation, and collaboration one possible model (there are many) for driving engagement emerge. Engagement can be tapped for marketing purposes by anchoring it within the context of the basic social structures communities, social applications, and similar and then connecting these back to your brand, product, or service. In this section, social applications are the focus.
The basic process of engagement begins with content consumption and builds up to collaboration between participants in the creative process. This is the kind of activity that binds community members together. Taking off on this, there are specific social applications forums, collaborative tools, contests, and games among them that you can implement under your own brand to lead your participants through the steps of engagement that drive your business.