Social Networking: The battle between Homo sapiens and Homo erectus
A recent BBC One documentary about the triumph of Homo sapiens over Homo erectus was an excellent and insightful look at who we are today. H. sapiens was pursued and killed by our much larger Darwin cousins, H. erectus, for thousands of years because they were physically stronger. However, over time, and due to a greater ability to share ideas with each other, H. sapiens was able to merge with other tribes and pass on knowledge to overcome the threat of their arch rivals.
Fast-forward 75,000 years and we find ourselves with hundreds of complex languages that are both spoken and written. But the delivery of communication has also evolved – from the post service to telephones; radio and print to TV; and now, social networking. Our ancestors were able to merge tribes with their neighbours and grow stronger.
Similarly, the opportunity now with social networking and Web 2.0 means that we don’t have to be on the same continent to form strong relationships or to communicate efficiently. The better networked you are, the more opportunities are presented to you, both personally and professionally.
Apply this concept to companies. Large institutional corporates are having a hard time moving into this networked age and to understand how to use social media to build on their inherited strength and financial clout. There will be a breaking point where institutional companies will fall behind the curve and not be able to adapt to their consumer base that is using more advanced platforms like Twitter and Facebook to communicate a la H. sapiens. Traditional advertising and PR will become more like the grunts of the now extinct H. erectus.
I am not saying it is all about how many Twitter followers or LinkedIn connections you have. What I am saying is that these communities are where knowledge is held, recommendations are asked for and immediacy of information is available. There will always be a difference between the digital and physical landscape, however the knowledge and information that can be taken from the digital world and applied in the physical world, both in personal and business lives, will determine the survival of the fittest.
Many corporate institutions struggle with poor internal communication between departments and geographic regions and may also be challenged with issues of external stakeholder communications. If such companies continue to work with legacy communication practices and fail to adapt efficiently to newer, social-based communication methods, will they find themselves going down the same path as the extinct H. erectus? Will they be quickly overtaken by the upcoming, better-networked H. sapiens? How long before they realise what it will take to evolve?
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