Thursday, May 28, 2009

Making a dog's dinner out of social media

I had the good fortune to speak on the same bill as Groundswell author Josh Bernoff in New York last summer. Wish I'd been back in the States to see him present on this.

It's a great example of how social media strategy is so much more than marcomms (why it's not social media if it doesn't change your business).

In this case, Del Monte's participation in social media resulted in the co-creation, from R&D to successful market launch in stores, of a new pet food. They made a dog's dinner of it - in six weeks.


You can watch a 3 min summary over at Adage.

It being Adage you have to sit through an advert first. And I have to point you to go there (I can't grab the code to share here).

Maybe they should listen more to Josh et al...
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Power of the Network now on Amazon

Those lovely people at Lulu have decided to list my book, The Power of the Network, on Amazon.

It's a decision they've taken entirely off their own backs and without cost to me (though Amazon does take its pound of flesh in this bargain, which is layered on top of the usual selling price via lulu.).

I hope it'll share the ideas contained to a wider audience - all content remains completely shareable under a Creative Commons licence.

Big thanks to everyone who has bought it either as a download or in physical form so far - it's your action that has readied the Power of the Network for this new launch pad.

And, BTW, would very much welcome your reviews on Amazon :-)

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's not social media if it doesn't change your business

It's not social media if it doesn't change your business - to borrow and adapt from my good friend Ted Shelton (his line, for the record, is 'it's not marketing if it doesn't change your business').

It's a description, a rallying cry - and a warning.

It explains and encapsulates a fundamental truth for any business which has traditionally made its money from mediation. I mean (though certainly not exclusively) those in the media, advertising, marketing and marcomms of all hues (ultimately any middlemen in any supply chain, but that's another story).

Some believe the exodus of attention from mainstream to social media means the peer-to-peer realm of social networks must be the new place to go fire messages at people.

But those who consider what is happening to be just a new channel are at a disadvantage.

They attempt to layer the 'use' of social media on top of what they already do - without allowing it to change what they do.

It's a kind of thin icing on an unpalatable cake. It may make it look better, but it won't make it better. (image courtesy)

This approach creates the single biggest risk to their (and as often their client's) futures.

Media is seeing a decline in fortune for a relatively simple though structural reason: In a world where we can organise for ourselves in webs of co-operation (communities of purpose) there is less and less demand for mediation.

Our increasingly relentless expression of self through digital data (the metadata of ourselves) outpourings via facebook, twitter, blogs, forums etc etc puts the formation of communities of purpose in our hands in real time.

Our peers have become our trusted filters of introductions to things and people we didn't know we needed to know. As we get together we talk, and our talk leads to action. Value created.

In this world there is less need of mediation, less demand for mediation - less value placed on mediation.

So what future for media?

Evolution into social media equals becoming a change agent. Big time.

The value social media brings to the table - if it's done right, if everyone is listening, and if everyone is prepared to change - is not just to reach people where they've gone. It is to adapt your business to the networked world.

And what does that really mean?

At it's cold, hard, business logic (planet saving) guts? Efficiency.

An organisation which adapts to the networked world is co-creating itself and the value it can share in with the people it would otherwise be seeking out (at high cost) researching their desires (at high cost ) trying to second guess how those desires translate into products (at high cost) advertising the results (at high cost) providing customer service to (at high cost) etc etc.

It will join with the people who care about the same things it does to create things they all care about together. They will join together in marketing, advertising, evangelising. They will create what is needed - together.

The people who can make the biggest difference to your company don't work for it. Adapting to the network means they can.

Solutions driven by an adhoc group-forming, peer-to-peer approach
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Your duty is to challenge your client - to save their asses

Love this post from colleague Jamie Burke (disclosure, Jamie's my boss).

It's born of his discoveries on his own journey to the networked world, from his own heartfelt and passionate beliefs - and from a real sense of what is wrong with what he encounters.

Righteous and right.

I don't oftern quote big chunks, but on this occasion...

-Branding exercises, no matter how much money you throw at them can’t hide that what you say you believe in and what you do don’t marry.  

-The only awards worth winning are sales. Clever creative advertising just makes people talk about how clever the ad was and how great your ad agency is and not your product. Just because it’s a clever ‘viral’ ad where people were the channel you broadcast through doesn’t mean the same does not apply.

-Agencies that fail to enforce the required changes on their clients thinking just to protect old margins or be safe in meeting old KPI’s should also be held to account. As a purest it is my duty to show up these failings. If you are wasting 99.96% of your client’s budget you should not have a job. A conversion rate of 0.04% is literally just that. If you need you client to spend millions on getting people to engage with your mechanic they are paying for your incompetencies.

-Client: If your agency isn’t challenging you on a daily basis with these different rules you need to find a new one. The world is changing dramatically why aren’t your KPIs.

