Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ammado - Socially responsible

Have you seen This is a cool very-multi-national W2.0+ site from Ireland that "connects nonprofits, socially responsible companies and engaged individuals in an interactive and unique environment. We harness the power of the internet to accelerate communication, awareness and fundraising." Great idea, and one that deserves our support.

I spent a delightful hour today talking to their Japan representative. She showed me a new product - a "donation" gift card that allows the receiver to go online (instructions are on the back of the card), and choose a non-profit to receive the donation. The brilliant upside is that two-way engagement (giver + receiver) becomes three-way (giver + Non-Profit + receiver) or four-way if the giver also participates.

Remember, in network theory the efficiency of the network increases in proportion to the square of the number of nodes [actually, a function of the triangular number n(n − 1)/2) which is proportional to n-squared as the number of nodes increases to infinity].

This is an excellent idea - the donation that keeps on giving, yet also allows for social networking around the most important community: those in need. I can see it working as either an employee engagement or customer engagement tool, or as a splendid way to enable socially-aware rewards schemes. Think and ACT green, for example.

You've got to hand it Ammado - this Irish company has actually proved that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Thought for the Day: Joining with customers (employees are internal customers for your brand) to do good will help brands leverage their social credentials - and just might create real engagement! Bravo Ammado!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Why is Google so successful?

Wow! Did you happen to catch this excellent piece of analysis by Fabernovel? Or their White Paper? Staggering stuff ... brilliant insights ... and scary at a number of different levels. Thanks to Digital Ministry and John Lynch for sharing.

I don't give much truck to conspiracy theories, and I'm an enthusiastic fan of Google. Good luck to them, and more power to those who make it easier for us all to connect. So take all of this positively.

But I never imagined there was this much strategic intent behind the various Google "avatars". Or even if it wasn't all Sergey and Larry, the idea that comprehensive analysis like Fabernovel's could divine the strategic elements. It's amazing - so refreshingly simple, so vicariously thrilling, yet overwhelmingly compelling.

For those who can't be bothered to read the presentation or the White Paper, here's the 30 second synopsis:
  • Google's success is a result of the successful application of Metcalfe's Law on the utility of networks;
  • Their reach (or utility) is not the sum of the people in the networks - it's proportional to the square (!) of the people in the networks.
  • Inital value is created through two-sided markets, which morph to polygonic markets through addition of complementary networks;
  • That creates geometric growth in value (which coincidentally attracts new networks).

This all creates a space where Google can look at new points of leverage - like browser-based apps, offline advertising. So Google can be Google, and the rest of us can be scared.

Google has posted some pretty big user numbers in Search and other apps. And once you do that, the power comes more from the number of networks rather than the number of participants in each network.

Thought for the Day: Maybe it's time to figure out how to link networks rather than just create new ones.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A social presidency?

Check out this article in the Financial Times. One of the consequences of what could be termed the world's first ever socially-wired election campaign is an expectation by the huge Obama network that they can continue to be involved. Um, that means actually have a say in how they are governed.

That's a fairly radical concept. Not since the Thing of the Norse cultures has there been such an idea (discounting small egalitarian communities and communes). If you think I'm kidding, check out Fix this, Barack or White House 2. Amazing! All with a sense of collegiality and a remarkable goodness-of-fit with Obama's own priorities.

Of course, the challenge for the BO White House is to figure out how to keep the magnificent constituency developed by the campaign connected and committed, in the raw light of day on Capitol Hill. The crushing immediacy of the issues faced by the incoming President will no doubt play havoc with his iPhone and Twitter teams. Analysing 5 days of public feedback received through the White House website is going to take some real heft. But what an opportunity to take back government!

Things (pun intended) are never going to be the same. Oh..., and some-one tell K. Rudd to get a look at this phenomenon - and change that crappy feedback page into something useful!

Thought for the Day: Social media offer the opportunity for people to seize back a say in government policies and priorities. Maybe it's time for politicians to listen.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Anti-Social - Sorry

It's been a while since I posted to this blog - I've been running around Tokyo in the hectic year-end season. Every night another function, hosted by one company or another. What's the point?

Actually, the point is pretty simple and it took a slow lunch with a friend on Sunday to bring it to my attention. Humans are social animals - we delight in the company of others and fret when we're alone. Those are evolutionary traits designed to promote the survival of the species. I hadn't seen this friend for some time, and he's a little down-in the-dumps because of the global financial crisis. Generationally, he's not a social media user so I wasn't aware.

The functions I've been going to are a good example of physical social networks - that's where I caught up with my friend, and then made some time to talk to him about his problems. Digital social networks are a metaphor for "network-ing" events, just not time- or location-limited.

Social networks - and I mean digital social networks - simply replicate existing behaviors. Sure, it's greatly enhanced by technology and we now reach many more people than ever before possible. But the underlying behaviour is identical. Uh-huh, but so what?

Well, if we want to be successful in building social media tools that engage and delight people we must build them around behaviors - not around technologies. More than ever before, successful marketing will depend on our ability to understand what makes people tick rather than what makes them click. For me, understanding the 3 components of an audience (demographics, psychographics, and technographics) and then building a set of personas is as important as ever ... maybe more important.

Thought for the Day: When some-one comes to you with a brilliant idea to utilize a technology, maybe you should ask what social behaviour it models. Otherwise, you'll just be playing with the latest shiny toy.