I have been thinking about the social graph concept quite a bit lately and decided to find out exactly what a social graph is. What I finally settled on was the “official definition”:
Social Graph is the network of connections that exist through which people communicate and share information. Applications like photos and events are examples that leverage the social graph. Dave highlights that the Events App (written by Mark Zuckerberg in 8 hours one night) on Facebook is dwarfing evite because of the social graph and the network effects.
The concept is pretty clear.
I recently posted about businesses creating discovery outposts on Internet properties such as YouTube, Facebook, blogs, etc to help potential customers to find them. This combined with the ideas in my post death of the home page lead me to believe that a business’s online presence needs to be a collection of entry points into the business. And upon further reflection, with this definition in hand, I realized I was talking about businesses creating a corporate social graph.
Corporate social graphs shouldn’t be a stretch as businesses are comprised of (you guessed it) people. With the increase of transparency and collaboration between businesses and their customers the creation of a business-centric social graph is really second nature.
We’ve been talking about businesses and socially responsibility for quite some time and this connotes a collective corporate ethic. (Again. Businesses are people.) Where the corporate social graph gets interesting is when employees, that have specialized knowledge of the inner workings of the business and a unique perspective based on their role, begin to add to the corporate social graph. In Robert Scoble’s and Shel Israel’s book Naked Conversations an example of this is provided with Microsoft employees contributing to the humanization of that company by blogging on their own time about the company.
Anyone reading this who is responsible for managing the brand of a company and trying to build the corporate social graph (whether they know it or not) is at this moment squirming in discomfort. The thought of a fellow employee, they don’t control impacting the brand that they have struggled to build is at best an uncomfortable feeling.
In my opinion it’s a great way to create a very deep brand experience. Customers can get a feeling for the people that work at the company and then decide if they are the kind of people they want to work with. The real trick is to make sure that those that are participating in a brand channel (YouTube, blogs, flickr, etc) are people that understand how that brand channel works and the concept of brand equity.
I also think that in the very near future businesses that don’t build their social graphs will be at a distinct disadvantage. It will be interesting to see what brands morph into given the chance.