What is social business?

An interesting conversation around what constitutes community hashtag spam this morning evolved into a discussion of a much-neglected topic and one which is at the core of my consultancy interests, namely: what is social business?

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business

what is social business
what is social business

what is social business

That’s what we think.

What do you think?

Personal learning: don’t try to do something like this when Storify is down

14 thoughts on “What is social business?

  1. Hey, just missed that fantastic convo! IMO I feel not spammed by conference tweetsm but its easier to set up an own hashtag for it and announces it via #hcsmeu or others.
    And thanks Andrew for “community is not a shop window”

  2. Hmm, this is really a tough one and I can completely see both sides of it. For me there is a simple measure and that is the level of respect shown for the community and the people within it. Problem with that is it is something that is entirely subjective.

    I have learnt a huge amount from the #hcsmeu community and the people within it, so you could say that I have ‘used’ the group for my own benefit. However that does not mean that I don’t respect and value the people (more and more of which I am meeting IRL).

    I guess its whether you have something to gain from the product on offer? But also I just consider it to be like a tweet/post on a subject that I am not interested in, it will get barely even a second of my attention as I scan for something I AM interested in.

    • Hi Dan

      Thanks for being such a dedicated commentator to this blog. I appreciate the value you bring.

      Yes, it’s easy enough to ignore something, I agree.

      However, the question also needs to be asked: is it appropriate that it was posted in the first place, in order that we have to ignore it?

      I’m interested in the fact that this discussion has been framed as an exercise in the futility of command/control on the Social Web.

      I contextualise it in another way: the Social Web’s foregrounding of the freedom of expression, and the right of community members to express their intolerance of marketers who want to take concepts that may have worked in offline/one-way settings, but which are fundamentally unsuitable for online/two-way communications, and jam them into community hashtags.

      Perhaps they could use #commercial instead of #hcsmeu and see what sort of response they get, because this is what they are by any other name.

  3. Fascinating discussion and I feel compelled to add something.

    First of all, let’s all remember that Andrew has invested countless hours fostering and building the #hcsmeu community with extremely noble intentions (and without direct commercial benefit). His frustration is therefore entirely understandable at it being ‘abused’.

    But can you control community postings around a hashtag on Twitter? The simple answer is practically – no. If it were a forum / LinkedIn group and you had sufficient time and energy you probably could. But even then would it be worth it?

    Large, successful communities tend to become self-moderating in a sense that people at best ignore spam postings and at worst, those making them simply damage their own reputation. So my advice would be to not waste too much energy worrying about something you can’t control – let the spammers destroy themselves by alienating the community and damaging their reputation.

    I also think whether they are useful posts or not comes down to how frequently they are done and how they are written. Anything too often or too off-topic will disappear into the wall of spam noise almost immediately and isn’t worth the time it took someone to write it.

    Disclaimer: I am an avid follower of #hcsmeu and friend of Andrew, but also use hashtags where appropriate to flag articles and occasional event promotions to different Twitter groups. However, the key to me has always been context – it’s always worth stepping back or asking someone else to view your posts to see how you’re coming across. It might surprise you.

    Just my tuppence!

    • Hi Paul

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

      Disclaimer: as Paul points out, we’re friends, and have worked together in a number of contexts.

      I think I make my points in brief in the body of the post, so there’s no need to rehearse them again here. Some context may be useful, however.

      My first observation must be that the spam hashtag introduction to this post is no more than the segue into ordering some thoughts around what constitutes social business.

      I also have to situate your initial comments in another context, if I may. It’s true I’ve invested a lot of time in #hcsmeu since its inception, but at I have neither claimed to be the community’s architect (what would such a person do? how could they do it?), nor have I ever expressed or desired to control what it does or says. As you know as a community moderator yourself, moderation is 99% drudgery. That’s why so few people are interested in doing it 😉

      I’m not expressing frustration. I’m expressing my own refusal to tolerate excessive, repetitive adverts for pay-for commercial events via a community hashtag.

      #hcsmeu has (arguably) become the leading general European healthcare conversation on the Social Web.

      I can therefore see that it could be perceived to be an attractive conduit for marketing messaging.

      My point is that there is no place in social media for ‘marketing’ ***as it is currently understood as a basket of traditional concepts***, period (my POV).

      From my POV, this is why definitions of what constitutes social business, and why Social Media is antithetical to marketing, and why #postmarketing as a concept has yet to be fully understood or implemented are so urgently needed, and so infrequently provided.

      My position with regard to the emergence of #postmarketing is a radical one, which many don’t agree with. That’s fine, and I’m happy to see how this plays out in the long term, because do *I* believe it.

      I won’t respond to your comment regarding community control, because like you, I don’t believe it to be possible, and I don’t say anything to contradict this in the posts excerpted above.

