A few words on social media.

It’s hard to believe there was life before social media, and hard to imagine life without it. As a daily user of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter I am unashamedly hooked on social media and my daily fix of Facebook scrolling.

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These days you would pretty much have to live under a rock (or be my 78 year old Nana) to have no interaction with social media. 1997 saw what is commonly regarded as ‘the first’ social media in the form of the website http://www.SixDegrees.com – a website with the focus of bringing people together. Despite its failure, Six Degrees established many of the characteristics still seen in social media today. Today the social media landscape is predominantly made up of “the big three”, blogs, wikis and social networking sites. Other medias include: discussion forums, microblogs, podcasts, web conferencing and virtual worlds.

Social media and business (a budding relationship)

As social media continues to evolve, a huge focus has shifted to how businesses are utilising this tool to directly connect, communicate and collaborate with their stakeholders. Blogs are used by large organisations to communicate to their customers, establish their point of view and build their brand identity and culture. Wikis are used for collaboration; breaking down barriers of distance and different time zones. Many wiki tools now exist to aid businesses with their document management and help them to take advantage of their employees collective genius. Social networks are often regarded as the riskiest of social medias used by businesses, as they are based upon a lack of formality, structure and control. These networks facilitate lateral communication internally and externally for businesses. Businesses have discovered the opportunity social media provides for greater productivity and long-term performance – this realisation is changing how social media is used and shaping the future of this dynamic industry.

“Bottom line of social media is that it enables people to connect, communicate and collaborate.” – Social Media at Work, 2010

Socio-technical systems for dummies

What are socio-technical systems (STS)? Socio-technical systems are complex and require the coordination of multiple elements. Predominantly used in organisational situations, these systems recognise the interactions between humans and technology. A website for example, combines elements such as: lines of code, databases, graphics and user interfaces. All these elements are dependent on one another and interact to create an interface between the technical software and human interaction. An STS will create a system that allows each of these elements to work cohesively together, and provide a solution that optimises the social and technical aspects of a project cohesively.

Socio-technical systems are everywhere, and you probably didn’t even realise. You know those social networking sites we all use, everyday? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? All socio-technical systems. Wikis, blogs, tagging, and a whole bunch of other Web 2.0 tools utilise these systems. It’s not just social media though, another type of STS is the service system which brings together people and technology, to establish value-creation networks. These systems are based on the function of bringing together a range and number of people, technology and organisations. Think of your local train station, these stations integrate a set of diverse elements and when designed need to consider how the physical technology will work together as well as how residents and commuters will use this system for multiple purposes.

 Would love any feedback or questions on my first blog post! What are your thoughts on social media for business? Worth the risk?

Hannah

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