22
Wed, May
2 New Articles

The Online Social Network Revolution and Why You Should Care

Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

If you think it's a fad, don't bet your job or your company on it.

 

 If you watched the movie The Social Network, there was a story that was even bigger than the one about Mark Zuckerberg's entrepreneurial success, his jilted partner, his legal problems, and his self-absorbed personality. It was about how the Internet and basic social needs collided head-on and went mainstream. Since the advent of Facebook in 2005, the way humans compete for inclusion and validation in their social circles has been transformed forever.

 

It is no secret that social networking activity has exploded. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are currently the most well-known offerings, and many of the interactions, especially on Facebook and Twitter, are around people trading gossip and sharing family photos, music, jokes, and the like, all as a means of trying to impress their social circle. In professional dimensions, however, the interactions are very different.

 

Think of professional social networks as a million different user groups sharing resources, information, tips, opinions, critiques, and more. Certainly, many computing professionals accessed forums, discussion groups, listserv groups, and chat rooms to share information long before Facebook. But now that social networking has gone mainstream, professional usage has exploded across all industries, and these discussions are increasingly happening within mainstream social networks, not just individual forums.

 

Because of these ubiquitous social networks, discussions on every imaginable topic are happening in ways that didn't happen before. If there is any kind of interest on any topic, you can be sure there are communities of people dedicated to sharing and moderating information on those topics. Because of these widespread and ever-expanding networks, corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and government agencies are learning that people are talking about their niche if not about the entity itself (and even the people within it!). Online communities are exchanging and tracking information, as well as giving advice, references, criticisms, and rebuttals. In every group, there are experts and influencers who have arisen because of their consistent, relevant, and useful input.

Ignore at Your Own Peril

If people are talking about your industry, market niche, and company, doesn't it make sense to be part of that conversation rather than ignore it? Watching and contributing to these conversations can bring about remarkable opportunities for you, your peers, your management, and your organization. Or you can ignore these conversations at your own peril.

 

It's not uncommon to hear people say that they don't want anything to do with social networks. Objections such as it being a vacuous time-waster ("who cares where someone went on vacation!") filled with privacy pitfalls are justified. But like any other new kind of media, it is a matter of how one uses that media; it's not the media itself. Think about the advent of TV, the Internet, and email. Sure TV is full of garbage and questionable content, but enlightening, creative, and highly informative content is easily available. Remember when companies were terrified about making the Internet available to employees? Yes, any kind of objectionable content can be accessed in seconds, but the Web has fueled a commercial and informational revolution; there's barely a company or a professional who could do productive work without it. And of course, we'd be lost without email despite the scourge of spam that has taken it over. As with any media, the usefulness or uselessness of social media (all social networks viewed as a whole make social media) is in how one uses the technology. When used correctly, social media is a remarkably powerful—dare I say it, transformative—communication mechanism.

 

As a means for marketing products and services, social media is turning traditional marketing practices on its head. And social media is transforming entire organizations because, as with marketing, it demands that communities are sought out and engaged, not just shouted at with a megaphone. The days of one-way communications from a central power structure to prospects, customers, vendors, partners, stockholders, and employees are numbered. Because constituencies are increasingly using social media, individuals are demanding that the organizations they are associated with—or are considering doing business with—also use social media. More often than not, organizations and professionals are becoming conspicuous by their absence. Just like the organizations that were slow to understand they needed a Web site and then had to rush to play catch-up, organizations that don't provide regular constituent engagement via social media will soon be seen as laggards. Even worse, constituents may already be wondering what the organization is trying to hide by not participating.

A New Climate of Transparency

Social media enables a multi-way conversation; therefore, it's how people and companies participate in conversations that make the difference. Because social media can't be controlled the same way traditional media can, it means one's responsiveness and listening are put on display for all to see. If the content isn't open and transparent, the participant will likely be marginalized. The good news: it's requiring organizations of all kinds to be more transparent, more communicative, and more responsive. The companies and individuals that participate in the right spirit will thrive because their communities will embrace them and pass the word about the trustworthiness of these kinds of participants. The bad news: those that don't participate in the right spirit will be marginalized by the same word of mouth that lifts the good community citizens.

 

The transparency imperative, of course, is a double-edged sword, so it is possible, and even likely, that negative news will be quickly known and shared by the community. But the difference is in how you respond. If a quick and straightforward response is made with an intention to make things right, the community will generally respond favorably. For instance, if a customer is upset by some action by a company, but the company responds quickly and genuinely endeavors to rectify the problem, the bad publicity can be turned into good. I've heard it said that 10 great product reviews aren't as positive for a company as nine great reviews and one bad review in which it was documented that the disappointing experience was made right.  

Do IBM Midrange Professionals Really Need to Care?

As with any social situation, if you want to stay relevant to your peers, you need to know what's going on. If you isolate yourself, you will soon find that your peers and perhaps the industry are passing you by. You can't just rely on traditional media and even your user group to keep you up to date on trends, skills, and job opportunities.

