Social is Not Like Facebook, It's Like eBay

By Christian Buckley posted 05-09-2013 17:45



One of the most common requests from end users who are looking for better social interaction within the enterprise is to build "something that looks like Facebook." The idea is that people want features such as user profiles, alerts, threaded discussions, the ability to follow, Like, or rate content or comments, and for some default activities, such as uploading content, for there to be some level of automation in posting information about those activities ("Steve just uploaded NewProduct_20013.ppt"). 


These are all quickly becoming expected features within any enterprise-class application, from CRM and ERP systems to the company internal portal, and it makes sense: the consumer platforms we use every day are beginning to look quite similar, with Facebook quickly becoming the standard by which all other vendors seem to be measuring their own user interfaces.


But I'm beginning to agree with a tweet I saw a few weeks back -- that social collaboration is not about expanding the Facebook experience, but is more like the eBay experience.


Let's face it: Facebook is largely about bringing out the narcissist in all of us, that somehow we are at the center of the social universe, when, in fact, social is much more like adding a product to a virtual shelf in a cloud-based superstore. We are adding our content, our experience, or data to a vast storage facility that can be accessed by anyone within our network, or connected to us through our personal or professional network and two, three, or more degrees. We are providing the long-tail of information and expertise to this virtual eBay model, and how we define our products in this social sphere is the key to making that information and expertise searchable and findable by others.


And more important to this idea of social as the eBay model is that people are there to conduct business. eBay works because it matches buyers with sellers. Likewise, enterprise social succeeds when there is purpose.


What is the value of social in the first place? Yes, sure, chat with your friends about that funny FAIL video of the kid smacking himself in the face with a whiffle bat, or the creepy old woman with 80 cats, but the real value is when you need to go looking for a product that you don't already own, something you need. It is then that you access the system using your profile, but the profile is secondary to the aisles and aisles of data in the store, or the vast libraries of connected information that is searchable, findable because of the careful categorization and tagging of that content, context added by the owner and/or his or her network, or even by complete strangers who somehow discovered the content, deemed it valuable, and then added their context so that they, and others, could find it again.


The social collaboration space is maturing. Pretty soon the profile-driven Facebook aspects will get pushed to the back, and the real power of social as a way to unlock knowledge and experiences will come to the front.

#Collaboration #longtail #Collaboration #ContentManagement #socialnetworking #networkscience #social
1 comment


05-15-2013 13:25

I do like what LinkedIn is doing around content. They are making the site more "sticky" by including exclusive content form its most influential members. Also, they're quickly displacing Yahoo Groups as the de facto group forum. I read an article last week about how LinkedIn is growing and increasing profits while Facebook is struggling to maintain momentum since their IPO.