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The way I and some of  the people I know are “wired”, we have a passion to jump into anything that is new . Not only do we jump in, we also drag every one in that we know. And then we get into a “tribe mentality”. Irrespective of whether it works well for us or not, since we are doing it – we feel the urge to promote it like crazy.I am as guilty of this behavior as the next guy. I have got a large number of people – friends, family, colleagues etc – hooked on to social media. 

 

Today morning, I woke up in my hotel room, brewed some coffee and started reading USA today.The front page story was this http://tinyurl.com/yh2f8moThis article struck a chord with me – and seriously set me looking back at my own social media adventures and then on to questioning the value of social media to me these days.And that, in turn, led to this blog.

 

I am a relative newbie to social media. I started blogging in 2008, and also opened an account each in Orkut, Facebook and Twitter.Later in the year, I got into Geni, the family tree builder.Maybe a year or two earlier, I started having a profile on Linkedin. And in December 2009, I started a personal blog. 

 

LinkedIn helps me keep track of all the professional relationships without worrying about new email ids etc.However, since most people don’t update it when something changes – it does not always work.The other thing I like about LinkedIn is the ability to give or get a public endorsement.I greatly appreciate the endorsements I got from terrific people that I admire.And I have had an opportunity to endorse a few that I felt deserved such recognition.So, on the whole – I have only good things to say about LinkedIn. 

 

Facebook helps me a lot in staying on top of my hobby – dog shows.Plus I love the structure of Facebook. This is where I think Facebook scores over twitter.If some one posts something interesting, others can join the conversation right under it.And you can see the whole conversation in one place – no worries about hashtags etc. Also, it is easier to put photos, links etc.The thing I hate about Facebook is the sheer number of people using it to ask me for donations.I also have no interest in Farmville, mafia wars and so on – and had to find a way to turn off those updates from showing up on my page. 

 

Orkut was great – I reconnected with my high school class. And it was a blast.After about 20 years, I got to find what my buddies were doing and could even arrange a meet up.I totally treasure that. However, Facebook seemed a more elegant site than orkut, and served the same purpose for me.So I almost don’t use Orkut anymore. 

 

Geni – that was an awesome find. Now I can track several generations back on both sides of my family, and it was very nostalgic to find people post 100 year old photos.And it is terrific in keeping track of anniversaries, birthdays etc for whole family.It has a great UI that I like, and a good search feature. However, I think they will get bought over by some one bigger, and I hope Facebook buys them and integrates it. 

 

And then – along came SDN blogging. I have been following SDN religiously from the time it was formed, but rarely contributed to it. One day I decided – what the heck, maybe I can blog too. And my first blog got featured on BPX homepage, thanks to Marilyn Pratt. Marilyn encouraged me a lot, and I have been blogging ever since. I am not a frequent blogger though – maybe once a month or so on an average. And I rarely do any deeply technical “how-to” type blogs – mostly because I don’t get to do many hands-on things any more at work. Also, there are many people in SCN with way more knowledge than I do in those topics. More than writing a blog – I enjoy the conversation we have afterwards in form of comments, both on my blogs and on other blogs.This is where the value of SDN shines for me – people with different perspectives join actively and bring diverse perspectives to the topic.I cherish the experience, and this is something I plan to continue doing. 

 

 Which brings me to Twitter.  My primary attraction to Twitter was the 140 character limit. I thought that will cause people to put a well thought out message on their tweets.To say I was mistaken would be to make the understatement of 2010. Here is the type of tweets I generally see – and I mostly follow professionals, may of them in SAP space.“just came back home from walking the dog”…”too much snow, I can’t walk wearing these heels”…”I had sushi for dinner”…”just met long lost friend”..Now, why would any one who follow these people like to know any of these? Beats me. In between – there are some useful tweets too. I get links to new blogs, probably before RSS scanners send them to me. I also occasionally get some breaking news that is of interest – the latest being SAP CEO change, just when I was about to board a plane in Phoenix Skyharbor.But as a percentage – I get 95% useless information and maybe 5% useful information.

 

I do support use of social media at workplace – but with the assumption that it is not for posting trivia when some one is paying you for productive work. The way tweets are organized – unless people use consistent hashtags, it is hard to get the whole conversation.And hashtags are created on the fly – making it near impossible in some cases to get an idea of how a conversation evolved, if you are joining late. So off late, I am not too sure anymore if it is worth my time to watch Twitter. 

 

And being in the Enterprise Software ecosystem – I am always keen to find out what is the ‘business” application for any of these media?Is it just a marketing tool for enterprises? Is that the only use case from an enterprise perspective?For sure, some sentiment analysis can be done on products and services to see how market is responding. I seriously believe that all the noise in Twitter decreases its value as a viable marketing too./ Instead of email spam, we just move on to tweet spam.

 

Since Twitter has a simple API – maybe SAP can include tweets as another message they can support on top of fax, EDI etc. Say, send a tweet to the Manager when an employee applies for leave? Is that kind of use case even worth considering?

 

So, all things considered – for me, Twitter and Orkut are not working out.I would stick with Facebook and Geni, and I will definitely keep my profile active on LinkedIn. What about you?

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21 Comments

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  1. Muthu Ranganathan
    You have nicely structured your blog and highlight the craziness of social media. Google Buzz is new addition and you may want to try if it is another distractor.
    I agree with you on usage. Linkedin is a real professional relationship site and it is a great way to be in touch and on top of your years of relationship building. If it survives a decade, it would be great to go back and connect with your old recommendations etc.
    Tweets are definitely a distraction, but the advantage is you get the pleasure of knowing the latest and greatest, especially when you are far away in the globe.Also i got to know about your blog only through tweets and your title attracted me to read it.
    Putting all of this into a useful way into enterprise usage would be good.
    Good blog !!!
    regards
    Muthu
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    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      Thanks for commenting, Muthu.
      I made a concious decision to NOT jump into buzz. It is hard to resist when every one else I know has jumped in, and there are a thousand tweets flying around about it. Most of these folks are already active on pretty much every other thing – like twitter, facebook, myspace etc. I admire them for being able to do all that plus their day jobs.

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      1. Any one active on virtual world? – second life and the like… i was once though..:( Not hearing much about them now…
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  2. Adam Szigeti
    Hi Vijay,
    Since the Internet got mobile, I have become a Web-addict. To me, Internet is one of greatest technological achievements of the XX. century. I do believe in the power of well organized and published information – that’s why I deal with IT 🙂 Of course, it is not all about enterprise IT, but social media in the public sector, too. When it first became available to calculate your geographical position right from the web browser (there was a plugin by Loki), I started creating concepts to get the most out of this great stuff. First I created something like the “private” channel of buzz, using GME (Google Mashup Editor).  You could connect to your fellow Google users via sharing a specific calendar. The calendar held the location info along with your status message. Of course, there was an embedded map to make things visual. Using the Talk gadget, You could initiate a chat right from the page. Unfortunately, Google has stopped GME, but now we have a much smoother solution for the same purpose right from Google: the brand new Buzz. I love the 3 “channels” private – public – nearby. The last one makes Buzz like a PMR on steroids: You can listen to others chatting near You, You can ask for help, or just get info, stc. Amazing!
    Apart from Buzz, I still use Facebook, which, to me is the standard of its art. OK, I needed to hack it slightly, too 🙂 I created a very simple HTML app to complete my posts with an action link called “Map it”, showing the location of my attached photo, extracting the geo info from the attributes of the image. So now I can send life signs automatically geotagged. I believe they will enhance the iPhone client with a similar feature.
    And finally a few words about Linked In: I believe we, SAP pro’s simply cannot afford missing this portal that stands so close to SAP. Hopefully it will help me build my career, too…
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    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      Hi Adam,

      You sound like some one who loves to investigate anything that comes up new too – and hack it and make it better. That part of it is what made a lot of us jump into these things initially.

      I am curious to see if you continue “playing” with these things after your initial curiosity is satisfied, and you prototype a few scenarios that you think would add value? Do you move on to something new at that point, or do you stick around?

