- Have you used social networking?
- How often do you use social networking?
- How much time do you spend using social networking sites?
- If we offered social networking services, would you use them?
- How would you use our social networking site if we offered it?
If you were a VC and I were pitching to you to fund my social networking startup business and I included the results of the survey in my presentation, you would be underwhelmed and I would leave having the same amount of money that I arrived with at your office (minus $3.58 for the grande non-fat latte).
Perplexed initially, and in light of my knowledge of the company involved and the subset of channel partners they chose to survey, I would have expected a more positive response suggesting the company should move quickly to provide social networking services to its channel partners.
But as I considered the response more fully, it occurred to me that this situation arises as part of what I will call the Post-It® Note problem. No one ever asked for Post-It® Notes. No great orator cried out on behalf of the public that we must have Post-It® Notes.
In fact, the adhesive used in Post-It® Notes was developed in 1968 and yet Post-It® Notes didn’t come to market until twelve years later in 1980. I suspect that prior to 1980, a market study to determine if people would use pieces of paper featuring a weak, reusable adhesive on the back would have found a lack of demand.
As was with the struggle to bring Post-It® Notes to market, most businesses and their community of users struggle to see how social networking fits within the context of their current business environment. For some, social networking is for kids. For others, they feel they complete their work just fine without new tools. For many, social networking seems to lack a clear frame of reference in terms of its application in a business setting.
Further, one should acknowledge that a business’s organizational structure constitutes an existing social network. Social networking software can mean:
- An assault on the traditional organizational hierarchy’s communication and behavioral norms and even the politics of that environment.
- You are effectively attempting to superimpose new and different social networks on those that currently exist.
I welcome your thoughts and ideas.