This entry is in response to the World Economic Forum’s commencing in Davos with the Growing Influence of Social Networks and the workshop topics they will cover.  First of all, It is great to see this critical topic put so high on the agenda at Davos.

“How are social networks changing society?”
 Working with face to face and on-line global networks, it is clear to see the benefit of the reach that on-line social networks provide. We are able to interact with our community members regardless of their location and mobility. We are introduced to secondary and tertiary communities for knowledge sharing that both sides benefit from. Knowledge is shared based on need or interest, not simply, who you know or what you can pay for. We therefore see accelerating growth in the developing markets, especially through women entrepreneurs who have been given access to knowledge previously unavailable. Women are building businesses that give back and are supporting each other through microloans, distribution of products and building networks for growth and education.

“What are the most important implications and risks for society?”
 The risks are that we ignore the conversations. Education and training are important. So is building the infrastructure to avoid creating further disparities in wealth in developing areas. One response here was that the risk is isolating those that are not connected. This is no different than with the emergence of email. Social media are a new communication form, NOT just a channel. The risk is that we treat it as a channel and miss the opportunity to communicate, share knowledge and learn.

“What should individuals and institutions do to leverage the power of social networks and improve society?”
Individuals and institutions should focus on learning and teaching effective uses of social media and networks. Face to face interaction is the foundation of networks and relationships, but social media provides a needed opportunity to have fare greater reach in depth and breadth. Knowledge sharing is critical for the future. Identify the thought leaders in social strategy (in your organization and from outside) and work with them to learn and teach you and your organization to benefit from the new tools not be left behind by them. Define a strategy, and align it to your vision. Create guidelines and policies to simplify the best practice both for yourself and for your organizations.

What are your thoughts on Social Networks at Davos and what they should be discussing?