Communities, CoP’s, and everything in-between…

So this week has been quite interesting. We look at Communities, Communities of practice, how these relate to business and what exactly all of these are. What the differences between online communities and communities of practice are, their characteristics and how they help businesses through understanding of these concepts.

Without further dawdling….let’s press on



What is the difference between ‘online communities’ and ‘communities of practice’?

The basic definition of Communities of Practice (CoP) are, groups of people who share a concern or passion for something they do & learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. An ‘Online Community’ could be describes as a group of people who interact via Internet Web sites, chat rooms, newsgroups, email, discussion boards or forums with similar interests.

So through these definitions, the differences seem clearer, however, to be certain clarification on both these terms are needed.

CoP’s involve 3 main components; Domain, Community and Practice. Firstly, a CoP has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Membership implies a commitment to the domain and furthermore shared competence distinguishes members from non members. On top of this, these members value their collective knowledge and competence and learn from each other.

The community aspect is regarding the members involved. It is the pursuit of similar interests in relation to the domain. Members engage in joint activities and discussions where information is shared and explained through various methods. The community also cares for each other as they highly value the information that each member brings to the community. Interaction between members is what drives the community and therefore it cannot be a Community of Practice unless members interact with one another.

Practice makes perfect. The saying rings true in regards to CoP’s. The most valuable asset in any situation is time. Time spent together with sustained interaction is what makes a CoP so effective. The continual sharing base of knowledge and information within the workforce is what makes practice important.


As for Online communities….

Online communities are groups within the WWW that create communities of similar interests but are not expected to share knowledge with one another. Tumblr., Reddit and DeviantArt and even Instagram are such communities. The knowledge of one member does not necessarily get passed on to other members within the community. This could be for a number of reasons such as conflicting interests, creativity or lack of motivation. Online communities however, have fundamentally changed the way companies listen to their customers. These communities can be run like a utility – when you come to work in the morning, you turn on the heat, the lights, and the voice of the customer. It’s always there for you, whenever you need it. The always on characteristic is what makes online communities special in their own respective way.



What are the characteristics of CoP’s and their relevance to business strategy?

The characteristics of CoP’s are that of shared knowledge and information. In business the use of the strategy is advised. Businesses use these methods as a way for staff to interact with each other ultimately leading to knowledge being passed around therefore making the entire unit better functioning. This however can only work if all these staff members share the interests and want to pursue the goals set by the domain. Hospitals use this tool heavily as nurses and doctors talk to each other about patients when not working such as lunches or dinners and therefore learn from each other. It seems as though there is no direct way of implementing the system however, and that co=workers have to set out a way to communicate with each other in a way that is effective.

In recent years, the internet has taken over much of the knowledge base. The communication within workforces have decreased and the amount of questions has as well. Therefore the use of CoP’s are limited.

What are the benefits and limitations of online communities and COPs to businesses?

Lets start with limitations.

As said before, questions are being reduced within the workforce as a lot of these ‘answers’ could be Googled. Knowledge is being shared through online channels rather than face to face. The use of online communities could have its limitations as well as today everything people want is instant. Being always on could result in more people wanting to know things at business closing times and therefore sales could take a plummet. CoP’s cannot always share knowledge and sometimes others do not want to learn from each other making it difficult to create a solid CoP to begin with.

On the other hand, CoP’s create a wealth of knowledge to those who seek each other out and have similar interests. Online communities although tricky, if done correctly the rewards could benefit a company immensely.

That’s all this week. Look for the next post as it will be on an actual company and its practices….

The 4 C’s & The S.O.C.I.A.L Approach



This week has been full on, the amount of work involved is starting to build and the challenge of presenting a worthy entry seems to be the biggest challenge. This week we look at a more interesting aspect of social media. The 4 C’s – Connection, Collaboration, Communication and Cooperation all have something to do with social media, how everything and everyone interacts with technology and the world around them. Lastly, Cisco’s S.O.C.I.A.L approach when looking at social media will be addressed.

The 4 C’s in Social Media

Connection – Connection is a main factor in social media. One could argue that it is the backbone of Social Media. Connection drives human interactions, the needs to interact with one another and the feeling of belonging is ever present today. Businesses use connections to connect with each other along with gaining new customers and interacting with existing ones.

Cooperation – Sharing. Similar to collaboration in a way that people work together.


