Tag Archives: Networking

Employers increasingly blocking Twitter, Facebook, MySpace

Building a coalition just gets tougher all the time as challenges to reaching potential allies grow in number and complexity.

The latest is the proliferation of employer-driven policies barring social media usage.

According to a new survey of 1,400 CIOs of companies with 100 or more employees, 54% now completely block employees from accessing social networking sites at work.

Only 10% of those surveyed let employees use social networks however they please, while the remainder all impose at least some restrictions on usage, like limiting it to business purposes only.

The survey, which was developed by Robert Half Technology, is consistent with other recent reports that show companies are quickly moving to block social media in the workplace.

This presents multiple problems for coalitionists.

Rightly or wrongly, many individuals justify tracking issues, initiatives and campaigns as being job-related. If unable to electronically stay engaged from work, they are likely to be far less willing to remain fully informed and involved.

And if they have to shift their efforts to keep up on an issue to personal time, engagement in substantive issues or initiatives may suffer from competition for scarce discretionary time from family, other interests and more superficial social media activities.

Perversely, corporate social media roadblocks may actually backfire. There’s research to indicate that such restrictions actually reduce employees’ time on job and overall job satisfaction – in addition to making life tougher for coalitionists.

The Frontal Cortex: Social networks

Here’s an interesting article from “The Frontal Cortex.” It suggests that one way to move a large coalition is to find the small core of the social network that underpins it and try to get them moving in the same direction.

Social Networks: ”

I’ve got a new essay on social networks and the research of Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler in the latest issue of Wired:

There’s something strange about watching life unfold as a social network. It’s easy to forget that every link is a human relationship and every circle a waistline. The messy melodrama of life–all the failed diets and fading friendships–becomes a sterile cartoon.

But that’s exactly the point. All that drama obscures a profound truth about human society. By studying Framingham as an interconnected network rather than a mass of individuals, Christakis and Fowler made a remarkable discovery: Obesity spread like a virus. Weight gain had a stunning infection rate. If one person became obese, the likelihood that his friend would follow suit increased by 171 percent. (This means that the network is far more predictive of obesity than the presence of genes associated with the condition.) By the time the animation is finished, the screen is full of swollen yellow beads, like blobs of fat on the surface of chicken soup.

The data exposed not only the contagious nature of obesity but the power of social networks to influence individual behavior. This effect extends over great distances–a fact revealed by tracking original subjects who moved away from Framingham. ‘Your friends who live far away have just as big an impact on your behavior as friends who live next door,’ Fowler says. ‘Think about it this way: Even if you see a friend only once a year, that friend will still change your sense of what’s appropriate. And that new norm will influence what you do.’ An obese sibling hundreds of miles away can cause us to eat more. The individual is a romantic myth; indeed, no man is an island.

Wired also has a series of beautiful images of the actual network data. And if you’d like to learn more about the research, I highly recommend the new book by Christakis and Fowler, Connected. And here’s a much longer article on the social network research by Clive Thompson, which does an excellent job of explaining the different ways in which the scientists try to separate causation from correlation. (Is obesity really contagious? Or did a McDonald’s just open up in the neighborhood?) It turns out that the old warning of David Hume – causation is a slippery concept and a tricky thing to prove – is even more relevant in the age of excess data, when supercomputers can sift through terabytes of social information and uncover all sorts of fallacious correlations. Christakis and Fowler get around this problem through some clever analytics: they show, for instance, that obesity is much more contagious between close friends than it is between acquaintances, which suggests that social networks are the driving mechanism (and that the new neighborhood McDonald’s isn’t). Regardless, it will be interesting to watch this new field evolve in the next few years, as the Humean skeptics do battle with the enthusiastic believers…

Read the comments on this post…

(Via The Frontal Cortex.)

Without Comment: Business Insider Looks at How People Share Content Online

Business Insider Looks at How People Share Content Online:

A recent Business Insider ‘Chart of the Day‘ broke down the various ways that people share content on the Web.
Of those surveyed, 24 percent use Facebook as their primary content-sharing method. The ‘other’ category accounted for 11.4 percent, followed by e-mail (11.1 percent), and Twitter (10.8 percent).

