Everyone’s a Social Star!

Posted on September 22, 2008
Filed Under community, Musings | Comments Off on Everyone’s a Social Star!

Andy Warhol’s famous quote:

Everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes

is now a quaint anachronism from the 20th century.  Thanks to the social internet, everyone is now capable of being continuously famous.

Perhaps not world-famous, but famous among enough people around the globe.  Some personas will break out into mass stardom, assisted by traditional media.  Some will be famous only in online communities, and they will be quite happy & successful there.

There is plenty of room for stardom. In sports there are often farm leagues – the minor leagues that feed up talent to the major leagues.  In the online stardom arena, it’s a free-for-all, but the concept of farm leagues might apply, especially among the thousands of niche areas.  The rumors of enough social media experts in the niche are far from true, as experts continue to share advice on how to make your own star rise.

There will not be a practical cap on the universe of online stars anytime soon.  As the rise-and-fall cycle is, well, happening in “internet time”, it is viciously fast.  This aspect allows for more stars. And, in a sense, “once a star online, always a star online”, as the social proof via metrics such as video view counts and written feedback & conversations may never go away.

Movie filming studio echo chamber -cartoon

Now let’s forget about the old days where everyone knew the 1st and 2nd-tier media stars, as the growth of India’s BollywoodChina’s film industry , and other production locales such as Dubai create their own stardom centers of gravity.  Being world-famous can happen in niches, as has been proven on sites such as YouTube and MySpace.

Every day the worldwide online social network grows by tens of thousands, and should do so forever.  One simple metric:  every day there are hundreds of thousands of new teenagers in the world and many of them are already online (of course there are almost as many new ex-teenagers every day).  Whatever the online coming-of-age threshold, user-generated-content (UGC) will always have thousands of new creators annually who can draw fans from tens of millions who were not online the year before.

Are you cut out for stardom? Even the introverted can find more fame than the mere quarter hour Mr. Warhol envisioned, and they can do it on their own terms online.  So are true introverts headed for extinction?

The internet introverts of tomorrow may seek stardom in spite of their base personality.  They will be updating their status continuously, always quick to tell-a-friend about what’s important in their lives, and these social introverts will blend seamlessly into an extraverts-only society online (as they perhaps conquer fears about the dark side of online notoriety).

Who won’t be a star in their community? The non-star list includes those people who are not networking online.  Some non-networking behavior will be situational, such as people who cannot use a computer for physical, mental, religious, or emotional reasons.  And there are generational aspects that stop older people from adopting online social networking techniques, along with digital divide factors that limit who can build or accidentally obtain their online social stardom.

After notoriety, one base necessity for web stardom is content. Usually this content is self-generated, and self-promoted.  To be social on the internet implies interacting in form of content creation.  Even someone’s RSVP to an event, or joining a group, creates a snippet of content.

But ubiquitous stardom for all may be limited by our own inertia, as revealed in the currently-accepted rule of thumb that 90% of us don’t create real content, and only 1% of us create the bulk of content.  And many people have other life goals, ensuring that they do more with their lives and their influence to help others than simply chasing or embracing stardom.

[The next post here will continue an earlier post about online social capital and influence, and touch on how to utilize aspects of one’s social stardom.]

What are Community Boundaries?

Posted on September 12, 2008
Filed Under community, CSO, Future, Uncategorized | Comments Off on What are Community Boundaries?

It is sometimes helpful to step back and look at some of the definition and assumptions around the foundational areas behind social media and social technology.  One of these is the notion of communities, which much exist as a precursor to social activities.

A definition of social: the aspect of life that is lived in communities.

Another definition of social: belonging to organized groups, with a known or assumed boundary that defines the group.

A definition of community: a group of interacting people sharing one or more life aspects in common.

The wikipedia definition of community is longer than these definitions.  It delves into sociology, anthropology, psychology, and other areas.  One could derive from it that online communities fall into the general category of either “communities of culture” or “community organizations”, with the other  category being geography.

