Monday, May 31, 2010

Video: My presentation at Being Social 2010

The Death of Advertising- and what replaces it - in 7mins! Yep, it's me doing my bit at Mashup's BeingSocial - held in London on May 13, 2010.

davidcushman 2 from Simon Grice on Vimeo.

Here's the full deck of slides I was presenting to (somewhat edited for the timeframe allowed).

View the rest of the videos from the event here.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Zappos Tony on the importance of happiness and culture

Tony Hsieh is a legend among the twitterati. He's built a legendary human-sized business in Zappos - designed very much on platform principles.
This video previews his forthcoming book. He's interviewed by Loic 'Le Web' Lemuer.
A great double whammy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Slides and interview from Social Media In Business

I presented at Social Media In Business at the eBay/paypal offices in Richmond, London, on Friday.
My favourite presentation of the day was by my good pal Eaon Pritchard. He pricked the old 'popular = influential' bubble (with dues paid to Mark Earls) giving the example of the Velvet Underground. Popular? Hardly. Influential? Hell yeah.

My own piece on how taking a 'using' approach to social media = fail' seemed to go down well - certainly if the stream at #smib10 on Twitter was anything to go by. So thank you all for your kind comments.
The slidedeck I used - which discusses the real revolution we are going through and the direction in which to seek true ROI from the meaningful application of social technologies, can be seen, downloaded and shared below:

A video of my presentation will follow as soon as it's available.

Videos from the previous Friday's Mash-up event, 'Being Social' are also in the pipeline - I'm told due to appear tomorrow!

In the meantime, Benjamin Ellis grabbed me for a quick interview ahead of my session on Friday. It was broadcast live, but you can 'listen again' right here:

Here's the slidedeck:

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why paid-for ads are incompatible with the web

LONDON - FEBRUARY 03: (FILE PHOTO)  In this ph...Facebook - and social networks like it - succeed when they make it easier for people to form communities of purpose - groups. They lower the transaction cost of finding each other.

In the case of Facebook they have removed the heavy-lifting of manual discovery by using profile data and content shared by individuals to 'auto-suggest' friends you should connect with.

LinkedIn has similar functionality.

It makes sense. (image, Getty, via Zemanta).

(This paragraph updated May30, 2010 in the pursuit of clarity - on the suggestion of Jay Rosen)
Lowering the transaction cost of group forming is fundamentally what the internet is for. This becomes ever more evident, even for those who would have you believe the web is one large conduit for content/knowledge sharing, when you add consider the dawning of the ‘web of things’. In the web of things each element of content is another node capable of expressing its meta data to all other things and all other people. Both content and people find each other – forming nodes in a group; a community of purpose.

The problem for the likes of Facebook is that lowering the transaction cost of group forming is incompatible with charging for advertising.

How so? You have to attempt to create an artificial scarcity in our ability to discover each other.
ie An advertiser must pay to connect (via the brutal interruption of an ad) with a person for whom their advert is (at least they believe) relevant. The advertiser is paying a third party, a mediator, for the connection, the ability to form a group with you (he'd obviously like the group to be rather more than just you and he...)

Why can't the advertiser just go searching for people who will find their product relevant?
Ah, that'd be why the artificial scarcity gets deployed. To prevent them from doing precisely that. It is the flipside of the Facebook privacy issue.

Privacy - or who controls who gets to connect with whom - is the artificial scarcity Facebook relies upon to create value for its ads (and it is now the clear and dominant leader in display advertising online).
It's got there through artificial scarcity. But the web - and its driving group-forming purpose - equates to the imperative to go round artificial scarcity; barriers, paywalls, copyright etc

I think Facebook understands that and, in its constant push-back against privacy, is seeking to remove the artificial scarcity it has created to seek new business models ('Like', for example, or even the platform-thinking solution I have previously suggested).

But to return to my original thought, ads are always an example of one party charging another for access to connect. In the group-forming world of the web, mechanisms to limit that access (create scarcity) must always be artificial. So they can only ever enjoy a limited lifespan.

Artificial scarcity has no future on the web. And without that, online advertising has no future either.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Facebook is not a media owner - it's an enabling platform

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase
The whole Facebook privacy thing reveals a large strategic problem Facebook has created for itself.

It has become popular precisely because people feel they can trust in the control over the level of sharing they have - and the limitations on what each individual regards as 'going public'. For most Facebook users going public means sharing with friends. And for most Facebook users friends mean friends (which is why the vast majority don't have hundreds).

