Tearing Down Social Silos

by Jay Deragon on 12/08/2010

Just when we think we’ve found a solution the reality is we’ve just created a new problem. Many look at social media as a marketing solution and pursue the solution aggressively. Many then learn that not thinking through the systemic impact of “all things social” they have created a bigger problem.

Looking at social as a marketing solution without considering its impact on other “parts” of your organization reflects silo thinking. Silo thinking is evident everywhere. We see it from suppliers of internet technology designed to contain us and our conversations within their wrappers. Doing so may create value for the moment but problems in the long term.

The model of containment reflects silo thinking. If we can get more users to our site then we can get more advertisers (Facebook, Twitter,  Google etc). More advertisers represents more revenue. More revenue, more users reflects higher evaluation. The problem then arises when users find alternatives and the results from advertising begin to diminish. Sound familiar? Look at the patterns for social networks and the advertisers that support them.

When The Silo Gets Disaggregated

The expression “silos of information” is typically applied to management systems where the focus is inward and information communication is vertical. Critics of silos contend that managers serve as information gatekeepers, making timely coordination and communication among departments difficult to achieve, and seamless interoperability with external parties impractical. Silos tend to limit productivity in practically all organizations and frustrate consumers who increasingly expect information to be immediately available and complete.

Information silos are becoming far more recognized as the major reason why organizations are unable to take full advantage of the Internet’s power to interconnect business processes. The vast number of incompatible database applications in use perpetuates the existence of silos, making it impossible for run-the-business software to take full advantage of the Internet. Consumers are feeling the waste and inefficiency of “social silo’s”. Every site they land on wants their profile, their opinion and their friends. Every brand, network and community wants to contain us, trap us and control us.  Everyone wants our content so they can use it within their silo of activity. Activity within one silo to another represents wasted productivity. Wasteful activity steals value from consumers. Stealing value because of silo mentality is an anti-social mentality.

Are The Silos Coming Down?

In the old world contained communications controlled by the few was the means for shaping a story and influencing an audience. Whether the message is aimed at the world, an institution, an organization or a local community media silos shaped not only the message but the meaning. While social technology may be viewed as a solution it is in fact creating problems because of the lack of wisdom.

Omair Haque writes: The scarcest, rarest, and most valuable resource in the world today is wisdom. The countries, companies, and people that possess it will prosper. In many ways, wisdom is the opposite of strategy — and today, it is strategy, bought by the dozen from legions of besuited, back-slapping consultants, that is cheap, abundant, and worth little.

In a connected transparent world it isn’t wise to believe that capturing, controlling and tricking buyers will solve problems or increase transactions. Rather wisdom suggest doing the opposite is the new solution.  However wisdom would also suggest that one should consider the problems created from giving people freedom.

People set free from containers creates change unexpected. Unexpected change requires more wisdom. It cost capital to maintain silo’s. Today capital is scarce and the more advertisers and marketers reduce their spends the less the silo’s will have to run the game.  The next iteration of the internet will be aimed at setting people free.

Wisdom will have to flourish in order to comprehend the value of freedom.

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