-If advertising bridges the gap between supply and demand. What happens when there is no gap?

-When you are left only with your naked product. What happens if it’s not the best one?

-Why isn’t it the best one when social media offers the market research nirvana of non-interruptive voyeurism? Listen.

-If you have to spend millions on trying to convince the consumer its what they need it obviously isn’t.


-Don’t be so afraid of being seen to be real people? I can trust a fallible person far more than an apparently infallible one. Even if they were infallible how could I, a fallible one, ever connect with them? People buy people.

-Closed models of any sort won’t save you. The only restrictions and limitations you are imposing are on your own business.

-The only way most shareholders will realise this is when all that they possess has been stripped of any or all value.

-Marketing in social media is only just a bit better than marketing any where else because marketing treats things as ‘channels’.

-Business leaders that neglect the opportunities that the network presents to their company should be held responsible for gross misconduct. Even if their limited view of it is as a market condition they still failed to account for it.
The only thing I'd add to his list is Generosity: Before you can take, you have to give.
Go give him your support or shoot him down in flames here.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Come on out, the land is lovely!

On Friday I was asked for my thoughts on the UK Government's appointment of Andrew Stott as its Digital Engagement Director.

The reporter who contacted me said there was some concern that this node-connecting role, this leader of democratizing democracy and breaking down internal and external silos, should have some form of social media creds.

The most critical factor in success in social media is not having been CEO of Facebook or similar. It is being human. Andrew Stott most assuredly ticks that box.

But then, so do we all. (Image courtesy Webecho)

So what else might be helpful for the Andrew Stott's of this world?

I take a Darwinian view about success in the networked world - it is dependant on your adaptation to the new environment. And one thing is certain about adapting to an environment; first you have to live in it.

You have to flip your fishy self out of the receding waters of traditonal media (and traditional non-networked approaches to comms and value-creation, full stop), and try gasping for air on the edge of this new land.

You have to start developing the rudimentary stubby legs required - and adapt to breathing air - if you want to start leading others into this new landscape.

So, I hope Andrew Stott has been blogging away for years, learning the new ways of distribution and the epic fail of total control when making widgets. I have fingers crossed that he is Mr Two-Way Comms on twitter, where he is joining in the adhoc forming and reforming of communities of purpose on a daily basis.

And I look forward to bumping into him because surely we'll be expressing similar metadata at some point...?

You have to experience the biggest shift in communication and value creation since the printing press for yourself to have any chance of adapting to it and leading others through that adaptation.

Now, I can hear the stubborn old-school business bosses even now making the argument that you didn't need to be a book printer to understand the impact the book would have on society. You could academically dissect what was going on and predict what was likely. You could buy in a management consultancy to advise and you could make the right business decisions as a result.

Perhaps you could with books.

But the revolution of the web of co-operation is more complex, and arguably even more seismic, than Gutenberg's contribution. It is less mass and more niche. Less supply chains - more adhoc communities of purpose.

Long tails reach everybody and everything, hits don't.

The web of co-operation empowers everyone it touches. Broadcast media informs everyone it touches - in one direction only. The power flows in similar ways. The network is different - a web, not a chain.

If you could have had a stab at post-printing press rules for business success by analysing the supply chain of book publishing then for our latest revolution you must look at the shifts in who produces content, who distributes it, who controls the user experience, who controls the way in which people organise - to achieve any and everything. You have to think about all the twists and turns of the coming Eighth Mass Media.

In the eighth mass media we are the connections and how the connections are made. If you are neither a node nor a connector and have not experienced the value in bringing one extra node to a network (to a community of purpose) then I fear you'll struggle to understand how different life is up here on the dry land.

Looking with your fish eye from below the surface of the water you're going to get a very distorted view of this emerging new land.

To try to direct activity on it from under the waves seems a little optimistic.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

10 people to learn about social media from

I got asked yesterday for people who it would be good to follow if you wanted to learn about social media.

This is a list that could be 1000s long for me. Everyone I follow, am a friend of, read, link to, talk to... everyone teaches me about social media.

But I was asked for a list of 10. Not wishing to disappoint, here they are, completely as they fall from my fingers and onto the keyboard). I'd love to see yours shared as a list in the comments below. More people we can learn from.

