Stephen Baker

The Numerati
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When Tweeting trumps Friending

October 26, 2009General

SocialText CEO Eugene Lee argues that Twitter might be a better model than Facebook for next-gen communications within companies, so-called Enterprise 2.0. Facebook's trouble? Reciprocal friending. The problem, he says, is that employees on corporate social networks start collecting friendships of execs. "Because the Rolodex is public, it becomes a matter of VP trading cards."

A preferable model for corporate relationships, he says, is Twitter, where people lend their attention, not necessarily their friendship. In SocialText's Twitter-like corporate offering, Signals, more people are likely to "follow" the CEO--assuming he or she has anything interesting to Tweet.

Lee, who stopped by our offices this afternoon, also had thoughts about enterprise search. Here's the kind of question people ask each other in companies. "You know that slide of the chart with the curve that makes that double-dip?" And answers, Lee says, are almost impossible to find on search engines.

Studies indicate, he says, that knowledge industry workers spend the equivalent of one day per week searching for people or information. Often, the key is to find "the person who knows the person who knows the answer."

Of course Lee's betting that companies will harness social tools to find that information and make workers more productive. The only problem, from my perspective: Sometimes questions are dumb, and it's less embarrassing for employees to pound away on Google and desktop search...
(cross-posted on

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