Social Networking for Business: Choosing the Right Tools and Resources to Fit Your Needs

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The First Best-Practice Guide to Executing Any Type of Social Computing Project

Organizations today aren’t just participating in social networking, collaborative computing, and online communities—they are depending on those communities to play crucially important roles in their business. But these collaborative environments don’t just manage themselves: To succeed, they must be guided and nurtured carefully, actively, and intelligently.

In Social Networking for Business, Rawn Shah brings together patterns and best practices drawn from his extensive experience managing worldwide online communities at IBM and participating in social networking on the Internet. Drawing on multiple real-world examples, Shah identifies key success factors associated with launching social networking projects to meet business objectives  and guides you through managing the crucial “micro-challenges” you’ll face in keeping them vibrant.

•   From mega-trends to micro-issues

Mastering both high-level strategy and day-to-day, ground-level management

•   Defining the social experience you want to provide to your community

Clarifying how members can join together and collaborate on collective tasks

•   Focusing on the crucial human factors

Building a culture of engagement in deeper collaborative relationships

•   Promoting effective leadership and governance

Setting ground rules that work appropriately for the situation, without “oppression”

•   Building the skills to manage and measure your collaborative project

Discovering the skillsnecessary to effectively lead computing projects


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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
For companies looking to increase exposure and revenues in today's online environment, leveraging social technologies is serious business. Any project or venture using social technologies requires a strategy, an oversight structure, and mechanisms to measure the outcome. Shah (social software enablement, IBM Software Group) here documents these best practices and identifies patterns and metrics as well. Do not let the slim size of this text fool you; this is quite a dense read and is extremely granular in nature. Furthermore, the book has a strong emphasis on IBM solutions, which might make it more difficult for smaller businesses to embrace the advice. VERDICT While the advice offered here on macro- and micro-level activities is technically applicable to any social project or initiative, readers may not always be able to relate to the content or the examples. In the end, this is a scholarly text appropriate for only the most serious-minded and is potentially an excellent resource for MBA programs.—Judy Brink-Drescher, Molloy Coll. Lib., Rockville Centre, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780132357791
  • Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 1/27/2010
  • Pages: 171
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Rawn Shah is best practices lead in the Social Software Enablement team in IBM Software Group, helping to bring the worldwide population of more than 350,000 IBMers closer together and to improve their productivity through social software. His job involves investigating the wide range of social computing technologies, collecting best practices, measuring the usage and behavior of social software as it impacts productivity, and advising on implementation, governance, and operations.

In his prior job as community program manager for IBM developerWorks, he led a team of operations and development staff covering the worldwide network of thousands of communities, blogs, wikis, and social computing environments supported by IBM. He also led the creation of the developerWorks spaces software tool, a multitenant system to allow individuals and teams to bring many social tools together into their own focused social environments.

An avid software gamer, he has been involved in the online gaming world since 1990, both as a player, a guild leader, and hosting massively multiplayer games. He has witnessed how these social environments have grown from underground curiosities to the billion-dollar businesses of today, with the nature of social grouping and collaboration evolving hand in hand with every new offering.

He has previously served as network administrator, systems programmer, Web project manager, entrepreneur, author, technology writer, and editor in different business environments: as a sole proprietor, in a small startup, and in a Fortune 50 company. He has contributed to six other books, the most recent being the category-leading Service Oriented Architecture Compass, which since has been translated into four languages. His nearly 300 article contributions to technical periodicals such as JavaWorld, LinuxWorld,, SunWorld, Advanced Systems, and Windows NT World Japan, covered a wide range of topics from software development to network environments to consumer electronics.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

