Tag Archives: social

What’s so special about the IBM + Twitter announcement?

I confess that when the IBM + Twitter partnership was announced a few weeks ago I wasn’t quite sure what was new. We’ve been talking to clients for a while now about the value of social media data and using Twitter as a data source. But after a call with the IBM lead for said partnership it’s all a lot clearer.

A brief discussion on social media analytics

Many organisations, including IBM, will talk about social media maturity in the context of analysing social media data.  (There’s also maturity in terms of sending and replying but that’s a different subject.)  The starting point is to listen: looking for mentions in social media about brand, competitors, products, and so on. That’s the sort of thing that perhaps something like Hootsuite or even Tweetdeck can be useful for.

Next there’s thinking: analysing the data you captured in listening.  And for some this will be purely understanding sentiment about brand, product and service.  And there are lots of tools out there that can help you with this, although – perhaps unsurprisingly – I believe the IBM set is probably the most advanced, especially when you consider the sophistication of our analytics, and the ability to find insight that is statistically relevant. (If you have time take a look at IBM Social Media Analytics.)

This leads nicely to the last phase of acting/doing: using your thinking to define actions such as changing product or services, or perhaps marketing strategy as a result.   For me it’s the application of advanced analytics technologies – such as Hadoop (IBM BigInsights), predictive analytics, and so on – that uncovers some very interesting insight, and identify necessary actions.   I’ve used a lot of buzzwords there, let me make it real.  So, for example, we worked with one client to help them understand how to grow their food attach rates and coffee sales.  We helped one client understand that to keep their investors happy they had to focus on their R&D mix, not their stock price as they had expected.  Another client was able to increase their cross- and up-sell opportunities by understanding upcoming life events such as marriage, birth and retirement.

So, why IBM + Twitter?

Our technologies have been able to take social media data feeds from Twitter and many other networks, blogs and forums for a while.  In a way there’s nothing entirely new there.

This partnership is different because of what’s available to test our theories out.  That is, not everyone is sure that social media data really can be a useful source of information to them.  Hopefully some of the examples I’ve given suggest to you that it does have a variety of uses that lead to financial benefit – and customer satisfaction and loyalty and so on – but I suspect this blog is rarely enough to convince!  So, IBM will usually start with running a proof of concept (POC) project together with a client, to prove the value of the analysis, likely with the analytics technologies set up as a cloud service.   In this agreement with Twitter IBM has access to the full firehose of Twitter data, there is no limitation on what IBM will get, and it will include new tweets, as well as old ones.  This ensures that IBM can more accurately demonstrate value of the analytics to our clients.  There’s no guessing or caveats about what we found because of a restricted data set, or old data.  When we run such a POC we, of course, leave the insight with the client.  (But not the Twitter data.)

This is the only such agreement that has been made with Twitter and means IBM will also be training up an army* of consultants to be experts on the Twitter platform.

Lastly, Twitter data will be offered in IBM Watson Analytics, the new cognitive service that brings intuitive visualisation and predictive analytics to every business user, and Twitter data will be available to integrate with IBM DataWorks.

If you want to know more the IBM press release is a good place to start.

*10,000 apparently.

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Social Marketing Matters (Part 2 of 2)

So… the lessons from the IBM Marketing Matters event for local charities continue now (sorry for the delay to anyone who’s been waiting for this with bated breath).

tweet4To quote that BBC programme I’ve rather enjoyed lately – “The Honourable Woman” – who do you trust?  We do entrust (some of) our staff to talk to customers on the phone so why shouldn’t we trust them to tweet with them too?  It does depend on what you want to do of course.  You can have a twitter account for your organisation, and use that just to market to people with news of your events, fundraisers, products, and so on.  But it’s becoming clear that a twitter account that engages not just projects has more appeal.  It may feel like a risk, but it does add a human element, and can make you more approachable.  So, if someone asks you a question, or makes a comment about you on twitter it really is a good thing to reply with help or a comment or an opinion.

