These days it seems that everything has become social.
We have social media, social gaming, enterprise social networking, the social web and the list goes on. It seems that social has taken over our world, but has it really?
The very fact that we use this word simultaneously with so many different types of applications means we're only at the verge of maximizing its real value. The truth is that we've always been social.
Our interactions in social networks are simply a reflection of our offline lives. The grand majority of us communicate with the same group of people every day and we have small groups of people that we trust. These are the same friends, family, and acquaintances that we keep separated in our circles of influence online. Paul Adams, author of "Grouped: How small groups of friends are the key to influence on the social web", describes this in length.
He points to the changing nature of the Internet from a repository of documents linked together towards a new structure built around people and their relationships. This has implications for businesses and their customers, but when you really look at it there's nothing drastically new about all this "socialness". It's simply being communicated with new tools and having a farther reach. The thousands of years of hard wired emotions remains unchanged in humans. Yet, we fail to communicate the naturalness of these tools by instead concentrating on the technicalities and market hype.
In many ways we're being duped into believing that social media is this strange and exotic world that only a few can master. When in reality any reasonable human being can do just fine. The trick is remembering to stay true to yourself, act as you would offline, and do what you enjoy. Easy enough right?
While many of us reading this consider ourselves savvy enough with social networks there is still many that see them as something very different to what they're used to. They fail to see that they've actually been social networking all their lives and just because you can now do it on a laptop or mobile device doesn't mean it's suddenly a foreign concept. Emotional connections need to be made so that more people can see the value of social networking in their lives.
As the social web becomes a reality and available in many forms we will find the online and offline worlds becoming blurred. A multitude of social networks may remain prevalent but your identity will travel with you wherever you go, whether in your personal or professional life. All these advances are actually returning us to our social roots in a new and improved way. However, we're still tweaking it and much remains to be done to maximize the real value of social in our new world.
Social networks will become the normal conduits of communication and that will be when social is simply the norm, not the differentiating factor. How will we know when social networks reach this point? When we stop thinking of them as social and start thinking of them as business as usual.