The Tim Richards Experience Experience
hierarchy of rights
User Experience Advertising (2)
Models, Art, & Diagrams (14)
Social Media (8)
I’m interested in 4 things this year (it seems like it’s always 1, 2, 3, or 5 things, right? Never 4…or 6. At that point, you should just go for a Top 10 list, I think.) In the coming year, I hope we can stop talking about Social Media in Social Media and start discussing a wealth of successes in the field – giving customers the kind of experience they want – connecting people in new ways.
How Crowds Work
Yeah. Crowds, Markets, Conversations, Tribes, Organizations without organization…there’s plenty of speculation and related ruckus in the market, as social media gets more and more attention in traditional PR circles (and vice versa). Great little book by Seth Godin about Tribes…not related to Crowds in this sense; it’s more about Leading From Where You Stand – and doing what you love (yeah, it gets a little preachy).
I’m talking about Crowds in a sense of topical relevance; a crowd is a group of folks that are actively taking interest in a specific topic. Near the center of the crowd, you might find the Elite – people making, creating, thinking, dreaming…putting “art” into the market, relevant to their crowd. A crowd may be assembled around nearly any topic; Robotics, Skateboarding, Current Political Events, or Kittens.
Skill and knowledge that’s native to the topic are highest in the center. Spanning out from the center of the crowd, you’ll find decreasing expertise and knowledge (and interest) in the topic. The more specific the topic, the smaller the crowd, probably. The more inclusive and expansive the topic, the larger the crowd…and more difficult it might be to find the center.
Here’s something you’re probably familiar with: The Forrester NACTAS “Social Technographics Ladder” thing. Here, I’ve put it on it’s side, and put it in the context of a crowd. I’m interested in how folks interact in the crowd. I am interested in the activities of a crowd, based on topic.
Here’s the thing about that Forrester chart…it’s only kind of right. It describes people across the board as “Creators” – when, in reality, I’m a creator only in respect to a few topics…not everything. So, how do I, as a person…and as a brand, go about understanding the roles that people play in specific topics (NOT markets)? I think observation of crowds, and the dynamics at work there will help understand how ideas flow through crowds.
This ladder on its side only plots behaviors. I’m going to work on visualizing the dynamics between the divisions of crowd members – and mobility from one group to another. I have a feeling there will be elements of Dale Carnegie’s famous book at work here.
I have the least amount of ‘meat’ on this topic, thus far. But, I am really interested in how folks perceive reputation. There are systems that folks have set up to manage reputation – overtly scored like that on eBay…or, privately viewed models, like contributors on Wikipedia…there are plenty of these models, and I’m going to make a study of them – and hopefully figure out what makes some content items and stories more shared than others, at face value. I also think that some crowds (and the profiles inside them) deal with the concept of face value differently; some folks share everything they come across (like my Aunt Norma June) and some folks investigate the content more carefully before sharing. Reputation and sharing lie at the heart of how things “go viral.”
I’m going to look at some blue sky and practical methods for gathering reputation information. Blue sky ideas like an aggregated view of sharing, including Word of Mouth (!), phone, text, tweets, Facebook, email, blogs, etc. Practical ideas like ad network cookie data and recent innovations like Bit.ly’s click-counter browser plug-in. I think a new model for dealing with reputation will not only help people Convince and Convert (go Jason, @jaybaer) markets and the people in them…it will help us understand how to measure, find, and propagate the best and most important ideas throughout the world.
Brand Universe of Crowds
So, any given brand is at the center of any number of crowds – crowds don’t always revolve around a brand…but, good brands are usually very much in touch with the crowds that are relevant to their product/service.
A TV show might appeal to drama fans, sci-fi fans, and readers of short stories for teens. A footwear product might lie at the center of a light cross training crowd, people who jog from time to time, runners, and people who walk to work. Now, maybe those aren’t crowds because they don’t have any group participation…maybe they’re just demographics, targets, or something like that. I’d like to have something better than ‘target audience’ to work with when I want to get an idea out there – I want to know the dynamics of the crowd, the specifics of reputation there, and I want to know how to behave myself there. Maybe kind of like getting a sense of the dress code before I go to a party? Here’s how to get a “dress code” for the topic/crowd’s you’re pursuing – great post by Marshall at Read/Write/Web.
In the coming year, I’ll work on my definition of crowds – in the context of a brand…and how brands. I think that brands that understand their crowds in an honest and participative manner hold them most gravity in their specific markets – gravity that they turn into revenue, loyalty, and other really important things.
The Cesspool of Message Marketing
OK. This one goes a bit far – but, there’s real value in understanding how the concepts of reputation and crowds affect the success or failure of specific campaigns, marketing tactics, and messages. I want to understand how topical relevance, honesty, and inspiration are all perceived by crowds – and maybe develop a visualization of an accurate logical model of campaigns, their dispositions in specific crowds, the perceptions of the crowds, and the results of the campaigns. Should be fun.
For this one, I’m observing interactions with a company that I’ll categorize as operational…such as, “I give you money, you give me a Grande Chai Latte.” Anything related to operational interactions, I’ll put in one bucket. The other bucket is for categorizing experiences that are on-topic for a crowd. These experiences hold relevance to markets and the people in them because of a topic or idea that a crowd and a brand experience share. Think, “Nike didn’t invent basketball, but they talk about it a lot more than they talk about the construction of their shoes.”
I think a divide is developing between Operational and Crowd Experiences. Everyone is finding themselves a part of a niche, developed based on the immediate availability of very detailed information…not to mention the ubiquity of communication platforms for folks to exchange thoughts. There’s more to it, but – when a company floats a message out there with very little tie to something that’s interesting to a specific crowd, it better be about giving me Chai Latte…otherwise, it’s just out there…in the noise of the market – left to fend for itself, along with the other corporate messages of the world. It’s cold out there, in the vast expanse of communication topics, without the warm, insulation of loyal activists, enthusiasts or built-in interested parties.
So, four things. It’s unheard of, I know. But, that’s what I’d like to work on this year. I’ll keep the visualizations, pictograms, diagrams, and findings coming throughout the year. If you’ve got something to add to this, I’d love to see it. Should be interesting.