About the Author xiv

Chapter 1 Social Computing on the Ascent 1

Reshaping the Way We Work 5

Integrating into Business Processes and Activities 8

Summary 9

Chapter 2 Sharing a Social Experience 11

Modeling Social Experiences 17

Different Experiences for a Complex World 21

Summary 23

Chapter 3 Leadership in Social Environments 25

Governance and Leadership Models 28

A Selection of Leadership Models 29

The Centralized Models 29

The Delegated Model 32

The Representative Model 34

The Starfish Model 35

The Swarm Model 36

Choosing a Leadership Model 37

Leaders and Influencers 40

Summary 42

Chapter 4 Social Tasks: Collaborating on Ideas 45

The Structure of Social Tasks 46

Identifying Beneficiaries 47

Describing the Form of Aggregation 48

Building a Template for a Task 49

Different Models of Social Tasks 49

Idea Generation 50

Codevelopment 53

Finding People 58

Summary 60

Chapter 5 Social Tasks: Creating and Managing Information 61

Recommendations and Reviews 61

Reviews 62

Direct Social Recommendations 63

Derived Social Recommendations 65

Creating and Categorizing Information 66

Sharing Collections 67

Folksonomies and Social Tagging 68

Direct Social Content Creation 70

Derived Social Content Generation 71

Filtering Information 72

Social Q&A Systems 73

Summary 74

Chapter 6 Social Ecosystems and Domains 75

Grouping Instances 75

Grouping Tools 77

Grouping Audiences into Domains 78

Who in the Organization Should Run the Social Environment? 81

Summary 83

Chapter 7 Building a Social Culture 85

Defining a Culture for a Social Environment 86

Ideology and Values87

Behavior and Rituals 88

Imagery 90

Storytelling 92

Culture and Maturity of Social Environments 93

The Cultural Impact of Social Architecture 94

How Social Experience Models Impact Culture 94

How Social Leadership Models Impact Culture 97

How Social Tasks Impact Cultural Values 99

Summary 99

Chapter 8 Engaging and Encouraging Members 101

Belonging and Commitment 101

Creating a Model for Identifying Commitment 103

Maturing over a Lifecycle 108

Programs to Grow or Encourage Your Social Group 112

Membership Reward Programs 112

Recruiting Evangelists and Advocates 114

Member Training and Mentoring Programs 116

Summary 117

Chapter 9 Community and Social Experience Management 119

The Value and Characteristics of a Community Manager 120

Personality Traits and Habits 125

Where Do Community Managers Fit in an Organization? 127

Community Manager Tasks and Responsibilities 129

Member and Relationship Development 129

Topic and Activity Development 132

Administrative Tasks 133

Communications and Promotion 135

Business Development 136

Summary 137

Chapter 10 Measuring Social Environments 139

What Can You Measure? 140

Dimensions of Measurement 143

Types of Metrics 144

Metrics and Social Experiences 147

Measurement Mechanisms and Methods 149

Quantitative Analytic Measurement Mechanisms 149

Qualitative Measurement through Surveys and Interviews 150

Summary 152

Chapter 11 Social Computing Value 153

Defining the Structure of a Social Environment 154

Choosing a Social Experience 154

Setting a Social Leadership Model 156

Defining a Social Task 157

Grouping Experiences and Identifying the Audience Domain 159

Cultural Forces Shaping Social Environments 160

Social Computing and Business Strategy 161

Index 163

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  • Posted August 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    I love social networking tools. I am continuously logged into Facebook, and I use Twitter more or less regularly to promote some of my professional websites. I thought that a book on social networking for business would help me use these tools more effectively, and perhaps improve the visibility and accessibility of my professional websites. However, from the information that I've gathered about this book it seems to be geared more towards large businesses which want to utilize social networking tools to manage their personnel and projects. Or so I assume based on the author's background as some sort of social networking guru at IBM. The fact is, this book is so atrociously badly written that I will never know for sure. Poor choice of words, awkward phrasing, sentences in different paragraphs that allude to each other are just some of the problems with writing that I encountered already on the first couple of pages. I found myself reading and rereading several passages in order to understand what was going on. I can't believe that a reputable publishing house would publish something like this. This book is in a need of a LOT of editing, but I fear that even with some heroic editing effort it still might be unsalvageable.

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