Yet online – and virtual – communities have evolved to a different blend that has not existed before.  The sheer number of virtual communities may grow to equal or exceed the population that supports it – i.e. the population of the world.  This growth won’t happen overnight.  But if you assume that 80% or 90% of the population may be candidates for virtual communities (including groups), and people usually join multiple groups, the case can be made for billions of groups existing in 5 to 10 years.

But what is the “blend that has not existed before“?  It is the interwoven way that community boundaries exist and change in the virtual world.

In the real world,communities are usually physical, and also non-overlapping.  The town of, for example, Fundale, consisted of the society that lived within its borders.  Physical borders defined geographical community borders.  And the teachers of Fundale would be the community defined by teachers working in the town’s borders.

In the virtual world,communities now overlap.   There can be a Teachers of Fundale group on Facebook, another one on MySpace, another one at TeachersOfFundale.org, and numerous other ones.  Membership is almost guaranteed to be different in each of these communities, as some of them may not even know about the existence of the others.

Oh, and what about the Instuctors of Fundale?  And the Professors of Fundale?  And don’t forget the Fundale Educators and the Coaches of Fundale.  Each of these communities may differ in name only from the functional boundaries of “people that instruct or teach other within Fundale“.

What’s the point?  Why should you care?

The largest social network is… the human race.  Some people reading this post may assume (or hope) that one day there will be one online social network that becomes #1 worldwide and that everyone will join.  We’re all members of the human race, after all, and we deserve our virtual platform with no walls for everyone on the planet, right?  But that one worldwide social networking platform is not likely to exist anytime soon, as there are hundreds of social networks launching each week (our estimate based on a few scattered stories and statistics).

Instead, envision an online world that mirrors – and expands on – the mix of communities in the real world.  Boundaries are mushy – membership fickle – and the human nature of competition is just as real as in the offline world.  (All your members are belong to us.)

Community Conversations

You may believe you are the member of a particular community.  When does that membership cross into areas that are outside of the community?  How do you describe the essence of your membership? For many communities online, it becomes hard to define the boundaries, especially if anyone can join and quit at will.

The activity of the members creates the community.  Usually this description applies to the social activity, and it also includes activity that may not be on-topic for the community.  If an online community member (who is a member of 12 communities simultaneously) uploads a video to YouTube or a photo to Flickr, and links it to 4 or 5 communities, and then is removed from 2 of those communities…

…the boundaries and intersections of “community” may start to become more interesting. As does the strength or level of group participation, the distributed nature of community (including what is going to explode with technology such as Open Social and Facebook Connect), and mobile aspects.  Understanding the dynamics behind community boundaries is worth exploring, as that aspect has a lot to do with how community exists out of its ability to satisfy basic human needs (to belong, to be understood, to have meaning).

The community boundaries become defined by the members of the moment, and their activities and contributions.

Consider this post to be the first attempt to get words around how to manage the chaos of online communities, and that it is to be continued (link will be added when that happens).

Author’s Disclaimer: Fundale.com is a site that I’m involved in, and is not an actual town (that I know of).

TechCrunch50 wins the ratings race!

Posted on September 10, 2008
Filed Under Future, Musings, Social Web, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

Over the last three days there have been two major startup demonstration events – DEMO and TechCrunch50.

The presenters are among the top of the crop for this year’s startups (notwithstanding the ones we will showcase on Startup Rockstars!).  If you step back and realize the sheer volume of new tech ideas that are launching or recently launched, you might (and should) be overwhelmed.  Mostly the theme seemed to be (1) social and (2) mobile (as in iPhone apps).

I was able to watch many presentation from both of these events online, and at times there was almost 3,000 people watching the live TechCrunch50 stream (on Ustream.tv).  This viewer number is large for an online show of any kind today, but also notable because it’s an unknown event to most people.  It was (probably) never advertised on mainstream TV.  And so this post is relevant to the current panel on TechCrunch50, which *wins* the ratings race by default as it was the only event streamed live. Both events were well-attended over the last three days, with the long-running DEMO event stating it was their largest-attended event so far.