Social media

Knowing how people use the Web to share information is important for news organizations as they experiment with new approaches to disseminating their content. It’s often difficult, however, for news organizations to accurately track the extent to which content-sharing sites drive people to their Web sites.

Search Engine Optimization guru Danny Sullivan (no relation) recently tracked Twitter transfer referrals and found that analytics programs sometimes under-report the numbers of referrals.

Sullivan reported:

‘Based only on referrers, at best, Google or any analytics program would have said Twitter sent two visits. But because I used tracking codes, I was able to overcome the lack of referring data and see that Twitter (itself or via applications or web sites using Twitter data) sent nine visits. That means analytics packages might be undercounting Twitter visits by nearly 500 percent.

‘Meanwhile, Bit.ly was showing those 58 clicks to the page. Let’s say it wasn’t filtering out some of the robots. I can still see that there are 32 visits that the log files recorded, all with the tracking codes that never existed until I tweeted the link with them. So those are all Twitter-derived visits. That means an undercount by a standard analytics tool depending on referrer data by 1600 percent.’

Given that Twitter is high up on the list of content-sharing sites, it helps to keep these findings in mind.

(Via E-Media Tidbits.)

Delete all: Seven reasons to use blogs instead of email

As we try to muster an informed, engaged group of groups and individuals in developing successful projects or policies (let alone manage the whole effort), isn’t it time that we delete all email?

There’s a real case to be made that blogs are a far superior tool for administering, managing, cajoling and empowering any group of people united in pursuit of a common goal because they:

  1. Highlight truly engaged, productive participants by shifting communication and education responsibilities to individual members.
  2. Give equal and open access to all available information, feedback and decision documentation.
  3. Provide a permanent, easily searchable archive of every topic relating to the project.
  4. Organize content chronologically (posts and comments) so there is no uncertain about what is the latest and greatest information or decision.
  5. Can force project to individuals’ top priority by having them set the blog as their browsers‘ home page.
  6. Eliminate lost messages by cutting email clutter and avoiding spam filter hang-ups.
  7. Heighten urgency and sensitivity of information that is conveyed by email when email is only used to communicate politically sensitive information to “need-to-know” individuals.

Bottom line, using a blog can provide a great opportunity for introducing openness and efficiency into an organization and a project when used properly.

Measuring your Facebook make-up

You can’t deny the appeal of MySpace and Facebook if you’re trying to organize thought and action around an issue or project – unless you’re a corporate IT manager (but that’s a whole ‘nother story).

Social sites command large audiences whose members potentially can become your advocates. And by listening to their conversations, you can get ideas and feedback on how to improve your outreach and advocacy.

But how do you know that you’re making a real impact with Facebook, et al?  And how do you get the numbers and analysis that enables you to report back results that are meaningful and understandable to other, perhaps less Web 2.0-savvy members of your organizations.

At least some answers to those questions can be found in this article from The Measurement Standard.  It provides some simple benchmarks, as well as a framework for how to go about measuring your social site presence.

It also underscores implicitly a key point about social media’s impact on most organizations and their communicators.  

Most issues, most groups, aren’t going to move the needle on an issue by sheer numbers.  The real value comes from the insights and analysis gained from relatively unfiltered access to people who’ve just proven they care enough, or are interested enough, to act. And action is the most important attribute you want from potential allies or coalition members when pressing for change.

Networks. Coalitions. The important distinctions.

In this blog, you’ll see that the terms “networks” and “coalitions” appear frequently.

When you do, there’s more than search engine optimization going on (although like many Americans, I’m hoping for the kind of SEO nirvana that produces wealth all out of proportion to actual labor or worth).

There’s an important difference, one that affects how well you can achieve personal, professional and community goals.

