Friday, 28 March 2008

It is all about ME!

A significant number of articles have come out lately on the concept of "Audience of One". If you thought the 80’s were the ultimate "ME" decade think again. The whole rest of this century is likely to become increasingly ego centric. The concept of "Audience of One" is quite simple. With a deluge of content and increasingly more sophisticated ways to access it the individual, or “ME”, can be increasingly more selective on what, when and how they receive it. In essence, each person can tailor content specific to their own tastes and content providers are lined up to give it to them.

How long is the tail? The days of marketers designing for mass appeal and enjoying huge profits by developing one gimmick are quickly becoming folklore; stories told by old and wrinkled PR persons over long drinks late at night. Today behavioral, demographic, and other forms of targeting require campaigns to be precise and flexible. Instead of creating a campaign for outdoor, TVC, radio and print, the modern PR and marketer devises infinitely mashable content that can be reformed endlessly to reach every possible nook and cranny that might hold a potential viewer.

On the other side of the equation, it has never been a better time to be a customer. Spoiled for choice and gazillions of dollars are being spent trying to figure out what you want, when you want it, and how you want it served up. We are entering into an unprecedented era of customer controlled content. Welcome to the ME century! Personally I feel very special. I hope you do too.

Monday, 24 March 2008

The Death of Society Not Yet!

In a series of fascinating editorials in the New York Times and various blog spheres pundits have declared that Society is not falling apart and in fact it is getting a resounding "Hurrah" from many big names such as Pepsi Cola. The two articles referenced in this blog are just the tip of the iceberg of the avalanche of support for Society. What I mean by this is that both individuals and major corporations believe strongly that Social Media is a force to be reckoned with.

This comes as no surprise to this author, or anyone else that currently occupies space above ground. What is a surprise is that it has taken an age for business to grasp the obvious. For eons people have been working in social structures because it simultaneously benefits the individual and the great good. However in the business world the concept of "Social" seems to have been largely avoided. Let me explain this briefly.

People do well because they chat, share, help each other build barns, and generally like being around each other for support and an occasional giggle. But corporations have always been somewhat anti-social in their approach to interacting with their customer base. "Here is a new product -- buy it!" seems to be the limit to their conversational skills. Even their feint attempt a customer relationship management was no more than building databases so that they could better estimate customer value and make more efficient the "handling" of customers.

Social interaction is one of the fundamental traits of humans. And perhaps that is why Corporations have missed it -- because it is a human trait. But since Corporations are fundamentally made up of humans it was only a matter of time before the light bulb went off in someone's head.

In these last few years we have seen a transformation on how product and service information is communicated. With an increasing amount of content and still only having 24 hours in a day we will see people becoming increasingly selective of how they spend their time. People chose to socialise with other people for a variety of reasons, but mainly it all boils down to one reason -- it adds value to their life. In the age of an audience of one, corporations will need to understand better the basics of human nature -- we are foremost social beings.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Social Just Became Compulsory

For a long time many of us have known the power of Social Networks. I am not suggesting that we are the overly smart, arrogant or some elite group of "in the know" people. Not that at all, we are in fact the everybody's of the world. You would have to have been living under a rock not to have noticed the MySpace and Facebook phenomenon. It appears that this has now started to filter upwards to the rarified space of the ultra compensated CEO's of companies. Similar to when U.S. President George Bush discovered scanners at the grocery store checkout and was truely surprised by how sophisticated they were-- a very different life some people live.

Executives Must Realize and Learn the Power of Social Media via kwout

Now that the importance of P2P dialogs have got the attention of those holding the purse strings we will start to see a huge movement into this area from corporate. However, when this happens it usually has the same effect as when your parents tried to hang out with you and your friends in high school. It was totally uncool but at least there was someone to pay for the beer and munchies. This will be the same in social network spaces. Companies will try and pass themselves off as having a natural presence in these spaces but will infact be nothing more than expensively contrived advertising. The whole thing about being cool is you either are or you are not -- it can't not be forced.

Social networks are all about natural cool. People interacting with other people. If you don't get this then you will always be an outsider.

Traditional advertising has always presented itself as being an outsider -- the product, the aspiration. But this does not fly in social network sites. People make many, many connections based on only temporary or fragmented interests. There is no secret flame that will attract all moths. The best approach is the simplest approach.

Engage your customers

  1. Add value to the relationship
  2. Yes it is a relationship!
  3. Put the interest of others before your own
  4. Listen
  5. Respond

Yup, you already knew that