Was fortunate to sit down with Hermione Way and share my key insights on Social Business. This is a really good summary of the main points that will be explored and explained in my upcoming book, Serve the Market. About 10 minutes, and I think very worthwhile. If you want to talk about how these insights can impact your business, its culture and its performance, contact us today.
By Chris Heuer March 17, 2013
I started wondering last evening what twitter would be like if in addition to followers we could also see who was actually being paid attention to. The groups many of us use in clients like Tweetdeck or Seesmic, for example. So in the midst all of our positive talk of transparency and authenticity, I found myself chuckling at the opacity we in fact rely on to make it through the day.
There’s nothing wrong with this, and while some may see a cynical twist or twitter’s dirty little secret (nobody’s listening!), I see instead perfectly reasonable social media coping mechanisms.
Social media’s two audiences
Social behaviors are shaped and informed by design, but not explained by design. The obvious reason that none of us can see each other’s twitter usage (groups, or subsets of followers actually viewed and paid attention to) is that if designed into twitter, activity would change instantly and radically. This is not just a matter of privacy, but a deeply social matter.
Reflecting on this last night led me to thinking about the social and public space constructed across all social media. There are, in mediated social contexts, always two audiences.
- There is an audience we’ll call social, and which we describe in terms of proximity: it’s a internalized social world of friends, peers, colleagues: known individuals.
- And there is a second, anonymous public, which is not internalized but is imagined.
Any person known belongs in the social and is potentially present. Any anonymous individual, because we don’t yet know them (as soon as we do, they move to the internalized social world), is possibly present.
Potential and possible relations
Potential social relations become active relations, or interactions, when we communicate. Possible relations become actual relations, based on the action of following, when we are seen and found.
I think the doubling of audience could go far in explaining the power of social media.
We know, for example, that the probability of actually having a conversation is less in social media than it is face to face. There’s simply a lot more at our command in face to face situations by means of which to have conversation. However, face to face situations limit us, of course, to those in our presence. Social media may reduce the probability of having real conversation but increase the opportunities for creating conversation.
This seems, to me, the main reason we use social media. Not mass, but mini media. Or, “me”-dia, in the context of social, not mass audiences. The distinction between social and mass media being that relations are possible in the former, not so in the latter. (This is changing as mass incorporates social.)
The medium’s three modes: mirror, surface, window
Back then to attention, and the veil of nondisclosure from behind which we engage in social media. I like to say that the social interface has three modes: mirror, surface, and window.
- We see ourselves reflected in social media: this is it’s mirror mode.
- We consume content of all kinds off the screen — sites, apps, communication — all using the screen as a presentation layer: this is its surface mode.
- And we talk to each other through social media: this is its window mode
Modes of attention
Social presence, proximity, and attention are then each implicated in a mediated social context that has ways of seeing and ways of being seen.
Consider this, for example. We enjoy accumulating followers, seeing ourselves referred to, commented to, and otherwise being made visible. Doesn’t matter whether this involves acknowledgment, recognition, or validation; the point is that the medium does create a kind of social visibility. Call it, for simplicity’s sake, “being paid attention to.”
Well, attention doesn’t correlate with actually engaging in conversation. Many of us sometimes ignore a request for communication, for whatever reason. It’s part of daily life; in real life it’s called “civil inattention,” and is handled by acknowledging others in ways that also indicate to them “I see you, recognize you, but I’m not available to interact.” Simply put, politeness.
Now, consider the social media space. Attention paid to others may not be visible to them. But if it’s given, such as by taking any action recorded and captured by the medium and surfaced by design, then this action can have two social outcomes, not one. This is the power of the medium, and the net effect of the doubled audience mentioned above.
Social actions, social relations
One translates as the potential for further social action. The other translates into the possibility for social relation. For the social world already has relations but has activity only on the basis of user actions. And the public world has activity but lacks the connection until a relation is established.
- A social action has been made which can be picked up by any user who sees it: potential for further action
- A social action increases the user’s visibility: the possibility of being seen
The possibility of being seen is motive enough, for some. While communication is no more probable, the possibility is there. As they say of the lottery: your odds of winning increase dramatically if you buy a ticket.
The power of this second audience, the public, which creates infinite possibilities and which is motivation for much of what we do, explains a lot of how the attention economy works.
Perceived and transactional influence
Attention, interestingly, is described in economic terms: paid, spent, given, taken. Note that the first two are zero sum and involve the temporality of attention. Paying attention takes our time. The second two are non-zero sum and transactional.
Giving and getting attention is the simplest social action. Nothing yet has to be said or communicated verbally: attention can be given a person, and that in itself, is socially meaningful.
