Two years ago, Chris Anderson delivered a TED Talk about Crowd Sourced Innovation. The idea was simple: Internet access was creating what was effectively a global laboratory online. The Crowd phenomenon signified that billions of individuals were more connected than they ever had been before. In just one of his examples Anderson outlines the path of progress:
“Kids in Japan are taking moves from a YouTube video created in Detroit, building on it within days and releasing a new video, while teenagers in California are taking the Japanese video and remixing it to create a whole new dance style.”
But there’s more to this global phenomenon. Recently, Tech Crunch published an article titled “The Cloud Will Cure Cancer.” This is the other side of this new paradigm — The Cloud — millions of computers sharing the load and more capable together than they ever could be apart. The article makes a compelling case: shared research, data correlation and computational capability on a global scale translates to “exponentially faster medical progress.”
As the Cloud/Crowd continues to grow — in every arena — innovation accelerates as it must.
So why is any of this relevant at the corporate level? I was thinking of this just the other day when someone asked me whether Social Media was really relevant to the success of a company. And to that I would say it is not just relevant — it has become one of the most effective ways a company has to foster innovation.
No matter how small or large a company is, innovation is enhanced by collaboration, and collaboration is fostered by connections. Social Media both facilitates and accelerates connections. Ideas can be tested on a grand scale, quickly and effectively. Information can be disseminated almost instantaneously, both up and downstream. Everyone has a voice.
And all of this starts with the establishment of Social Media mechanisms that a company can use to connect with it’s employee base, everywhere they are. Many companies make the mistake of thinking Social Media is meant simply for recreational activity. But it is so much more than that — it is a tangible, authentic, and active connection to everyone that makes up that company. And for any company that hopes to succeed in the 21st Century and beyond, that kind of connection is just plain necessary.
An article, “Five Lies About Social Media Marketing,” came out a couple of days ago about some of the “erroneous assumptions” cropping up regarding how companies should use social media marketing. This got me thinking. We must continuously look at the trends to understand the rapidly evolving landscape and judge for ourselves what works best for us.
How each business uses social media varies. Ideas about the “right” way to do things are always changing. One article may tell you to target your fans’ friends on Facebook while another gives you a laundry list of “dos.”
According to other expert articles featured in such publications as PCWorld and Computerworld, new social media networks like Google+ are added to the mix all the time, battling for your attention. Understanding their impact on current and emerging social media practices and the way your business communicates is vital.
And don’t forget the blog. Here’s a great read on the “Top 5 Reasons Why Blogs Deserve Our Respect (and Are Important for Business).” Done well, blogging allows us to build awareness and our reputation, share ideas and connect meaningfully with audiences.
The bottom line is this: We should educate ourselves on the full range of opportunities and possibilities for social media. Armed with knowledge and insight, we can then make informed decisions on using ideas and practices most relevant to our goals, rather than just the newest and most novel out there.
The battle for web supremacy took a new turn this week with the official announcement of the long-talked about Google+, the search engine giant’s latest foray into the social networking space. But unlike Google’s previous and ill-conceived attempt, Buzz, Google+ has generated some early excitement, with tech-savvy early adopters wrangling for invitations (including buying them off ebay for upwards of $75/pop) like they were Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.
So what exactly is Google+? The short answer is that it’s a social network, with a lot of similarities to Facebook. But it also has some interesting features which are all grounded in the concept of connecting with and sharing different information with different circles of friends. Yes, creating groups and lists is nothing new. But Google+ does it in a way that is more intuitive and fun. It also represents somewhat of a new approach for the company. Rather than organizing the Internet by information as Google has famously professed to do in the past, Google+ organizes it around people. Specifically, targeted groups of people that you already know through tools like group video chatting, texting, photo sharing and (of course) searching for content. And perhaps its coolest feature is the toolbar that will appear across all Google properties and allow you to easily share content with your circles of friends across the web.
As social networkers have grown (47% of adults now use a social networking site) and people have discovered that most of their Facebook “friends” don’t really qualify as friends in the traditional sense, Facebook is suffering some growing pains. The social web, in many ways, is just like high school. Once practically everyone was a member of the Facebook club, the cool kids moved on — to other sites like Twitter, by creating private Facebook profiles under different names that only a select group of “real” friends know about, or else by just not posting anything of consequence or as frequently — leaving news feeds all over the world with primarily Farmville updates, offensive political rants from distant cousins and chain letter-type status updates.