      And you are absolutely right about LinkedIn – it has definitely become a great tool that SAP professionals cannot do without.

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      1. Adam Szigeti
        Hi Vijay,
        Glad to see Your post made so many of us from different corners of the Earth start discussing – thanks! That is why we love Web2.0 🙂
        Answering your question, when I read about an exciting new product promising valuable outputs, I start inspecting if I can fit it in my existing environment, keeping it as simple and efficient (and fun) as possible. In the next step I try to make my concept more general so that others may benefit from using it, too. If I succeed, then I send a feed-back to the service provider. Normally I can’t wait for the official solution, so I try to reach my goals with enhancements using the APIs, but 90% of cases sooner or later a new release comes and makes my developments unnecessary…
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  3. Mathew Muthalaly
    I have dabbled with the different facilities over the years but except for LinkedIn nothing else has really taken off for me.

    I started with Orkut and LinkedIn, ventured out on Facebook and then Twitter.  I would love to blog but has not been been able to find anything worthwile that is not already out there.

    I do not want to spend time at a computer after office hours other than for essential mail. I would rather spend time with my family or hit some ball somewhere.

    My daughter though, comes back from school and would like to immediately get back on Facebook to be with her friends, but for some time restrictions we have put in place.  She says she is also discussing assignments over Facebook. So, it is not just socializing, I tell her – “You do some real work over Facebook”.

    I do not need to keep in touch with my friends over Facebook or Orkut – they are my friends.

    I have nothing to ‘twitter’ about that would be of interest beyond my immediate of circle people.

    LinkedIn has helped to remain connected to former associates at school and work.

    I use a lot of Skype to call and talk to whoever I care about.  But does Skype qualify as social media?

    But I remain enamoured with social media.

    Mathew.

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    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      Mathew, I am not sure if you had a chance to click on that USA today link I put at the top of my blog. Your view on this matches the theme of their cover story.

      It is an interesting dilema for the companies – on one hand there are plenty of people who join these sites, and any other that come up. On the other hand, hardly any one had figured out the right “corporate” use for it. Like Gretchen pointed out above, some use tweets for announcements – but pretty soon, that equates to spam. Every company has a presence in social media because they think they should be there. But they don’t really know what they should do after getting there 🙂

      For me, the only tweets I have found useful are blog announcements from a few analysts that I follow, and a few SAP mentors. But I would get them via other channels like RSS and email notifications too. So if twitter closes down any time – I would probably not miss it much.

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      1. Mathew Muthalaly
        Vijay, I had not read it then:  I have now, though.  The subject you brought up had been of late been on top of my mind that I started  ‘ranting’.  I had to post it hastily as the network guys were getting ready to pull the cable, to move my office.

        As a concept Twitter excites me, but it is not very relevant to me at a personal level or at an official level.  I follow an Indian politician, an SAP mentor, a newspaper and Hopenhangen.  That part has been interesting.  A problem arose when some people I knew requested to follow me.  I sent them personal mails explaining that I was not ‘tweeting’. 

        On the corporate front I have wondered about the possible uses of an intranet version of Twitter.

        I will continue to explore new avenues, even if they are not particularly useful at that point in time and plan to periodically pull out of the ones which are not useful. 

        But, I hope to blog on SDN/SCN soon.  BTW, I have read some of your blogs and have liked your conscientious approach. 

        Today is an exception – I am on SDN outside of working hours.

        Ciao
        Mathew.

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  4. Gretchen Lindquist
    Vijay,
    I suspect that social media usage by businesses varies quite a bit by industry. I see enterprises involved in direct to consumer sales becoming active in Facebook and Twitter; for example, I follow United airlines’ tweets to see what fare specials are on and other announcements, such as major delays. Facebook applications are a growing way to engage customers. Please see my new blog post for more on this subject and a new book coming this spring that explores this and other emerging technology topics.

    Here at Halliburton, LinkedIn access is permitted on the network, as it is linked from our e-recruitment portal, but other social media/ networking sites are blocked, so I do not see us in a use case with a link from SAP to Twitter or other such media any time soon.

