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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Strategy: What Say You?

By Jay Deragon, Contributing Writer;

While adoption of entertainment and personal social networking apps have been very strong, business applications have yet to show much traction. Consider the stats: “Superwall” A Facebook App developed by RockYou!

  • Concept 6/15/2007
  • Design 6/15/2007
  • Implementation 6/15/2007 to 6/17/2007
  • Deployed 6/18/2007 (4:00 am)
  • Advertising 6/18/2007
  • 118,000 users 6/19/2007
  • 2 million users within 3 weeks...
  • Today: 14 million users, 1.2 active daily users.

However an application like Superwall is not considered a business application with utility. The Challenge of Business applications is influenced by several factors including:

  • Adoption is hard. Only 1 percent of all apps hit 1 million users
  • Business comprehension of the virtual space is limited: Most view the space from an advertising perspective The Space is confusing to the average business executive
  • Where, Why and How should the medium leveraged is unclear
  • Perceptions of the medium are slanted: The word social implies friending, marketing, entertainment etc. A disconnect for business
  • The virtual marketing is shifting quickly: By the week, day and hour. Businesses would rather wait until when and if the space settles down
  • Another critical factor which further confuses the average business executive is one of understanding which networks provides their organizations with the greatest reach to market segments their organizations serve. Additionally the question of “What are people actually doing on social networks?” continues to be asked by many business managers. Nic Brisbourne, of the Equity Kicker addresses this issue in his latest newsletter. He writes:

    “Regular readers will know I have been pondering the question of what people are actually doing during the hours they spend on social networks each week. Let me paint a picture of what it is that people are spending their time doing, at least as I see it. This has come from reading blogs and research, talking to experts (including entrepreneurs and investors in this space) and looking at my own behavior and that of my friends. It is not definitive and will almost certainly include some of the sorts of generalizations that irritate me when I read them elsewhere.”

    “My first observation is that there is a flurry of initial activity when any user joins a new network. This covers exploring the site, building up the friends list and developing the profile page. This is pretty similar on all sites, and Danah Boyd describes it well in this essay.”

    “After the initial burst of activity the average user will settle down to a more consistent pattern of behavior. The average social networker is a member of 3-5 sites and they will split their time across the different properties managing their local network and doing what each site is best for.”

    “There is one common element to that across all sites - which is profile-hopping, a form of entertainment that could be characterized as gentle voyeurism. Beyond that I think things start to look a bit different depending on which network you are talking about.”

    Facebook is mostly about communication - people spend most of their time sending status updates, private messages, writing on people’s walls, poking people and messaging groups to organize events. The photo sharing element shouldn’t be forgotten though.”

    Myspace it seems is much more about the music - discovering, consuming and participating as a fan. That said there is a good deal of communication and self expression as well.”

    Piczo could be thought of as the opposite to Facebook. The emphasis is squarely on self expression and communication is limited. New users are given a blank page on which to build their profile - no templates for guidance and infinitely more creative options than Facebook. In an effort to provide a safe environment communication is made difficult - there is no search function to find people. If you would like to chat with someone then you need to get their Piczo URL by some means other than Piczo itself - e.g. written on a piece of paper in the playground.”

    LinkedIn is mostly about hiring and finding jobs. The dominant use case is working the network to look for a job or find people to hire.”

    “As a result of these differences (or maybe because of them) the demographic profile of these sites is very different. As these strategies develop these sites might start to become more and more different and therefore to compete less and less.”

    Given this type of commentary most business executives do not see the need to begin to formulate a strategy for participating within the social medium. Many ask obvious questions such as “What are the measurable benefits for the time, cost and effort to participate within these social mediums?, We don’t want our employees wasting time playing in social networks during business hours”.

    When the web was first introduced the reactions from business executives was much the same as the current reactions to the social web. How many businesses have a presence on the web? How many businesses use the web for strategic advantages? Is medium of social networks just an evolution of the web with new functions and features?

    Stepping away from current points of references to the social web and viewing the medium as the means to future opportunities may be a beneficial exercise for businesses. After all, by the time such an exercise could be concluded the social web will have changed substantially. To say the social web is dynamic is an understatement and business owners should make no assumptions about its current state. A virtual strategy will become the pressing need for fast as you can click the mouse.

    What Say You?

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    1 comment:

    honoria said...

    You've provided some great observations, especially the questions that business executives ask about the value of social web actions. My colleagues and I at Social Web Associates are developing assessments and measures for web presence that result in social network action plans for business. I look forward to seeing the evolution of exciting new directions for business communication. Thanks for a post that highlights key questions and suggests opportunities for businesses in the social web.

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