Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Month: August 2009

When The Kids Arrive – from MySpace

Several articles have come out refuting the death of MySpace as researchers try to make sense of the continued persistence of what many people consider last-year’s news. Here is an interesting article by Misiek Piskorski from Harvard Business Review answering the question “Where are all those My Space Users”?

“Both traditional and social media have declared MySpace dead. Even a brief scan of articles reveals that media mavens “don’t know anybody who uses MySpace anymore,” which reportedly is not a huge loss as the site “is ridden by spammers” and “its atrocious HTML, bLiNgY graphics, and horrific backgrounds” are offensive. Many of you reading this post probably do not know anyone who uses the site either.

Yet MySpace is the 11th most visited site in the world, with unique 60 to 70 million U.S. visitors every month. Even though the site is not growing, it is a far cry from “dead” if you ask me.”

But wait!

Notice how the “Media Centers” Los Angeles, Chicago, New York are in Facebook territory.  Also note how the technology power centers; Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Boston are also in the Facebook territory.  Academics from Harvard, Yale, Stanford are taken by surprise in Facebookville.  The great financial centers; Wall Street, LA, SF and Chicago are all Facebook.  Maybe the prognosis for the future of social media is skewed by the proximity to major media, academic, and financial centers. Centralized power is the antithesis of social media, Right?

Looking for Disassociation.

Here at The Ingenesist Project we have long been looking for a disassociation between main stream media and social media.  MySpace may be the social experiment that indicates a deeper and most promising trend.  Is it a requirement that a social media analyst be located in Silicon Valley? Do celebrity endorsements really mean anything tangible?  Does editorialized news always provide what people need?

MySpace Demographics:

The resulting sample is representative of the MySpace population. 53% of users identify themselves as women. Of all users below the age of 50, half are 21 years old or younger, and 30% are between the ages of 22 and 30.  Everyone knows that Kids don’t Tweet and late adopters to Social Media are also later-in-lifers.   The population of the world is finite, so when will Facebook level off as Twitter has?

Looking for reversal:

Next, we are looking for a reversal where Social Media drives s0-called traditional media – not the other way around. Can a blogger in Arizona drive the great branding strategies of the future?  Can a Webinar from Montana introduce the next age of enlightenment?  Can Nashville become the next great Venture Capital hub? Can a community of children in Florida band together to sustain the next great social movement.  Will democracy, voting, and public opinion be driven by youth culture? Will corporate innovation respond to social priorities rather than Wall Street Priorities?

Ideas whose times are coming:

There are many examples of the above miracles of social media, however, a disassociation and reversal with traditional media will be an event of flip-floponomics of great significance – a watershed moment in the history of the next economic paradigm.  Traditional media, understandably, may inadvertently be assigning a premature death to many great ideas yet to come.

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Social Media and Flip-floponomics

Flip-floponomics is a term that I just coined with this post which means:

1.    A traditional business method flipped on it’s back to reveal a new business method
2.    A mirror image of a previously accepted economic paradigm
3.    sing. n; flip-floponom; A phenomenon of flip-floponomics.

Let’s demonstrate how this works.

Flip-floponom A:

Twitter has announced that they will mine user generated data and process it into business intelligence which they will sell to corporations for a whole lot of money.  As such, corporations who were unable to figure out how to charge people a whole lot of money money to “watch” social media can now be charged a whole lot of money to “watch” social media

Flip-floponom B:

YouTube can’t make money on ads because viewers don’t care.  But with user generated content such as Jill and Kevin’s wedding (with 12 million views), Chris Brown landed a land slide of sales for the song “Forever”.  The audience is now the Brands positioning themselves to be “user-generated”.

The Mother of all Flip-flopona:

Before flip-floponomics: entrepreneurs assumed that they had the knowledge to execute a business plan and they went to the bank to borrow money.

After Flip-floponomics: entrepreneurs assumed they had the money to execute a business plan and they go to social media to borrow the knowledge.

Next economic paradigm:

With the continuing integration of social media, every single business transaction has the potential to be re-invented in the mirror image if itself using the principles of flip-floponomics.  The opportunities for future entrepreneurs who figure out this class of business activity can be described as nothing short of astonishing.

 

Image Credit Picasso

What is Viral Marketing Immunity?

The great promise of social media marketing is the free viral sales force.  Magically, if one person can be made to love your product, they will tell all their friends who go off and tell all their friends.  Some PR companies even go so far as to promise to deliver the “viral sales” force.  What actually happens is quite a bit more complex.