      I also agree with your observations regarding spam damaging the publisher. However, as a community member, like everyone else who posts using the #hcsmeu hashtag I reserve the right to comment on what I feel is an inappropriate use of a community hashtag. People are free to disagree with me 😉

      It’s a discussion that needs to be had.

      Interestingly, there haven’t been any commercial posts in the last 24 hours using #hcsmeu.

      This in itself is worthy of note.

      I sense posters waiting in the wings to see how this discussion plays out.

      If these posts don’t come back, I for one will not be disappointed.

      If, as and when they do, I’ll continue to interrogate their value.

      In the interim, I look forward to seeing more tweets from #hcsmeu members telling us which conferences they are going to, in order that I can open us a search term on *that* conference’s hashtag if I so wish.

      I’d really prefer not to read about it in stereo on #hcsmeu, too.

      Finally: the only voices we’re hearing in this debate are ones we already know.

      Let’s remember that 11 people per second are signing up for new Twitter accounts at the moment. I’d like those new entrants to find a new environment facilitating conversation that is free of the taint of indirect commercial influence.

      • Hi again, this discussion reminds me of a recent discussion about an online event calender in Austria which is a non-commercial project and a lot of ppl work for free on it. Soon after launching, a lot of commercial eventorganisers dropped in by wanting to be listed for free without service in return…

        So I think its the time itself – the changes in culture, in business and ppl who dont adopt to it so far. But its the power of a community as #hcsmeu to point on such nuicance and discuss it officially – maybe also in the next #hcsmeu-chat?

  4. Sounds like a great idea re: the #hcsmeu chat idea.

    The more I think about this the more I am in agreement with Andrew and Paul, its not the commercial angle its the way it is being clumsily ‘pushed’ onto the audience.

    I think that is why it seems to jar, old marketing methods in medium that enables and encourages 2 way (or multidirectional) dialogue.

    In my simplistic world I see it as being like the difference between a salesman having a conversation and trying to find solutions for customers or just running up to and shouting brand names at them!

  5. Hi all, #hcsmeu friends as well, as I know you, share likewise intentions, code of conduct and aspirations. And, respect Andrew, as I do, as the one carer for “our” hash tag to develop.

    I read the discussion carefully and I sense it to be interesting from several perspectives:
    a) By the perspective of relationship between people,
    b) By the perspective of codes of conduct: what to do or not to do “On line”
    and c) by a third one – the issue of commercial intention itself..

    Let me start with the first one: relationship between participants in discussion on line. For “us”, #hcsmeu, I see the above discussion about “spam” between hash tags as a more fundamental discussion, as we seem to put our most sincerely held personal values on the line. This is a new phenomenon, that I, personally, haven’t witnessed yet on the internet. It seems to me “we”, might I say the in-crowd from #hcsmeu, have reached a status of more than a group with the same interests but also as a “Community of Practice” (ref. Wenger, E., “Communities of Practice. Learning, meaning, Identity.” Cambridge 1998).
    It seems to me that it means that there are several levels of discussion apparent. Let me distinguish them in three levels for the time being:
    – the lowest one: meaning the least intimate in which people are/feel least connected and obliged to one another. It will be the daily connection on line exchanging urls, posts etc. begin retweeted, referred etc.;
    – the second one: being the interaction between ad hoc discussions between people/participants on the hash tag that somehow feel to be acquainted with one another by the fact that they interact let’s say more than once, maybe have mentioned each other more freely and DM every now and then. Because they will tend to communicate and refer more to each other, they will accept more from each other: a personal, practical joke, discussions about nuances and probably an eventual disagreement (notice how scarce overt disagreement is on social media). Examples of these communications are in the tweet ups. Studying them, you would find that most referrals in the tweetup will be amongst people that know each other on this presumed second level: they will experience their relationship as being apt for a possible dissatisfaction.
    – the third level will be the level of communication between real friends, not so much on line only but in physical encounter as well. In the case of #hcsmeu that has been stimulated by our conferences. Friendships in the classical sense have been formed.
    Now, obviously, the spam discussion has both aspects of a objective discussion and inherent in it aspects of friendship and confirmations of that. It is a token of the willingness of the people involved in the discussion to share dissatisfaction without hurting the possible feelings of protagonists involved in the group of discussants. I do think that this is actually the very quality of the #hcsmeu group that made the movement have such an impact.
    Obviously there’s a time dimension involved: relationship need time to grow. So, at a specific time, people with different sort of relationships mingle under the same hashtag and do respective things in connection. Looking at the Friday tweetups of #hcsmeu you can detect specific behavior between the level that differs from behavior and amongst members of the same level.

