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The Social Web is a Culture of Invitation

Submitted by on November 23, 2009 – 3:09 pm7 Comments

For those who don’t know, I took on a new job in late October.  I am now the SVP of Digital Strategy at Fleishman Hillard.  These are still early days but what has become immediately clear to me is that Fleishman has “a culture of invitation.”  (to borrow a phrase from my friend, Ilya).  What does that mean?  Well, in any job that employs a large workforce and demands a lot of creativity and collaboration, work doesn’t just come to you by way of your title, you need to earn a seat at the table by building strong, trust-based relationships.   Knowledge work is highly social and you need to be invited in.   I am not complaining.  This is as it should be.

While pondering this truism I realized it is also an apt way to describe the Social Web.  The Social Web is a Culture of Invitation.  It has its own norms just like  any other social group, be it a workplace, a chess club or a church.  The same rules apply:  You earn your way to invitation through fitting in (sensitive to the culture), standing out (demonstrating capability) and slowly building trust (repeating the above two).  Now the fact that trust is currency on the Social Web should come as no revelation – it is more like a cliché.    What I like is that this phrase, “culture of invitation” provides a lens through which to analyze how companies extend themselves into social media.   All the social qualities that make a person desirable and “invited” in the context of a company or a dinner party apply on the social web.

Advertising and marketing (increasingly) fails when it is uninvited.

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