A nurturing social network is always going to be an interesting topic given some of the ideas behind StrongTi.es. StrongTi.es is all about creating a social network where real, trusted and meaningful relationships are forged and nurtured. In practice, this means ensuring that the small groups people belong to are supportive, collaborative and that they sustain themselves over months and perhaps years.
Tools v. Content
With the above in mind, I was struck by a post from Chris Brogan with the provocative title of "Social Media Isn’t Dead: It’s Boring". The gist of the piece is that when it comes to social media, people are still talking about 'tools' rather than 'content'. Brogan uses the examples of restaurants, where food is the content and bands, where music is the content. So far so good, but hidden away in the article was a sentence that caught my eye.
Where people have the most ground to make up is in nurturing a network of people who care about what you choose to share.
Given the widespread popularity of other networks, I thought this extract was very telling. In my mind, the assumption must be that if everyone is still, for the most part, talking about tools and not content, then surely there's something that the tools themselves are missing. Is it a case of an itch that the tools can't scratch?
Social Tools Speed Up, Rather than Raise the Quality of Our Interactions
Perhaps another way to look at social tools is that regardless of the feature set, from a human interaction and relational perspective, they basically just speed up our interactions¹. Put another way, maybe people are still talking about tools because they believe that it is the tools themselves that will allow them to "nurture a network of people who care about what they choose to share".
Given the promise of social media and its addictive nature, it's natural to see why people would continue to explore the tools as a means of improving their own experience.
Ongoing Changes around Social Tools and Social Networks
Although I haven't read the Impact Equation (it's on the list!), the book is focussed on;
Helping people get attention, understanding, and eventually a relationship of value
Whilst this is clearly different to StrongTi.es and seems to be implicitly aimed at businesses, it will be interesting to see where the discourse around tools and content develops in the coming years. Building on some of the assumptions I've made in this post and with crystal ball in hand, I suspect people will demand more and more from their social tools and social networking. Falls in levels of Facebook user engagement and the rise of App.net as a paid for social network are just two examples that have emerged this year.
How else can we Create a Nurturing Social Network?
Building on these shifts in social tools and the original extract from Brogan, will we start to see tools, content, facilitation techniques or a combination of all three and more actually help us all build stronger and more collaborative relationships? This of course is a question that's central to StrongTi.es and one that will be interesting to follow over the coming months and years.
Image credit: sveres