Bauer Media (the company I work for) has a neat social media play called ditto.net (I would say that, wouldn't I? I've had a light-touch advice-and-support role throughout).
It's a human sorting engine, enabling crowd-sourced entertainment ranking through the simplicity of voting on lists. For the full story, listen to Colin Kennedy.
Anyways, a couple of months back Community Marketing Manager Dan Thornton and myself got our heads together to think of ways we might spread the word about ditto.net (image by Thomas Hawk via flickr)
What we came up with was a list to rank 'The RockStars of Web2.0'.
(You can read Dan's take on all this here).
We figured the inhabitants of this list would be people equipped to discover it and either be sufficiently intrigued/excited/embarrassed by it to perhaps point it out to the many people in their own networks of trust.
They, like all of us, will only pass on what they think their network will think is cool. That's a basic principle for me for how brands can adapt to the networked world.
Rather than bung them all a basic press release, we stood out of the way so they could (at least in some cases) make the discovery themselves.
And in a recent meme (emerging after we started this) that discover-it-yourself approach to PR seems to ring the right bells with the likes of Scoble, Arrington and, most explicitly, Steve Rubel (Does the thrill of the chase make PR obsolete).
We hoped they might even investigate beyond the list they appeared on - more discovery of their own. We trusted they were bright enough to make their own decisions about this - they certainly didn't need us to either lead them by the hand or tell them what to do.
Some I did contact directly, using networks of trust I have built up over time. That's the more traditional side of PR in a networked context. But others discovered ditto through P2PR - friend-adapted-pass-on.
Dan and I both blogged and tweeted about the intitial gathering of the list. We hosted posts where our own networks could contribute suggestions before the list for ranking got created on ditto itself. That stirred a little initial buzz.
And when the list went live, he and I posted and tweeted again. We didn't take it, or ourselves too seriously. Neither did those we contacted directly in the good old fashioned way.
And one way or another the list, and ditto.net, got pointed to by and on Stowe Boyd's /Message (that one really was down to my personal network - I also blog at /message!), by Joseph Jaffe, Euan Semple, Jonathan Macdonald, Richard Millington and, today, by the legend that is Doc Searls.
(Dan's list is way more complete than my own).
And that's without tracking the twitter retweeting (of which there has been plenty) or other social sentiment measures.
Even Jason Calacanis has involved himself in a discussion about it - after discovering (there's that magic word again) that he's languishing at the bottom end of the list!
On each occasion, the conversation continued. And continues. This isn't a boom-bang flash-in-the-pan firework display, it's the release of a (spin-free, upfront) message to be spread in the way the adhoc communities of purpose who discover it choose to adopt and adapt it. It's up to them if they find it useful and how they find it useful.
P2PR is working right here, right now. We haven't done the marketing to them, they choose to do it to themselves.