Four key findings from the research include:
- Thought Leadership is the new currency of online professional collaboration.
• Business professionals are changing how they collaborate as a result of online professional communities and peer networks.
• Social networks have evolved to become knowledge and communication networks.
• Access to thought leadership content is now the #1 reason why professionals surveyed visit networks and communities.
• Professionals are collaborating with each other visa vie the thought leadership content they generate, curate or share. No longer is collaboration an experience between a limited number of people.
- The sweet spot for professional collaboration in online networks is: 1 to 2 large networks + 1 to 2 niche communities.
• While nearly all professionals surveyed (97%) use LinkedIn, the use of smaller (niche) professional networks are activity being used to find peers and content specifically related to the work that they do (by role, industry, geography, etc.).
• Professionals are finding the right mix of large open networks and private communities to support their learning, networking and decision-making activities.
- Social Business is starting to happen within professional communities of practice.
• Professional communities are being used more frequently to inform business strategy and supporting new products and services (much more than in 2009).
• 80% of respondents are able to accelerate decision process and information/strategy development by participating in communities.
- Professionals share and consume quality content within their professional networks as a way of exerting influence.
• Endorsement (via like, read, share, retweet) is at the center of collaboration in social media communities.
• “The Crescendo Effect” in social media environments has great impact on the buying decision. High quality content yields transparency and credibility.
• Professional collaboration is changing from a small professional exchange into an interaction with content in public ways. The consequence of sharing content online = influence.
What does this all mean?
- Professionals are now using their social media peer groups and online communities as reliable in-puts into their decision-making.
- 2009-10 was about exploring and experimenting with online relationships whereas 2010-11 is about capitalizing on them.
- Thought leadership is the professional currency of the future.
- Professionals and organizations are now being defined by the quality of the content they exchange, curate and create.
- However, few content creation channels have stood the test of time as there is less content being created as professionals have learned to curate only the best.
- New rules for collaboration in social media environments emerge.
- Endorsement is at the center of collaboration in social media communities.
- The endorsement (via read, share, like, retweet) drives influence that enables better decision making.
- And, anytime anywhere access to our professional peer groups is a growing necessity.
- Mobile access to online communities and professional networks is the new norm.
- Therefore, relationships are more fluid and on-demand as professionals now have the online networking skills to reach the experts they need, when they need them.
Very interesting results. It becomes obvious that we are finally moving from the Age of Hiding into the Age of Sharing. No longer what we in German call Herrschaftswissen (keeping information and knowledge for yourself, to rule and be the ultimate, wise decision maker) is the currency of success. Knowledge and thought leadership stay crucial, but in the age of Social Business this information becomes much more transparent and it is much harder to hide it from others. A successful Social Business is transparent, connected and ... nimble, reacting faster to market developments than competition.