Social Media Immunity to viruses

I recently met a very tech savvy person at a social media convention who had recently returned from overseas with her Acer notebook computer.  She proceeded to give me a detailed analysis of important features such as size, weight, battery life, connectivity, durability, replacement parts, customer support etc.   I was about to buy an HP until I heard about this hot new Acer.  As I listened intently, I realized which features were important to me and which ones were not.  With all this new information, I bought a Dell.

So how did someone touting an Acer actually convert me from HP to Dell?  Frankly, that’s not relevant, what is relevant is that Toshiba was not part of the above conversations – they were attacked by the virus.

Developing a vaccine:

Dell, Acer, and HP could have each dropped 1,000 dollars into a pool of money.  Those 3,000 dollars could have been used to sponsor a community of bloggers to write about the systems, methods, techniques, and products used by their community, just like they would do anyway.

The Next Marketing Paradigm:

Brands will commit funds to people who share active conversations in the areas that truly interest them.  Bloggers will be rewarded for bringing together the communities around natural affinities such as boating, gardening, woodworking, sports, or music, etc.  The names of the sponsors and the funding amounts will be public information, of course, but the funding will be disassociated from an actual purchase.

Just a new twist on an old marketing principle:

McDonalds spends a great deal of money figuring out the best street corner to put a franchise.  At first the franchise turns out 500 meals a day.  Then comes Burger King and together the street corner now produces 1500 meals per day. Next, DQ moves in and the intersection now produces 3000 meals per day.  Without competition a franchise may serve 500 meals.  With competition, each “competitor” serves 1000 meals per day.  The street corner has become a “destination” of choice; literally and figuratively.

Knowledge Malls:

The difference is that the Mall concept is “arithmetic” scaling with upper limits, while the social media mall is multi-exponential.

1. When diverse groups of people get together, they share information, exchange knowledge and innovate, innovate, innovate.  Innovation creates wealth exponentially.  Wealth creates customers exponentially. Every conversation is an event and every event presents multiple opportunities to carry a message far and wide, exponentially.

2. Tangential innovation are the opportunities that are enabled by the primary innovation – often called “Apps”

•    Bloggers help define the community allowing for superior targeting App.
•    Even if a brand does not “win” the sale, they will gain valuable business intelligence App.
•    The brand wins a first mover advantage on the next product development cycle App.
•    Brands win trust because they are supporting a community App.
•    Brands win loyalty – like insurance – if something goes wrong, they are readily forgiven App.

3. The cost of absence App. The worst brand message is to find one’s brand locked out of the game, maybe Toshiba will find this post on Twitter.

Listening For What People are Listening For

Communities organize themselves:

Most people do not listen completely in conversations because they are too busy planning their response to what they think the other person is going to say.   Often what seems like astute response is a template that may fit a moment but can kill a conversation.  The successful conversation occurs when all participants speak to what the others are listening for. Not an easy trick.

I Heard the Ocean

When I first got into this social media stuff, I had a lot to say.  Then I figured out that nobody was listening; I learned a lot since then. As soon as I started to listen, people started listening back.   Today these people are my heroes, I hang on their every word, their generosity is roughly 70% of my social media world – where did they come from and where can I find more people like them?

Well, that’s all I have to say about that, so let’s listen to Janet Fouts. Part of her quote is a product pitch, but that illustrates an important point in Innovation Economics; conversation is currency and this currency has value:

“Before you dive into social media for any reason, listening should be your first step. What are people talking about and where are they doing it? Is there buzz out there about you or your product that you didn’t know about? Who should you be connecting to? Has there been a recent event you want to find out more about?

Setting up listening tools from free to paid versions can give you a tremendous amount of information and help you find even more things to talk about. I’ll give working examples of listening tools, outline a strategy for effective listening and give you some ideas to use this information in a real world setting.

This short 30 minute session will include links to both free and paid listening tools and creative scenarios for use.

You will learn how to:

  • Set up a set of listening tools to cover multiple platforms
  • Identify the right listening tools for your own needs
  • Identify the best networks for you to participate on
  • Evaluate what you find
  • Creative ways to engage and communicate your message
  • Find new topics to populate your blog and online discussions
  • Evaluate how effective your social media campaign is

Thanks Janet, Now here is a hint at the product pitch at Conversational Currency:

“In a few months, events such as Janet’s may need not  be funded by the participant.  Rather, our sponsors will support events for those most worthy of  participating.  Why would sponsors do such a thing?  Maybe they too are learning to listen, after all, roughly 70% of the US economy is consumer spending.  Will roughly 70% of ad budget be allocated on listening?”

