In the midst of interviewing people about Google+ and Facebook for an article in the next issue of The Social Media Monthly magazine, it’s helped me better articulate what’s important to me in social networking platforms when it comes to enhancing creative thinking. It’s now a lot clearer to me why I:

  • Am so oriented toward Twitter
  • Have only begrudgingly embraced Facebook
  • Don’t spend nearly as much time on LinkedIn as it seems I should
  • Am more than a little fascinated with using Google+ more effectively

6 Ways Social Networking Platforms Can Enhance Creative Thinking

From this exploration, here are six important things for me when evaluating a new social network for its creative thinking potential:

1. How easy is it to find new, diverse people and prioritize them based on their content’s creative thinking impact?

Identifying people and opinions within your social graph is all the rage, but finding people and ideas I don’t know about is much more interesting to me.  There’s great value in having multiples ways to find people beyond the platform-generated suggestions of people I might know. I REALLY appreciate being pointed to people I should know that nobody I know knows. Being able to continually increase platform-appropriate diversity in my network helps enrich the creative value of online interactions.

2. In what ways can you organize both homogenous and diverse groups of individuals?

Homogenous groups, comprised of similar people or individuals focused on a common topic, are important when going deep on a subject and exploring multiple dimensions of it creatively. Homogenous groups can also helpful as a virtual creative team. Diverse groups, though, are equally important since they can introduce randomness and new creative thinking.

3. Can you listen to people, including those you don’t even know, in a variety of ways?

There’s a theme running through here for me: It’s not who you know, it’s who you don’t know. I prize the opportunity to listen and see how people are talking about topics irrespective of who they are or where they’re from. It’s helpful for me creatively to see how people talk about creative blocks or share insights from informative webinars. Without this capability, you’re always listening and talking with the same people.

4. How readily can the platform allow you to discuss, build upon, and adapt creative ideas?

As I’ve written previously, there are individuals I know exclusively through social networks who are very vital in sharing thought starters, ideas, and creative thinking inputs which shape my content. It’s really important for a social network platform to facilitate introducing and collaborating on ideas, even if a lot of the communication has to be in short form. The more ways it supports richer, back-and-forth dialog, however, the better.

5. Can people you don’t know reach out and share valuable information (while it’s still difficult or impossible for those sharing crap to do the same)?

As I’m writing this, someone from Paris I hadn’t previously followed online just recommended a new blog article on Google and its innovation successes and failures. The blog article is tremendously pertinent for the magazine article I’m writing. This incoming serendipity online is always appreciated. Keeping the incoming spam and junk to a minimum is important though, too.

6. How much crap to do I have to duplicate or go through to participate?

We all know there isn’t enough time to spend on additional social networking platforms. Yet, new social networking platforms emerge, we sign up for them, and first movers talk about them for a few weeks until moving on to the next platform. So if I want to get in for an early look on whether a new one has anything to add to creative thinking capabilities, my big questions are:

  • How much redundancy do I have to endure relative to other networks I’m already on?
  • How much information and permission to further bug me or collect data on me do I have to consent to?

If the answer to either of these is “a lot,” it’s a lot less likely I’ll spend much time early on nosing around on a new platform.

What Do You Look for to Enhance Creative Thinking in Social Networking Platforms?

That’s my list. What things are you looking for in a social networking platform when you want to enhance your creative thinking?  Mike Brown


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