Tag Archives: Google

Social Networks for Business Tip #7: Don’t Be Greedy

I have found ten common tips that apply irrespective of what your enterprise does, your market is or what technology platform you are using. This is my seventh tip in this series. There will be 10 total posts; each with a particular theme. They are intended to be read in the order presented, as they build upon each other…

07

Is Greed Good?

We all remember this incredible quote by the pseudo-fictional Gordon Gecko in 20th Century Fox’s 1987 movie, Wall Street:

greed1…I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind…

We remember this because it is so emotive—regardless of whether you agree or disagree with it. Whenever I watch a clip of this, I usually hear people say that they would never be like Gordon Gecko. Yet, so many people build consumer-facing enterprise communities that are inherently “greedy,” i.e., they require you to register and provide Personally Identifiable Information (PII) before they let you access their content. (If you do not believe, me send me a note, and I will share some URLs with you.)

The 2009 Social Technographics Profile Demonstrates that Greed is NOT Good

For three years in a row now Forrester Research has published a “Social Technographics Profile” analyzing how consumers use social media technologies. This Profile shares to main insights that everyone needs to consider before designing a public-facing community for their enterprise.

Source: Forrester Researcg
Source: Forrester Research

First, people who visit communities do not start creating user-generated content on Day 1. As they grow more comfortable with the community (and with its use of social media technology) they move from Spectators (passive viewers) to Joiners (people who actually Register) on to Critics and Creators (people who add, rate or comment upon social media content).

Second, the vast majority of people who visit these communities do not create user-generated content. Most people visit to simply explore information of interest. The challenge for Community Managers is to get visitors comfortable enough to move from Spectators to Creators. This is not something that you can do in a single 30-second visit.

Source: Forrester Research
Source: Forrester Research

What This Means When You Are Designing Your Network

First-order analysis of the Social Technographics Profile provides two powerful insights:

  1. When you make people Join before you show them content you miss 60% your potential market and Return on Investment. (People will simply click the “Back” button and return to Google or Bing instead of registering)
  2. If you design your community specifically Creators you are designing for less than one-fourth of your market. (Stated another way, you are creating a sub-optimal experience for 76% of your visitors)

Based on this analysis, you should do three things:

  1. Don’t Build a Gated Community, let people see your content without needing to register
  2. Make simple viewing (and sharing) of content compelling and easy for Spectators. This will encourage them to visit often and stay longer
  3. Use Just-In-Time Registration and Sign-in. Only ask visitors to identify themselves at the first moment when they want to add to the community (e.g. Rating, Commenting upon or Adding content. (Better, yet see my Tip #6 as to avoid the need to register members entirely

Three Practitioners of This

Here are three communities that practice the above points very well. The first is a Contest Community, the second a Crowdsourcing Community, the third a Full Destination Community (See Tip #4 for an explanation of these social media network “tools”). Each makes  to it easy for a first-time visitor to explore these communities and progress from Spectators to Creators.

  • HGTV’s Rate My Space
  • Microsoft’s Voices 4 Recovery (TARP site – no longer active)
  • American Express OPEN Forum

Note: I selected these communities not only because they are easy to use but also because follow the principles I will outline soon in Tip #9 to ensure your communities are safe environments for participation.

Gartner’s 2009 “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies”: Reflections and prognostications

The 2009 Gartner Hype Cycle Special Report evaluates the maturity of 1,650 technologies and trends in 79 technology, topic and industry areas. I applied the Gartner Hype Cycle Concept to the Web 1.0 Internet Boom and (current) Web 2.0 Slope and found Search to be a key Web 1.0 winner and an overlay of Meritocracy to Search Results to be a big bet for Web 2.0…

Gartner’s Hype Cycle Special Report for 2009

The Gartner Group just published their annual Hype Cycle Report for 2009. You can find the report here.

