In my last post, I wrapped up my initial exploration on the subject of relationships. I can hardly believe I’ve written 13 articles on this topic, ranging from understanding social relationship on social media to interpersonal relationships on Facebook. Throughout this work, I have tried to leverage many scientific findings and principles from social anthropology and sociology in this investigation. However something struck me in the last couple of days, I just realized that I never talked about why I decided to venture into this topic in the first place.
Last month I wrote a couple of posts exploring the strengths and weaknesses of Facebook (FB) from a relationship perspective. Although these posts were meant to highlight some of the proper and improper use of FB for businesses, the discussions are still rather scientific. They use many network concepts derived from social network analysis, and many sociology and social anthropology ideas. Today, I will try hard to paint a coherent picture with the scientific findings from these two posts for brands and businesses.
Previously, we explored the social dynamics that govern how people behave on the Facebook (FB) platform and particularly on FB fan pages. Due to the attention economy and the conflicting social spheres on FB, we actually arrived at a rather counterintuitive result. That being – the reason that a FB fan page (which is a community) is not engaging for a business is precisely because the FB platform (which is a social network) is too good at facilitating engagement among the strong ties.
By 2010, social media has become an integral part of most marketing strategies. But what does it really mean for a brand to have a social media strategy? Since social networks are so pervasive, one of the easiest ways for brands to tap the power of social media is by establishing a presence on social networks, such as Facebook (FB). Most brands probably already have fan pages setup on FB. Like any social technology, FB is definitely going to help us to communicate and connect better in some ways, but it is at the same time restrictive in others.
So what is a FB fan page good for? And what is it bad for? To answer this question, we must understand the social dynamics (which I’ve covered quite extensively in the past few months) that governs how people behave on FB fan pages.
I have been discussing strength and weakness of social technologies with respect to the Dunbar limit and relationship building. Although modern social technologies are less efficient for building strong relationships compared to face-to-face (F2F) engagements, they dramatically increase our accessibility to potential candidates for relationship building. Our virtual summit is a perfect example of this. So fittingly, I will apply the concepts we discussed last week to analyze the value of social technologies using the virtual summit as a personal anecdote.
Previously, we examined Dunbar’s number in great detail. By understanding how Prof. Dunbar estimated his famous number, we can identify two potential mechanisms for potentially raising the Dunbar limit: the number of stable relationships that we can maintain.
Last week we learned about the relativity of tie strength and the attention economy. I’ve kept the discussion at a rather theoretical level, so I didn’t discuss how any of these concepts apply to a business or an organization. Well, this time, I hope to demonstrate their utility with some applications. Let me start with attention economy.
You will recall that people’s attention is not only a finite and limited resource, in an information-rich society, such as ours, attention is actually a scarce resource. This is because we are under a constant bombardment of information, and attention is required to process, consume, and retain the information around us.
Have you ever gone backpacking? I was an avid backpacker during my grad school days. I would save up for the whole year and then backpack for three to four weeks during off-peak seasons to a country that I’ve never been to before. It was a great experience that I now miss very much since I don’t have the luxury of taking three to four weeks off anymore.
When I backpack, I mainly travel alone; but occasionally, I would travel with a friend. What I find interesting is the different interaction I had with the locals when I travel alone vs. when I travel with a buddy. When I travel alone, I interact with the local residents much more. Duh! There is no one else. If I interact at all, it would have to be with the local people. But I also interact with them at a much deeper level.