in Social Media

Social Networking: Prisoner’s Dilemma all over again

One thing I run in more and more often is that most people are not used to creating a personal social network,  as in connections with people and topics, for a certain goal. And I have to admit, it is not something we as humans are used to do on a regular basis. It is Prisoner’s dilemma all over again, if you don’t invest time, you won’t get any value out of it, however if you do invest the time, you still might not get the value out of it, because the lack of other people investing time. And if you don’t invest time at all, you might even be missing out (which is general fear of most people on social networking) independent on what other people do on the network.

Networks without Prisoner’s Dilemma

Most networks we have, are created organically based on either social aspects (family, neighborhood, school, sports) work or interest aspects (school, university, hobby, sports, department) or any other aspect that bonds people together. It is not that we deliberately choose to build our network, it happens to us most of the time, therefore it is a big switch to all of the sudden have to check check boxes and select other things to build your personal social network. However it doesn’t really happens to us, we do it on purpose, though with another purpose then building a network.

When you start with playing soccer you know your social network will extended by at least 10 other people. When you are going to school you know you get your class as new people in your social network, with family there is hardly ever a choice, you got them in your network one way or another. Though on social networks and especially internal business social networks often there is less of these circumstances that help you to create a social network. Since that is what the soccerclub, the school and family does, creating a basis of your social network and overcoming Prisoner’s dilemma.

Prisoner’s Dilemma also the dilemma for Enterprise Social Networking

With the rise of enterprise social networking you are confronted with building yet another network, however again the main question: how to start? You might want to build your internal social network by following colleagues you know, however will that be an added value? Since you are already able to get their information via other channels. How can you reach out to the likeminds in your organisation and keep in touch with them, how will you discover the golden nuggets with regards to information you need?

Every new network has the burden of starting from scratch (or nearly from scratch) and creating your new network. Involving difficult decision on who to connect with and who not. Since you might be connected with Person A on Network X, but should you connect also on Network Y, do you even want to connect again to that person? How will you discover new content, new people, how will it add value? There are hardly any good answers on these question other than: you have to invest time (again) to do this, it isn’t easy. However if you don’t do it properly you will know for sure you won’t get any value out of it.