    As for code of conduct, what to do or not on line?
    There are several posts/blogs about guidance for code of conduct on line. In general, specifically for commercial agents it would be nice to find out how one could better present oneself than running the risk of a deteriorating image or brand. I suspect the (still?) relative unknown phenomenon of on line, public communication makes it possible that ignorant persons can enter it as easily as entering the street. Can we blame them? But I think, we can and should respond to things we don’t like as much or even more than we do so on the street? And yes, I do think we need to address people about a specific context when we think there is one. I, for one, do think that the #hcsmeu hash tag has evolved into a special context, that might be known for its own culture. So why don’t we lead people to an introductory guideline, both to invite them strongly to join and be active, become intensive members, as well as to hand them guidelines of advice about how we like our communication best?
    What do you think, should we do more than there is in the wiki about #hcsmeu? http://hcsmeu.wikispaces.com/

    Thirdly, there is a principle on the web of freedom of speech and of act, surely. Yet there is to be discerned a specific conduct that is appreciated and there is behavior that is not.
    Is it so, as I suspect it is, that overt and obvious commercial promotion is tolerated only then when one is informed of such an intention? Obviously when I visit commercial websites from companies and brand, I suspect that. But in my conversation on Twitter with a person, I would be surprised when he/she turns out to be a commercial agent. I would feel misused. And that will get right back at him/her, at least in my mind. So If you don’t know the club you are going to, and more specifically when you don’t prepare yourself, you can do awfully wrong. Fact is you cannot stop people from making mistakes, certainly not on the net.

    Next, as for “spam”, it really is in the eyes of the beholder. But in reflection on the discussion Andrew represented, I can see that juxtaposing hash tags is probably one too many. There was an appeal some time ago, I think from @philbauman, to reduce the number of hash tags in a tweet to just two. I do think that’s a remedy. On the other hand I have been in conference where I remember to use my hash tags both to locate my tweet under the respective stream, but also to my friends from #hcsmeu as well, as in: “Hé, look what I found”. Someone following the one tag, might indeed be annoyed seeing all the tweets from a hash tag he/she is not following. Specifically so, when the program he uses, like tweetdeck or hootsuite enables seeing more hash tag streams at the screen. It says to me: be prudent on your hash tags.

    Now, For the sake of curiosity I compared the tweetreach this evening of both #digpharm: 12,722 people via 50 tweets; and #hcsmeu: 60,562 people via 50 tweets. I think that says it: from a more commercial agent one knows how to attract attention by sharing ones hash tag with a known more powerful, existing group. I would advice to be prudent with that as well. Commercial activity should be prudent to begin with, just not to upset people, but to guide them loosely to appreciation of ones products/services. Certainly on the net, it is not true what the traditional marketing saying says: “Frapper toujours” (Direct translation: hit daily). It stems from the old days of advertising in papers. The well known Cola campaign, handing out bottles to everyone to taste and try it, was a initiative in the spirit of today’s advice: “Be sure to make the people you target love you by your doings and your services”, is a better guide.

    Hence, one can run two sort of risks in online public communication: the one, when being a novice is that one could trust oneself boldly into sharing commercial content, not knowing that the code of conduct is to share information in a personal and meaningful manner, certainly not the same as in promotion. It needs prudent experience to enter in online discussions!
    The second risk is: being an experienced protagonist, not to allow for novices to learn. It is easy to understand when one pictures one’s presence online as entering as a new member into a club: you wouldn’t jump on stage and say things you wouldn’t know whether they would be appreciated. For the other, you would smile lenient at seeing all that youthful but naive daring.

    Love to see your comments and thanks for reading this!

  6. Hi Rob

    This is definitely the longest comment ever submitted to the STweM site. Thanks for having taken the time.

    I think your sign-off regarding primary and secondary risks is especially valuable, and your comparative data snapshot shows why community hashtags are so appealing to commercial interests, whether we deem them to be appropriate or not.

    I need to begin by saying my observations are value-neutral from the point of view of the #hcsmeu community overall. I’ve no desire to create a ‘Code of Conduct’, nor do I believe such a code is either required or enforceable.

    Really, people can post whatever they like using the #hcsmeu hashtag, with two provisos.

    The first is direct. If I, or any member of the community, see something I don’t like or something I consider to be an abuse of the community’s patience, trust and tolerance, I’ll say so. And I’d invite all other users of the hashtag to do the same.

    My take on this is that we haven’t spent over two years as a community creating a space to share information and insight to have it spammed by commercial interests. We all have to make a living, but let’s face it: we all *know* the difference between presenting information about something we’re involved with and stand to make a profit from in a sympathetic way, once or perhaps twice, and cynically pumping adverts through the #hcsmeu hashtag because we think we can get away with it (or worse, that we’re perhaps ‘entitled’ to).

    The second is indirect. As Sally points out in the tweet included in the post, people *do* notice spam, and their opinion of the intentions and integrity of the repeat abusers may be irreparably damaged to the point that they may wish to have nothing to do with them going forward.

    This is not in the bailiwick of the poster of spam to judge.

    It is for the viewer to decide – and they will.

    It’s worth remembering that the impact of our actions today may not become visible for some time, and we may come to regret them.

  7. Pingback: Reception and perception: the emerging landscape of social business « STweM

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