As I type this post, the TechCrunch50 is wrapping up with a Hollywood discussion panel.  While they are discussing whether YouTube “is a disruptive force in Hollywood?” (question by Michael Arrington), most of the conversation is about how the old model of watching TV is evolving to even newer sites and services than YouTube. 

Some of this change is described as generational, as large numbers of teens (at least in the USA) now are watching shows on the web, totally ignoring mainstream over-the-air (or -cable) network programming.  So the challenge is to leverage what I termed the “assimilation of TV” into the social web.

Examples of how this assimilation happens is when a TV show has a major online presence, including clips or entire shows, blogs, and online social interactions with viewers and fans.  While most stars aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, some are slowly embracing technology such as Seesmic, which allows video comments and feedback to be posted immediately on the web.

A separate post will discuss the higher-level issues brought out by the trend of startups.  For now, the merger forecast years ago between TV and the internet has happened, and will continue to happen.  With films released on the internet included, the total merging of media is at hand.  How will this affect your business, your lifestyle, and our civilization?

And now back to the show, already in progress. (and next up after that, the re-runs of what was missed!)

5 Goals of Social Growth

Posted on August 31, 2008
Filed Under social media marketing, social viral, Social Web, Strategy | Leave a Comment

Community Center Participate

For a social network, community, or website you may be trying to grow, sometimes it helps to determine your goals for growth, and the reasons behind these goals.  This analysis may help in better planning for social media marketing campaigns & engagements. 

The objectives may include one or more of the following:

  1. Participation – If your site has social features, having more visitors and/or members generates the multiplier effect: more people, ideas, and conversations pollinating for increased social participation.
  2. Sales – in addition to promoting a product or service, a site that sells what it is bringing awareness & engagement to has a built-in goal.
  3. Competitive advantage – sometime competition is fighting on other levels, and by claiming the online social audience, or mindshare, you get leverage that may be hard to unseat.  Just as the top social network platform in a particular country has an advantage due to its many members, your online social community can provide a balance of social power if you’re either first, or best, in growing the community in your niche.
  4. Customer Interaction – beyond customer service, you want to interact with your customers and alongside them as they interact together.  A natural for this goal is to also provide standard reference information via social media so the interactions can link to the common questions and issues.
  5. Attention / Traffic / Visitors – Do you want more people to visit your site?  Common reasons for more usage includes to promote a product, service, idea, or brand.  The side-effects can include:
  • Online reputation impact – more attention and knowledge about your image, brand, or reputation (linkbait tactics included).
  • Organic search traffic increase – from content alone, or adding in the benefit of many links to your content
  • Viral information spread – your message is spread by others for you.  (and sometimes a different or negative-seeming message is spread… and that is another story).

There are many ways to present goals such as shown above, including tying social media marketing to long-term growth.  But there is still confusion among those who would be using social campaigns.  Chalk some of that up to ambiguous “buzz-speak” for a new technology.

Facebook Disconnect? Connecting to the social ROI

Posted on July 29, 2008
Filed Under CSO, Musings, Social Web, Strategy | Comments Off on Facebook Disconnect? Connecting to the social ROI

The recently-announced platform service, Facebook Connect, will allow people to be social across sites on the internet in a new way. But will corporate offices and other workplaces allow access? And will the other similar services interact with each other, or find reasons to not interact reminiscent of the early days of instant messenging?

Reportedly, many places block Facebook, including entire countries, and MySpace is blocked by many of these same places… plus hordes of well-meaning parents. There are perhaps just as many proposed workarounds for users to bypass the blocks. But for the world wide social web to work out, including monetization aspects, it will have to work in enough places to be considered ubiquitous. Adsense is pervasive today, and is not generally blocked in the way that social networks are. This situation is probably due to it’s origins, function, and the fact that it is not seen as linked to some of the issues such as malware and productivity loss that cause social networking sites to be blocked.

The evolving integration of the social web puts choices into the hands of website owners trying to see the ROI (return on investment) of adopting and adapting the technologies to their websites. The technology is not yet available to the public, and competes in various ways with OpenSocial, OpenID, MyBlogLog, and other services as the effort to evolve identity management on the web continues. If one’s website audience primarily accesses the site at work locations that might block social networking sites, form a social network integration strategy and implementation plan that accounts for these hurdles.

