The real value of social networking technology may be as yet undiscovered. Or at least unexploited. Your social ecosystem is a vast organic network of people, businesses, brands, and yes, things! (Coincidentally, we talked about social bots last week.)

How well do you understand and navigate your social ecosystem? I’m not a numbers person, but I think we’d need some serious social media calculus to determine the exponential reach of our network of contacts. Is it so daunting that we shouldn’t even try? My personal opinion is no, and our guest, Ken Gordon, articulates several reasons very well in his recent Continuum article:

Leaders: Use Social Ethnography to Wander the Ecosystem, Meet People, and Learn

The #SMXChat community has discussed and debated around topics similar to this before, asking the questions of the value of qualitative, emotionally centered skills vs. quantitative, measurable knowledge about your business. Let’s center this week’s discussion around the insights obtained and value derived from having a first-hand read on what’s happening with the people in your digital ‘world’ – that richly diverse place inhabited by friends, family, co-workers, employees, bosses, etc.

Ken’s article harks back to the decades-old management principle described by business and management writer Tom Peters – Management by Walking Around (MBWA):

By rambling around one’s professional environment in an unplanned manner, engaging in amiable conversation with co-workers, a manager gets a good sense of what’s happening around the office. Easy to transpose this into the key of leadership. By pairing MBWA with two other ideas—ethnography and social media—you can get an authentic read on what’s happening in your world.

Ethnography is the scientific description of the customs of people and cultures – and certainly, social media is the diverse mixing bowl of global people. MBWA in the context of the digital world (and this is bound to be a phenomenon) is Management by Tweeting Around (MBTA), coined in most recent memory by #SMXChat friend and attendee Vince Skolny.

Ken describes his experience on Twitter as an enriching web of conversations:

The openness of social channels means that I have a rich, real-time flow of information from the four corners of my ecosystem.

And we all have that vast web of culture, insight, and connectedness at our fingertips:

On social media you can create an instant, easy rapport with the inhabitants of your ecosystem at virtually any time. Such easy, instant access is radically new; in another time, this kind of connecting would have required physically slipping out incognito into one’s stores.

Are we using social media to its optimum potential? Let’s discuss and debate. #SMXChat is Tuesday, 26th April at 3 PM ET, 9pm CET.

Q1) What do you think of people who wander around Twitter, amiably starting conversations?

Q2) Does wandering around on social media seem like an effective way to socialise? To manage? Why, or why not?

Q3) Do you get to know people from every corner of your social ecosystem? What’s the value? The challenges?

Q4) Are there any business leaders with whom you regularly converse on social media?

Q5) Do you think business leaders can benefit from Management by Tweeting Around? How?