Archive for the ‘Social leadership’ Category

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or living in China, you would have stumbled upon Google’s latest venture: the Google+ project.

It’s funny how many forgive and forget when it comes to Google. One would expect the abysmal failure of Google Wave 2 years ago, stifling the public’s tolerance of giving any Google grown ‘social’ product another go. It seems though the leading search engine provider has succeeded in breaking its novice status with the creation and execution of Google+, now with 25m users and counting. Google’s best kept secret? Not anymore.

Having worked with online products for so long, I appreciate how difficult it is to nail an online platform that hails simplicity and sophistication at the same time. Add to this the already cluttered online community space that is dominated by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn amongst others, it’s quite exciting to see Google+ take the lead in what I would label as social media’s next generation of platforms. Why I draw this conclusion boils down to a couple of factors:

Google+ gives ultimate control to the individual. Unlike Twitter and Facebook where the rights of sharing is dependent on the message recipient’s willingness to connect with the sharer, Google+ allows the end user to freely add Google+’ians into user groups and share messages based on their personalised circles of individuals. It’s asymmetrical in nature, and it’s just what social junkies are looking for.

Google+ evolves the equation of a sticky platform. Think of a restaurant that you regularly eat at. What makes you go back there? It’s a combination of things: the food, the service, the atmosphere, the people you dine with. I used to think that the community for social networks was the primary determinant of a user’s loyalty (the key reason that I gave Facebook another go despite being dubious about its utility in my life). It seems now that being a ‘regular’ in the longhaul also requires a continued investment in keeping features (equivalent to the restaurant’s atmosphere and menu) on the platform attractive. And what’s cool about Google+ is that you don’t need an online tutorial or help tips: the environment is predictable to the end user, the Google+ diet is easy to digest!

Since its launch we’ve seen tweaks in the Circles module and YouTube sharing, driven primarily by screening usage (which is not surprising with Google’s advanced web analytics capabilities) and listening to user’s feedback. Crowdsourcing is a cool way of learning more about users and ensuring users remain engaged on the network.

This approach breathes the importance of iterative development, the importance of being agile with managing a living and breathing platform as more information about your users and their behaviours surface.  Twitter started off with attractive features (the concept of ‘followers’ and @ mentions and RT or quotes) but responded too late to third party applications who offered more convenience in features such as shortened links and in line influence scores from Klout.

It’s great to be reminded that the social media space will never stop evolving and I’m pleased to see Google+ taking a decent leap in the right direction.

What I look forward to? I see a richer user experience across other Google web properties as a result of first hand insights from Google+ users (for example, improved relevancy on Google Search); more functionality on its mobile app, particularly for Android powered mobiles; further integration of video chat properties within its cool Hangout feature and a Google+ API.

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and boy have I missed doing so! Since starting a new job with a larger remit and more work to conquer, keeping in tune with happenings in digital media has been fleeting at best.

 The past 5 months have left me pondering the topic of modern leadership and what makes a great (and sustaining) leader. To me, an inspiring leader must not only articulate the purpose of any venture or project clearly and in a way that makes sense for me, they must also connect and relate to my job at hand, the challenges faced and seek to then give constructive advice on the best mode of action.

What I’ve also noticed is that the digital world has significantly influenced what others expect from a leader. The interactive nature of the social web has meant any individual irrespective of skillset and experience has equal right to voice their opinion and be heard. In the same way, the next generation breed of up and coming managers who live and breathe with an online presence will demand instantaneous gratification: this means finding direct access to a discussion that has traditionally taken place behind closed doors. Gone are the days of effective dictatorship (which might I point out is very different to taking a directive stance – proven useful particularly in times of uncertainty and constant change).

To be truly collaborative, modern leadership is about incorporating typical elements of the social web: being accessible any time by your team, involving people on big ticket items right from the start (rather than after the event) and aligning your approach using the available tools these days (eg. Creating a Yammer community dedicated to sharing ideas) that encourages creative contributions on a daily basis.

Social leadership isn’t a new phenomenon (see Charlene Li’s briefing at SXSW last year), it’s here to stay as long as we humans are!