social networks

Humans are in the process of knitting the global heart together

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” via @Oprah

In the early 21st century, human beings constructed social networks that connected everyone. In the midst of this process, it became fashionable to share one’s deepest self with the network. The result of this sharing was a profound sense of global connection between all humanity. Within a few short years, a wave of emotional warmth and peace swept through the cultures of the planet. People started to really listen to one another and help each other in myriad small ways. There were a few bumps along the way, but these very same challenges became the greatest of opportunities for connection and cultural stabilization. The norm became full acceptance of the whole human with both shadow and light. The norm became an open-heartedness to others. The norm became to embrace “the Other” and welcome difference. The norm became to love one another…deeply and fully.

In the early 21st century, humanity walked across a collectively built light-fiber highway of data into an un-ending, harvestable dreamscape…each person’s inner world became visible and tactile. Such is the complexion of this spreading digital network, once unknown…now an increasing source of physical and spiritual sustenance to all. Human heart “stuff” has become the content of regular newsfeeds and the impact of this deep sharing with one another is profound. Consider the momentum towards global understanding that such intimate newsfeeds create. Consider the inescapable intimacies that result from hearing each other’s hearts. Consider how tightly bonded our human community has become and how instantly a wave of liking and care spreads now through digital networks. The inner realm is currently accessible and moldable via social networks in particular. Humanity has got what it takes to create a Golden Age of peace and prosperity…very quickly.

Listening technologies aid heart-based initiatives

Love does not dominate, it cultivates. – Goethe

Creating an organization characterized by heart-orientation requires leadership to implement listening technologies and human-run analyses of conversations. These analyses can lead to extremely effective internal and external focus groups geared towards bringing employee and customer needs to the forefront. Such research also exposes potentials for excellence previously unnoticed. This “positive shadow potential” can be just what an organization needs to move forward into the next level of excellence.

Unconscious processes are a central reality of organizational life, just as in individual life. Effective market research using social data can reveal such processes. When I peer into the conversations surrounding an organization and within an organization, much is revealed about the workings and doings of that team. A primary value for large enterprises in hiring a market research team to work internally is discovery of shadow aspects within the silos. When unseen trends within staff are revealed through conversation research, leadership can take steps to elevate positive potential and heal negative propensities.

Seeing into the heart of an organization via social listening projects is a very effective measure for weaving the strengths of the silos together for total organizational success. For example, the customer-facing staff who are involved in servicing complaints and solving technical difficulties are often at odds with quantitative, sales-driven staff. The results-orientation around money in the sales department runs contrary to the nurturing orientation in the customer service department. Sales leaders need to hear the chief complaints from customers via the market research staff. This will help the sales staff to bring their pitches into closer alignment with what the customer truly wants and needs.

To cultivate a heart-based organization, leadership must itself be willing to invest in a unit focused on listening. This is the first step in nurturing deep growth and consistent attention customer need.

Growing Community: the KPI of the heart comes first

Growing community in social networks begins with a passion for shared experience. If you want to be part of something exciting right now, put a few words associated with YOUR favorite activity into a search field at any social network. You are sure to find living, breathing human beings awake and actively discussing your passion RIGHT NOW.

The metrics of growing communities have to be related to heart first. We all want and love specific people and activities in life. And that passion dictates how and where we spend our hard earned dollars. Community managers who understand this very real truth about human beings do not push products, events or services. They initially engage in conversation with others about a shared passion. The offerings within a dynamic community generally emerge out of a collective wish list or a mutually desired experience. Those highly attended events are birthed from noticing where people like to congregate. Great community managers are passionate about the niche topics related to their brand and lead others into mutually gratifying experiences.

When we lay out a plan for growing a community, our initial goals ought to center around creating meaningful content and discovering individuals who feed passion. A community manager who has lived, eaten and breathed a topic finds this naturally and is excellent at listening and encouraging members of the community. Everyone in a community has their own unique way of expressing interest, insight and observation. Good community managers facilitate a collective story fed by everyone in the “circle”. This weaving of stories is how cohesive communities form and provides a context for spreading awareness of a product/service. We need those thousand true fans as our initial base to carry on the work of the Community Manager.

It is the job of a Community Manager to nurture conversation. A Twitter stream, a Facebook wall post, a comment thread on a blog, a winning presentation on Slideshare, a location on FourSquare, a widely pinned photo on Pinterest, a video on YouTube that gets passed around: these are ALL seeds to be watered and nurtured by a Community Manager. JESS3 has given community managers a very precise map of content that different consumers interact with when considering a product or service (The Content Grid). It is a community manager’s job to identify, create and spread each of these pieces of content into the social fabric of the Internet.

For more on people-centered Community Management read this interview I did with Eleftherios Hatziioannou, former social manager for Mercedes Benz.

Social networks can be "mise en abyme", a lived experience of stories within stories

A story within a story, also rendered story-within-a-story, is a literary device in which one narrative is presented during the action of another narrative. Mise en abyme is the French term for a similar literary device (also referring to the practice in heraldry of placing the image of a small shield on a larger shield).

In Wikipedia, it is written that a story within a story (“mise en abyme”) can be used in novels, short stories, plays, television programs, films, poems, songs, and philosophical essays. But I argue that such artistic devices may be used in our real fleshly lives as a means of discovery, innovation and evolution. And I propose that digital social accounts like Facebook contain nested stories, all of which are doorways into alternative experiences or possible existences…a living fabric of “mise en abyme” that you have assembled for any purpose under the sun…

For more on the device “Story within a story” see the Wikipedia entry here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Story_within_a_story

The story behind a product, the tale of a community

The reality is that many products and services have a real human story at the root of their existence. Tapping into this story is what connects us to the heart of a product’s latent community, the living fabric with an orientation toward a specific service.

The existing corporate story related solely to sales should cease as the number one tale known to contemporary society. And this needs to happen now.

Humanity is tired of being “sold”. Humanity wants and needs the magic, the tactile sensibility of a story populated with sweat, flesh and the intricacies of a rich inner life. That’s where connection occurs.