A year into my job at SAP, supporting the Business Process Expert (BPX) community with my marketing know-how, I am still trying to fully get my head around “living with Web 2.0”.
While the community concept of peer-to-peer collaboration is a no-brainer to me – what’s not to like about Q&A forums, blogs and project wikis – it is those other tools like Twitter, Facebook, Blackberry… that keep me wondering.
Am I, maybe, not enough of an exhibitionist for Twitter? Or do I just not get it? Or am I simply becoming one of those “older generation” people who struggle to catch on to new technologies?
I simply don’t feel that a Twitter on “What am I doing right now” really is that interesting to the heterogeneous group of people that are following me. When I follow the conversations myself, I often find them disjointed, and it seems to take a bit of luck to actually be there when something interesting for me is being mentioned. Why do I need to know that “X” is on their way to dinner with “Y”?
Last week, I attended an online seminar called “Twitter like you mean it” by the MarketingProfs organization. They said one secret of Twitter was to create “Ambient Intimacy”, i.e. “become attuned to rhythms and patters of someone else’s life”. I got some great tips on how to shorten my URLs (to maximize the Twitter word count) through sites like tinyurl.com and bit.ly, and how to finally stop having to check the Twitter site all the time by signing up for twhirl.org (although, it seems I picked up a virus when installing). All great, but, I still don’t have anything phenomenal to broadcast. Does my particular following really want to know what is happening in the BPX community? Is there a way to segment my following into a group of people who might care for this type of information more than others?
My well-informed colleague, Audrey Weinland, recently shared this article with me from FT.com: “Twitter – another road to ruin?” which provides more food for thought.
Let’s move on to Facebook. I regularly survey my friend about the social online tools they use, and everybody seems to agree that Facebook is a great tool to get back in touch with old friends. “Old friends find me”, is what I hear the most. Then there are others who spend a lot of time on Facebook, communicating to their friends what they are doing right now, and posting the most minute details about their lives and personas (am I the only one concerned about identity theft? Do you really want the world to know when you are on vacation (welcome burglars)?) Whatever happened to having personal social interactions? Are we really too busy to meet people in person? Do we enjoy meeting people online more now? (Which makes me wonder: “What would that mean for our society going forward?”)
Having said all of that, I am the first one to admit that it can be addictive and is easy to get sucked into sites like Facebook. Once you start checking out your friends’ pictures and their friends lists, you find yourself saying “hello” to old friends and getting lost browsing around… you end up joining some groups (I am not sure why)…hours passing unnoticed. And then there are the joys of watching movies on YouTube, and texting on your phone…when do we do all of this and have a “real” life? (I did try Second Life once, but did not get that either). Or is part of our lives simply online now? How much of it? Do most people participate in these activities during work hours or really in their private time? I find myself struggling to find the time to accommodate all of this.
Which brings me back to the question “Is Web 2.0 driving us crazy”? In April 2008, the New York Times reported on the deaths of two well-known bloggers, who – it seemed – had been blogging 24/7 and then died of heart attacks: “In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop“. How do we control this Web 2.0 animal? How do we keep sane and healthy?
Working as a community marketing person, it is important to me to keep up-to-date on the latest Web 2.0 tools (or Web 3.0, whatever the latest term is) and find out how I can use them to enrich my communication with the community and potential new members. But, how do I choose which tools to use? Which ones are essential? How to divvy up my time between them? I am not even going to get started on the question of what the tangible business benefits are. (MIT Technology Review wrote in their August edition that “Social Networks Don’t Make Money (but they could)”.) Attempts to measure business impact seem limited to measuring “exposure”, e.g. socialmonitor.com let’s you track where your Web 2.0 efforts get picked up. What I want to see as a result of my marketing efforts are hard numbers, based on clear metrics.
To close, I have to admit that while I am struggling to find my own Web 2.0 work/life strategy, I see our top community contributors EVERYWHERE. I am in awe and don’t know how they do it. I would also like to hear your advice and comments on how you are using the Web 2.0 tools and if, at least sometimes, Web 2.0 is driving you crazy as well.