Organic Social Networks, the Yankees and....Wha'? (UPDATE: WE WON OUR 27TH WORLD SERIES!)

Needless to say, being a Yankees fan of the entirely driven and committed sort, I'm biting every nail on my hands off and frankly, if I could reach my feet, would go at those nails too (Ugh.).
Written by Paul Greenberg, Contributor

Needless to say, being a Yankees fan of the entirely driven and committed sort, I'm biting every nail on my hands off and frankly, if I could reach my feet, would go at those nails too (Ugh.). I do that every time that the Yankees are in the playoffs or World Series particularly, though, I have to admit, I do it to a lesser degree, but to a degree during the 162 game regular season too. Meaning, from April through hopefully early November, I don't need nail clippers.

But this year is very, very different. Aside from being in the World Series for the first time since 2003, which makes it different, Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, push technologies and an iPhone make it different.

I no longer watch the game by myself though I'm the only person in the room (my wife, also a Yankees fan, is up in Newfoundland at the moment with her mom who's recovering from surgery). I'm not even just watching the game with friends of mine who are Yankees fans on Facebook such as fellow Yankees fan David Sims, who is without a doubt one of the all time great writers and columnists in CRM and other IT matters - and one of the funniest. I'm also watching the game with several thousand people who are actively conversing from the stands at Yankee stadium or watching it on TV themselves - all members of either subgroups within social networks communicating via channels or members of organic communities - outcome based communities that have come together for the World Series and the World Series only and who will, for the most part, disappear after the Series ends.

But note something, I said will disappear for the most part, not entirely, which we'll get to

If this were 2003...

If this were 2003, I think probably by now I'd be hating Josh Beckett (wait I still don't like Josh Beckett) for beating us and Jesus Hoyos, a CRM thought leader in Latin America, would be the happiest man on the earth because the Marlins had beaten the Yankees - though to his credit, he'd be happy if the Marlins had beaten anyone at all in the World Series because he's not a Yankees hater, he's a Marlins fan. But how would he be letting me know (if we knew each other - which then, we didn't)? An email maybe - a phone call? And only after the result itself was in and done. To communicate in some real time fashion with even one person was either cumbersome or expensive even then. Or at least more cumbersome and expensive.

But This is 2009....

While the Series isn't quite over when I'm writing this (prior to game 6), here's the picture so far and now.

The kicker is that I'm in Bogota Colombia, as one of the keynotes at CRM conference here, but no worries, broadband is solid and I have a subscription to MLB television on MLB.com which gives me streaming video live for the game. Or, I can watch it - yes watch it - using the MLB iPhone application streaming via Wi-fi that's readily available.Or if for some feverish reason, I'm sick of Tim McCarver and Joe Buck (which is a frequent occurrence) I can listen the audio/radio feed from NY with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman - our homie broadcasters.

In the meantime, David Sims is getting ready to watch it from New Zealand somehow - TV or streaming maybe. The key Yankees bloggers for the press like Mark Feinsand are already starting to set their tweets out to the Yankees fan faithful to get prepared for the game. The conversations are already beginning on #yankees on Twitter and in the "enemy camp" at #phillies on Twitter.

When the game begins, I'm watching somehow or listening and in the meantime, between communities and sub-communities on Twitter and my Facebook buds, we're rarin' to go. So the night is a viewing experience and a conversation stream that organically evolved that includes my CRM colleagues, my cousins, a good friend who roots for the Phillies and other friends I have who happen to root for the Yankees or the Phillies who I had lost touch with but am now hooked up with primarily on Facebook. Plus there are the myriads of unknown folks gathered either physically at the park or watching on the tube or the web who are connected in total through twitter via their mobile device.

The conversation stream is real time and its intense and responsive to the game itself.

What's remarkable is what organically happened from the beginning of the playoffs. People who I've befriended over the last couple of years and vice versa, or who are mutual followers began yakking about something they are passionate about using not email but social networks and communities to correspond. Which dovetails with the Nielsen data from their Global Network Survey in March 2009. Their finding was that more Internet users correspond via social networks (66.8%) than via email (65.1%). WOW.

The Social Side

But think about this. I'm working on a personal social graph that is outcome based - i.e. built around an event - the World Series - that incorporates my family, sub-communities of CRM influencers; large communities of yankees fans who I only will know for the games - and phillies fans - and fans who are converging because of the World Series only - regardless of who they root for #WorldSeries - using social channels like Twitter and social networks like Facebook. What makes this even more fascinating is due to Facebook Connect, my tweets are carried to Facebook allowing my friends on Facebook who don't tweet much to comment and converse on the content of my tweets.

And this is all organic.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on outcome based social networks (OSN) which was an excerpt from the 4th edition of CRM at the Speed of Light. What was most prominent about it was that the OSN was pretty much archived when done. That's likely, hopefully after tonight. But in the course of this amazing playoffs, two things happened. I made some new friends and found a bunch of new people on Twitter who follow me and/or who I follow. I saw how quickly that even existing social networks and communities can morph themselves into new forms with new rich results and conversation - which tells you how important it is to not just understand the business value of the communications revolution that we've seen in the last five years or so, but the social value that's been added when it comes to being able to converse with "people like you" in real time in a few seconds after you decide you want to. Extract what business value and thinking you want from this observation. I've got to get ready with my laptop and iPhone, for the game, sitting at my hotel in Bogota.

Though I wish I could be at Yankee Stadium tonight.

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