It's structurally a collection of hard-edged networks - silos - self-limiting communities rather than the adhoc, fuzzy-edged self-forming communities of the kind that Twitter (and the blogosphere for that matter) enjoys. It was built for privacy - so the hard-edges are a natural outcome.

I have written about the risk Facebook has built into its model, previously: Hoarding Data Can Seriously Damage Your Wealth and How Twitter is Going to Beat Facebook

I think the guys at Facebook understand this problem more and more as they scale. And I think that's why they keep introducing the Twitter-like conversation elements. But it's also why they keep pushing what they can get away with on privacy.

While I do believe in the longer term our notions of private/public will shift over time, that's not what the vast majority of their 500m (that's a guess) users have signed up for. So when what they, very seriously, regard as their private data starts getting used for FB's own purposes - serving unwelcome ads, for example - things kick off.

The guts of the problem, it seems to me, is that Facebook is developing business models as if it's a media owner. ie we've got all this great content - let's sell ads on it. Let's flog wasteful, ineffective ads on it (remember kids, click-thru rates are somewhere down round your ankles, even in uber-targeted Facebook-land).

But Facebook isn't a media owner. All the media on it is yours. You made and shared it. It's yours not theirs.

Facebook is an enabling platform. Indeed it has the potential to be a collection of any number of enabling platforms. And if it could only start believing that (Zuckerberg and co must know it) then it could start to earn a crust in an appropriate way.

When it recognises that it'll spot its business model. And it sure as hell ain't ads.

It's much closer to this kind of thing...
Facebook needs a business model in which it is working with brands and orgs to bring together people who care about the same issues to work together to fix them - and to enable them - creating real RoI (making stuff and making stuff better - think Salesforce-style Dell IdeaStorms) rather than messaging the hell out of the harvested eyeballs (that'll be ads).

And only Facebook has the data through which it could find people who care about the same stuff across all the friend-to-friend silos, and reach out to them to bring them together to surface the wikifixes for products and surfaces the brands need. No one else could do this.

That's quite some competitive advantage.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Will I see you at Being Social?

I'll be attempting the equivalent of the Reduced Shakespeare Company tomorrow when I'm one of four keynotes speaking - very quickly - at Being Social.
Don't be late (we kick off at 1:45pm, registration at 1pm) - and don't blink - you may miss me. I'm talking about The Death of Advertising (at least a 7min summary of it).
Seriously; scheduled time for my speaky bit is 2pm. I'm then part of a panel straight after with my good friends Antony Mayfield and Chris Thorpe et al. We'll be talking about “How Social Media is changing how we communicate”.

The full slides in support of my speaky bit (in case you need to go back and fill in the blanks) are as below. Tommorrow I'll be focusing on the end section - discussing the need to change the focus of innovation.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

It Was Twitter Wot Won It....

There are many preparing to put TV back on its pedestal thanks to the perceived influence of the Leader's Debates on tomorrow's (May 6, 2010) UK general election.

But just before we get too excited by a resurging all-powerful broadcast medium, let's pause to think about what's going on here.

The leaders debates have acted as social objects. There are many more people who have been influenced by the conversations of their peers in response to the debates than can possibly have been influenced by watching the debates directly themselves. (Image courtesy Dean Terry)

Influence in isolation is a tough ask. We derive our understanding, our opinion of, our view of - our emotional response to, the leaders debates not through our direct individual experience of them, but through our social interactions with those around us.

The value of a social object is in the interactions it inspires - far beyond that first-generation direct encounter between user and object that we had broadcast at us in our lounges.

Don't believe me? Then why does one group see David Cameron 'winning' a debate while another calls it clearly for Gordon Brown? The content was the same for both sets of observers. The qualities of the social object are not intrinsic in it; they are extrinsic in our response to it (recommendation is in the eye of the receiver). The qualities of the social object are generated by our social interactions.

Which is why the biggest impact on the election result is in the interaction between peers - made so rapid and easy by the social tools at our disposal.

It is not TV wot won it - victory, if it derives from anywhere, is overwhelmingly to be found in social media's ability to connect and amplify our social selves. The ubiquity and simplicity of those tools is what has changed since previous elections.

So it was Twitter wot won it, it was Facebook wot won it. It's your friends wot won it.

We're all publishers now, My Sun.
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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?