Archive for April 2009
Remember back in the Paleolithic era of the Internet, when people said things like "paradigm shift" and "information superhighway"? Back about that same time, it was the informed wisdom that "content is king."
Detroit has never had a Chief Culture Officer, someone who could help the GM, Ford and Chrysler manage the opportunities and dangers that come from culture. (By "culture" I do not mean the corporate culture of Detroit. I mean the "software" with which we run the hardware of our world, the shared understandings, assumptions, rules and practices that inform how we see and act. This culture is rich, complicated and changeable. It needs someone standing watch all the time.)
Anytime a brand's advertising slogan begins with "We do more than _____," you know the brand is making a major mistake. This is exactly the case with the UPS Store’s new slogan: “We do more than shipping.”
As public relations, communications, and new media marketing professionals, it's our job to identify the communities where our customers, peers, and also influencers communicate with each other in a way that's transparent and frictionless. It's how we build relationships and how we establish our personal and corporate social capital while simultaneously increasing intellectual equity.
"What is a friend?" This question is constantly echoing across the internet. But, digital relationships (just like non-digtal ones) are not absolute. They are fluid. And online friendship is better described along a spectrum defined by the actions people take and how we feel about them. The more useful question for individuals and brands who are interested in cultivating online friendships is How do I move my friends from acquaintanceship to "best friendliness"?
In general, there are two ways to model human relationships in software. An “asymmetric” model is how Twitter currently works. You can “follow” someone else without them following you back. It’s a one-way relationship that may or may not be mutual. Facebook, on the other hand, has always used a “symmetric” model, where each time you add someone as a friend they have to add you as a friend as well. An asymmetric model allows for more types of relationships. This attention inequality is the foundation of the Twitter service.
One of the most important paradigms governing today's marketing world is the constant drive to better segment a brand's customer and prospect base. Conventional wisdom says that the better we segment consumers, the better we can market to them. Consumer segmentation is viewed as a "best-in-class" practice across the marketing world. But are we on the right track?
I remember it very clearly. Four of us were getting together for breakfast last year at SXSW. We were waiting for a cab, and we started sharing our Twitter stories. Each of us had one…We had used Twitter in ways that it was never imagined to be used, getting real value from it. It was at that point that I started to think about Twitter as something other than a fun little SMS tool. I also started to wonder if Twitter might be the game-changer that finally put some heat on Google…the favorite conjecture of recent times is “Who is the next Google killer?”.
Last October, Gartner unveiled a study that stated that by 2010, 60 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies with a web site will be involved in some form of online community that is utilized for customer relationship purposes. What the research also goes on to state is that 50 percent of those that set out and establish or become involved in these communities will fail in their efforts. That's about 300 Fortune 1000 companies that will fail at social media: a striking number, especially in light of recent economic pitfalls.
You're probably familiar with the concept of Dunbar's number. The Wikipedia entry defines it as a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. This number is set at 150 connections.