Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Crowdsourcing is a BS Idea

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Every day I come across at least five new crowdsourcing tools or companies, and what always strikes me is how diverse they are. This crowdsourcing stuff is a phenomenon that is sweeping through many industries.

Today I enjoyed reading about the ways lawyers are now keeping tabs on each other by crowdsourcing information from within individual firms for industry-wide dissemination. Take a look at to see how colleagues are reporting on each other’s job moves from firm to firm in the hope of winning an i-Phone. Although it is not really about the prize: attorneys want to contribute so that this becomes a useful resource and they can keep an eye on who might be coming to join their firm. Junior lawyers can make sure that Scott H. Greenfield isn’t coming to take over their practice area and give them a hard time about trawling for clients on Facebook :-)

Over at Banco Sabadell they have launched BS Idea – a new platform to crowdsource employees’ ideas. It sounds like they have made some efforts to ensure that is more than just an online suggestion box:

  • People can vote on their colleague’s ideas, which creates a sense of competition
  • People can suggest new ideas without censorship. Apparently, somebody in the company classifies the ideas in 5 levels and 17 categories, deppending on how they can be used internally
  • People use the corporate intranet, so they don’t need to use a new login system
  • There is an electronic newsletter in which the best ideas are shared, together with some info on the ones that have been selected
  • Special requests for participation will be addressed by the company periodically so that employees increase the use of the tool related to a certain concern in the bank.

This type of bespoke corporate platform is getting easier and cheaper to set up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the growth of private platforms take a big chunk out of the profits that the big social media platforms are targetting.

Amongst all the euphoria I always a good post about the challenges of the wiki world. The post by Gasellit is a good one because it provides practical advice on how to overcome the challenges of crowdsourcing.

Why Facebook Works

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

As the data above illustrates Facebook is a platform where the users are highly engaged – 661 page views per month for the average user. This is the sort of environment that brands love to be in because it is more likley to lead to a meaningful relationship. Also, a Facebook fan page has a third-party independent feel to it as fans can leave comments, and are providing endorsement by allowing their Facebook profiles to be associated with the products.

The combination of these factors means that Facebook fan pages are fast becoming major branding tools. See as an example. Digitial branding platforms are growing off the back of companys’ desire to access social media in a strategic manner. Buddy Media’s business looks like an interesting one.

Meanwhile, I am still a one fan man. Feel free to increase that by 100%!

Is public policy crowdsourcing undemocratic?

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

The US government is turning to crowdsourcing to shape its public policy via new independent initiative Expert Labs, which will develop a platform to tap into the expertise that sits outside the Federal Government. The Director of the new venture, Anil Dash, is a man with over 250,000 Twitter followers, and a blogger since 1999, so it’s fair to say he has a good handle on social media tools.

In his launch presentation below Dash notes that there are always going to be more experts outside the beltway, but falls short of saying that there is greater expertise. My view is that the main challenge for Expert Labs is going to be to create a platform that filters the volume of ideas into a meaningful flow for government to make use of.

Dash’s ambitious aim is that by leveraging the Expert Labs crowdsourcing platform, the magnitude of the issues that the US government successfully tackles will be increased. On the other hand, I imagine that critics of the approach contest that democracy is already a perfect example of crowdsourcing, and that since the crowd has cast its vote based on an election manifesto, having a second election of ideas is undemocratic. These concerns will need to be mitigated by the scope of the platform’s influence.

Is charity a profitable strategy?

Monday, December 14th, 2009
The Angel

He didn't answer my LinkedIn connect request!

Reid Hoffman is the man you want to have as your angel investor. He gets it. And if he gets your company then that’s a sure sign that you might just be on to something. Not that he has actually cashed in on that $1bn LinkedIn valuation just yet. However, once he does there are signs that he might do a Bill and Melinda and apply his expertise to philanthropic ventures.