Which is where Google+ has been smart. They are launching Google+ slowly, and by invitation-only. And just like high school, nothing makes people want something more than knowing that not just anyone can have it. Now whether or not they will experience long-term success and truly become a Facebook Killer once the initial “new car smell” wears off remains to be seen. But as this week’s $35 million sale of former social networking giant MySpace shows, anything is possible.
“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” —W.B. Yeats
That’s been a pretty good description of the cloud of fear that has collected around many of us who’ve spent our careers producing printed communications. Since, print has been declared dead in the last couple of years.
Well, the new beast is taking shape, and it’s not so rough after all. In fact, it may turn out to pretty damn sexy and even, gasp, profitable! Witness the latest reincarnation of Gourmet as Gourmet Live to be released for the iPad later this year. The iPad is allowing Conde Nast to pull a Lazarus on this much loved brand. But this new creature will be part magazine, part social media resource with a game component similar to Foursquare. It will feature content from it’s backlog of recipes as well as new content available for a small fee. (Gourmet Magazine Revived for the iPad)
Wired magazine also shows what the future may hold for publishing with downloads recently exceeding it’s newsstand sales without cannibalizing them. Wired is also breaking new ground and acting as an early leader in establishing conventions for digital publishing. (Introducing WIRED on the iPad)
But this isn’t an Apple love-fest. Adobe is playing a key role in enabling much of this revolution with it’s new software offerings for Creative Suite 5, or if you’re on a first name basis with it like we are—CS5. CS5 is providing powerful new ways for content developers to digitize their content straight from their printed projects while minimizing development costs. Apparently Adobe has been the motor under the hood of Wired magazine’s new digital offering. (Creating Digital Magazines)
In a way, it may be that the website has died a little. As devices like smart phones and tablet computers offer more attractive vehicles for content, the website may grow to be more utilitarian in nature, like the PC itself. Enter Flipboard. Billed as your social media world presented as a magazine experience. A new app for the iPad. Okay, so maybe this is an Apple love fest after all. But this app is a great example of how the website is being transformed by the app. And the exciting new possiblities of presenting and monetizing content. (Flipboard, New “Social” iPad Magazine will be Powered by Semantic Data)
From this spot in the road, we may have to correct, the masterful Yeats’ gloomy vision with the more stylish, if not remotely linguistically comparable Don Draper by way of Balzac — “Our worst fears lie in anticipation.”
Many people erroneously think that social media is just for the younger generations, but a new study released by the AARP has proven that it’s just not the case. In fact, more than 27% of Americans aged 50 and older use social networks (with Facebook being the most popular), while 40% of all adults over age 50 consider themselves extremely or very comfortable using the Internet.
Earlier studies have shown that the fastest growing segment of social media users are adults over 44, which means that it is crucial that online marketers do not overlook the social web as a valuable tool to communicate with their older audiences. They are tech-savvy and ready to embrace new ways of communication, and it is important that marketers keep up with their audiences in this arena.
There’s been a Facebook backlash of sorts recently, with privacy concerns taking center stage for many users. The most recent changes, which automatically allow third-party websites to customize your experience (unless you opt out) has led to a number of the early adopter, techie types to cancel their accounts entirely (http://bit.ly/a8Ekje).
Is this the beginning of a new trend, or just the latest growing pains for the current giant of the social web? It is true that privacy issues seem to be more of a generational thing. Gen-Y typically doesn’t have the same concerns about online privacy, which is one of the factors that allowed the site membership to grow in the first place. But what ultimately made Facebook become as ubiquitous as it is now was when the Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers began crashing the party and creating profiles of their own.
Unfortunately for Facebook, expanding their membership base is a double-edged sword. Older generations are far more concerned with protecting their personal information than are their younger counterparts. And as the novelty of reconnecting with high school friends wears off and people tire of reading about farms and mafia wars (while at the same time it becomes increasingly more complicated to keep your privacy settings in place with every “redesign”), more and more people are starting to just say no.
No one should shed any tears for Facebook yet, however. We’re too far down the rabbit hole of the social web to ever go back. People like being able to easily connect with friends, businesses, media outlets and causes that are important to them. And the simple fact of the matter is that, as the world’s largest social network, pretty much everyone you know is there already. It’s not a whole lot of fun to go off to play at another social network all by yourself.
Nevertheless, this is a critical time for them and we should watch carefully how they respond. Because as MySpace can certainly tell them, nothing stays hot forever.