How To Build Your Social Economy

by Jay Deragon on 04/27/2011

All of us have been enabled to use social media as the means to build relationship capital that enhances the value of a our individual and our collective  economy.

Each of our benefits can be significantly enhanced if the “system” of social media is continuously improved. Improvement will only come if we all learn  and use appropriate and relevant knowledge to improve the value social media affords us.

For our individual and collective “system” to improve each of us must learn to  apply methods that improve our conversational currency as we chart our course aimed at results we want to produce. Improvement of the collective and individual system requires knowledge.

The elements of knowledge required to improve the use of  social media  are:

1. Look at social media as a “system”. People must understand the system he or she is attempting to manage. Without this understanding the system can not be managed or improved. A system cannot understand itself or manage itself. Optimization of the parts does not optimize the whole. Collecting followers or connections does not improve your system, it only clutters it.

System optimization requires coordination and cooperation of the parts which requires cooperation. Improving a system requires ongoing feedback. Social media accelerates feedback and enables individuals to seek and find the knowledge they desire. Conversations are feedback loops to those that know how to communicate effectively and efficiently. Coordination and cooperation starts internally and then is designed to reach externally.

2. Understand variation and its impact on cost and relationships. Engaging in social media is not the proposition that creates value for people, the exchange of knowledge is the primary value.  Connecting with others is a process of communicating and sharing new knowledge. Knowledge is the attractor, chatter isn’t.

Variation in communications causes waste and rework. How can we learn new knowledge if we have to waste time avoiding advertisement, marketing schemes and nonproductive conversations. Learning to focus and effectively communicate reduces variation and the related cost of not communicating appropriately.  Wasted communications only produce further waste of time and productivity.

3. Gain an understanding  of  new knowledge. Knowledge depends on theory. Information is not knowledge. Experience teaches nothing without theory. Practice makes permanent, not perfect. Copying examples does not lead to knowledge. The landscape of social media promises to bring some interesting and new mediums for meeting and exceeding business and personal life objectives. However it requires ongoing learning from the experiecnes, the data and ultimately from the market of conversations.

4. Understanding how people will use social media requires  an understanding of Psychology. We must understand human behavior to motivate, coordinate and enable people to optimize the system.

Human behavior is predictable and definable as it relates to use of social media. Enabling people to connect, produce value, share, create and enhance each others lives is a rewarding process. However humans migrate to a position of expecting what they want (must be’s) and if one doesn’t deliver then there is disappointment and frustration as part of our experience with social media.

Understanding peoples expectations and consistently meeting them is the demanding call for any of us. Once the minimum expectations are met human behavior naturally migrates to “more is better” and they expect more. Not delivering more creates yet another frustration and disappointment with the product,service or communications and it becomes stale. Then there are what as known as “Delighters”, those things that people don’t expect but when provided it becomes a delighter. However once delighted the very thing that once brought delight then becomes expected and the cycle repeats itself.

An economy is driven by the creation of new value which is fueled by communications. The four elements above have been used to transform entire countries, industries, institutions and individual lives. Why can’t we begin to put this knowledge to work and help build our own and collective new economy? Conversational currency is the means to building our own economy.  Follow or create the wrong conversation and you hurt yours and our collective economy.


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