We had a recent conversation among the Arment Dietrich team about the creep-factor inherent in social media.
See, some of us have a bit of a problem.
However, we do know that some social media users don’t buy that stricture. In fact, LinkedIn had a bit of a problem for some time with the ultimate in not-getting-the-point: Stalkers.
For a long time, there was no effective way to block particular users while still participating on LinkedIn. That was the case until earlier this year, when LinkedIn finally caved to public pressure.
But this torrent of unwanted attention seems to flow whenever humans connect to each other online (or, for that matter, in person).
On the other hand, we could all come up with examples of people who did want the attention. People who fell in love under the mesmerizing glow of a smartphone. People who ended long-term relationships and marriages after rekindling past love affairs on Facebook.
Plus, if you think about how many politicians have gotten in trouble on Twitter, it’s not hard to imagine a bevy of not-so-public digital Don Juans getting into trouble on social media, too.
The conversation we had lingered in my head throughout the week.
And I thought of it again when I read this PC World story about what a hard time companies have getting employees to use enterprise social networks.
Corporate Connections through Enterprise Social Networks
If you’re not familiar with it, enterprise social networking (sometimes called ESN) software is created specifically to connect the employees of a given company online.
It often has big brainstorming and collaboration potential, and often includes intranet functions such as built-in file-sharing.
Gartner analyst Carol Rozwell says:
Too often we see companies whose leaders are thrilled with the technology, and they see how quickly consumer social networks like Facebook have grown. They think they’ll accomplish the same growth rate and participation if they purchase the right tool. That approach doesn’t work.
And, come on. Of course it doesn’t work like that. Because even those of us who don’t want to be hit on while on Facebook (or Twitter or Instagram) still enjoy one of the most fundamental components of the social experience: We like the thrill of the unexpected.
It’s About the Fun, Not the Tools
That’s what makes social media fun. We like not knowing what crazy thing that guy we went to high school will say (as long as we still have access to a “block” button if he takes it too far).
We like finding out who really let themselves go after college.
We like finding out who’s going to post something outrageous—did crazy Aunt So-and-So really say that?
(I once had an uncle prank my grandmother by hacking into her Facebook and sharing a wildly inappropriate message to her boyfriend—the few minutes that I believed the message was from her were both horrifying and hilarious.)
We like being surprised by funny content.
And what would you expect to get out of a company-sponsored (and, perhaps, monitored?) social network?
Would you expect the unexpected?
Would you expect to be surprised or entertained?
All of this means that if you are going to promote one of these enterprise social networks (and some suggest that many of us will in the coming years), you’d better come up with, and communicate a compelling value proposition.
Because whatever your enterprise social network offers, it can’t compete with the unexpected.