in Social Design

Why most social platforms are just as bad as email

Most social media platforms are just email reinvented. It is not better than email (nor is it worse), it is just email with a fancy layout taking advantage of the top of the hype cycle. Anything marked as social could be a solution, especially when the workflow feels identical. Since if the flow feel comfortable it should be an easy change process right? Well if it feels comfortable then you are either lucky to work in a truly social enterprise or you are just implementing something you already have.

If the platform is not going beyond these features, you are just paying a premium for a new way of emailing:

  • One on one private conversations; the feature to exchange information in a private way, just from one human to another.
  • One to many conversations;  the feature to exchange information by sharing it with a bigger audience of people you know and don’t know.
  • Tracking conversations; the feature to see if a conversation was read by the receiver
  • Making lists of people; the feature to create a list with which you can share information.
  • Get updates; the feature to get updates from people either because they send it you to specifically or because the information is public
  • History; the feature to go through information exchanged in the past
  • Filtering; the feature to filter and store messages in a specific way either when receiving them or after receiving them.
  • Mark as unread; the feature to mark information as not read so you can follow-up later or you can filter it easily for later consumption.
  • Prioritizing; automatic (algorithmic) prioritizing of incoming information on what is important for you and what not.
  • Alerting; the feature to get an alert when something important happens you have to take a look at.
  • Notifying other people; the feature to notify some people of the message you have sent. This notification can be either visible or hidden to other people you communicate with.

What kind of features could make a social enterprise? To be honest, it is more than just features, it is around the design of the platform. It is about how it works, not how it looks like. Social Design is in its most effective form a way for solving problems and discovering new opportunities. It is a process, not a channel not a business model, it is an activity, it is a set of design principles which enable you to make truly social experiences. Experiences that connect, that people want to trust, to which they can relate, in which they want to participate with friends or strangers, to which they want to contribute with their time and efforts and experiences that they can share with others.

It definitely is not recreating email with a social layer, it is creating a fundamental shift in how we interact with each other and our environment. So if your social platforms feels really comfortable that might be a sign that there isn’t a substantial change and just yet another email in disguise. Change is uncomfortable.