Collaboration – Working together. Multiple ways collaboration works is through Social Media today. Businesses are able to adapt and work together with customers in order to create products and services for the future. An example of collaboration is Wikipedia where everyone can contribute on subjects and therefore different knowledge is applied.

Communication – Simply put it is how everyone communicates with one another through, talking, txt, phone, email, instant messaging and various other methods. Communication has gone through multiple phases over time. Informality, recently has become a prime characteristic of social media and therefore has become part of the communication criteria.


Cisco’s SOCIAL Approach

S – Scalable – Train and empower employees

O – Open – Lead from the top

C – Consistent – Show commitment, “always on”

I – Intuitive – Make it easy to connect/navigate

A – Active – Create and share content to trigger conversations

L – Limitless – Be flexible


From the readings during this week the SOCIAL approach from Cisco is intriguing. The simple definitions of each are as above. Scalable – A businesses needs for trained employees is a must, this not only helps the business, but the employee as well. When trained, an employee plays a vital role in contributing the success to a company. Being able to up skill and create better opportunities is what is meant by this aspect of the SOCIAL approach.

Open….Leading from example. It all starts at the top of management. Owners, CEO’s, Managers and such all have methods in which they lead their respective businesses. The way leadership is executed is what counts. Leadership can only be shown and done with employees rather than by commands as people in today’s working society feel equal on a personal level.

Consistency is always key. The term ‘always on’ could mean a number of ways. Social media being always online and always active is an extremely useful tool when wanting to communicate with customers. Businesses can contribute more through finding out from their customers than they can searching for it. An example of being always on is McDonald’s 24hour services. Facebook has increasingly become a way in which businesses are able to be always on as well.

Intuition is something that is hard to learn but if you have the skill works wonders. Knowing what your customer likes and dislikes is key to success in Social Media. The way your business interacts and the ease of use is top priority to many customers and can be a deciding factor on whether consumers stay or leave.

Active…creating content and sharing….Twitter, YouTube and Facebook do this well. Companies use these sites as amazing tools to gauge what their customers think and easily can create a community within their organization of what customers want most.

Limitless….the word is easy to say but putting the flexibility into a business is a lot harder than most things as many companies are old and feel that their current practice is the best. Flexibility is a key to successful operation!


That was this weeks post. Till Next time!



Is there a Risk to Adopting Social Media in The Workplace?

Social Media and the Workplace….

Those two things seem to be far from each other, sounds like a managers worst nightmare. However, in reality what are the risks of adopting Social Media in the workplace? In recent times with Social Media applications on the rise and the advances of the new generation in the workforce it is seen as something to be used daily. The mindset that communication involves door-to-door sales or phone calls or sending out flyers are well in the past. The costs of flyers verses an ad on FaceBook speaks for itself and the potential to reach millions of people at the same time make Social Media a serious consideration  for the workplace.


There must be risks though right? Well to be fair, the simplest answer is “Yes”, of course there are risks regarding Social Media, its open and public! That’s why it is “Social”. So as a business moves forward and adopts social media concepts within its business policies what do they need to address in terms of challenges and issues regarding the use of Social Media. Why is social capital and trust important? Is there a negative spin on using Social Media, how are these obstacles overcome? Does culture play a role in the implementation and the adoption of Social Media in the working environment? Well, this posts discussion will address these concerns and finalise with my own question as always.


Let’s start off with challenges….

  • Distraction
  • Privacy
  • Content
  • Executive Resistance
  • Culture

Okay so, knowing what Social Media is, is important when defining how it should be used. The list of distractions are linked through Management within a company, as a manager it is clear that they would see social media as a distraction, workers spend more time on Facebook than they actually spend doing work which is the usual interpretation. Then there’s the privacy issue, how can a company keep its secrets and internal affairs private if it has staff that are constantly on social media? What about content? NSFW (Not Safe For Work) is seen around Social Media quite a bit. There are always ways to prevent these from being accessed through a companies computer. Culture, what is culture? How can culture affect Social Media?

So these challenges seem all to lead back to Management. Executive Resistance. Fears of productivity lead to management shying away from the idea of adopting Social Media.


According to Christine Eberle, these “risks” that companies see are there however can easily be mitigated. She suggests that companies have “Corporate Rules” so as to make sure that the use of social media is within the company or businesses best interest. The value that the younger Millennial generation place on trust is high and therefore she believe that trust is in important issue. The difficulty is incorporating older staff members to use social media as well by encouraging the use, the company will see increases in productivity along with growth through social media networks. It also allows a new way of thinking within the company itself as the company opens up to new ideas and newer strategies for marketing their products and/or services.


