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Social Milestones

June 19, 2009

kudos  Most of us have an inherent need for validation and acceptance.    This basic human need, and the way in which social networks fulfill this need helps explain many online behavior patterns.

There are rank and reputations systems built into many social networks to provide rewards for positive participation bestowed by the system, or by fellow participants.  

In the community I manage, as well as one I participate in as an ordinary member, we have a peer recognition system called kudos.  Kudos are a way that other members can recognize your posts as being particularly valuable.   

 It’s symbolic, but track-able onleader boards, and bankable in a reputation system in which the community’s collective opinion on the most valuable members is filtered and piped as one variable, into the ranking system that controls permissions.

In my personal journey of self discovery and growth, I find myself in a rather unique situation.   Among other things, I manage a forum community for my employer.  As part of my strategy, I actively recruit super users within our community to assume volunteer leadership roles, solving problems, providing advice and counsel, and helping both other customers and our company to be more successful.   I know that many of these super users look upon me as a gateway to the company and have hopes and expectations that through our interactions,  they will be able to influence the future course in varying increments. 

In a parallel situation, I participate as a budding super user in another community and have the opportunity in so doing to see things from the vantage point of my customers – from the other side of the glass.   I desire to provide advice and counsel, to see my inputs come to fruition in the course of future products and services.   I want what our customers want. 

Signs of recognition and acceptance, milestones in the progression of social networks are not limited to the online world, although the real world doesn’t provide visible kudo counters above our heads to track progress.   Often the cues of advancement are more subtle and we have to look for them.   

For some time, I’ve brought customer widgets into a lab and gotten involved in the evaluation and repair of them.   Initially, my efforts were misunderstood and the bureaucracy was featured, but as I interacted with the technicians and engineers over time, personal relationships formed and I was increasingly accepted.  A couple weeks ago, they even volunteered to set up a bench for me as I had begun to do some of my own work.   Today, I was gifted a nice screw driver set by someone with whom I just hadn’t clicked.  

Another technical team several floors above extended the offer to clear out a desk that I could use in their area, effectively inviting me to come and work amongst them.   Like Dian Fossey, the gorillas  are finally inviting me in.  I spent the afternoon there and plan to spend more time in the coming days and weeks.  Sometimes, the weak ties become the strong ties in organizational relationships.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Tim permalink
    June 19, 2009 12:46 pm

    That is really great to hear Mark. Know that it is a result of your hard work and careful management of interpersonal relationships. Congrats

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