6 Replies Latest reply on Apr 7, 2010 5:28 AM by Ryan Rutan

    Friends vs Associates in a social business context

      I wish I could say that when I got to the office everyday, the place was filled with people that I considered friends. In large companies, the majority of co-workers are more often easier to classify as "associates" (some of whom I might actually not really enjoy working with).

       

      This raises a question: Is there an opportunity for an "Associate" classification similar to (but differing from) the "Friend" classification?

       

      Is it possible to provide something within a social business system that would help convert an "associate" into a full-fledged "friend".

       

      Would creating a multi-level class hierarchy amongst members of such a system cause more problems that it might potentially solve?

       

      Your thoughts?

        • Re: Friends vs Associates in a social business context

          In the internal, employee community context, I was always puzzled by the “friend” feature.  As you stated, most of the people at work are associates or co-workers or team members.  What does it mean to select them as a  friend?   Will this lead to the external issue where people want to connect as a friend just to be collecting friends?  What happens if I say no to an internal request?

           

          With the marketing at Jive toward SBS, I have not heard any good example or rationale for some of the FaceBook features.

          Mike

           

          From: Gary Smith communities@jivesoftware.com

          Sent: Tuesday, April 06, 2010 8:38 AM

          To: Crocker, Michael

          Subject: New message: "Friends vs Associates in a social business context"

           

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          Friends vs Associates in a social business context

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            • Re: Friends vs Associates in a social business context

              How is the friend functionality being used in SBS deployments? What benefit is it providing?

                • Re: Friends vs Associates in a social business context
                  Ryan Rutan

                  Not sure if this will help, but in our internal SBS deployment, we rely on Connections, not Friends.  Your point is appropriate.  What if people are comfortable with just being "Associates"?  Should we force others into friendship because of a few?  In all fairness, it made sense to appease the least common factor.  Knowing that the other exists, and understanding how that person can help you get your job done from a strictly job perspective, IS the primary functional point.  Anything else, we decided was bonus.  If people want to read more into Connections...and say...we are friends...that is there choice.  However, we've introduced most of our users to the Friend Management aspect of Labeling your connections...and many have found that this provides the shade of grey they desire.  I am able to follow people that can help me do my job, and more importantly...I can split those users up into groupings that are relevant based on true friendship or not.  Regardless if the Connection (unilateral)..or Friendship (bilateral) exists, there is still a means in which at least one side of the relationship is benefiting from the link.  Those are my 2 cents. =)

                    • Re: Friends vs Associates in a social business context

                      Good input Ryan!

                       

                      If a multi-level strata were to exist, do you think tools or widgets could be developed that would help you move up a social strata ladder?

                        • Re: Friends vs Associates in a social business context
                          Ryan Rutan

                          At a high-level, being a technical person at heart, I always say Yes, it can be built; however, depending on how you answer some questions...you might find a different answer as it pertains to your situations/constraints.  Here are few to consider:

                           

                          • What is the ultimate goal for the feature?  If it were to exist, what would it drive?  If it were not to exist, would would be people be craving?  These are not always the same answer.
                            • It sounds like you would want to bring awareness to this people taxonomy and status through out the UI...(sidebar-references, mouse-over short-profile, suggestion relevancy, and more ...), if so, then you are talking about creating something a bit more costly than just a Widget.  A widget sits on a dashboard, and is very contained.  Context is implied and locked by it's container's location/topic/level.
                            • If you are looking for something more isolated, then a Widget to display a certain strata for a given container, or even a separate tab all together....would be a great fit.  Sounds like you may want to display a "family tree" of sorts.  Is the context a container (i.e. here is the network for this container)...or a user (you are here in the network for this container)?

                           

                          Also, dont forget about the Status-Level Manager.  This feature is pretty configurable at an instance level (not container)....and if your network spans across all your containers, you may find some strong cohesion with this feature.  I suggest this only because the Status-Level Manager can be isolated and replaced (like most parts of SBS); however, you will really want to know how to do it...(strong technical person)...and understand what it means from a TCO perspective.  Just some thoughts to keep you guys going. =)

                    • Re: Friends vs Associates in a social business context
                      Ryan Rutan

                      As a follow-up, just a thought: the same code-base is used both internally and externally...and I think Friend is more relevant externally, while perhaps over-kill for internal (but not exactly useless).  "Friend" are ideal for people that do not have that day-to-day association (necessarily), and their is an intrinsic social capital in having lots of Friends to be seen as a pillar in the community.  (i.e. If I know this 1 person, I can use them to connect to all of his/her friends)  Keeping the toggle between Connections/Friends provides options for both contexts, depending on the goals for the instance...in the end...options...which I like =)