Going back to the risk element, it’s a good idea to have a set of policies or guidelines that such staff are trained in.  Way back when social media was starting to become popular – and before even I was on twitter – a group of IBMers took it upon themselves to create the IBM Social Computing Guidelines and these have become de facto in our organisation.  We’re all encouraged to use them, but anyone who is going to speak on behalf of IBM absolutely must stick by them, and we include that in the twitter bios for those accounts.  We always say, too, if you’re not sure how to respond to something, ask someone you trust (perhaps even a legal person) for some guidance.  I believe a quick reaction is always best, but far better a considered tweet which takes longer to send than a quick tweet, which will get you into a little bother in some way.  These guidelines apply to all social media; I happen to have talked more about Twitter here, but they apply to LinkedIn, Facebook, and many others you may choose to use.

Every employee can be a salesperson.  That is, I don’t tweet on behalf of IBM but I do choose to tweet about some of the more interesting things we do, some of our recent announcements, especially in the social business (not just social media) space.  And there are thousands of IBMers who do the same. So, it can be useful to have your staff discuss your organisation in social media from a personal perspective too.  As I mentioned above, it’s perhaps worth asking them to follow some guidelines too.  Just in case I do say something I haven’t exactly thought through, I make it clear in my Twitter bio that my opinions are mine, not IBM’s.  I should really change that, because sometimes I’m retweeting someone else’s opinion, which I may find interesting but may not share with them.  <Mental note: add to to do list.> 

tweet5

Work Life Balance? Firstly, from an organisational perspective, I’m going to go back to saying that in some channels – certainly Twitter – it can be useful to bring the human element to your interactions.  @HotChocoTrust was one of the attendees at our Marketing Matters workshop and I think the bio they crafted on the day is great.  

When it comes to tweeting as an individual, rather than on behalf of an organisation, I choose to mix work and pleasure in one twitter account because I think that makes me more human, and I prefer to follow others who do the same, but it’s not absolutely necessary.  In LinkedIn I’m far more likely to post about work-related things and to connect with people with whom I have some work experience. I keep Facebook for people who really are friends so those updates are usually more personal in nature.  For me Twitter combines the two (but with half an eye on making sure I don’t embarrass myself*).  This is not the rule by which you must stick, but I want to make it clear that is perfectly acceptable, probably even encouraged, to do this.

And there’s more.  Looking back at the day,there were lots of things I didn’t tweet about, such as having a plan for which social media channels to use, a strategy for who and how to engage using them, using tools such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to manage your channels from one place, and monitor interactions. 

As you become more mature in the use of social media there’s always the possibility of applying analytics to social media to get some actionable insight.  But that’s a blog post for another day.

___

* Many years ago I used Twitter to complain about someone who was an hour and a half late to a meeting – his own meeting.  Several in the audience had managed to travel from Scotland to London and to be there on time, but he was coming from 10 minutes along the road.  I then followed the chap on Twitter.  This meant I drew his attention to my account, and to what I’d been saying.  We got an apology, which was nice, but it really wasn’t the cleverest thing I’d ever done.

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Social Marketing Matters (Part 1)

IBM’s a big fan of Corporate Social Responsibility (see our 2013 report) effots, but even if the company I work for wasn’t such a fan I still would be.

Yesterday we ran a social media workshop, called Marketing Matters, for charities local to Edinburgh.  It’s run in locations around the UK by various volunteers, and tends to get really positive feedback.  You can read more about it at the IBM website.  I was asked by a colleague if I would blog about the day, which I immediately agreed to, but on further contemplation it’s a whole day of learning so there could be a lot to include here: not so much a blog but a book!

So, I thought I’d blog based on the tweets I had chosen to post because I thought the points made were important.

About BrandWhat’s your brand?  We started by considering some famous brands, the enduring idea behind them, how they differentiate themselves, how their target demographic experiences that brand and what that demographic is.  The idea here is to start thinking more about how the volunteer, fundraiser, recipient, or other person experiences the charity.  Disney and Apple are two good brands to think about here; can you work out what their enduring ideas are?