What does all this mean?  keep listening!

Does Social Relevancy Matter?

The Ingenesist Project Community concerns itself with the value of social reach since this will most certainly impact he relevance of  those conversing as well as the relevance of the conversation to some business activity.  Obviously, innovation is about having the right team in the right place at the right time.

Furthermore, business activities such as marketing and advertising need to make their communications more relevant and less wasteful of their audience’s limited bandwidth – lest they risk being perceived as “anti-social”.

Stated somewhat more clinically; the most worthy knowledge surplus must be matched with the most worthy knowledge deficit in order to produce the most valuable outcome.

Brynn Evans offers the following observation:

The future of search  involves social networks, social graphs, or social filtering in some capacity.  Companies will live or die by whether they get the “social” part right: creating the right level of intimacy, trust, reliability, social connectedness, and accuracy in their results listings. Of course, this specifically means that their user experience must at least meet or, preferably, exceed that of Google’s.

To achieve this, we must first stop arguing over the different flavors of search.

Real-time search. Social search. Semantic search. These distinctions are essentially meaningless, especially when we can’t even agree on definitions and when each of their boundaries remain undefined. Instead, we should recognize that they’re all part and parcel of personalizing and contextualizing search for individual users. Let’s stop playing the “name game” and start thinking holistically about how each (and all!) affects and improves what we think of today as “search.”

Defies analysis, defies control:

Ms Evans’ excellent analysis continues to identify numerous problems with attempting to classify Social Relevance – each system is merely trumped by new issues related to semantics, context, and proximity.  It seems as if the more you try to “control” social media, the more it defies control.  The more you try to study it, the more it shows you a mirror of yourself.  Introspection is the irony of extroversion.

The great big Sucking Sound

While nobody, including Ms. Evans can tell you how to increase your social relevancy, we can probably all agree on what does not.   If your message sucks, your social relevancy will also suck.  If you are trying to sell a product that does not actually save people time and increase their net productivity, your product will fail and your social relevancy will suck.   If you are in any way trying to match unworthy knowledge surplus with unworthy knowledge deficit, your social relevancy will suck.

Give up Control in order to gain control:

Business intelligence is the science of knowing what sucks and what does not.  Let Social media carry your message wherever it wants to carry it. The sooner the market tells you what it wants, the sooner you can adapt your products and services to meet the needs.  Things happen fast in social media space and the corporation needs to be faster.  This may mean corporations need to give up control in order to gain control of both the threats and opportunities of the future.  After all, even by the playbook of Corporate America : survival of the fittest is the only relevant social rank.

(Ed: Brynn Evans is a PhD student in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego who uses digital anthropology to study and better understand social search)

The Social Media Resolution; From Monet to Blue Ray

The Convergence of Knowledge

The Ingenesist Project and related blogs such as Relationship Economy and now Conversational Currency have long predicted that the resolution of social media space will vastly increase from  “Monet” to “Blue Ray”.  The segmentation and convergence of social media space will happen on two fronts: Knowledge Inventory and Proximity.

From Strategis:

“As Facebook balloons to over 250 million users, many voice their appreciation for Facebook’s small social network feel.  Unlike its so-last-year counterpart, MySpace, Facebook has successfully maintained a very personal feel, finding hundreds of ways to link the most relevant people, in the most relevant ways.

Even so, because Facebook has so many interesting people, useful content, and relevant apps available, many users would appreciate a broader search option that would enable the to quickly search ALL of Facebook’s content. Thus, Face says: “your wish is my command”. And so it is. Facebook has now announced that it will soon make the change allowing users to search the entire site, not to mention, do new things like share status updates with everyone, rather than just confirmed friends. Expect to see these changes in full effect some time within the next two months”

What’s in store for the next 2 years?

While the coolness of Social Media is still riffing through society as the late adopters drive huge growth, nothing “economical” happens until people actually get together and build something.  In order to build anything, there must be an inventory of parts.  All these parts need to be in physical or virtual proximity to each other. A financial system must support the initiatives of the entrepreneurs in any market.

The United States of Mind

We’re about 3% into this new paradigm today.  At 20% the corporate structure will become increasingly mushy as many corporate functions are now handled in Social media space. At 30%, cooperation will “compete” with competition as a business model.  At 40% a new currency emerges to hedge debt backed dollar with productivity backed “conversational currency”.  At 50% people convert general dollar backed holdings to ‘conversational currency’ holdings.  At 60% social priorities dominate corporate priorities. At 70% the Innovation Bond dominates financial markets. At 80% international borders become fuzzy as knowledge flows as easily as, say, avocados and T-shirts do today.  At 90% global currency backed by productivity, dollar, Euro, Yen all expire.  At 100%, the president is elected to a “State of mind”.

