Support Independent Media in Australia – New Matilda

There are precious few independent voices in the Australian media landscape. There is Crikey, group blogs like Larvatus Prodeo and a handful of individual bloggers, but the nation’s dominant media players maintain a stranglehold on political and social debate. In the face of this domination, these alternative sites provide much needed space for debate and deeper conversation.

When New Matilda collapsed earlier this year, it shocked and saddened many people. Yet shifting people beyond that shock is difficult. Getting people to financially support the production of independent media is exceptionally hard.

So in an innovative move, New Matilda has turned to the crowd to source much needed support. Now, through Fundbreak, you too can make a contribution to independent media in Australia. Every dollar counts.

Teaching an Old Dog – MySpace Jumps a Hoop

Any online venture that lasts more than three years is a stayer. One that makes the grand old age of five is a veteran. And with the constant rising and falling of the next, new thing – staying at the top of your game for any web company is a challenge.

So I was interested to see this introduction to the New MySpace. Now, I know MySpace isn’t really designed for me, but I have always struggled with the randomness of the interface, the lack of elegance and so on. Maybe it’s my aesthetic. Maybe because I’m older. Maybe because it reminds me of my desk. Yet, while I had issues with MySpace, I loved the chaos and energy that it harnesses and the focus that it can bring to online communities.

I am a fan of the idea that “ease of use drives consumption” – that is, you design and make something easy to use and people will – surprisingly – use it. And that’s why I am excited to see this new MySpace. I’m not saying I will use it – but this rethinking shows promise that I won’t be able to resist. It may just win me over yet. Woof.

The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Guide

One of the inspirations for the Age of Conversation books that Drew McLellan and I have been publishing over the last few years is the concept that we are smarter than me. And every day, I see yet more evidence of this … that someone, somewhere out there has an insight, a piece of knowledge or a “social object” that perfectly solves a problem.

As a case in point, Angela Alcorn has put together this fantastic, unofficial, guide to Facebook Privacy. And in a time when the blurring between public and private, and between private and professional is causing us all some concern, this is a very useful and timely publication.

Download the guide from the website – and be prepared to be surprised. Your most personal information may well be being shared with people you don’t know (or don’t want to know).

A tip of the hat to Ian Farmer for this awesome guide.

The Value of an Existing Customer

Now, I am feeling more than a little jaded about the rash of infographics that clog the social media airwaves these days. And it seems that I am not alone. But occasionally I find one that tickles my fancy.

This one by the Flowtown folks reminds us just how important our existing customers really are (and how much it costs to replace them).

So, here’s an interesting question for you – are you using social media to service your existing customers, or just to acquire more for your funnel? If you want an ROI for your social media efforts, then this infographic could well make or break your business case. Food for thought, huh?

The Value of an Existing Customer
Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

I Connect Therefore I Am

When I was in my teens I found myself with pockets of friends. There would be those kids that lived close to my home – the boys I would surf, fish and hang out with. There were the smart, nerdy kids who I shared classes with. And there were some cool kids who would play guitar in the playground or were good at sport.

When I moved towns to attend university, these groups of friends fragmented even further. I had work friends, university friends and people I did drama with. I was living a patchwork, finding my way. Connecting.

I noticed my level of contentedness directly related to my place within my group of friends. Over time, I shifted, as perhaps we all do, to the centre of connected webs – investing time and energy in those places where my investment matches the investment of others.

Now, I am not saying this was conscious, but it was certainly a fact.

These days I see this most clearly demonstrated in the social networks. With social networking, we like to say that we are drawn to “like minds”. However, what we are actually looking at are clusters – not of “mind” or thinking, but clusters of behaviour. What causes this? As Nicholas Christakis points out in this TED Talk, there are three conclusions:

  • Induction – where my actions see a type of contagion  or spreading within those strong ties within our personal network
  • Homphily – where our ties are based on our obvious similarities
  • Confounding – where the similarities in our behaviour are the subject of something other than the obvious

Where this gets interesting is where you look at “happiness”. It seems that when you map the clusters of happy and unhappy people, the happiest can be found in well-connected social networks, while the unhappiest are found on the fringes. Now, we knew this instinctively, right? But where it becomes fascinating is when we look at the role of the individual within network creation. Based on Nicholas’ research, 46% of the variations in an individual’s social network is genetic. Sure, some are born shy and others, extroverted, but some of us choose to CREATE a network of ties – we choose to place ourselves on the edge or in the centre of a network. This in turn determines our experience AS SOCIAL CREATURES.

In my own worlds, I gradually began weaving different social groups together. It was a risk – for me. But what I found was that all sorts of goodness arose from the connecting of these networks. There were unexpected alliances and new friendships. But there were also plenty of learnings:

  • Social shifts – people move in and out of groups, become active, cool off and re-engage. Sometimes they leave the group, the location or move beyond the reason the group came together. This is natural.
  • Community needs orchestration – in multi-group networks, the person who connects the groups MUST initiate and orchestrate engagement. You have to give people a reason to engage with each other.
  • It’s not dating – you aren’t trying to match-make people. You’re looking to align passions, not individuals. Find affinity first.