Don't be left behindDon’t Get Left Behind.  When we started to think more about demographics, the people we want to engage using social media, there was a lot of discussion about who is on twitter and other social networks.  My gran is 91 and she uses facebook because it’s a great way for her to keep up to date with the family, so we can’t necessarily make too many assumptions about who does use social media.  I was about to type “there will always be people who shy away from twitter” but that may be a little too assumptive.  However, it is probably quite likely.  There will be some people who choose not to use certain social networks, but the world is increasingly moving towards them.  These people can be a great source of funding – as per the bare-faced selfie for Cancer Research, and the ice bucket challenge for ALS (MND) – and it would be a shame to miss them.  But we also talked about one target audience of volunteers likely being recent retirees who may have some time on their hands.  Perhaps LinkedIn would be a good place to find them given in recent years a large number of people have signed up to that social network for business purposes.

Follow, Listen, Act

Follow, Listen, Act.  Getting started in social media was a bit daunting for one or two in the room, and certainly experience varied across the different social networks.  We discussed that there is often nothing wrong with getting set up and, certainly from a twitter or instagram perspective, just starting to follow people or organisations we think could be interested in our own charity, have similar purposes, and so on.   “Listen” – which is really “read” – for a while and take in what is being said.  But don’t let that “while” be too long.  Start posting updates about what you are doing, start retweeting salient tweets, replying with an opinion.

Time constraints mean I have to continue this later… watch this space!

 

 

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Social is Changing the Future

The believers will read this blog post title and respond “well, duh” and the cynics will say “really? Are you sure?”

Yes, I’m sure.

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of blog posts recently, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk about how Social is Changing the Future to an audience made up mostly of students at the TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde back in May.  What bemused me is that underlying all our talks – without any of us conferring in advance – were principles of social.

After a brief introduction about social not going away I focus on how social enables hypersonalisation so that we are sold to (putting it bluntly) in a much more relevant way.  I then follow up with how social behaviours are now enabling a new approach to trying out new ideas, and that failure may be an option in a way we perhaps had not predicted.  The whole thing is about 10 minutes long.

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Making Wimbledon Relevant

In a previous post I was thinking about some of the exciting things we do with Wimbledon, and I thought it might be useful to add some practical applications of social and analytics in other industries.

I’m not going to talk about Big Data. If I’m honest I don’t really like the term. To me there’s just data. And there’s an abundance of it, some of it we own, some of it we don’t but we do have access to, some of it is highly accurate, some more questionable. There are many types we can make use of, from a variety of sources, in many shapes and sizes.  And a lot of that data can be from social media and from social business platforms – that is, from systems of engagement.

When that data is analysed it can allow you to do something you were already doing but do it better – because you have a better understanding.

It can allow you do something you weren’t doing but is related to a strategic objective such as understanding customer sentiment to become more customer centric.

It can even allow you to do something truly transformative such as real time traffic flow optimisation, as is  done in Dublin.

There the city uses data to identify and solve the root causes of traffic congestion in its public transport network. This means they improve traffic flow and provide better mobility for commuters. Data is taken from a citywide network of sensors, bus timetables, cctv and combined with geospatial data and the gps updates transmitted by the city’s 1000 buses every 20 seconds. Using this, the traffic can be monitored and managed in real time by those who have the responsibility in the city.

Based on the success we are now working on projects with Dublin and our Research organisation to add meteorological data into the traffic control centre so actions can be taken to reduce the impact of severe weather on commuters. We are also developing a predictive analytics solution which will combine the city’s tram network with electronic docks for Dublin’s free bicycle scheme.

We tend to divide analytics into three categories although there are other ways to do it. Those are descriptive – what happened, predictive – what is likely to happen – and prescriptive which not only anticipates what will happen and when it will happen, but also why it will happen, and suggests decision options to take advantage of the predictions.

I see a lot of organisations do the descriptive analytics, whether using more intuitive and interactive dashbords or just, dare I say, excel spreadsheets. Fewer are taking advantage of predictive, and even fewer prescriptive.