Seems appropriate for a #FollowFriday on twitter... (Picture shows Euan and Stowe in London last week...)
  1. Clay Shirky (@Cshirky on twitter) - Doesn't blog and tweet often, but when he does...
  2. David Armano (@armano) - Brilliant for those of us who need diagrams.
  3. Hugh McLeod (@gapingvoid) - Social marketing with menaces. Built on Purpose.
  4. Stowe Boyd (@stoweboyd) - Operating manual for the social revolution. With a beard.
  5. JP Rangaswami (@jobsworth) - Warm, open and real.
  6. Mark Earls (@herdmeister) - Anti-brandist, Purpose personified.
  7. Euan Semple (@euan) - Clue-ridden and blessed with the gift of KISS
  8. Neil Perkin (@neilperkin) - Marketing strategy with chickens.
  9. Tony (@Zappos) CEO of Zappos - A case study in the value of being human on a moment by moment basis.
  10. Alan and Tomi (@alansmlxl @tomiahonen) Seminal communitarians.
Just realised the only people on that list I haven't met are Hugh and Tony. Must fix that.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Us Now: Democratizing democracy

I had the good fortune to be invited to the online launch of the Us Now documentary this week. Here's a clip:

It's a film about what the web reveals about ourselves - that co-operate is what we do - and what that means for government.

You can watch the whole thing (it's an hour) below. Or by clicking this link.

A particular highlight for me is one very high profile member of the uk government cabinet lost for words at the idea that the democratisation of publishing, distributing, creating, marketing (and critically, organising) could be deployed to democratize er... Democracy.

I won't spoil that treat for you because I'd love for you to see it yourself. Ideally I'd love for you to share it with someone who NEEDS to see it rather than someone who wants to. But do a bit of both. That way we'll get to more of the 'needy' through the 'wants!'

The film features lots of Clay Shirky (my personal favourite communicator on group forming network theory and the co-operative web) and Don 'wikinomics' Tapscott. (If you like your Clay Shirky talking heads bits, here's an interview I did with Clay last Autumn).

Us Now offers many examples of successful co-created businesses, such as zopa and ebbsfleet, challenges many traditional ideas but, for me, stops short of going beyond extending the empowered-shareholder model of co-created businesses.

But that's ok. This film is for those who need it. Slowly slowly catchy monkey.
But there was another jungle creature in the room. And the elephant on the impact of the globalising social web on politics is a mammoth:

Each nation's party system is a construct of the mass production age and the broadcast of one-size fits all ideology (who needs a lowest common denominator party in a world of self-organising adhoc communities of purpose?)

But of even greater challenge to our legislators is how self-organising cuts across state, national and religious boundaries.

The network disrupts where-ever it touches. And its reach is global.

Us Now was shown simultaneously in Harvard and at The Curzon in London. I was in London at the event staged courtesy of The British Council and thanks to an invite from Dominic Campbell. Chris Thorpe has been responsible for getting the entire hour-long film online.

Us Now from Banyak Films on Vimeo.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Social media strategy guns for hire

Image of Adriana Lukas from TwitterImage of Adriana Lukas

Good friend of mine Adriana Lukas is experimenting with auctioning off her social media strategy talents on eBay. Now there's a thought.
Perhaps a brave way to discover your market value - assuming of course the market finds you?
If you're in the market for two hours of Adriana (teamed up with Chris Heuer)... bid here.

And while I'm pointing places, if you're in the Cambridgeshire area (which is where I make my home) a couple of upcoming events: Vero Pepperell is planning a Cambridge geek night on June 3. More here. Hoping I'll make it!

And Amplified East is on this afternoon (2pm-6pm) courtesy of Rebecca Caroe.
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

The world is mostly light, with specks of dark

My wife and I were out cycling today. And somewhere between town and home her handbag went missing.

Her handbag contained her purse, all those cards, her mobile, cherished photographs - all those things of value and sentiment contained in any woman's handbag.

We realised it was missing the moment we got home. And straightaway we retraced our journey hoping against hope that we'd spot the missing bag where it had tumbled to a rest.

No such luck.

On returning home once more there was only one thing for it. Forlornly my wife was calling the police, to report her bag missing and initiate the process of card cancellation, mobile phone stopping and all the rest, when... a knock on the door.

A wonderful couple on bicycles. With my wife's handbag.

Had we checked our home phone's messages we'd have noticed they'd been trying to call us to tell us they'd found the bag, even as we were out scouring grass verges in the hope of spotting it.

They would take no reward. We didn't even get their names. All I could do was leave them my card and tell them that if they ever needed a favour they should call me. I hope they will.

The world is a place of light. We live in a society of people who do good to each other as a default state. Humans help each other. Always have, always will. It is what has made us so successful as a species.

I tell this story because it reminds me of a simple lesson: The world is mostly light with specks of dark, not vice versa.

Not the world you see through the lens of mass media is it?

But it is the world you see through the lens of the social web - where people come together to solve shared problems to mutual benefit.

Often people drop everything to help each other in the 'web of flow' that Stowe Boyd describes. And just as often those who experience life through the filter of mass media choose to belittle that notion as some kind of free lunch.

But it is more than that. It is our somewhat self-serving natural state. We help strangers because we are driven by ideas enshrined in Buddhist karma or the Christian creed - do unto others...