Being culturally sensitive is another issue in which companies need to address seriously. The culture of people in regards to the companies culture. With the rise of social media, the cross cultural communication between people have become widespread and quite popular. In any company or place of work, many employees are diverse in background and knowing this is important when dealing with people from a different culture to your own. This also applies to customers as knowing how they would respond to you is a way to show you understand them as your customers.

Okay, so concluding this post it is important to recognise that there are always risks involved when adopting social media, however if implemented right it can really make a difference in the company!


Government Knowledge – Social or Anti-Social?


The Big Bad Government! The words “Trust” and “Belief” are thrown around as if they mean something in today’s government systems and hierarchy’s. It seems as though the more someone says “Trust me” the less you can or should. The government of the world is known for its wealth of knowledge and the secrecy that goes along with having all this knowledge. Society in general can receive a wealth of knowledge at the click of a button, however, is the knowledge we seek within our grasp and if so, how would social networks boost the spreading of this knowledge.


Today’s post will be shorter than usual, but loaded with content, attention to detail is key here. The following questions will be addressed:

  • What are the drivers & inhibitors of social media being implemented and adopted within the government?
  • What similarities and differences are there between the private sector and government sector when it comes to social media implementation?

See, short but broad…

With the rise of social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the amount of public knowledge shared by the governments of the world and through public leaks have seen a dramatic increase. The knowledge shared by governments to the public aka “Public Sharing” is mostly regulated so that limited information gets passed through. This could be for a number of unspoken reasons.


According to a Parliament Research Paper done in New Zealand;

  • – The majority of New Zealand members of Parliament (MPs) have at least one online social media account on the most popular online social media sites used by New Zealanders.
  • – Online social media influenced the 2008 New Zealand General Election campaign, and is likely to impact more upon future election campaigns.
  • – Online social media can facilitate better engagement and communication between MPs and the general public.

These general statements could show what drives the government to pursue social media as a way to gain interest to a certain political party. People with the same views and ideologies can connect with MP’s on a meaningful level and therefore be more open to the public. This leads to “transparency” – meaning that the government is more open about knowledge and sharing that knowledge with the public.

Governments such as this use social media as a tool to gain trust with their citizens. This being the main engine that drives adoption of social media use. It keeps the government honest, by making things public you can’t change your mind once its out in the open. Citizens also feel as though they have a right to know things within today’s need-to-know society. That however could lead to blockages of information.

Information as always can be transmitted the wrong way, misinformed people informing others could lead to a whole group being misinformed. Being the way that words can be interpreted it would be a smart for governments to approach social media with caution as no matter what you say on the internet it would always offend someone, especially nowadays.



Similarities – If you look at previous posts on businesses it is clear that trust is a major factor in obtaining loyalty from customers, it is the biggest contributor towards success. Within business and the government alike. The way that both use social media is familiar in a way as they both need to communicate with people in order to engage them and produce some sort of response. The ways in which they do this might be different however but the methodology is the same.

Differences – Now, it should be noted that one cannot run a country like a business and vice versa, therefore there has to be a difference in their respective approach to the use of social technology. A business cannot divulge all its secrets or be fully transparent as there would always be practices that shouldn’t be shared or employee information that cannot be shared unless authority is given. This means that businesses have an easier time dealing with social media and what practices are right and wrong and the boundaries are quite clear. Unfortunately for governments the opposite is true. Citizens have a need-to-know attitude and this makes it harder on the government to keep everything under wraps. Leaks and such by groups such as “Anonymys” – a hacktivist group known to scrutinize the governments every move and make these actions known to the public.


To leave today, as always a question…

If you could ask your government any question they had to answer honestly, what would you ask?

The Big Question: What can Social Media do for Business?


Now, this post could be called “The Main Event” or something alike. The whole paper is based around what Social Media can do for Businesses. A concept that many businesses feel they need to adapt to. The change and shift in focus through social media channels is inevitable and therefore all options have to be considered when jumping aboard the massive ship that social media is in society today.

