OK, let's get this straight. For the past couple of years we've had a great time talking about the merits of conversation, transparency, authenticity, facilitation, participation, and blah blah blah. Having talked about "The Conversation Economy" myself—I'm no exception to the "BLAH". So, we get it—and now it's time to get down to business. From my vantage point there are a few things going on at once, so here's a few thoughts rolling around in my noggin.
1. Social Networks
I won't go too deep here, we know what the deal is. Many of us are spending countless hours managing our profiles, uploading our videos and photos, creating personal brands and generally yakking our heads off. Oh, and we're also using social technologies to collaborate remotely/more effectively and yadda, yadda, yadda. It's not going away, it's not a fad, and yes it changes how people want to interact with both individuals and in some (but not all) cases, organizations.
2. Internal Properties
Some organizations have invested in creating internal communities to either help break down silos or bring in external viewpoints that they can enjoy from the safety of their secure environments. Much of the interactions here mimic many of the things we see on social networks. People have profiles—wikis can be used for collaborative editing, discussions can ignite around relevant topics and of course information can be shared. The internal part is important because it keeps the interactions within the business, which aligns with most corporate cultures. But the benefits are similar to participation in social networks—the operative word here is participation (Sorry, I couldn't resist).
3. External Properties
The third leg here in the stool may actually be the most critical and difficult to manage. Most organizations are moving toward an external presence that consists of multiple sites, microsites, banners, blogs—you name it. Anything that gets "launched" ends up in the digital ether and is either maintained or neglected. Many of these properties interconnect and depend on one another. Some come and go and some just litter the Web.
I'd say there are probably more ways to slice this—but for me these are the three biggies and I'm starting to think about a few questions, such as:
1. How will these initiatives relate to one another?
2. Will they be able to scale at the same rate or will some pull ahead of others?
3. How much redundancy will occur between them?
4. Will new tools need to be developed to coordinate internal/external and social activities?
5. What platforms will best be served for research vs. communication?
6. Which systems will demonstrate the most flexibility to adapt?
Right now, I'm mostly in question mode. Just seems to me that as all of these wonderful changes take place, there is going to be some type of maturation process which requires a bit of orchestration that moves beyond evangelizing the need for "conversation".
Would love to get your thoughts on this one.