It is ironic to me that the majority of voices I hear discussing social media and social networking are male. Not that there is anything wrong with that – it's great but here's the conundrum for me: high school girls, particularly the popular ones, have a sophisticated understanding of social networks that could shame many of us. The difference is that it is so ingrained with the way they operate that most of them could not articulate it….but why are we not, collectively, talking to more of them?
What is it that the popular girls know?
- Why it is important to be a hub
- How to control information for their own benefit
- How to spread information depending on their goal (to throw a party, to harass someone, etc.)
- How to be exclusive and isolate others from the group
- The importance of weak links
- How to brand themselves
- Who to trust in what circumstances
- The power of developing pent up demand
Now I am not suggesting that we want to replicate high school in our organizations (the horror); two things that most of these girls lack is maturity and judgment so they use their power for good and a great deal of evil and that has drastic consequences. However, why are we as adults relearning things that these girls know better than most of us do?
Additionally for almost every element listed above, there is a wildly successful Internet business:
- Hub: Amazon, eBay
- Control of information: Google
- Spread of Information: Digg, CNET
- Exclusivity: Facebook,
- Weak links: LinkedIn
- Branding: Google, Amazon, eBay
- Levels of trust: ePinions, Yelp
- Developing Demand: [This one I don't have a good example for]
While understanding the impact of social networking on organizations is more complex than looking at high school social relationships, it is worthwhile thinking about these girls…they know things that we are still struggling to articulate and understand.
One, Joe jarred my thoughts and Apple does an incredibly good job of generating pre-release demand for products although they are not strictly an Internet-only business.
Second, Sam Lawrence's blog post on influential women bloggers (thanks Sam!) pointed me to Anne Zelenka's blog where I found a NYTimes' article on teenage girls' online behavior although it talks more about content creation than social networking per se.