In order to experience what Social Media can do for a business however, their are precautionary steps involved when making that final one. Moving on, today’s post will discuss how small businesses and non profit organizations could use social media as a tool, how their use of it would differ to larger companies. Lastly it will look at the difference between the traditional use of Social Media and the contrast of Mobile Social Media along with the massive risks involved.


It is commonly known that social media in today is something that many cannot live without. The latest FaceBook update, the newest “Tweet” by their favourite celebrity, the trendiest photo on Instagram, it’s a mouthful, handful, earful and it is here to stay. With everyone being so “connected” businesses look to take advantage of these avenues and rightly so. With larger companies established it seems like the best thing to do for smaller businesses to follow suit. However, it seems as though small businesses are slower to the table than it seems. According to Bakeman and Hanson (2012) Small businesses have been less inclined to adopt social media as the cost of maintaining these methods seem to be more expensive. However, they argue that this is the unfortunate situation of inexperience and lack of understanding within the older business owners. Many smaller business believe that by simply setting up a web page or creating a Facebook page that their sales will rise automatically. Unfortunately if it were that simple, everyone using social media would be rich.

The problem businesses face when approaching social media is that they think of it as a simple application that entails little to no effort. This is not the case, the tool can only be used well if it is put into the right hands. The time that is dedicated is an important factor as most small firms are not willing to dedicate staff members to this particular area of marketing their brand. Casserly (2013) from Forbes suggests that to be able to reach the masses and also dedicate time to social media a business should think to use a younger generation such as “your son or daughter” if you are the business owner or employees that are up to date with the latest technology. University students studying in fields such as Marketing, Communications and Information Technology are healthy assets to a small business if they are part time employees. This could be due to the fact that we spend most of the time online and most of the younger generation feel a “need” for connection and attention. According to Manta, their studies show exactly how many businesses use social media along with the importance of networking through these channels.


Manta’s info graphic explains a range of different aspects of social marketing and networking. The numbers of it all. According to another part of the info graphic, it shows that 90% of businesses use social networks actively while the other 10% have yet to jump on to the idea. Of the 90% however, only 24% dedicate half their network time to online channels. This could lead to the assumption that either these businesses have no idea what to do with social media or that they have limited funds to support their campaigns on these media platforms.


Another interesting find was that 42% of these small business found that they gained a quarter of their new customers through social channels and that 42% have FaceBook and found it quite a useful tool when finding new customers.




To finish up, the subject of social media and mobile social media take the spotlight. In what ways do mobile driven social applications differ to conventional methods. Kaplan (2012) argues that going mobile is certainly the right way to go. The title of the article “If You love something, Let it go Mobile” speaks for itself. The article outlines the numerous benefits that come with mobile social marketing. This includes, however is not limited to, personalisation, ease-of-use, costs, speed and variety.


The personalisation aspect is definitely a major positive for companies looking to advertise particular services or products to certain customers.  Speed and cost go hand-in-hand when looking setting up a business for online marketing. “Deals” and “Promotions” can be personalised on the fly and almost instantaneously for most businesses with a good online marketing campaign. Along with this, customer service teams in larger firms are paid to look at complaints, recommendations and respond ASAP to these. Costs are effectively lower as well, and the accessibility of using the technology is relatively easy to explain and understand.

But what are the risks? How could this not lead to a future of brain-dead people fooled by the media influencing their daily lives. These are the concerns following. Today I will leave a video on social media hopefully enlightening how we feel about the technology….

Web Technologies

Back to business in this next piece.

What are “Web Technologies”? How do we define them? The following post will follow up on exactly these questions and hopefully shed some light on the topic.


To get it right we have to start with the basics. The types of web technologies that there are. In our systems today there are a number of technologies in place such as; Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, and Semantic Web. However, not all these are the same, yet they are all related.

Web 1.0 refers to the first stage in the World Wide Web (WWW), made up entirely of web pages connected through hyperlinks. The basic concept of Web 1.0 technology unfortunately makes it irrelevant to this post as it is believed to refer to the web when it was a set of static sites providing to interactive content.


Now, for the more interesting part.

Web 2.0.

Web 2.0, the term that was founded in 2004 by Tim O’Rielly, where the technology behind the concept was explained. It is explained as a platform that can be used as an interactive source for end users. It refers to the second generation of the Web itself where everything is user-centered. This indicates a radical shift in the static component of Web 1.0. The services of Web 2.0 focus on social connection, media and information sharing.