For the longest time, there’s been a lot of emphasis on networks and networking as a way to get ahead. The idea is that networks organized around personal relationships and the friendship or kinship exchanges that build and sustain them make it easier to find new ideas and opportunties through lots of social connections. Additionally, power tends to flow to those individuals who are closest to the center  of high quality, high volume relationships.

Of course, networking as a tool for advancing your agenda has problems, particularly when trying to advance more formal policies and programs. It can be slow, vulnerable to the vagaries of how well you network and dependent upon how powerful your friends and allies are.

More importantly, it turns making friends and acquaintances into a tawdry, inauthentic process in which personal regard and affection are trivialized and a complex calculus of favors earned and returned must be created and maintained at the potential risk of soured relationships.

On the other hand, coalition building seems a much more honest approach, even when used on an informal personal basis. A coalition is an alliance among individuals, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in his own self-interest, with full and equal knowledge of what the goal is and agreement about the desired end results.

Fundamentally, a coalition is a more open, honest enterprise. Members of a coalition have formally or informally defined the issue that unites them. They trust each other to be credibly and equally committed to their common issue or goal.  They’ve figured out ways to manage their differences in mutually satisfying ways.  And this is key, they share an incentive to participate and, consequently, benefit.

Bottom line, lots of things in life can be achieved through networks and often with less effort that it takes to build and sustain coalitions. But the use of coalitions is more likely to produce long-term, sustainable … and honest … progress towards personal, professional or community goals.

Jennifer’s holiday newsletter – networking masterpiece.

Each year, my holiday newsletter is a small publication written by an international cast of characters gerbil-herded by Jennifer Wilding, my good friend and stakeholder engagement goddess.

In a moment, there will be important networking lessons for us all. But first, some background.

Jennifer has been producing this annual 32- to 40-page opus for so long that I can’t remember when it started or how/why/if I know everyone represented in its pages.

I’m sure the same is true for everyone else who contributes to the newsletter.  Yet, like me, with more or less nagging, each Yuletide they crank out poems, short stories, reportage from the fields of broken and unbroken dreams and, when all else fails, detailed answerage to a personal/cultural survey that Jennifer gives us to keep us involved even when we’re pressed for time, out of the holiday mood or convinced that everyone else has a more interesting life than we do.

Jennifer would argue that the key reason we snap to is her innate charisma, and I’m sure that accounts for some of our collective dedication.  

But I think her success also illuminates some key lessons regarding how to organize and motivate networks to help you achieve your goals (in her case, the opportunity to mock and contradict our writing in various parentheticals and marginalia):

  • Have a central purpose for your network, but don’t be afraid to let that purpose shift or evolve over time. In the case of this newsletter, it began with a core group of people primarily from college wanting to keep up with each other.  Over time, it has become an annual Newsweek (Newsyear?) for a weird and wonderful collection of many people on many paths.
  • Provide your network(s) with understandable, doable tasks or responsibilities – and what the reward is for coming through. In this case, I have to turn out a piece of copy once a year or face Jennifer’s relentless editorial pursuit.  In return, I get peace of mind, some ego gratification, an entertaining read and membership in an interesting club. In other words, I can easily assess the cost/benefit ratio of network membership and specifically what I must do to be an active member.
  • Don’t over-burden your network with demands; call on it commensurate with the engagement of its members and in line with their assessment of what’s important to them. I suspect (or perhaps am merely projecting my  own misanthropic tendencies) that the group of contributors to Jennifer’s newsletter would rapidly dwindle if it went to a quarterly or monthly publication schedule.

Most importantly, the key lesson to take away from this holiday newsletter is that successful networks are ones in which every member is made to feel that his or her role and contribution is important.  

In our case, continued participation over a number of years has swung into play a powerful sense of tradition.  I’ve got to confess, a creeping sense of mortality seems to have made us a tighter band of brothers and sisters when it comes to cranking this out.

And when all else fails, there’s always Jennifer there telling the reluctant among us that it wouldn’t be the same if we weren’t represented. And you know, we believe here.