So, with the right type of analytics there all sorts of things one could do:

  • We can predict and act on the intent to purchase. It’s possible to identify what customers are researching and send this information to human and online channels. The SlamTracker keys to the Wimbledon game are based on prior player performance, and we can similarly understand customer behaviour and predict likely purchases.
  • We can truly personalise our interactions with the customer.  System U within Watson – needs just 200 tweets to understand an individual’s wants, needs, psychological profile, emotional style, and so on, and this – combined with any other data we may have about a customer – can allow us to tailor the right message for the right customer at the right time.  I talked about this at the TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde recently.
  • IBM helps Thames Water analyse a range of social media channels including blogs, online forums and Twitter to create real-time public opinion snapshots, identifying trends and usage behaviour while understanding how consumers feel towards the brand. But we are taking that analysis one step further and working with other water companies around the world to determine where there is a leak in the infrastructure using social media as a feed.
  • In Toulouse they use social media analytics <French site> to understand where they have a problem with their road infrastructure – pot holes to you and me – and they’ve cut response times down from 15 days to 1.
  • In the Netherlands and the US we’ve applied analytics to social media to understand the likely success of programme and film launches, and to take direct action to change the outcomes.

For Wimbledon data and insight is crucial to the fan experience.  The same can be said of all business, replacing the word “fan” appropriately – “employee”, “consumer”, “citizen”, and so on.

IBMslamtracker

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Who said work isn’t fun?!

In the last fortnight IBM’s Wimbledon in a Box tour has been in Scotland. To jazz things up a little we’ve created our own version of Pharrell’s “Happy”. It’s ridiculous and hilarious.

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June 26, 2014 · 12:11 pm

Happy 25 Years Wimbledon and IBM!

I always think that everyone like’s a birthday and then I’m reminded that there are one or two who would rather forget.

Well, even if you don’t IBM does like a birthday. We celebrated our Centennial a couple of years ago (see this video of all our achievements during that time), and now we’re delighted to be celebrating 25 years with Wimbledon.  (If I’m pedantic I believe it’s our 24th birthday, but we are celebrating working together for 25 years.)

It started when we became official supplier and consultant to The Championships in 1990, and since then together we’ve done cloud – before it was called cloud – and run the website which includes dealing with the fun that happens when the men’s final takes place on the Monday not the Sunday and everyone watches from their work desktop not the TV.

We brought in eCommerce so we can now buy those infamous towels without crossing the entrance at SW19 and even gave people SMS updates of court scores in 2002 long before we all had access to smart phones. Now we have SlamTracker, and the piece I love – the Social Command Centre.  More on that later…

The digital strategy for Wimbledon is “The next best thing to being here”, because despite about half a million people making it through the gates at SW19, nearly 20 million experience it through web, smart phones, tablets and so on.

In a way it starts with data.  And getting the data right.  Of course, the umpire captures the score and drives the scoreboards, which provides some basic statistics.  But IBM captures a far more detailed set of stats such as the direction of serve, speed of serve, return shot selection, number of strokes in the rally and the point ending stroke.  You may have heard that IBM has the biggest mathematics department in the world outside of academia. Well, it seems we are creating our own tennis team too! We have 48 highly trained tennis analysts – county, national and international standard tennis players – who capture the data on the court side.  And we have these people because with an audience of 1.2 billion around the world the quality of the data is absolutely vital and only these tennis players really know what type of shot has just been played and whether an error is forced or not. .

We take data from almost every kind of input data source available such as sensors, counters, video, images, and text.  We also ingest data from social media of all kinds.

And then we do some – lots – of analysis and spit it back out again in ways that are easy for consumers to digest.

So, the data gets sent to the Wimbledon Information System and to the BBC for all the presenters (did you really think they had done all the research themselves 😉 ), to the BBC for the graphics on TV, to the players so they can understand their performance and areas for improvement, and to SlamTracker to make us feel like we are the tennis coaches.

The bit I get most excited about is what we do with the social data that’s available.  This year the Wimbledon Social Command Centre has been launched.  It provides real time insights into social media trends, allowing the Wimbledon digital team to tailor their content according to what fans are interested in. This is all to provide a more engaging experience.  It has cutting edge social media network node analysis to understand who the key influencers are.   This looks at activity versus engagement, dependency, authority, timeliness and followers. And it has practical application, it’s not just a nice to know: on one occasion in 2013 the queue was too long and the All England club wanted to advise people who didn’t already have tickets not to come to Wimbledon that day. Using influencer analysis, the club could discover who had the highest timeliness rating and also strong network authority and could then target those people with communications to get the message out rapidly to the highest number of people.

