Videos that Explain Social Media

Perfect for executives and for clients wanting a quick run down of social media – and why it is turning our lives upside down, this presentation brings together the seven short videos that clearly show the context, the business value and the opportunity. Feel free to share it. Oh, and there is a neat plug for the Age of Conversation – the next edition of which is in production right now!

Videos That Explain Social Media

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Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

14th february 2010In amongst the thought leadership, the tips and tricks and the case studies that fill my reader each week, a gem sometimes emerges. It’s not easily explained. It makes my heart skip. And it comes with its own a-ha moment.

I have a dedicated category on my reader that helps me follow the writers who surprise and delight me. But in a way, I expect a certain style of writing from those blogs. It’s the surprising post from the unexpected source that I am truly seeking this week.

Interestingly then, this week’s must-read posts from last week is all about you.

  1. Week 6 of Wonderment: Reinvent – comes from Jasmin Tragas, seeking to find the wonder in every day living. It’s part of a collaborative Flickr project and is already turning up some fantastic imagery.
  2. Valeria Maltoni talks about the hard work of being “you” – providing some practical advice along the way.
  3. John Hagel asks “who are you” and explains that your answer influences everything that follows. How we perceive ourselves, what we do and how we behave, are all changing – and this poses interesting questions, provides opportunities, exposes challenges and also shortcomings. Take a look.
  4. Chris Guillebeau shares (again) his Brief Guide to World Domination which stems from two key questions – what do you really want to get out of life? And – What can you offer the world that no one else can?
  5. It could get worse again is, well … let me just say it is something you have to experience on your own terms.

Say Yes to Twitter

I was watching this video from the Kaiser’s Toilet on Twitter and Google’s new Buzz – and it got me thinking. Much of the discussion that we see around social media, marketing and new technologies relates to yes/no decisions. The conversations are framed in terms of scarcity – of time, resources, budget and so on. But one of the fundamental transformations that the social web has driven is that of abundance. Of information, knowledge and connection.

So we are seeing a fundamental disconnect between the way that we VIEW this emerging world and the way that it OPERATES.

Say yes to Twitter from Marcus Brown on Vimeo.

The idea of VIEWING a website or social platform is a behaviour that has created a world view. It comes from 50 years of broadcast TV. It places us, “a user” (and therefore a dependent) in a passive mode. The newer, social web places us, the PARTICIPANT at the centre of a hub. It requires choice, it engenders responsibility, and presupposes action. It PLAYS to the concept of abundance and see scarcity as outmoded, traditional, passe.

But as Mark Earl’s Herd has taught us, it is behaviour which changes thinking, not thinking that changes behaviour. So perhaps, surreptitiously, our engagement with the social web may have wider implications. Or maybe the social web is more chaotic, playful and unpredicatable than our marketing and IT “use cases” would suggest.

This interesting article by Alan Wolk shows how the #thuglife meme has made Twitter into a purely experiential platform. More importantly for marketers, perhaps, is the scale of this type of participation – which far exceeds the early adopter circles that characterise much of the social media debate:

It's an interesting use of the medium, and the people participating in these hashtags seem to be getting as much value out of them as the Twitter-Is-a-Serious-Business-Tool types who busily append words like "Genius!" to their retweets of a fellow blogger's "Top 10 Reasons Location-Based Services Are the New Twitter."

What we are seeing is the logical extension of YES. We are seeing the “crowd” embracing abundance and participating in a way which is consciously unselfconscious.

What would happen if we did the same? What if we said YES to Twitter? What would happen if we followed everyone? Would our world change? Maybe not. But maybe WE would.

Shipwrecks, Tides, Sea Monsters and Digital Strategy

Brian Solis has scoured the web and brought together a series of visual graphs, maps and statistics that seek to explain the “social web”. He calls it the State of Social Media Around the World 2010. I particularly like The Global Web Index by Trendstream which goes beyond the aggregated data points to show just exactly HOW people are using social technologies in each country. However, in reading this type of data – it often pays to cross-match data points and superimpose other frameworks to reveal more useful information. This is essential to helping you formulate a robust digital strategy. Let's see how.

