I have just started reading a book that has me tremendously excited. The book is Connected and is a visionary achievement in explaining how we are all connected emotionally to each other and the complex cause-affect relationships between people in social networks. In essence the book explains how emotions are contagious and that emotions of people we dont even know are affecting us; a friend of a friend for example.
So far, it is a fascinating exploration of the human experience from such a fresh perspective.
Super Organisms or Ecosystems
One interesting analogy they use is that social networks are much like super organisms with each individual affecting the whole while being affected by all of the other parts or individuals. I think that the analogy of an ecosystem works better for my work on Social Media networks rather than the thought of one organism, albeit super. When you shift perspectives to look at Social Media environments to that of, say Charles Darwin, you begin to see the intricate patterns of an ecosystem and all of the species struggling to exist; a species could be anything from a person, group of people, a corporation or even an idea. All of these species are vying for dominance and trying to increase their numbers (read followers, fans or members). In the end, i think its a case of po-tay-to versus po-tah-to.
How Does this Impact the Social or Customer Experience?
Think about it. If one person has a positive experience or negative experience with your brand or even an indifferent experience, it can affect a broad spectrum of people you dont even know about. The emotions you create in the customer are contagious and will directly and indirectly affect your brand and the perception of your brand in the social networks they inhabit. The danger is the subtlety of this kind of contagion; it works on the subconscious level for the most part. A silent agent of change if you will.
Where to next?
Is this a stepping stone or high level validation for group consciousness? Perhaps not but it makes you wonder if there is much more to be unearthed about how we are connected in ways that cannot be seen or heard. It certainly gives credibility to the notion of an unconscious group empathy buried just under our conscious perceptions but affecting us in real ways. I know what youre feeling, i feel it to it has suddenly become even more important to focus on being a positive emotional force with your customers. Telcos beware!
Net Promoter Scores are Passe; Try Net Feeling Scores on for Size!
The big measure of customer experience could switch from Would you tell your friends about us to How can we make you feel fantastic knowing that positive emotional virus will spread to everyone they are connected to in their social networks, both physical and digital. I never really liked net promoter scoring anyways, always too obvious. I mean how can you quantify emotions?? I always felt the answers for net promoter, much like boxing matches, were fixed from the beginning.
On the Book and the Authors
If you are in the communications or marketing business, this book is definitely worth the time. Even if you retain just a bit, the way you perceive customer experience or Social Media could shift dramatically. And it should.
The author, Dr. Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD is a highly accomplished Harvard Sociology Professor and Doctor who was recently named to the Times 100 most influential people. Co-author is James Fowler PhD noted Social scientist also at Harvard. You can follow them on Twitter here.