But what does this mean for brands?

We need to think through this in the same way. Think about the people behind your brand – the marketing directors, the agency, the brand managers and so on. Find their passion points. Allow them to express these within their social networks. It’s about finding the connection point into a network – not shouting at a bunch of disinterested online participants. And the strange thing is, do this right and you’ll make people happy. And isn’t that the whole point of what you do?

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

With a bunch of travel and plenty of work over the last month, I’ve been a little tardy getting the five must-read posts out. That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading – it’s just that I haven’t been writing!

Anyway, this week’s five must-reads are show stoppers!

  1. Edward Boches shares a video of Steven Johnson, but also delves into his thinking for a great post – Four Ways to Stimulate Good Ideas. I particularly like “connect rather than protect” – even if it is easier to say than do!
  2. David Armano reminds us that social business doesn’t succeed unless it is ignited from the top down. Sure bottom-up is great, but when there’s always a reason to STOP something, executive support is what will keep it going well after you get it STARTED.
  3. Stefano Maggi shares some useful lessons that are already coming out of the new Starbucks digital network experience. It’s about the proposition, the strategy, the network of products and then the network of people. Nice!
  4. If you are looking for an internship, the Julian Cole’s Six Tips to Nailing an Internship is gold. Gold I tell you!
  5. How do you combine entertainment, comedy, social media and social good? Comedian Adam Hills shows how it’s done in style – raising over $30,000 in the process.

Social Media Wave 5 Report

When we look at the social nature of the web, we are often surprised at the changes that have taken place in a relatively short period of time. We have moved from simple, static sites to information repositories, through animated and “interactive” destinations to a now decentralised, integrated social experience.

The early websites were conceived as locations on the otherwise barren “cyber” landscape – outposts from which we could hang our shingle, push forward our position and shout out to the world. But over time, we realised that shouting was not working. There was a shift in the BEHAVIOUR of our web visitors which saw them drift away from our expensive, shiny sites.

It is this behaviour that has come to dominate our digital thinking and strategies. Or perhaps, more precisely, it is this almost constantly shifting behaviour that we have become obsessed with. The challenge, however, is not just the behaviour – it is determining the insight which connects consumer or business behaviour with our brands, products and services. This is where the Wave reports can serve as a useful reference.

The Wave reports from Universal McCann delve into the facts and figures but also provide some analysis to help you make sense of the data. As the report suggests:

A deeper understanding of consumer needs and motivations is the key to unlocking a real understanding of social media and its users.

Take some time to wade through the report. I have no doubt you’ll start seeing the information, results and recommendations appearing in a powerpoint deck near you!

Social Media Wave 5 – OCT2010 (Universal McCann)

A Cup of Chaos #49: The Single Origin Experience

Regular readers will know that I love coffee. And that my favourite cafe is Single Origin in Sydney’s Surry Hills. Well, after talking about blogs and blogging during Coffee Mornings for the last four or so years, the good ship Single Origin are on-board with social media and doing a great job of it!

You can check out their What’s in the Hopper blog here or subscribe through an RSS reader here.

And to give you a taste of what they are serving up, check out this hilarious video review of Canned Coffees from the land of the rising sun. Awesome voice over, camera work and interpretation from Jimmy.

When We Say Conversation, We Mean Content

Those of us working in marketing have been inundated on the topic of “conversation”. Joe Jaffe asked us to “Join the Conversation”, told we’re living in the Age of Conversation and so on. But what does this mean in practical terms? What do we mean by “conversation” and how do we apply that to our brands and businesses?

Valeria Maltoni – the “Conversation Agent” – has a great presentation on this very topic. As Valeria points out, “Human involvement is what gives brands the strongest competitive differentiation today”. This means, basically, that engagement is driven by a connection between individuals – from someone who works in your business to someone who does not. It’s personalised, mass communication – not a faceless “message”.

One way of making this happen is to follow the SMILE approach:

  • Small – make sure your content is small and easily digestible. Don’t write 1000 words when 140 characters will do
  • Meaningful – ensure that your content means something to your audience. It’s one thing to push your content out, but you do want people to read it too!
  • Intent – make your intent with the content transparent. Don’t say one thing and do another
  • Laugh out loud – the three word acronym LOL means “laugh out loud”. Don’t forget that much of our inter-personal communication is based on sharing and humour. Share that aspect of your personality in your content
  • Engage – make sure to follow-up with conversations/comments as they occur. Don’t let the conversation start and end abruptly.

For brands this means creating content that starts, prompts, continues or even closes down conversations that are taking place online. But as you can see, the basis of this engagement is personal.