Superimposing frameworks to reveal information


It is interesting to compare this against Forrester’s Ladder of Social Media Participation (or see the latest version incorporating “conversationalists”) which is more granular. Forums, in particular, are still a powerful way for people to participate in a community – and are extremely popular, well trafficked and often vibrant. 

ForresterLadder Conversation

Reading Maps 

I love maps. They are a great way of contextualising our world. But it's also important to remember that they have a long history – and an important function in the sharing of knowledge. Whenever I see a map, I always think of navigation. I think of sea monsters, reefs and shipwrecks. So for all the great information that is shown on a map – it's just important to look for what is not shown, what is just below the surface.

For example, there are a couple of ways of looking at this map:

  • Trends and tides: The colour coding helps to easily identify global and regional trends. Think of this in terms of a tide – what is coming in and what is going out. Clearly photo uploading is a global phenomenon with wide scale adoption. Is it at the high tide mark? Does that matter to your audience? Designing a strategy that incorporates photography, image sharing etc lowers the barrier to entry – but can also be seen as "old hat".
  • Sea monsters: Take a close look at your country and region. The variations from global trend can indicate potential roadblocks. Think about what is happening in your country/region and determine the root causes? Not uploading video in your neck of the woods? Is there good (and cheap) bandwidth available? Are devices such as the Flip video readily available? Remember, ease of use drives consumption – that includes devices as well as websites.
  • Shipwrecks: What can be learned from the lessons of others? This is where historical and trend data can be useful. Is there 2007 or 2008 data that you can draw upon to show shifts in patterns of behaviour? Are your audiences doing something more rather than less? What is it? What are the lessons from overseas that you can take into account in your own plans?  


Oz-SocialInvolvement The Australian figures, for example are fascinating. We now know that Australians are the number one users of social media worldwide. But we are seeing particular usage patterns emerging – which would characterise us mostly as joiners and spectators. It is still a relatively small percentage who create content.

When it comes to developing a strategy for your brand, it’s important to understand the differences in the platforms and how it influences behaviour – because knowing who drives knowing how. We need to determine not just where our audiences lie (and the numbers), but also identify the most appropriate form of engagement. A joiner is not going to contribute a video to your competition, and a conversationalist is not an optimal target for a podcast. Think also about simple social media – it’s a great way to easily map what you currently do onto a more social framework (something I will be writing about later this week).

But above all – read statistics with a critical eye. Just because you read something on the web or in a report, doesn't mean it is true. It's an opinion. And when it comes to your brand's or client's strategy, your insight and your opinion also count.

I’m a Little Bit Country

What happens when the cultural references of one generation echo into nothingness? What happens when a younger generation misinterprets an off-handed quip? Or tweet?

It’s not simply a few words that disappear into the ether. There are legions of stories, anecdotes and shared experiences that are erased.

So when I say, “I’m a little bit country”, what does it mean to you?

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

Level 5 Sign 001I am always astounded at not just the number of quality, well-written posts produced each week – but also at the depth of thinking that is made available to us all.

I probably learn more from reading blog posts each week than I do from the dozens of books that I read each year. This weeks’ five must-read posts are great examples:

  1. Jay Baer shares 11 reasons that your company needs Facebook. Or more precisely, he explains why Facebook can be useful for your marketing efforts.
  2. Not exactly from last week – but Niko Herzeg writes about the need to focus our strategies and products not on the objects, but on the transitions that they facilitate. It’s why Apple products win.
  3. Forrester’s announcement that its analysts were no longer permitted to publish personally branded blogs generated much conversation. Dennis Howlett offers one perspective.
  4. Now take a look at Josh Bernoff’s perspective on the matter. Interesting challenges. Interesting times.
  5. And for something completely different, Amber Naslund shares 8 Apps I Use and Love – some only work for Macs, but the others are gold.