Hold on, not so fast….

OK, so that’s the problem with predictions, it’s hard to survive with one’s credibility intact.  Kudos to Strategis for showing us the future!!

If it Quacks like a Buck…..

If it looks like a buck, and talks like a buck, and quacks like a buck – it’s probably a buck.

So when your money gets “free will” and starts walking out the door door, that’s bad enough.  When flies out the window en mass enabled by the same social media that  brings money in the door – serious management issues arise.  Should organization choose fight, flight, or cooperation?

Battle lines are being drawn:

  • “Among large U.S. companies, 33% have employees on staff to monitor e-mail messages — up from 15% last year, one survey found. The Proofpoint study also found that 31% of companies had fired workers who breached confidentiality via e-mail, and 8% had fired someone over a social-networking leak. The survey found 41% of respondents are worried about potential leaks via Twitter. ZDNet (08/10)”
  • “Marines banned social networking sites from their computers Tuesday due to security concerns, and the Pentagon announced a policy review. But Pentagon’s top officer will still tweet (Christian Science Monitor 08/05)

There are literally thousands of articles on this subject but none of the few that I read came to any conclusion, so I will:

Money is becoming intangible (cannot be contained) and Social Media is becoming tangible (has become the container)

The very structure of organizations is changing.  Trying to control the temperature of the room when the windows have been blown out will only destroy existing controls faster.  A completely new economic structure is emerging complete with new factors of production, incentives, institutions, accounting, and currency.

Swap or swamp?

Easier said than done?  Not really; all we need to do is swap the same methods that we use to manage tangible assets with those same methods that we use to manage intangible assets.  There are in fact people and organizations trying to do this (specifically this author) but you won’t find then in corporations anymore.

Companies have no choice but to understand migration patterns, flock actualization needs, motivation, and environmental issues.  Going from an economy where the corporate charter is only “to deliver shareholder value” to one of safeguarding the health and welfare of people and their property” is a huge leap.

The discussion of Conversational Currency is required to understand the underlying economic forces that drive social media and the emerging institutional structure for corporations to create value in a computer enabled society.

It Takes Currency to Make Currency

If you’re a Flash game developer, you are concerned with how you can make a living from your creative and intellectual services. Fortunately there is a payment system so workable, that it may actually work.   Game developers can charge money both for their games, and for things within their games.

Here’s how it works:

1.    Player pays real money to buy fake money within the game.
2.    Player spends fake money on virtual stuff.
3.    Virtual stuff increases the value of the game.

The game developer can technically charge for whatever they like: level packs, hats, extended versions/director’s cuts, etc, etc. The sky’s the limit.

These types of transactions have been very popular in places like Korea for a long time, and it was amusing to see the initial resistance and resentment in North America to the idea. Meanwhile, North American Pioneers of such systems are drowning in money.

The Right [virtual] Stuff:

Now, suppose that Social Media could be modeled after a huge game where people act based on a set of incentives like, say, connecting with friends, accumulating followers for their blog, finding proverbial “gold rings” like employment opportunities, business opportunity, spiritual growth, professional advice, cheap airfare, fun things to do, product reviews, or political activism…just to name a few.

Suppose that in order to get from one level of the game to the next, they need to engage in conversation with another player.  Anyone who has been on Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook long enough knows that the “right virtual stuff” is sometimes hard to acquire.  Twitter finally broke the mold with applications that now “sell” followers (I wonder if there were any Flash Developers behind this innovation).

A Mutually Inclusive Game:

Now, suppose the game was mutual such that some players need you a little bit more than you need them and they are willing to invest in your connection.  Similarly, suppose you need some players a little more than they need you and you too are willing to invest for their connection.  Finally, all players know that a mutual link between two appropriate players substantially increases the value of both players relative to the game.

It Takes Currency to Make Currency.

Immediately the engine of entrepreneurialism will ignite as people figure out new ways to play the game.  With a trillion dollar advertising industry, a trillion dollar Professional Placement industry, and a trillion dollar recreation/leisure/entertainment/family industry on the ropes, you can guarantee that innovation will be absolutely intense.  Welcome to the Innovation Economy.

(Editor’s note: This article was inspired by a piece authored by Ryan and can be found here)

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