2.0 Tales: A not so flat world

11 12 2008

This is an old story, but since I never blogged about it, I thought it would be worthwhile to share

In the summer of 2007, I was visiting the IBM’s Banking Industry Solution Centre (BISC) in Barcelona, and was asked to run a session on Web 2.0 and Social Computing to the local team of young developers. At some point, I was mentioning how the world was not actually flat, and how different countries tend to choose distinct online social networks. I then asked: “Facebook is popular in Canada and in the US, Bebo in UK, Orkut in India and Brazil. Which Social Network is popular here in Spain?”. All those young faces were staring at me as if I were the biggest loser on Earth. Then, somebody took the courage and said: “Err. None. Here in Spain, we just go to bars and talk to each other”.

Confirming that assessment, I found later that the Forrester’s European Technographics Benchmark Survey for Q2 2007 revealed that both Spain and France had the lowest number of joiners (those who participate on social networking sites like MySpace) among the European countries included in the research, at 5 and 4% respectively.

The lesson learned was that one-size-fits-all does not apply when it comes to the enterprise adoption of social software. It’s important to understand how different age groups, cultures and personalities react to social computing initiatives and tailor your strategy accordingly.

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3 responses

11 12 2008
wolfc

This couldn’t be truer. Its lumpy depending on who, where, and why the users… Err people…are interested in social software. In fact this challenge is not unique to social software. I struggle sometimes with how folks can’t put themeselves in another’s shoes. Social file sharing might be the greatest thing for me but for someone whose livelihood is based on physical labor it amounts to absolutely no value at all.

Inside the enterprise the exact same is true. Most sales guys that have money on the table aren’t going to risk losing a deal by trying some ‘beta’ tool. And in cultural differences, time zones, personalities, team dynamics, etc and you can’t find a solution that works for everyone.

I think the key is finding ways to make something more accessible to different market segments. Wait, that sounds like marketing? Yes it is.

12 12 2008
mattbarcelona

maybe true Aaron, but even though 2,0 is further behind here in spain it is growing very fast. The difference is that the sun is shining and it s NICE to go to bars and meet real people instead of being in front of the computer all day…

12 12 2008
Aaron

Hey Wolf, point well taken. We all are affected by sampling: people in the same network, almost by definition, tend to share a lot of characteristics and behaviour, so we tend to think we are the norm, when we can easily be the exception. Better yet, with the ultra-segmentation of consumers/users/people, there may be no norm anymore.

Matt, I posted this internally at IBM and a person from France made a similar comment. The last 12 months in France saw an astonishing number of people joining Facebook and Skyrock. I mentioned there that I would expect the same to happen in Spain. Things indeed change, and 12 months in Social Media can be a long time. What never changes though is the pleasure of going to a Spanish bar and enjoy some cerveza and tapas variados, and the chit-chat that goes with that 😉

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