BEFORE I LAUNCH INTO A DISCUSSION OF SOCIAL technologies, I want to explain why I am including this content in this section about culture. One of the biggest differences in thinking between older leaders and younger employees involves the use of these web-based tools. “Social tech” is a powerful trend that is impacting how we communicate, who we connect with, how we distribute information and opinions, and—through crowdsourcing—how we get work done. It is also dramatically changing how we advertise, sell, and promote our products. It is creating a paradigm for online reputations that will make or break careers and organizations. It is not a fad—it is a powerful trend—and it is way past time for people to stop asking if they should be trying to learn about it.
Before I go any further, I want to clear up some vocabulary issues around social technologies, because many people use different words to refer to the same things. I use the term social technologies as the umbrella term for what has been called “Web 2.0.” Underneath that umbrella are three distinct areas. The first is social media, which consists of services like YouTube, SlideShare, Flickr, and Scribd. These are sites that let people share media as part of a community. Then we have social networking, which includes MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other service that is about facilitating community and communication. The last area is social relevance, which denotes anything having to do with the online reputations of individuals or organizations. In short, social relevance is what your credentials look like when someone searches your name online.