Starting a Conversation

What does social mean to you? Last summer,  I was with work colleagues at a conference in Atlanta and I used it as an opportunity to get some views on this. I asked a whole range of people – Microsoft employees, hotel staff, my 8-year-old daughter – what words came to mind when they heard the word “social.”

Here’s what I learned: Much like concepts like education, Big Data and friendship, social means different things to different people. To some, it conjures up images of parties, fun and dating. Others immediately think of tools: Facebook, Yammer, Instagram. And others think of value that being social brings – collaboration, innovation, sharing, attachment.

I similarly searched online for social references. A wide range of subjects comes back: social work, dating sites, social media, social clubs, Social Security, social enterprises, corporate social responsibility.

In my view, the common denominator across all of these is conversation. None of these social scenarios makes sense without two sides “talking” to each other. Whether it’s a company engaging with non-profits to create greater societal impact, me sharing an image on Facebook and my friend commenting, or two kids chatting at a birthday party, being social demands some form of two-way conversation.

So, what does social mean to you?