Successful Social Tools

This morning, I did six– count em– SIX radio interviews for the book.

Here’s some stuff I kept reiterating, that I’ll say now for you, except I’ll expand on it, because you already get a lot of it.

Humans don’t change.

Only tools change. We’ve always trusted and liked the same kind of people + channels– those that were open with us, that are amusing and that tell us interesting things.

Social tools only succeed if they function around human needs.

Social recommendation sites like Reddit and Digg work because we do these things naturally; these tools just amplify it.

If you’re creating a social tool, you need to think, “Is this a normal human behaviour?” If it seems off, you need to make it more natural by reducing friction. Seems to me that it’ll get you closer to success.

Some human needs aren’t yet satisfied by technology.

There’s a lot of stuff that can be duplicated today by social technology, such as allowing for trusted networks, finding work recommendations, and so forth. But not all.

Some human behaviours aren’t yet amplified by social technologies. The trick to success is to facilitate the creation of these tools, and reduce the friction around adopting and using them.

Think Seesmic Desktop. Its main purpose its to reduce friction; as long as it does that well, it succeeds. That’s a smaller job than to duplicate a human behaviour, but it’s still a big enough job that it’s capable of sustaining a company.

The ideal social technology duplicates all human behaviours.

If you can duplicate one social behaviour that we humans have, you’ve got a real success. Think Digg, Facebook, Twitter, even PlentyOfFish— all hugely successful sites that facilitate a natural human behaviour.

If you can do many of them, you’ve got a… well, I don’t know quite what, but something crazy.

Your job, then, is one of three things:

a) Build a tool that facilitates natural human behaviour.

b) Reduce friction in facilitating one of these behaviours through an existing tool.

c) Become a master at one of them.

Each of the above is a bigger job than one of the one below it– so if you just want to relax, choose a simpler one lower on the pyramid, it’ll be easier and you’ll have more time to ride your bicycle with your family or whatever you do.

Anyway, I’m thinking these are the only 3 ways to succeed with the social web. What do you think? Make sense?






4 responses to “Successful Social Tools”

  1. abby Avatar

    Makes huge sense.

    And something cool that makes the whole pyramid easier to build and/or climb is the curious thing Marshall McLuhan realized… that the Medium is the Message.

    In other words, that our willingness to accept, trust and use each new tool is enhanced by the success we’ve already experienced with tools we’ve accepted, trust and use. If we went with trepidation into Facebook and it turned out great, fr’instance, we’re more likely to venture further afield to try a new social media model.

    How this helps builders is this: Once we’ve completed steps a), b) and c), we can move on to d)and market our newly improved social media tools by revisiting recognized trust agents and reminding the public how much they enjoy and trust them.

  2. Alphonse Hà Avatar

    If you’re creating a social tool, you need to think, “Is this a normal human behaviour,” and if it seems off, you need to make it more natural by reducing friction. Seems to me that it’ll get you closer to success.

    That’s word.

    For the reason you listed, I think Akoha will do very well as well.

    The point that hit home to me is definitely in reducing friction. I think that many people understand or subconsciously get it that any successful tool is duplicating human behavior. Reducing friction is where a lot of people are working out.

    BTW, I think that if you can duplicate all human behavior, you create life 😛

  3. Rufus Shepherd Avatar

    Love to hear this from someone in the social media field.

    Folks who know me are probably tired of me saying, “Technology changes, people don’t.” It amazes me that this causes such uproar, especially with younger users who are convinced they can change the world with the right tech tool. Read books, the same “human condition” persists since people starting writing stuff down.

    Some of these social media tools are WAY, way out there. Simple is good. Change is bad, different is worse 🙂

  4. Drew Hawkins Avatar

    Love this. I think most people overlook the human aspect of social media and forget how it’s just an extension of human behavior. Humans are social, not apps. Way to bring that home.

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