Social for the sake of social?

…so here I am blogging about it. I’ve been spotting the expression “social for the sake of social” recently on articles such as this one on social @ SAP or tweets such as this quote from the Jive World this afternoon.

If in the quote from Tony Zingale the implied message is “let’s not have social tools in the enterprise just to say that we have social tools” or “let’s not throw social features at platforms just to say they have social features”, then I agree. However, the implied message in that article seems a different one.

I’ve been interested for some time now in seeing how what some call the systems of records (or transactional systems) weave in social features without creating applicational social silos. And I’m curious to see how SAP will integrate social functionalities into the business applications it powers.

But I think it’s unfair to say that most systems of engagement, or most companies, are doing “social for the sake of social” as seems implied there. Though not integrated with, nor connected to, traditional platforms such as the ERP, CRM or others, systems where we traditionally say that “work gets done”, social networking or community platforms inside companies can set important foundations for what may come next.

In times of increased speed of change, when the way we work is changing, and the opportunities to connect face-to-face with distant coworkers are increasingly scarce, these systems can help:

  • stimulate connections between coworkers
  • increase a sense of belonging/ shared identity (especially important for business units or employees at the edge, which is to say furthest from the headquarters)
  • help identify internal expertise
  • get employees familiar with using social tools inside the company
  • humanize a company

…& others.

So let’s not downgrade the efforts or experiments that have been made by labeling them “social for the sake of social”, suggesting that we’ve been working on the “fluffy side” of business, because by doing that we risk insulting the hard work done already by many companies. At the same time I understand we have to realistically look at what was already achieved (and what fell short of our expectations).

Are we one step closer from understanding how to integrate social, as a layer or as a foundation, to how “work gets done”? I sure hope so. But is experimenting with new concepts and tools valuable to the learning path we have been walking? I think so!

Let’s keep doing social for the sake of humanizing our companies, making them better businesses & also getting work done, ok?

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