Social relationship management

So Twitter and LinkedIn are interconnecting. What is the background to this and where is it leading?


Twitter seems to have caught many people’s mindshare because it is fundamentally different from most other services; its asymmetric “follower” relationship is more complex and flexible than simple connections on LinkedIn or friends on Facebook. Other services are now following(!).

Personal fun is not the whole story; some major businesses are using Twitter for customer service. Dell, BT, and PayPal have all been reported to be benefitting from its use. And let’s not forget that the current President of the US is unlikely to have been elected without his use of social media.


LinkedIn began as a fairly straightforward and solid service for keeping track of colleagues. As LinkedIn is used mainly by people for professional purposes, the relationship with Twitter is particularly interesting and potentially complementary.


This partnership may be the first significant example of collaborative connection between social networking/media services.

In the end, it is probable that they will all need to take part in some form of open interconnection or they will be isolated from the mainstream.

Future directions

Today’s social media feels like the early days of email when people were on CompuServe or AOL or some other “walled garden” system and only communicated with others on the same service. Eventually, that situation dissolved into general purpose internet email, as the commodity aspect of each service’s communication became subsumed into a layer accessible to all.

Management of addresses is the usual constraint on its rate of adoption.

These are interesting times for individual and organizational communication!



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2 responses to “Social relationship management”

  1. axelschultze Avatar

    John, your headline peeked my interest. I like what you said in future directions. I started to define Social Relationship Management on a wiki and also posted a definition under waonder what you think. We created a Linkedin group as well for comments and discussion
    Thanks for any feedback

  2. John Lewis Avatar


    Thanks for commenting and for providing references to your definitions and your services, both of which provide important context for the thoughts in my post. We seem to be on similar wavelengths.

    In general, I believe, the effectiveness of external (system) support for any activity depends on the model of the system providing an accurate match with the model of the activity. This is inherently “obvious” and, when described in detail, is based on enabling understanding, change and reuse.

    I think that your SRM definition captures many aspects of this area, and I see that you have considerable experience in applying it in your XeeSM system. I wish you well with that system and would like to learn more about it. By the way, I’ve also applied to join your (sub)group on LinkedIn.

    The emerging social media/networking services are demonstrating new and more complex models. Despite, or perhaps because of, their volatility, these models will almost certainly provide better matches with real-world models of many kinds of relationships, than have previously been available. This is likely to lead to their longer-term application for more robust and professional purposes, whether or not the current services achieve that transition.

    While the detailed operation and management of many areas of required behaviour tend to iterate relatively smoothly towards useful models, the thinking behind my comments on future directions is that the same cannot always be said of the architectural models. Silos of behaviour tend to grow up to serve emerging needs, but then to sink under their own weight for lack of sufficiently firm foundation layers that provide the necessary peer-to-peer protocols. Whether the necessary underpinning can arrive in time to support the current early infrastructures, and the extent to which rebuilding occurs from the bottom up, remains to be seen.

    An interesting discussion in interesting times! What do you think?


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