    Cheers,
    Gretchen

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    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      Most airlines have been emailing their frequent fliers on specials for at least 10 years now, and now they use twitter in addition. Have you found tweets more useful for this information than email, Gretchen? I tried to follow a few companies on twitter, and all they did was spam me with useless stuff and I ended up “un”following them.

      Many of my clients are keen to make use of social media – but so far, I have not seen any one doing it efficiently. IBM, my employer, was probably the first to issue employee guidelines on it ( even before SAP did it) and we can access social media site from our work PCs. But many of my clients have blocked twitter and facebbok and so on, after seeing employees spend more time on that than the management felt comfortable. I know at least two of them who tried some self regulations, but that did not work for them – and it got blocked. But what the heck – every one still acceses it through their PDAs and smartphones.

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      1. Gretchen Lindquist
        Vijay,
        I get so much junk in my personal email that I end up deleting a lot of it without even looking at it, whereas an airline tweet about major weather-related delays (which we’ve been having a lot of this winter here in North America), has a better chance of getting my attention, especially if repeated periodically.

        I also follow several environmental non profits and animal advocacy organizations. I’ve found it useful to see tweets on their current issues and news, most of which have links to their web sites for more details, and yes I frequently do click through. So again, I believe that certain  types of enterprises can develop effective use cases.

        Yes, blocking these sites on the corporate network has little effect as smartphones are in wide use. It is handy to be able to chat via tweet during a conference call, for example. However, when I’m engrossed in work, certainly hours can go by without a moment to pick up my phone and glance at the stream.

        Gretchen

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        1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
          Ah got it – so you get less spam on twitter than on email, and hence it is has better chances of getting your attention. That is actually a valid usecase why companies should use tweets, at least till such time as junk tweets overtake junk emails in volume. Thanks for pointing it out, Gretchen.
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  5. Mark Yolton
    Hi Vijay – Thank you for sharing your social media experience here.  It has certainly caused comments, which is great.

    My experience is similar – LinkedIn (more professional), Facebook (more friends and family), SAP Community (work, etc.), and so on.  Also throw in there flickr, YouTube, and others. 

    I do find a lot of value from Twitter – especially in staying connected with alot of people from around the world – mostly colleagues from SAP and members of our SAP ecosystem and community. My biggest challenge with Twitter is keeping up with the stream of news from so many people… I know I miss alot, and I suspect I could spend all day just following interesting links and threads.  On balance, though, I’d say I get more value than cost, and that’s the right side of the equation to be on.

    It’ll be interesting to see how all these social media sites evolve over time – and what we will say when we look back 10 years from now… in part, about how primitive we “were” back then (now), and to see if any of these tools still exist in any remote resemblance to how they exist today.  I wonder if you or any of your readers would like to predict those days by writing a “blog from the future” now?

    Regards,
    Mark Yolton

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    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for chiming in, and it is good to know twitter works for you.

      The closest thing to twitter popularity that I can think of is when cell phones became cheap in India. Every one and his brother got a cell phone. When I was in school/college in India, cell phones were not cheap. You left home in the morning, did your thing, and came back home in evening. You would call home only if there was an emergency. But ever since cell phones became cheap, consumer behavior changed as well – now we feel complelled to call others with up to the minute information, and most of that is trivia that no one really cares, and would hold the same value even if not told in real time.

      From my view – twitter has become the same, and that is why I see a lot of “just walked my dog” and “had sushi for dinner” tweets.

      Information clutter is a real pain with twitter. Since everything flows in at real time, and there is no easy way to get rid of noise (a filter which is not hash tag based for me please) I usually miss a lot more than I gain out of it. So I am at the wrong side of the equation. But I am glad to note that it works in the reverse for you, and if that happens to me – I will probably change my opinion too.

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  6. John Burton
    Hello Vijay,

    Like yourself, I also struggled for quite a while with how deeply to get involved with social media. Some social-media tools seemed juvenile, superflous, unproductive, or just downright annoying. Others seemed to provide real value in terms of networking opportunities, relationship building, and just staying more in touch with friends, family and colleagues.