I’ve already taken part in the Social Hill called Hill v World. The idea is to improve fan engagement on and off-site.  Questions are posed and responses available via Large Screen TV and all digital platforms, including in the Social Command Centre.  Again, this is in support of the next best thing to being there.

You see, social media volumes are increasing exponentially, with a 100% increase in twitter traffic about Wimbledon from 2012 to 2013. It will be fascinating to see how that increases again this year. So, social media has to be a fundamental part of the digital strategy.  Wimbledon has 1.5 million facebook likes, 90K instagram followers, 800K twitter followers and 75K youtube subscribers. That’s potentially a lot of thoughts, opinion and experiences that can be tapped.

(I must stress that social business is so much more than just twitter and social media, but they are a part of it, and are especially interesting from a marketing and customer point of view, and can even inform product development.)

There’s a lot more we do with Wimbledon too.  It takes us 3.5 minutes to provision additional infrastructure when needed, we use Watson to improve the accuracy of those provisioning requirements, and we keep it secure using our Security Intelligence Platform.

There’s a phrase being used a lot these days which I quite like.  It’s “Not your father’s IBM”. Please don’t misunderstand me. We have done a lot of groundbreaking stuff over the last 100 years (see earlier video), all with a lot of relevance.  However so many people still think of us as a hardware business and that we make PCs, and even that we’re old fashioned.  But we sold that PC business back in 2004 and we continue to be relevant and applicable. Our social enterprise software has been named as the global leader 5 years in a row. IBM Interactive Experience is our global digital agency and we’ve recently invested yet more in it – $100M I believe.  In the UK we were announced as number 2 in the Econsultancy UK Top 100 Digital Agencies.

Wimbledon is a great example of that.  Did you know we did so much for them?

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B4C: the new B2C

I think we need to change our vocabulary.

I remember being on a course focused on finances and we were encouraged not to say “CapEx” and “OpeEx” but instead their full phrases “Capital Expenditure” and “Operating Expenditure” so that we would really focus on what they meant.

So while we keep using the phrase “B2C” we are inevitably going to think of it as the same old “Business To Consumer”.  How can I, the Business, sell more to my customer, the Consumer?  How can I make the consumer like my products?  How can I influence the consumer so that they think they need my product?  Essentially, how can I push or sell to my consumer?  It puts the business first.  But these are changing times, we’re moving towards a consumer- or citizen-centric model.

We could say “Consumer From Business” and thus put the Consumer first; but I don’t really like it and so I’m not disappointed that it doesn’t abbreviate well.

So, let’s move the focus away from “To” and instead think of “Business For Consumer”.  That puts the consumer at the heart of what I do because it will make me think how my business caters for that consumer.

BusinessDictionary.com defines “Customer Centric” as

“Creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale.  A customer-centric approach can add value to a company by enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.”

But that’s not enough really.  For a start it’s pre-sale too.  Am I getting it right up front so that I have the right products for my customers?  If I understand my customers, and most importantly my most profitable customers, I – as a business – should be building my business upon them.  I need to take the lifetime value of a customer into account. My products should be built for them, my offers should be hyperpersonalised to them.

Not that this is easy.  Ever since IT was introduced to everyday business we’ve used it to improve our processes, to make ourselves more efficient.  Our focus has been on our own internal optimisation.  Now we need to look outward for continued optimisation.

We should be aiming to get the right message, at the right time. for our customer, every time.  In reality these days even those who are at the forefront of this may just be wrong less often which in itself is no bad thing, but our target must be getting it right, not less wrong!  We can use many sources of information, and build analytical models to better understand our customers, getting more and more sophisticated until we have a segment of one. We integrate our Systems of Record (the single source of truth, transaction stores, data warehouses, etc.) and Systems of Engagement (the more modern, social, interactive, customer facing front end systems/apps/etc.) and create Systems of Insight which consist of the aforementioned analytical models.