We do good because we want to live in a world that would do good to us. Doing good has an upside for all.

Don't believe me? Ask yourself what you would do if you found a handbag in the street. Pocket your haul? Or hand it in/trace the owner? For 99% of us the answer is that we would do the right thing. You do it out of goodness. You do it because you'd like to think the same would happen for you.

News just in: It does.

The mass media scare story would tell you NOT to have your address in your handbag (look at the excitability over what private data your daughter may be sharing in her facebook profile). The from-the-centre scare story would tell you not to leave your phone unlocked because a thief could access your contacts book. And yet without either of these the very kind person who found my wife's handbag could not have traced us to return it.

And the reality is that 99% (ok, I'm guessing) of people who would find your stuff would go out of their way to get it back to you.

Does the real risk of the bad guy really demand our defensive walls are built so high?

Why do you think police forces are so small relative to the size of total population?

Most people are good and do good.

The relentless reporting of the bad (that we have voted for with our purchasing of mass media, and which performs the role of warning us against 'evil') colours our view of the world - makes us think it's darker than it really is.

But living in social media reveals the light, the generosity, the goodness of the human state. The web - where it makes sense to any business or organisation to make like a human - is also the place that reveals us as human almost as much as our real experiences of real life.

It is one of the reasons I am starting to ponder if the web is media at all.

At its simplest it always has been just a place where people get together to do what people do.

And that, for the vast, vast majority, is co-operate.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Something to talk about vs something to do together

This is brilliant. No, really. A fantastic bit of creative from the ad industry. I do urge you to watch it. You'll be entertained.

And if you watch it in the context of the Vimeo takeover I first saw it in, you may even rave that this is the 'future of internet advertising' or 'pure innovation' - judging from the 367 comments in the last 12 days.

It works on so many levels.

Trouble is, it doesn't work on the one that counts.

Honda Insight - Let It Shine from Honda on Vimeo.

ok. If you saw the sheep thing from Samsung (at least I think it was Samsung... and we'll come back to that) you might not think the content is that much of a breakthrough.

The point is it is really well executed and a neat idea and people are talking about it. But almost every one of the comments is about the wonder, impact and technical achievement of the advert (and a broadcast advert it most assuredly is, no matter how 'interactive' some may describe it. There ain't no two-way flow going on here).

Anyone mention Honda in all this? Honda Insight? Hybrid Prius rival? er... all quiet there.

Well... all quiet apart from a smattering of relatively negative stuff. For example:
‘honda, how about coming up with some real solutions for the obvious problems, instead of this feel good, lifestyle eco shit?’ … totally not impressed by the car.
‘it's baby steps in the right direction - research Honda's FCX for a real life-changing car’
'If your selling point is being environmentally-friendly, I don't think it's a good idea to have a commercial that drives a hundred cars out into the desert just to make a light show.
 Honda's ad agency has given people something to talk about. The ad is also used for TV (at least, it has been in the UK). So make your guess about the response to the TV ad too.

A big spend on a neat piece of entertainment. And?

And for many that's job done. But the connection between something memorable and the behaviour changing thing they'd like you to remember has not been made.

I wonder if they may have had more success in this regard by creating not something for people to talk about, but something for people to do together - something truly interactive.

For example: Perhaps a way of creating your own versions of the movie, spelling out your name, drawing pictures that matter to you, so that you might be willing to share your personalised versions with people you care about and who care about you. The result becomes yours to share - not theirs.

It would have been a start.

But greater impact comes when the creative is led by the purpose. And the purpose here is a greener world.

Instead of the broadcast entertainment experience, think of ways of bringing people together to make a greener world which the Honda Insight could make a valuable contribution to. Build from there.

Less shock and awe - more shared and sustained relationships.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Build on what the network can't touch

Often I argue that pretty much any process, any value chain you can think of, is awaiting disruption.
The moment the network touches it, that value chain shifts from being a chain to a web. New ways of doing business are demanded.

It shifts from being a series of links with mediation between them into something the nodes within the web can reconfigure to go around.

It's big, scarey and amorphous. But I'm wondering if it might also prove a useful tool for businesses to use to uncover the real contribution they bring to the process of creation of value in an increasingly networked world.

Ask yourself which element of your business can NOT be disrupted as the network touches it.

Which element cannot be made more efficient, done more cheaply - done better when integrated with and disrupted by the network?

If you can find part - a kernel - a piece that is truly yours and which you truly believe in, congratulations, that is something of great valuable, which others will find value in and join you in building on. (image courtesy cayusa)

That is your contribution to the new creation webs which will emerge as communities of purpose become the business units of the 21st century.

Frankly, it is this which gives you a right to stay in the game at all.
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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?