Information such as user related content that can be shared and collaborated with other individuals. Sounds a lot like a blog doesn’t it? Or maybe even a shared services site?


What is certain about the technology of Web 2.0 is that it is flexible. Flexibility is key in such a technology, socially driven industry. The ability to create on the fly and come up with solutions to old problems and update past services to keep up with today’s ever-changing technology. In order to keep Web 2.0 around the framework is very simple and easy to use, making it a reason for its longevity. It is also lightweight, meaning it is easy to use, adopt, create and deliver using a variety of technologies and models.


Web 3.0

The extended brother if you will. Web 3.0 is basically that. An extension of Web 2.0. Nova Spivack defines it as connective intelligence; connecting data, concepts, applications and ultimately people. Furthermore, while some assume that Semantic Web is basically Web 3.0 Spivack describes it as on of several defining trends that will ultimately define Web 3.0 Technology.


This technology is able to express a kind of intelligence, incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural language processing and data mining techniques. Understanding of the term “Semantic” is that it is the study of meaning, focusing on relationships between words, symbols, phrases and signs. This indicates that a Semantic Web is one that learns and adapts to the user in a way that seems as though the Web understands the users final goal or what they are trying to say. It goes a long way for businesses to think of using these techniques in order to achieve targets and specified user goals.



As the table above shows the differences between the two technologies it is certain that while they are different they do make up of the same principles. They are ever evolving and for that reason will be relevant for a long time to come.

Web 4.0


  • Web 0.0 – Developping the internet
  • Web 1.0 – The shopping carts & static Web
  • Web 2.0 – The writing and participating Web
  • Web 3.0 – The semantic executing Web
  • Web 4.0 – Open, Linked & Symbiotic Web
  • Web 5.0 – ???

Web 4.0. Hypothetically has not been developed however it has been thought of. The subject matter touches on Sci-Fi at this point in time however, with advancements in technology we see today it is plausible to assume that these Ultra Intelligent technologies can be developed in the near future.

Can you imagine a screen-less smartphone?


So to thicken the plot my question this week is what do you think of Web 5.0? What could it be? How could we even comprehend it?

Until next time


What is Social Media & How is it used in business?


Social Media has become a popular topic in today’s society. It entices users around the world with its connectivity. Arguably this making the world a smaller place as communication barriers are taken down rapidly with the advancements in technology. Therefore, this first entry will look at the features of what social media is and the history behind it. The usefulness of using social media as a tool for businesses will also be explored along with what socio-technical theory is. The conclusion of this entry will be open ended on questions.


Most people today recognize the “Like” symbol and its association with social media juggernaut Facebook. However although it may be in the lead of popularity contests among other networks, Facebook was not the first. The first recognized social media site was Six Degrees which started a long time ago in 1997. The concept of blogging soon after became popular and followed on through websites such as MySpace and BEBO. YouTube was created in 2005 and allowed users to share videos with the world. Facebook and Twitter followed suit in 2006. Today we have a multitude of different ways to communicate through Instagram, Tumblr., Pintrest, Google+ to name a few.

The ways in which they co-exist are what makes them relevant in today’s heavily ego-driven society. Instagram’s photos can be instantly shared to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Google+ allowing users to connect with thousands of others at one time. With this in mind it can easily be justified as to why more and more businesses are looking to be on social media and find new ways to promote their ideas to a plethora of consumers.

Businesses use social media as a tool to find new customers along with creating a space to communicate with current customers. According to, Social media has revolutionised the way businesses interact with clients and possible future consumers. Social media in any form is relatively easy to use and requires little to produce something BIG. Businesses are able to survey customers along with gathering data of what customers want through “likes” and are also able to deal with complaints directly making their brand more reputable.

Socio-technical theory comprises of 2 sub-systems which co-exist to form the organisation. The 2 sub-systems are technical and social. According to these systems are described by stating “The technical subsystem comprises the devices, tools and techniques needed to transform inputs into outputs in a way which enhances the economic performance of the organization. The social system comprises the employees (at all levels) and the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and needs they bring to the work environment as well as the reward system and authority structures that exist in the organization.” This ties in well with the idea of businesses using social media to promote their goals through the use of devices along with using people to drive their businesses further.

To conclude, I ask, what social media can do in terms of promotion for a business? How would businesses and social media keep reinventing themselves to keep people interested? How much data is required for these sorts of business tactics.

Until next time.