…if you want to exploit network effects, forget about Influentials.
A Workable Model
While the Influentials concept is a dud, influence is very real and we’re learning more every day about how ideas spread. While much of it involves complicated, often counter-intuitive network math, there are some basic principles that are easy to apply.
Every movement is built on the passion of true believers and igniting that passion is the key to viral marketing. However, inspiring devotion is not new nor is it mysterious. Brands like Apple, Harley Davidson and Trader Joes, for instance, have been able to build an army of passionate followers without an “influencers” strategy.
It’s been a longstanding principle in biology that organisms grow out of a substrate. In a similar way, social messages flow through dense networks much more efficiently than sparse ones.
There are social analytical techniques that can evaluate connectedness, but in the interst of brevity, let’s just say that there is a good reason that movies are launched in NY and LA, before the rest of the country.
Probably the most important principle of viral marketing is to give people a forum to share. It’s no accident that hi-tech brands like Apple and e-Bay rely heavily on low-tech events where the faithful can meet face-to-face. Harley Davidson, quite famously, has built an amazingly strong community from local clubs.
Social marketing, therefore, is not new, but we do have exciting new tools. Twitter, Facebook and Google+ offer us new possibilities to promote, encourage and track word of mouth marketing. However, that is no reason to abandon good sense.
Brands are not built by influential consumers, but by influential ideas.
Social learning is really visual theft, and in a species that has it, it would become positively advantageous for you to hide your best ideas from others, lest they steal them. This not only would bring cumulative cultural adaptation to a halt, but our societies might have collapsed as we strained under the weight of suspicion and rancor.
So, beginning about 200,000 years ago, our fledgling species, newly equipped with the capacity for social learning had to confront two options for managing the conflicts of interest social learning would bring. One is that these new human societies could have fragmented into small family groups so that the benefits of any knowledge would flow only to one’s relatives. Had we adopted this solution we might still be living like the Neanderthals, and the world might not be so different from the way it was 40,000 years ago, when our species first entered Europe. This is because these smaller family groups would have produced fewer ideas to copy and they would have been more vulnerable to chance and bad luck.
The other option was for our species to acquire a system of cooperation that could make our knowledge available to other members of our tribe or society even though they might be people we are not closely related to — in short, to work out the rules that made it possible for us to share goods and ideas cooperatively. Taking this option would mean that a vastly greater fund of accumulated wisdom and talent would become available than any one individual or even family could ever hope to produce. That is the option we followed, and our cultural survival vehicles that we traveled around the the world in were the result.”
Why remix culture and collaborative creativity are an evolutionary advantage.
The reality is that most executives don’t use social networks. And, to be honest, most don’t read their own emails. Many won’t ever see this post.
Trying to convince decision makers that this is a war fought on the battleground of social networks is in of itself fighting a losing battle. That’s because the future of business isn’t tied to the permeation of Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, tablets or real-time geo-location check-ins.
The future of business comes down to relevance and the ability to understand how technology affects decision making and behavior to the point where the recognition of new opportunities and the ability to strategically adapt to them becomes a competitive advantage.
This a about the survival of both the fittest and the fitting. And it take more than a presence in new channels to improve customer experiences and relationships. It takes courage. It takes persistence to break through resistance.
Everything starts with articulating a vision for how your business will invest in customer relationships and experiences. From there, technology, processes, and systems will serve as enablers for that vision. In the end however, it is leadership and an empowered culture that will bring about transformation.
Many follow, but very few lead.
Many compete to survive, but few compete for relevance.
Do we listen to our customers? Do we truly understand them?
Do we create experiences or do we simply react?
The future of business comes down to one word…change.
This is a new era that redefines everything.
An era of empowered consumers and employees.
Will we fall to natural selection or will we rise to lead the revolution.
This is our time to make business relevant.
Because people, after all, are everything.
Sorry, we’re closed: the rise of digital Darwinism
A growing body of psychology research shows that incompetence deprives people of the ability to recognize their own incompetence. To put it bluntly, dumb people are too dumb to know it. Similarly, unfunny people don’t have a good enough sense of humor to tell.
This disconnect may be responsible for many of society’s problems.
1) an understanding of where you are now, 2) a clear sense of where you want to end up, 3) an assessment of what stands in between, 4) a decision about how to approach the challenge, and 5) a specific course of action to undertake.
You don’t have to work hard at persuading clients to take innovative ideas forwards.
If you are able to paint a longer term vision and show your customer which initial small logical steps to take, which are beneficial and which prove your concept as you go, then progress is easy.
”— A lesson we try to teach AD/CW/CD teams, every day. “It’s Cool!” isn’t enough. “It will have great P.R. value” isn’t enough. Your director-level client might buy it. But the C-suite demands the bigger picture stretching out into the future.
There’s no real brick-and-mortar analog for what they are building, and no quantifiable data set to determine the objects they pick. They simply look for beauty and color and style.
They drive the selection based more on emotion than data. They refused to make any decisions around what sold well for the first three months of the business, trusting their guts that if they love what they’re selecting, shoppers– or “readers”– will too. That isn’t an etailer. That’s Anna Wintour. “We needed to just let it develop,” says Goldberg. “We wanted people to look forward to opening the email and reading the site, no matter what they bought.”