For example, IBM is working on a technology called “System U” which can use fewer tweets than you’d expect (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share much information about this publicly) – as well as data from other social media sources and enterprise data – to derive a detailed model of an individual’s Big 5 personality traits, values, fundamental needs and social genome (i.e., who they are close to and in what context).  This allows extreme personalisation of offers, at the right time.  I definitely recommend watching the YouTube video but it’ll take an hour of your time.

Of course, if you are a company who has not been capturing email addresses for your customers until recently you may not have the most accurate view of a customer’s preferred channel for communication.  So within a System of Insight a feedback loop is necessary to take what has been successful, what has not, and improve the accuracy of the results of our analytical models.

Which is all very nice in theory.  And although I said that the experience of interaction wasn’t enough it is still extremely important.  In the interest of practicality I think this chart(1) from www.ibm.com is a really useful one to demonstrate how a transportation organisation can move to being customer centric.

Image
But back to my original point: B4C. As consumers our access to mobile technologies is redefining our sense of immediacy, intimacy and efficiency.  We have different expectations of the businesses from which we purchase products; we see ourselves and our opinions as more important and with social technologies allowing us to share our points of view with many, many people whether in formal business or product reviews or just a negative tweet.  And so those businesses have to readjust their thinking and put us first.  They exist because of us and it’s easier now than ever to make that known.
Not B2C.  B4C.

 

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Why has social technology worked?

Today I had the honour of talking at Dundee’s Women in Science festival.  I had picked the subject “What is the Millenial Virtuous Cycle?… and other social impacts”, with the “Millenial Virtuous Cycle” being a rather interesting cycle of innovation being predicted by IBM Research in this year’s Global Technology Outlook (link to 2013’s report) as will become standard – or more standard – in the next five years.

But I introduced the topic by talking about why social technology has been successful, and that there’s a place for social technology for everyone, or rather, for all types of people.

I started by considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Diagram showing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The first four needs – physiological, security, friendship and love, esteem – are in  way the  more important for if we the fundamental physical needs are not fulfilled we have physical problems, and if the three on top are not fulfilled we tend to become tense and anxious, have psychological challenges if you will.

Friendship and love is interpersonal and concerns our sense of belonging.  We humans need to feel acceptance amongst our social groups, regardless if these groups are large or small.  If we don’t feel love or belonging we can be lonely, anxious and even clinically depressed.  Maslow stated that this need for belonging could even overcome the physical and security needs depending on our culture, the peer pressure placed upon us.

For those who find face to face conversation difficult, or just don’t have people like us around us, social technology offers us the ability to form different social groups than those physically around us.  And for those who find face to face conversations a breeze, well, chances are we like engaging with others in many ways and so social technology offers us yet another way to connect.

Esteem is our desire to be accepted and valued by others, we need to feel resepcted and this includes the need to have self esteem and self respect.   We have a profession or vocation (which perhaps could be more than just a job) and have hobbies in order to get that recognition, to feel like we are contributing, making a difference event.
People with low self esteem often need more respect from others and may even want to seek fame or glory.  What easier way than twitter?!

Again, though, one doesn’t have to have low self esteem to consider using social media, but I can’t remember ever seeing a tweet that said something like “oh, no, not another follower”.

So, perhaps social technology allows us to meet those fundamental needs.

But also, my attention was drawn to a new Harvard report “Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding“*; so called because that’s exactly what they concluded.

It starts by telling us that studies of human conversations demonstrated that approximately 30-40 percent of our everyday speech contains information about our private experiences or personal relationships.  But surveys of internet use suggest that over 80 percent of social media posts are simply announcements about our own immediate experiences.

It goes on to say that a number of commentators have argued that these unusually high rates of sharing could come from a motivation specific to humans to share our beliefs and knowledge about the world.

As you’d expect from such research the team required empirical support to prove their hypothesis and so they used five studies with a combination of neuroimaging and cognitive methods.

And they did conclude that we humans are motivated to share what we are thinking (or “propagate the products of their minds” as it is more eloquently put in the article), and that opportunities to share our thoughts should be experienced as a powerful form of subjective reward.

We like sharing and social technology helps us doing that.

Which leads me to think, so maybe knowledge is power, but is it more powerful if it’s shared?

* Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding; Diana I. Tamir and Jason P. Mitchell;  Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138

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