Sunday, April 27, 2008

Social Networking hits 'The Office'

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I just finished watching last week's episode of 'The Office' (thanks TiVo!!!!).  In it, they have a hilarious scene about a failed attempt at adding social networking capabilities to their Dunder Mifflin v1.0 web site (which purpose is to sell paper).  The employees are concerned about how sexual predators infiltrated their social networking site and stole customers' identities.

It's great to see that the writers of the show have caught up with social networking.  Even they understand that almost everyone is adding some sort of social networking capabilities to their sites.  In fact, the producers of the show keep a blog supposedly written by one of the characters of the show.  When the employees asked Ryan, the executive, why the company had chosen to add social networking features to a paper selling web site, he said: "We were trying to build a one stop shop for our consumers".  This approach, of course, is totally wrong!!

Sure, social networking features have a place in customer-facing applications (e.g. Lotus Greenhouse).  But not everyone should be building the next Facebook into their existing customer-facing portals!! We need to help our customers understand how and why they should implement social networking in their customer-facing web sites.  Mostly, you want to do it so that you can collaborate with your end-users and/or business partners to generate new ideas and provide another means of innovation.  And, more importantly, customers should have a sound adoption plan
For example, The Office producers use the show's blog to keep the audience engaged even when the show is not in the air.  But they don't have a social bookmarking or a social community service implemented.  When you implement social networking capabilities, you have to implement the right ones!!  How do you know which features are right for you?  That's all discussed in the aforementioned 12-step adoption plan.  Make sure it's part of every Lotus Connections PoC and/or Pilot activities with your customers.  When we make our customers successful, we make ourselves successful!!

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