Added Shellhammer, “We do what a good editor does. We take stuff and put it together in a way that creates something new.” They’re selling a lifestyle that cuts across categories.
The difference was pronounced in a recent meeting Goldberg had with a Valley-based recruit for a technical position. Within in ten minutes of the interview the two were fighting. Goldberg asked what he’d do with the Fab homepage, and the recruit gave the usual spiel about A/B testing the layout to see which products made people click more, and how the data said they should be laid out on the page. He called the product placements on the front page “ads,” and Goldberg balked. They aren’t ads, he said, they’re editorial. “We aren’t trying to make people buy certain things, we want to guide them through a story,” he says.
Why not use spotify, pandora, rdio or last.fm very much?
Because hunting, gathering and discovering rewards my eager, inner child. Wonder and delight. Intense curiosity, fulfilled for the moment. For the same reason that guided tours of new cities never appear on my to-do list. Happy to put in the work, and read about a place. But prefer to walk and wander. Open to serendipity. And happy accidents.
Good designers aim to move beyond what you get from simply asking consumers what they need and want.
First of all because they understand that most people when asked don’t say what they mean or mean what they say, but also because people often don’t know.
Good designers want to unearth what consumers can’t tell them: latent & emerging needs and motivations; actual behaviors and attitudes; and, crucially, barriers to as well as drivers of change — or simply put, what your competitors don’t also already know.
Exponential growth is what gives you a radically new technology platform capable of changing the world. In a world now measured in terms of billions of potential consumers, iterating 30 times (2^30) with an exponential technology takes you to that magic one billion mark. As a proponent of the coming Singularity, Diamandis understands how exponential change in one field - such as computing - can lead to exponential change in fields ranging from energy to biotechnology to artificial intelligence.
Having a more clear-sighted view on people’s real world buying behaviours and thus which consumers actually matter to the generation of revenue and profit begins to gives us a framework for thinking about participation.
For if we want to survive and prosper from the paradox, then we’re going to recognize that participation alone is not enough:
Don’t confuse your passionate fans for being your most important source of revenue
Treat your fans as creative collaborators, doormen to other, bigger networks, or as a channel - they are actors in your content, but they are not its ultimate audience
Go beyond servicing the enthusiasm of your fans - your brand depends on the interest and purchases of the many more people who don’t know you well, aren’t devoted to you, and don’t purchase you at all, or that often
Recognize that participation is merely niche marketing unless it is overheard and witnessed by the mainstream - find ways of enabling the enthusiasm of your fans to spill over into the populations who are less interested
Be realistic about how many will participate and how deeply - ultimately stimulating mass reaction matters more than chasing mass participation.
Build for inequality - build into creative content both high friction and low friction forms of participation. A few people will want something (perhaps even a lot) to do, but many more will want a very little (or nothing at all) to do.
Building in talk value into the idea itself is a more efficient way of achieving spread than buying it. Whatever the degree of participation sought, do something f*****g awesome that is genuinely worth talking about - seek to generate headlines, both amongst media owners, and in people’s social interactions. It’s got to be good enough for some to want to take part in, and good enough for others to care.
Don’t underestimate the power of paid for media to invite, document and publicise people’s participation to a wider audience
It tells that a very small number of people buy us frequently, and know us very well. They’ll come into contact with our brand more often. They’ll be more likely to notice our advertising. And they’ll be more willing to participate in our marketing activity.
Equally, it tells us that the vast majority of people don’t buy us exclusively, don’t buy us very often, and don’t know us very well.
And it tells us that significant growth comes not from increasing loyalty but from attracting more people who don’t buy us at the moment. That is, people who don’t know very much about us, don’t have much contact with us, aren’t predisposed to notice our marketing content, aren’t inclined to participate in it, and won’t buy us very often.
So here we have our paradox:
The people LEAST likely to engage deeply…
… are the MOST important for growth
There is a way out of this paradox. But it requires us to embrace two principles:
The battle is for interest, not attention
Fans are actors, not the audience
Designers talk a lot about Human-Centered Design where it is important to design for the needs of the person. Well, this doesn’t work when the goal is millions of people all across the world. Computers and software, phones and applications, automobiles, kitchen appliances and housewares are intended for consumption by millions. Human-Centered Design can no longer apply: what does it mean to discover the precise needs of millions of people? Instead, I have argued for Activity-Centered Design, where the activity dictates the design.
Technology dictates the activity. In turn, the activity dictates the design. When the design is appropriate for the technology, people accept it, regardless of culture.
”—Don Norman - “Does Culture Matter for Product Design?” http://bit.ly/woYelN
Ordos 100 is a construction project curated by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei.
One hundred architects from 27 countries were chosen to participate and each design a 1000-square-meter villa to be built in a new community in Inner Mongolia. The 100 villas would be designed to fit a master plan designed by Ai Weiwei.
On January 25, 2008, the 100 architects gathered in Ordos for a first visit to the site. The film Ordos 100 documents a total of three site visits, during which time the master plan and design of each villa was completed. As of this date, the Ordos 100 project remains unrealized