How will webmasters decide what works for them?

The effort to implement “social connector” technology on a website, plus the possibly-problematic ability of these technologies to to integrate with each other, may have the war of the social web won based on webmaster adoption. What platform will bring them the most reward (users, money, attention, etc.)? The ROI of time and money, plus compatibility, becomes important.

The first major text-ad service, Goto.com (which became Overture and was bought by Yahoo!), has given up it’s first place market position to Adsense. Being huge, successful, and in first place (and then getting bought) does not mean ultimately winning the war. The battles now in the social platform space include fighting to be the preferred (or only) identity-holder for people when they are online across the entire social web. The “first place” position of social networking sites & services is in flux this year. And the ability of each site to monetize it’s social base, and thus survive, may rely on sharing their success with thousands of website operators.

The near-term winners will likely be those that have a compelling ROI for website and social application owners, enough to get them to make the effort to write for a particular social platform. Facebook Connect seems to have this ROI coming out of the gate.

The popularity of social networks varies by country. The adoption of social networks within and by website owners may follow similar patterns. And, like sports popularity varying by area, with baseball, soccer, football, basketball, cricket, and others all competing for similar passion & purchases from fans, it may simply be a multi-player game with multiple fields.

Baseball field

Photo (c) 2008 Chief Social Officer

Definition of Social Media

Posted on July 25, 2008
Filed Under CSO, social media marketing, Strategy | Comments Off on Definition of Social Media

In trying out the new Knol collaborative platform, I took a stab at defining Social Media. There were no search results for that term when I first tried it out, and in general as a new service Knol has a lot of opportunity for people to contribute. The definition-writing took about an hour or so. As with all collab-type efforts, it’s only version 1.

I also added in some information about social media marketing. Which is, of course, what the post on Knol is doing. In trying this platform and others (especially new ones), there is the opportunity to further build on the brand, which in this case is myself, providing illuminative Chief Social Officer advice for the entire world. (Or, at least those who are online.)

Below is an extract and a link to the definition on Knol:

Social Media

When content interacts via relationships & sharing to influence even itself

What happens when you take stand-alone media and add sharing and collaboration? The result allows participation and conversation which builds new meaning around the content.

Social media can be explained as a term in several ways, and also expanded by its use in terms such as social media marketing and social media consultant. This writeup starts first with some elementary definitions, and then goes to examples, to allow an understanding of this term.

Continue to read the rest of the definition.

Online Social Capital and Influence

Posted on June 9, 2008
Filed Under Musings, Offline social, Social Captial, social media marketing, Social Web, Strategy | Comments Off on Online Social Capital and Influence

What is online social capital? It’s a new term that contains an older term. The wikipedia definition of social capital refers to gaining influence (access to power) “through the direct and indirect employment of social connections”. Offline capital has been around for thousands of years, and extends beyond personal into business, political, and religious. But online, the effect is different, and it creates a different dynamic.

The modern version is quasi-physical, in most cases, as there are real people with real names that are linked together via relationships. Whether poking each other on social networking sites, or chatting via instant messaging, there is a basis in real relationships with real people in the majority of one’s online social wealth.

A bit more on defining the term, via what it allows… on Scales for Social Capital in the Online Era there is the indication that it creates benefits derived from relationships created by interactions of social actors. These individuals form “a network of individuals—a ‘social network’—resulting in positive affective bonds. These in turn yield positive outcomes such as emotional support or the ability to mobilize others.”

This type of capital is not limited to one network, as it can bridge social networks. Bridging’s basic definition applies to when individuals from different backgrounds connect, and this is also extended to cover those that occur between social networks.

Utilizing tools such as facebook may have taken off in part because building social capital takes time, and it is easier to leverage the base of a large social network. Other newer tools allow quick building of the same. Even within networks, there is contrast between “introduction-model” sites such as meetup.com, and microblogging sites such as twitter.com, The first is designed for real-world useful social interaction and one for, well, short bursts of content (useful or otherwise).