 

But don't get discouraged. You're already engaging in social networks if you are part of forums or listservs. If you're not, take a look at the list of these and many other System i social network resources at the end of this article. These are your communities. Get to know the players, and where appropriate and relevant, have them get to know you.

 

If you are an active part of your user groups such as COMMON, you know the people who have made a name for themselves by speaking, writing, doing workshops, and being the person with the answers. Think about it: these folks probably have little trouble finding a job when they are looking because they built and continue to nurture their network. You may not be a user group hotshot, but you can quickly find and build a wide network within social media circles by providing useful links to Web sites, articles, white papers, and jobs and chiming in from time to time on topics in which you are knowledgeable. Plus, you'll make yourself more valuable to your boss and your company by staying on top of relevant topics and trends.

A Marketing Transformation

If you work in marketing, engaging social networks can be a significant way of building your brand. But in social media, you don't build a brand by touting your brand. You build it by being a thought leader and information purveyor. Be engaged in the community by providing resources and recommendations. This builds trust and a positive reputation. It's okay to tactfully and occasionally mention that you work for a software, hardware, or services provider, but 99 percent of what you write should be about helping your fellow community citizens. Do this and people will remember you and your company in a very positive light and will recommend the company and its products when the subject arises.

 

Traditional marketing can't replace the value of positive peer recommendations, but participating in social media does not take the place of traditional marketing. When your traditional marketing reinforces that the company's primary purpose is to solve problems for customers, it works in concert with social media efforts. Of course, if excellent products, services, and customer care are missing from your company, no matter how clever the advertising and how helpful the participation in social networks, it won't have the same effect. When the product and service are great and the people in a company (particularly management) are valued citizens who have earned trust in online social networks, the effect on sales can be huge.

IBM Rides the Social Wave

One company in the IT space that understands and embraces the social network revolution is IBM. It is somewhat surprising given their size and relatively conservative culture, although they do develop and sell tools that enable intra-business social networking and collaboration. Nonetheless, IBM appears to practice what they preach by devoting a huge amount of people, software, money, and time to becoming a leading example of how the social networks can work. By actively, openly engaging with customers and partners, the improvements in collaboration and customer retention must be showing up on the bottom line or they wouldn't be investing all the resources they do.  A recent article in the publication Business Insider cataloged the social networking activities conducted by IBM and its employees:

 

  • 17,000 individual blogs
  • 29,000 IBM communities
  • 25,000 IBM employees actively tweeting on Twitter
  • 300,000 IBM employees connected on LinkedIn
  • 198,00 IBM employees on Facebook
  • 1 million daily page views of internal wikis and internal information-storing Web sites
  • 400,000 employee profiles on IBM Connections, IBM's internal social networking initiative that allows employees to share status updates, collaborate on wikis and blogs, and share files.
  • 15,000,000 downloads of employee-generated videos/podcasts

 

Far from a Fad

Social networks, social media, and social business are not fads. If you are not participating, then you are missing out on an extraordinary opportunity to be more informed, to be more successful in your job, and to better find new job opportunities. If your company's marketing department is not participating, then it is missing out on significant opportunities to accelerate positive word-of-mouth buzz. If your company's management is not participating, then it is bypassing a chance to geometrically increase its efforts to get employees communicating and collaborating.

 

Ready to start? It's really not that hard; it just takes small but consistent investments in time and attention—just like you need to make to be successful in other important relationships. Here's a simple formula:

 

  1. Find and monitor your communities. Again, see the list at the end of the article.
  2. Listen. Get to know the players and get to know the tone of the community before chiming in.
  3. Contribute. But only do so where and when it's relevant. Be a good citizen of the communities you follow. Bring something to the table or just be quiet and observant (you can learn a lot!). Build trust and do all you can to nurture and protect your trustworthiness as this is the currency of social networks.

 

A Partial List of System i and Power System Social Networks

 

Blogs

Planet i  

The Buzz

You and i 

AS/400 iSeries 

IMHO - Midrange.com 

idevelop

Angus the IT Chap       

The iSeries Blog  

Young i Professionals  

Mike Pavlak   

Pete's Workshop        

Maxed Out

Product Lines 

Industry Bits 

AIX Blog 

www.stevencpitcher.com 

 

Active Groups on LinkedIn

COMMON A Users Group

AS/400 iSeries Pro

AS/400 Advanced Technical Experts

AS400 specialists

AS400 techies

IBM AS/400 Blog

I5/AS400 Application Development and Support Network

iManifest 

iSeries Contractor

iSeries Professionals

iSeries Specialist

AIX Specialists

 

Twitter Hashtags

#powersystems

#ibmi

 

Forums

MC Press

System i Network

Midrange.com

IBM developerWorks for IBM i

Easy/400 (Yahoo group)

iSeries Support (Yahoo group)

 

as/400, os/400, iseries, system i, i5/os, ibm i, power systems, 6.1, 7.1, V7, V6R1

Bill Rice

Bill Rice is a technology marketer and founder of Humanized Communications, a digital marketing agency. He is a former editor of MC Showcase, is a former marketing communications director for Vision Solutions, and even did a stint as an IT manager for a shop that had an AS/400 model C10 (this just dated him). He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:
$

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: