Collaborative learning about social networking platforms
What is the principle behind social networking sites? How to pick the right tool for yourself? Where does the UN position itself?
It is curious that since we initiated the Brown Bag Lunch Series none of the sessions resembled one another even though the same team organized it. Sure the audience varies, but not entirely. On the one hand we can proudly say that we have seen faces returning. On the other hand we could attract colleagues from outside of UNU for the first time.
This month’s topic was Social Networking Online. Instead of the usual icebreaker and different assessment exercises, we dived into the topic right away. We worked through the basic questions such as:
What is the principle behind social networking sites?
Social networking sites let people create online connections with one another. Communities usually begin as small groups of individuals who invite others to become part of their own personal networks, who again invite more people. This way the total number of members and links in the network grows continuously. Usually communities grow faster and stronger if there is a shared interest. To find out about people’s interest, members of a social networking site are encouraged to add additional descriptive information about themselves such as their professions, their interests etc.
How to pick the right tool for yourself?
By now there are a huge number of ready-made public as well as private social networking sites which you can join, as well as tools and systems to build your own social networks. The most commonly known are most probably: facebook, linkedin, ning, flickr, youtube etc.
Which tool is best for you depends on a number of factors not least the functionality and its cost. The functionality of social networking tools and platforms varies quite considerably – from simply enabling members to connect with one another, to providing full collaboration functionality for its members.
Always keep in mind – it is not the tool’s fault, if it is used for the wrong job.
Is there a clash of generations?
Millions of users of social network sites led to an increased need for research. Who are all these people? If you instantly think of young techies, than you are far from it. In May 2009 eMarketer reviewed a report by Anderson Analytics that compared the different generations’ use of a number of these social networks and it showed that social networking is popular across generations!
Once we had gone through the basics, it was time for some straight talking:
Where does the UN position itself when it comes to social networking online? Are they jumping on the band wagon or staying behind?
With a seemingly endless number of tools out there and only 60 minutes to talk about them, we had to make a choice. So we picked three: Yammer, Teamworks and LinkedIn. This was no random choice! As I had mentioned before, for the first time we had colleagues attending the brown bag lunch who work for other UN agencies and each of them has some extensive knowledge to share about the tools themselves and their uses at the respective agency. The generous knowledge exchange amongst the participants sparked a lively discussion.
From our side, I can say that we learned a tremendous amount not only about social networking, but also how fresh input from close and distant colleagues can add great value to internal knowledge sharing sessions.
Thank you for sharing and we hope to see some of you again next month!
Until then, please enjoy our presentation on social networking online.
Isabel Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org)