The relationship networks that are built through different types of sites are not the same. It is useful to recognize how they are different as you consider the effort expended in building personal or organizational capital.While smart people such as Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam are focused on real-world social capital, there is the hyper-rapid growth of online social capital, as reported in this article.

Online Social Capital and Reputation Managment

Once you have online influence, it becomes as asset to manage, in the sphere of online reputation management. Newbies – people have a handful of online friends and a small network – have less to worry about than people with 5,000 or 10,000 people who are tuned into their online activities & ideas.

Can celebrities really do social media & networking? No, not in the current “traditional” method of social networking, or at least not for the long-term. It’s not really feasible, because as a personal-interaction-based form of communications, it requires hundreds of responses per day. It is possible to engage, but not via having others post for the person, as that quickly becomes apparent for it’s “fake” quality.

Banking

There is no “Central SocialCapital Bank”, and one’s network is quickly spread across the hundreds or thousands of sites. As opposed to the bank model, you can’t build up this type of wealth and have it sit. It exists by being used, but necessarily by being spent.

[More on this to come – this post will be continued and expanded with content that was not ready at the time of publishing ]

Social Juxtapositional Marketing and Promotion

Posted on May 7, 2008
Filed Under Musings, social clutter, social media marketing, social viral, Strategy | Comments Off on Social Juxtapositional Marketing and Promotion

Proposed: people or organizations who recognize the behavioral-affecting potential of online social juxtapositions can create attention that is highly effective. 

What catches our attention easily? Something familiar.

What also catches our attention? Something different.

Recently I’ve seen – randomly – cases where two familiar “things” were together, but they were different things.  This caught my attention in a halting sort of way, positively changing my train of thought and action.  It wasn’t only online that this happened, but it can apply very well to people trying to create buzz on the web.

A definition of juxtaposition from reference.com refers to placing things close together or side by side, epecially for contrast or comparision.

What I’ve run into lately is juxtapositional contrast… things that are different that contrast each other. Some of these things are social things.

Social Juxtaposition – placing contrasting stuff (i.e. media) together in a social situation.

In promoting – a cause, a product, a service, an idea – it is challenging to stand out from all of the other promotion, especially in a crowded market.  For example, trying to showcase one’s awesome website design skill is shouting into a concert of voices saying similar things about their own design skills.  How to differentiate?  Add some juxtapositional zest.

We’re talking fairly uncontroversial stuff here… but what is new now for marketing online via social web promotion will be how to allow for contrast that gathers attention in positive and perhaps conversational new ways.  This technique would also fall into the social viral engineering category.

For one example of differentiation, that perhaps is more in the techie appeal area… as blogging became popular and then crowded, some bloggers turned into or started as video bloggers to get attention, and some now are doing live video shows.  Beyond simply live with a web cam, the cutting edge now for some is live video from mobile phones in interesting locations… allowing several contrasting juxtpositional intersections:

So interrupting this post now is a short clip taken earlier today of some recreational water activity.

taken with a flip video ultra
As you are probably reading this sentence while watching the some of the clip, you’re going to try and link the context of the video with this writeup. And, your mind will automagically create some thought to link the video with what you are reading… maybe the water… the idea of video blogging…. or perhaps wondering if this writeup is leading to a marketing pitch. Or, maybe the link your mind creates is that this subject is confusing you a little too much.

Regardless, without creating a time-consuming animation, or slickly producing a video, a clip (taken by chance when stopping to avoid some road traffic) can be used to enhance via juxtaposition someone’s memory of this page. Just use a more exciting or compelling clip.

Furthering this issue one last bit… explaining that I’ve done canoeing and kayaking in that same water will lock in more interest – in a long-tail way – by those people who enjoy those activities. It was this type of contrasting linkages over the last few days that caused me to think how online social web activities are a mesh of random juxtaposed media, to which services (such as friendfeed, mefeed, socialthing, and other lifestreaming services) try to help organize our social clutter.

