Social Media

The New Role of the Customer

The New Role: Social Interactions

The “social” in “Social Web” implies more than technology, more than the networks where people post photos and review books: It’s less about the “what” and more about “how, why, and among whom” that distinguishes the Social Web from earlier, transactional online technologies. The term “social” refers to the ways in which people connect—friends, requiring a two-way acknowledgement of a relationship are different than more casually associated followers, for example.

The term “social” also provides insight into why they are connecting—perhaps to learn something, to share an experience, or to collaborate on a project. As such, a great place to start learning about the Social Web and its connection to business is with the basic relationships that are created between participants in social networks and social applications, and to then look at the types of interactions between them that follow.

It is the relationships and interactions between participants that connect community members and define the social graph, a term of art that means simply who you are (e.g., your profile), who you are connected to, and what you are doing.

The social graph is to building relationships what ordinary links between websites are to building an information network: They define the social connections. Without the social graph—without the profiles and friends, followers, and similar relations that form between them—online social communities are reduced to task-oriented, self-serve utilities much as a basic website or shopping catalog might present itself.

Go one step further, though, and Yelp becomes a social site as well. When someone builds a Yelp profile and connects with other Yelpers—that’s what people using Yelp call each other—the transactional service becomes a relationship-driven community.

Rather than “What would I like to do this evening?” the question becomes “With whom would I like to do something this evening?” This is a distinctly social motive, and it is the combination of utility value (information and ratings) along with the other Yelper’s own profile and messages (the social elements) together with whom they are connected that makes the social aspects of Yelp work. It is the social—not transactional—tools that power Yelp

People Want to Make Friends

Friending—the mutually acknowledged linking of profiles within or across defined communities—is the cornerstone of collaborative social interaction. Just as in real life, the various relationships that exist between profi les (people) often imply certain aspects of both the nature of the expected interactions and the context for them.

Relationships at a club or church are different in context—and therefore in expectation —from relationships in a workplace, for example: When someone elects to follow another on Twitter, or inside an employee network built on a platform like Social Text, there is likewise an expectation of value received in exchange for the follower relationship, all within the context of the network in which this relationship has been established. People create relationships to exchange value, at some level, with the others in and through that relationship.

Last word

As these contact points are discovered, a list of potential links and identities are grouped together and presented through the dashboard. As a human (Yes, we are still needed!) you can review this information and pick out the bits that actually seem related. Then, click a button and create your influencer contact.

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