    However, as I’ve started to more closely work with and follow leaders in the Social CRM and Social Media community, my eyes have opened quite a bit. I’ve seen great examples, not only of individuals using social media, but of businesses who have leveraged social media tools to improve customer service, increase customer satisfaction and drive additional revenue.

    Yesterday I wrote a blog entry on a site called TheSocialCustomer.com (sponosored by SAP) where I talk about the efficacy of social media for business — particularly for small, local businesses like cafes, barbershops, shoe-shine stands, and street-food vendors. Here’s the link: http://www.thesocialcustomer.com/.

    Best regards,
    John

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    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      Hi John,

      Thanks for bringing in this perspective on small/local businesses.

      My little daughter and I go to the same place to get a hair cut, and it is run by a very pleasant elderly Vietnamese lady. She asked me some time last year to follow her on twitter, and I did for some time. She religiously sent out tweets whenever she had a special – and I saw it exactly one time in a year, and that too when I was in Europe. As part of my clean up activity to reduce twitter noise, I removed her from the people I follow. But your blog makes me wonder if she actually saw better business after tweeting. Her shop is very close to where I live – I will go ask her today evening and post here on what I find.

      A lot of us cannot keep watching for the stream of tweets all day, mostly because emails take up most of the time outside of meetings. (When do we actually “work” outside emails, meetings and tweets any way? LOL) . So probably the people who like twitter must be having a nice way of organizing all this flood of  incoming information to keep on top of it. I am keen to hear what those strategies are, and try them out for myself.

      Cheers
      Vijay

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  7. Dave Rathbun
    I’m not big into the whole social media… thing. It stems from my desire to manage my own time and not allow others to manage it for me. I never joined Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or any of the other sites. I did join twitter, but I don’t follow many people. The problem – at least for me – with twitter is there’s no filter. I would like to see what person X or person Y has to say about their experiences in the BI space, but I really don’t care that they swam extra laps at the pool this morning, or that they just spilled their Starbucks. 🙂

    I personally set up 3 different twitter accounts. One related to my BI blog (dagira_tweets), one related to another technical field I have an interest in, and a personal channel. I would expect family and friends to subscribe to my personal channel, while people that I know and work with in the Business Objects area would follow only my BI channel. I had to create these channels myself by setting up different accounts because twitter doesn’t offer this feature.

    So while I am normally a big fan of “new toys” in this case I have given this area a pass, right from the very beginning.

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    1. Martin English
      I go online with twitter maybe 40 – 80 minutes a day.  I find its a bit too unreliable (replies go missing, or disappear of the screen before I see them, etc).  Anyway, I’m asleep most of the time that the european and US based people are awake (I’m in Australia).

      Instead, I use the twitter RSS feed of the people I think are important.  I use my RSS reader to follow their thoughts at a time of my choosing – I don’t have to be online to catch @jonrerp’s Reeds latest link to a useful page on SAP’s executive reorganisation, or @karin_tillotson’s latest snow story 🙂  More importantly, it also lets me reply (if I want to) at a time of my choosing, after I’ve properly digested the tweet and its contents.
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  8. Arundeep Singh
    Hi Vijay,

    A very good blog. I read your blogs regularly. They are alwasy interesting. Somehow this one was missed ( may be becasue of my leave 🙂 ).

    I will say use of these new technologies to much extent depends on personal profile. At least to me I still prefer simple old way communication. email at work than chat , face to face at home than phone calls. But, global life style has forced me to join Orkut (my friend kept me pushing for 2 years ), linked in and phone and latest but very interesting for me is my personal and professional blog. Now I recieve requests every other day from my friends to join Facebook, hi5, flickr and what not.

    I have been delibrately trying to avoid this multi social networks. Challenge is not all the people you know are on the same social network. I wonder if a top layer can be created, that allow you to combine all other sites. This will make life simple a bit. Otherwise I prefer to stay away from this jungle.

    yes, I tried Second life once then quit immediately, it was too virtual for me 🙂

    Thanks for your views. keep righting.

    Arundeep

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