At Silicon Valley’s TEDxSV on the weekend he confirmed that he wants to be a public intellectual. He went on to explain that he thinks that the same tools that drive social media can help cause-based foundations create platforms for change. TechCrunch reported that, “One of the things that Hoffman finds interesting is that corporations, because they have the reach of millions of people…can make cause-based initiatives part of their web based platform. This is exemplified by Facebook’s Causes application.”

Personally I am more interested in seeing LinkedIn list as a profitable company, and seeing Facebook convert its 350 million members into cash, than I am in looking at how cause-based organizations can use crowdsourcing to drive change. Let’s see the model refined and proven as a for-profit strategy first.

That’s just my personal area of interest though, and there is no reason that companies and charities can’t move in parallel. The issues that cause-based organizations are trying to solve are usually extremely complex, and if they can leverage mass collaboration to solve these problems then the profit-driven companies can probably learn a lot from how they do it.

Customers Become the Brand
Also, I would like to explore the idea of companies using their business web platforms for charitable activities. Bringing in their customers as part of this might just make it a profitable venture. A brand sharing a common world outlook with its customers – as they engage together in charitable activties the customer moves from outside to inside the brand. Now that’s brand loyalty.

Meet Marketing’s Answer to Alain de Botton

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
The Dome of Marketing

The Dome of Marketing

Seth Godin is the marketing man’s Alain de Botton. Almost daily he pops up with a short post that casts things in a new light, and energizes you to take on the established post-industrial machine. But by the end of the first morning meeting you have had the Godin knocked out of you, and are back to promoting butter with binikis. What is the solution?

Well luckily Godin is more than a blogger; he writes books that you can immerse yourself in. Books that give you the energy to try and do things differently for at least a week! Maybe things would be even better if de Botton would write a book on marketing, but for now Seth is Guru No.1 for many marketers (and even Scott H. Greenfield likes him!)

The next book due to hit our shelves is Linchpin, and it has already become notable because Godin is going to send a pre-release copy to the first 3,000 people who made a donation of at least $30 to the Acumen Fund. So now 3,000 of the readers who most want a copy of the book are going to fill the blogosphere with reviews before it hits the stand. Godin is bypassing the traditional critic gateway, and reaching consumers through 3,000 of his tribe. When the book launches in January expect a social media explosion.

(I’m getting a review copy myslef. If you want an honest review then check back in January.)

What is going on here is leveraging a crowd for marketing/promotion (crowdsourcing marketing). The problem is that you need a crowd to start with. Well if you don’t have one, then why not gather a crowd to make your product and promote it. There’s a case study of that here, that garnered three million You Tube videos from a standing start.

So there you are, even if you have no product, and no tribe, it is no excuse for not being able to reach three million people with your message. Just don’t let anyone knock the Godin out of you.

The Monetization of Social

Monday, December 7th, 2009

social-media-monetizationA recent article on TechCrunch describes the current situation succinctly, “Social seems to be the future, and Facebook just may do to Google what Google is doing to Microsoft (ripping apart their core business), if they ever find the right way to monetize it. Social graph monetization may be the next huge wave of revenue growth on the Internet.”

Who knows where Twitter will come in all this? By opening its API it has made massive strides, but I can’t help feeling that it is letting many monetization opportunities pass by. Shouldn’t Twitter be trying to keep Sprouter, StockTwit users etc. on the main platform by giving them the tools they need?

And while we have ringside seats to the rise or fail of social media, Google is going to be busy shifting us to cloud computing. Meanwhile over in Seattle Microsoft has Bing and the X-Box!

Things can change quicky. I still remember when Yahoo! was my homepage and I used MySpace. Maybe in a few years I’ll be using Bing and subscribing to Microsoft online for my software. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how it all plays out, and what impact the monetization (or failure of monetization) of social media will have.

If I had to invest my entire net worth in these tech players today and rely on it for a pension in 30 years, I would go for a balanced portfolio of Google (50%), Microsoft (30%), Twitter (15%) and Facebook (5%). How about you?