22nd April 2011

‘Tribes’ Guru doesn’t use LinkedIn!

Seth wrote the bible of customer network building which, funnily enough, he called Tribes. Seth has the ability to see things differently and clear away the fog; to put complex ideas into simple words. And this is what he has done with the theory of ‘Tribes’.

But he seems to have missed one major implication of social networking technology. He has built his own customer networks in ‘isolated’ technology like Ning. And while such technology delivers the tribe owner complete control, there are significant reasons why social networking platforms are better. With LinkedIn for professional customer networks and Facebook for more social or consumer-oriented networks, there are various benefits to social networking:

1. It enables tighter and better sideways communication with members.
2. The technology for connecting is better – the investments made by LinkedIn and Facebook are huge.
3. We have multiple reasons to be on LinkedIn, but we only have one reason to visit Seth’s network- this underpins the whole theory of social networking. It’s also because our lives are incredibly complex and we are all trying to discover ways to simplify them. Going to multiple web sites on a regular basis is simply beyond the head space for most of us (and certainly this little vegemite!). Most people will avoid it where possible, or rule it out completely. But we will visit the big sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook because we have multiple reasons to do so. We do things other than visit our ‘tribes’ when we are there. For example, we research, connect with or chat to friends, we prepare for a sales visit, etc.
4. LinkedIn and Facebook can almost function as blogs now – and they will increasingly be used as such (both as microblogs and major blogs). When we no longer need to have separate technologies for blogging and connecting, the ‘tribes’ will simply communicate and ‘blog’ with one another, inside LinkedIn.
5. If the social networking sites start to play ‘silly buggers’, the founder of the customer network will move it to another platform. Such migrations have become easy.

LinkedIn and Facebook, despite well founded fears about their growing power, are the future and the foundations of professional customer networks.

Find out more about Social Media with Lead Generation here.

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About James Eastland

Creating Customer Communities for companies selling B2B is my passion—shortening their sales cycle and building market leadership. My role sets the direction and vision of Lead Creation, tapping into the online experience of our large team of young professionals to implement cost effective strategies for B2B businesses.

2 thoughts on “‘Tribes’ Guru doesn’t use LinkedIn!

  1. Interesting point, James, about the way Seth Godin is (not) using the biggest platforms for tribes. As another example, most blogs allow comments – and that’s one way to encourage community in a blog – but he doesn’t allow comments on his blog.

    However, I do think there are some benefits in creating your tribe on an “isolated” platform. For example, Ning provides some very valuable tools that Facebook and LinkedIn don’t, not least of them being the fact that it IS a closed, “isolated” community if you choose.

    That said, I do take your point about using larger social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn (and now, Google+, which I think has huge potential). One big benefit is that people are likely to hang about on those social networks for a long time, whereas they might leave an “isolated” community much sooner. Case in point is Seth’s community, which seems to be trickling off slowly (at least in the areas I expressed interest).

    I’m interested in your comment that migration from Facebook or LinkedIn is easy. I wouldn’t have thought this is the case. Could you perhaps point me to instructions on how to, say, export my friends list from Facebook, so I can import them into Google+? This is a real question, not a hypothetical. It seems Facebook has deliberately made it difficult to “escape”. And even if you do manage to export everything and everybody, isn’t moving them somewhere else another difficult step?


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  2. Gihan, caught out badly making glib statements! It is NOT as easy on Facebook, in fact it is hard. All we can export is the names of our ‘Friends’ using ‘cut and paste’. Not enough to uniquely identify them.

    If they are not keen to move, it is very hard.

    In LinkedIn you can of course export your first level connections, including their email address so you can uniquely identify them.

    Group members on LinkedIn: you can only get their name and company and location, and only by using a ‘cut and paste’ team.

    So if migrating a group that is keen to migrate, that is relatively easy. Just let them know how to join the new platform. Or First Level connect with them, export and pre-approve them.

    Regarding advantages of Ning: you can of course have a closed group on LinkedIn, and their functionality improves every month. And the multiple reasons for going to LI mean people are less likely to resign.

    The big downside is LI owns the platform. And ultimately could damage a community you create. My only consolation is that vibrant, spam free communities are important to them as well, so why would they cause damage.

    But I am an optimist! With 11 rapidly growing ‘customer communities’ on LI, I need to be,
    Cheers, James

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