The company’s social graph – and how to benefit from it


I had a inspiring session during the Sweden Social Web Camp (SSWC) at Tjärö a few weeks ago. We were ca 50 social media evangelists that did discuss what ever a company has a social graph or not? And if it does exist; how does it look like, and how can the company use it?

At least my conclusion was that I don’t think the company itself nor the brand itself has a social graph. Because a brand is not a human being. Anyone may be connected to, and even have relations with brands but not social relations. Because you got to be human to socialize. But your brand is a social object and your products as well. Because people are talking about them. Some are more engaged than others, and some more angry than others. But people are sharing their thoughts about your brand. And I guess the sum of these people, that have your company (and/or your brand) as a social object, are the same thing as the company’s social graph, or at least the sum of the parts of their social graphs that are related or relevant to the company and/or their brand. We’re talking about the company’s employees, customers, stakeholders, and others.

Further on – if that’s the case – I do think the company can use and cultivate that kind of a social graph – with an extreme outcome. I’ll tell you why and how further down in this post. But first – let’s take it from the beginning:

We’re all human beings, right? We’re people. And people are social. We group ourselves into social networks, and talking to each other about different kind of social objects, and engage ourselves in communities.

It doesn’t matter if we’re consumers, suppliers, communicators or journalists. We all got to understand how we socialize, which is “the process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies through conversations, behaviors, practices, rituals and education”…. that “provide the individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society”.

A network is just elements connected to each other. But social network is individuals connected to each other.

And the Social Object is “the node” in these social networks. The Social Object is the reason why two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else.

And a group of individuals that have these social objects in common and share these interests with each other – are members of a community. Everyone on this planet is a member of a community, I guess?

Then Mark Zuckerberg took a part of this social environment to the web, and more or less invented the term “Social Graph” which describes the relationships between individuals online. Frankly it’s the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related.

My experiences are that companies and their marketing staff intellectually do understand the situation, and are in some sort of consideration phase, but that they are truly stressed about this “social graph” and the relationship-humbo-jumbo talk.

But if we do agree that “the sum of the people, that have your company (and/or your brand) as a social object, are the same thing as the company’s social graph, or at least the sum of the parts of their social graphs that are related or relevant to the company and/or their brand”. Then it wouldn’t be to hard for the company to benefit from this social environment. Let me give you a few examples what you as a communicator can do:

  1. Identify who’s connected to your brand.
  2. Find out if your brand is a social object (with sub subjects), and if that might have resulted in different kind of communities.
  3. Find out how these communities look like.
    1. Who are members.
    2. What exactly are they talking about.
  4. Become a member by yourself and serve the other members in these communities.
  5. Inspire those who are only connected to your brand but not talking about it, to become members and engage, the company’s employees in particular.
  6. Help these communities to grow and flourish as a whole.

I think for an example these guys (and organizations) might be connected to your brand, among many others:

  • Employees (and former employees)
  • Members of the Board
  • Owners
  • Customers (and former customers)
  • Supppliers
  • Retailers
  • Partners
  • Industry spokesmen and thought leaders
  • Industry colleagues
  • Competitors
  • Ambassadors
  • Journalists

They know your company. And they are all connected. And they all are important to you. But that doesn’t mean they are talking to each other nor with you or your staff about your brand. They might only be connected. They might be connected to your brand and talking to each other about it, but not with you and your staff. They might be connected to your brand, yourself and your staff as well, but not talking about it with anyone. Or they might be both connected to your brand, yourself and your staff, and talking about it with everyone.

These ones who are talking about your brand, have for sure different kind of needs and wants. And they probably talking about that specific angle of your brand in different kind of forum, in different sub communities.

No matter what group they belong, they all can be a member of these communities that talking about your brand.

Can your company own a such communities? Probably not. You can’t own a social object. You can’t even own your brand as a social object. They all are parts of the social environment!

But you can help an existing community to grow and flourish. Especially the ones who are connected to your brand.

You can be a proud member of the existing ones. You can invite other peoples to the existing ones. You can also set up “your own” (another) forum for an existing community to help it grow. And you can call that “your community” if you like. Just because that’s the community you’re involved in, or created a new forum for (as the owner / administrator).

But a community is boundless. Some of the members can easily pop up somewhere else, and the rest of the members will follow.

If you’re interested in this topic, please read “Your company has a social graph” as well.

People 2.0 shot Mubarak down


I had a speech yesterday for Svenska PR-företagen in Stockholm, Sweden. I talked about the ever-changing media landscape and what that means for the PR industry. I told the audience it’s not about web 2.0, it’s all about people 2.0, which is a powerful combination of the the social web and people. Exactly what we now see in #Egypt.

“Yesterday, after 17 days of protests, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak gave a speech to the Egyptian government that made it seem like he would not be stepping down.” says Techcrunch. And like Alexia Tsotsis, I do think the fall of Mubarak was the combination of these to factors; people and the social web.

Alexia Tsotsis, Techcrunch, says:

“Pulling a country of 82 million people, around 17 million Internet users, 60 million cellphone subscribers, 7 million home phones, and 5 million Facebook users offline essentially created the largest flashmob ever, with around 8 million protesters in the streets across Egypt today according to reports. Says Zohairy, “Shutting down the Internet was the most stupid move this regime has taken. It gave the revolution huge media attention that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.””

But, indeed, most of all it’s about people and their call to action. As Devin Coldewey wrote in Techcrunch aswell:

“Twitter and Facebook are indeed useful tools, but they are not tools of revolution — at least, no more than Paul Revere’s horse was. People are the tools of revolution, whether their dissent is spread by whisper, by letter, by Facebook, or by some means we haven’t yet imagined.”

But unlike Devin, I do think that the social web is a tool of revolution, even if tons of revolutions did appear without that, for an example the fall of the Berlin wall in German.

Take a few minutes to take part of that moment of history and compare that to what happened with Mubarak:

Folk dör som flugor på Facebook


Grattis, Mark! 500 miljoner “aktiva” användare. Inte dåligt på så kort tid. Även om jag har lite svårt att få grepp om vad som menas med “aktiv användare”. Frågan är hur många som har dött?

Jag kan läsa mig till att “genomsnittsanvändaren” exempelvis har 130 vänner och uppdaterar sitt konto 70 ggr i månaden. Men inte så mycket mer än så. Vad jag däremot har förstått så dör Facebook-användare som flugor numer. Och lämnar efter sig en märklig för att inte säga spöklig och troligtvis varken särskilt levande social graf eller aktiv profil. Något som blivit ett makabert bekymmer för såväl de efterlevande som för Facebook.

Redan för flera år sen så uppdagades problemet. Men var inte särskilt stort då de flesta användare var unga och helt enkelt höll sig levande. Men nu när åldersgruppen 65+ är den snabbast växande på Facebook, och också den som trillar av pinn i störst utsträckning så har problemet med levande döda profiler accelererat.

När problemet uppdagades saknades vettiga lösningar för det. Det bästa man då kunde komma på vara att låta ens vänner anmäla användaren som död, genom att helt sonika fylla i ett formulär, och ev låta profilen leva kvar som ett “minne” endast för dess vänner. Lösningen blev så där halv-lyckad om jag förstått saken rätt? Nu år senare, med fler livlösa konton än någonsin, verkar forumuläret i fråga fortfarande vara den enda lösning som finns.

De som inte anmäls lever kvar på Facebook, och dyker inte sällan upp i knasiga sammanhang, exempelvis som förslag till någon nåra att bli vän med.