In an approach similar to that used by the Chasm Group, this report combines Schumpeter’s concepts of Creative Destruction for innovation with the ADKAR model for individual and organization change management. It proposes that new innovations and technologies traverse five stages:

  1. Technology Trigger. When some event or product triggers rapid growth in the use of the technology
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations. When the “bubble of hype” (vs. the achieved results) regarding use of the technology reaches its peak
  3. Trough of Disillusionment. When the bubble bursts and people say, “I told you that was just a fad.”
  4. Slope of Enlightenment. When the technology becomes sufficiently mature, standardized and adopted to start generating mainstream market results
  5. Plateau of Productivity. When these results begin to flatten out and reengineer of use of the technology (or a new technology) is needed to create big productivity changes

The diagram below captures a snapshot of Gartner’s view of “what technologies are where” on the current lifecycle. What has captured the attention of most is that Micro-blogging (e.g., Twitter) is now entering the trough.

gartner_hype_cycle

A Reflection on The Internet (Web 1.0) Boom

Reports like this always serve as a good trigger for reflection on the past. My experience is not broad enough to look at the entire technology world of the last 10 years. However, I have been lucky enough to have broad experience in the Internet “Web 1.0” boom. Here are my reflections on how three technologies of the Web 1.0 Internet Boom weather Gartner’s Hype Curve:

Big Winner: Consumer-based Search Traversed the Curve Most Successfully

Search radically changed how we live. We no longer spend lots of time looking though reference materials (from newspaper stock prices to encyclopedias) to find information we need. We now use search, enabling us to find information much more successfully.

Companies like Google have shown this can be a moneymaking industry. However the flatting of competition shows the curve on innovation is also flattening. Clearly something new is needed to create the next spike

Work In-Progress: Enterprise-based Search Is Still Stuck in the Slope of Enlightenment

We still do not have equally powerful search techniques inside the enterprise. Imagine how productive we could be if we simple search for answers to basic questions at work (instead of looking for the internal expert with tribal knowledge.)

Today, most enterprise search engines do not use good algorithms, generating results based primary on document titles. This is still an industry where someone could make a killing if they made it easy both to index a wide range of knowledge sources and search on them effectively.

Left Behind: Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging (IM) was incredibly powerful. I still remember the recorded phone call at AOL where a Customer Service agent showed a retired grandmother how to IM her grandchildren, reducing her long distance telephone fees (and making her cry with happiness when she initiated an IM session with her grandson). IM could have been used in so many places to transform how we communicate. However, it devolved into a service supported only by advertising of private network licensing.

This one makes me particularly sad given my years at AOL (especially my work trying to use IM to transform customer service). Imaging how much better it would be if we did not have to wait on hold (and if customer service agents could IM us links to answers). This does exist, but only in niche areas. The big transformation never came.

A Look to the Future of Web 2.0

Reports like this always serve as a good trigger for prognostication on the future (a scary topic that tests our wisdom.) What will be the biggest winner of the current hype cycle? Again, I am not going to try to boil the ocean of all technologies (groups like Gartner can do this much more effectively). However, I will go out on a limb and make a prediction for what will be a big winner in the Web 2.0 world.

I believe Online Meritocracy will be one of the biggest winners. Why? Because it is useful and it is a natural extension of what we do today:

Today we can search for information easily. In our personal life, if we want to find a gardener in zip code 91362 we can do this in seconds. In our work environment, we can also look up a list of approved vendors that we can purchase consulting services from. However, which of these groups are good? Simple Search does not answer that.

Kim Kobza, CEO of Neighborhood America, often shares a statistic that we are 9x as likely to act on recommendations from a friend or colleague than information found in impersonal references. If we can create technologies that enable us to overlay easily searchable feedback with search results, we can really find the information we are seeking. Imagine a world where I can find gardeners that my neighbors in zip code 91362 or consultants that colleagues in my corporate function have had good results from…

This requires combinations of search technology, social networking, content moderation, survey design, location-based searches and other technologies. We have niche versions of this technology today, mostly in the form of destinations (e.g., Angie’s List, Epinions or Amazon Customer Reviews). However, we don’t have the ability to easily stand this up anywhere we need it (e.g., a B2B, vendor or specialist network for my enterprise or integration of meritocracy into Google or Bing results). There is a lot of market share (and money) for the group who make this clear, easy to use and scalable.

Special Follow-up (January 2011)

The last 12 months have shown how social media, recommendations based on what your friends are doing and commerce have all come together in examples like the rise of Groupon and FourSquare.