Social networking for businesses: All together now?The rise of social networking and micro-blogging is well documented. Facebook now counts more than 200 million people around the world as members. Twitter has created the phenomenon of citizen journalism, with high-profile scoops such as the plane-on-the-Hudson incident. But does this interest in 'social networking' mean anything? In a society which is increasingly fragmented, does the relatively ephemeral social networking environment make sense? Are we allowing people with similar interests around the world to communicate and build meta-societies, or are we giving people tools that replace real social contact and therefore exacerbate social splintering?
The rise in multi-electronic channel interaction is wider than social networking of course - the explosion of text messaging and instant messaging (IM) in addition mean that generations are learning different ways of interacting. But is that interaction of higher or lower quality in terms of communication? Are we sacrificing quality and depth in return for instant response? Are we actually fundamentally changing the way that people deal with and consider each other? What does that mean for how people communicate in the workplace? Does increased interaction mean better collaboration, or are they two quite different issues? And how should business be using such tools? Many have decided to block access to social networking sites in the workplace - good practice, or short-sighted? How can such tools be harnessed for competitive and economic advantage (if at all)?
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