Yet as always I’ll be looking for and reacting to the interesting social juxtaposition buzz instead of the harmonized feed!

bee

Forecast: Scattered Clouds, With Increasing Atmospheric Integration

Posted on May 3, 2008
Filed Under Clouds, Future, Musings | Leave a Comment

Get your head into the clouds.  Now. 

There is increasing buzz this month about online clouds – the services that host our applications, contain our data, and can scale on demand.  Those who recall grid computing or mesh computing or distributed computing will understand the concept behind clouds: computing services as a utility, like electricity or water. 

What is the forecast for clouds?  Growth.  With recent articles on large technology companies getting together on cloud computing, it will no doubt ride the hype curve very rapidly (even amid some tech voices of sanity).

As in a previous post here which included highlights of the advance from yesterday’s best computers to today’s desktop computers, the lower prices now, combined with the scale of global computing data center resources & virtualization, means that computing actually can be a utility. 

In concept, it follows the pattern of the internet – shared resources along with proprietary/private resources, with costs driven lower by higher adoption rates.  Shared costs of email relay and internet traffic routed across servers allowed free email to mostly replace paid email.  But this time, shared computing via a cloud really will change the, um, landscape. 

Why?  Developers.

Many tech-savvy people, based on blog comment posts this week, don’t get the cloud.  They will, one day soon, but it will take an understanding of how development in the cloud can be done more cheaply, with more scalability, distributed globally.  A year from now there will dozens of startups that succeeded in 2008 and early 2009 by leveraging the cloud, combined in many cases with social networks, mashup-ready data, and a keen sense of how to solve problems that are still forming in online user expectations.

As in a previous post here highlighting the big changes of old computers to today’s computers, the lower prices now combined with the scale of global computing data center resources means that computing actually can be a utility. 

 Hong Kong Skyline and Clouds

Clouds arrive in Hong Kong.

[ Buzzword prediction: clouds will be superceded in buzz-worthiness by what they float in: the atmosphere ]

Social Clutter – Too Much Information

Posted on May 2, 2008
Filed Under CSO, Musings, social clutter, Strategy | Comments Off on Social Clutter – Too Much Information

The music of The Police, including the artist Sting, has among the songs some concepts that were perhaps ahead of their time. One example is “Too Much Information(listen), which was written over 25 years ago, and refers to having to deal with information overload:

Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane

… and this was penned before there was cable TV with 500 channels, mobile phones (with or without text messaging & voicemail), and before there was any of the billions of spam emails (worldwide) per hour! My hunch is that today we have 10 times more information to deal with on a daily basis now, and there is more information arriving with (couldn’t resist) every breath you take.

As the information glut continues, organizations – and people – who succeed and excel will be the ones who recognize the importance of managing information efficiently.

And for those many people who have a portion of their social life online, with many friends, updates, events, and activities, the too-much-information aspect extends into a new term: social clutter.

Socially, many of us now suffer from information overload. For some people, quality time has been replaced by quantity, as we now keep up with more people and have more interruptions in our time with friends and family. Anyone with a mobile phone been asked to silence their ring or set it on vibrate for an event?

It’s kind of like asking people to filter out each of their own social clutter to keep the event from being overwhelmed.

Too much information? Since when?

Our information now is typically electronic data, at one time or another. This is new. Only 20 years ago it was still a very analog world. But now, magazines and newspapers are composed using computers. Digital cameras & photos now exceed film cameras. CD’s that were overtaking vinyl are now being replaced by digital files. And email and online text are essential information sources for most of the people reading these words in this post.

And every year, many of us produce a lot of digital material (emails, videos, photos, slide decks, documents) that we don’t need, yet we have to save it, file it, organize it. We don’t know what we won’t need, so we may try and save it all.

As the volume of online social interactions grow, and with these interactions all saved in the online cloud of data, the social clutter will continue to grow.  What to do?  Use tools, such as filters and folders (online or offline), to be more efficient.  And don’t be afraid to unfriend or unfollow people who are cluttering your life.  More on the social clutter handling in future posts.

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