Now consider how we attend to the attention economy in social media. Brands, as well as users, watch and attend to it. Brands, as well as users, transact in it.
- Social capital, the perceived value of a brand or individual, collects attention paid and spent on that brand or person. Call this perceived influence.
- Social currency, the transacted value of a brand or individual, is attention given and taken by the brand or person by means of social actions. Call this transactional influence.
Unfortunately, perceived influence, which is just social observation, is grossly under-rated. It’s much more difficult to measure because there’s no action taken. Brands can’t see the value in it for it’s not in the numbers provided by metrics and analytics tools. For it lies behind the veil of personal social media use, in the activity of paying attention to twitter, or more specifically, to the users we actually follow.
I say this is unfortunate because i think much social action is preceded by long periods of social observation. Consider the difference it would make, to brands and to users, if all social media were split screen interfaces: what I see and what you see. Real life social situations are like this: I see you looking at me, and can see reflected in your face something of how you see me (what you think of me).
Motives explained by the social and the public
The dual public also helps to explain many of our motives in using social media. Again, our actions can lead to potential further action, and if not, are at least possibly seen. Tweets, like comments, reflect these motives.
- Tweets or comments intended to get attention from the author
- Tweets or comments soliciting or appealing for direct response
- Tweets or comments that are a direct response
- Tweets or comments that continue a conversational run or thread
- Tweets or comments intended to garner attention to their author
We could break each of these down and show that for each, the user’s motive may be to appeal to the author’s attention, to get visibility in front of the public, to solicit a response, or to respond. Tweets and comments, in other words are not just that: (Nothing is explained if we describe social action by its form of content.)
To conclude, then, I think that the fact that any use of social media can have outcomes in two distinct audiences may explain its uniqueness as a medium, and its use by brands and individuals alike. That the attention economy involves both looking and being seen, posting and responding, would explain why motives for participating in social media reflect to the “presence” of two audiences. These are properties particular to the sociality of the medium, and to the sociability of its uses.
(originally posted at gravity7.com)
Posted in Uncategorized.
By Adrian Chan September 23, 2009
When Connie Talbot (age six) got up to sing in Briton’s Got Talent back in 2007 the judges were no less wowed, the audience no less thrilled and production no less stage-managed than Susan Boyle’s performance a few weeks back. Connie Talbot’s audition video was uploaded to YouTube the day after her audition was broadcast and as of today has a very respectable 40+ million views. Yet somehow all of Connie’s videos put together have far less views after 2 years than Susan Boyle’s main audition video has after three weeks. Clearly something in the last two years has changed the dynamic of how we share media.
Once upon a time to attain the level of (positive) fame and recognition that Susan Boyle now enjoys you would have had to be a president or a movie star. Now an anonymous, middle aged, Scottish spinster who possesses a stunning voice is arguably one of the most famous people on the planet.
The first and easiest argument to be made is that Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and the rest of the Briton’s Got Talentcrew have brought reality TV to a new level of audience manipulation. However, this argument doesn’t hold up when you look back at previous videos such as Connie the wonder kid and Paul Potts the unlikely opera tenor. The production value in those videos is nearly identical to those in the Susan Boyle video and the contestants just as unlikely (I would argue that Paul Potts was an even bigger surprise) winners as Boyle.
So what has changed in the last two years? The sharing tools available to all of us. In 2007 I wrote a post about “The New Tribalism”, influenced by Stowe Boyd’s explanation of how Web 2.0 tools help online communities form “tribes” of people around the same vertical. Now with increasingly powerful sites for link sharing such as Digg, Facebook and especially Twitter (with is its ability to find and display trending topics), these tools have given the Web the power to accelerate the exposure received by a single event far faster than ever before. These tools will only get more and more powerful as time passes, crossing tribes, communities, networks and entire countries with increasing speed. In the future it will only take 15 minutes to get your 15 minutes of fame.
By Chris Heuer April 29, 2009
One of the most important observations coming from our Social Media Buyers Guide Project was the distinction between the two mindsets that drove strategic decision making.
- Organizations with a considered purchase cycle seek to improve their reputation and develop long term relationships with the markets they serve.
- Organizations who focus on short-term results that build revenue.
There are clearly different schools of thought with regards to which is best here, and in which situations it is most appropriate to seek these different types of return on time and return on investment. This is a strong reinforcement of the fact that every situation is indeed unique. It is therefore paramount that creativity, adaptability and flexibility of ALL team members (internal and external) is a required trait within this fast changing market environment.
This is seemingly the key decision an organization should make before creating a more detailed Social Media strategy. All else that follows is much easier if you can all agree on that decision. This is the cornerstone of a great Social Media strategy.
But the best of the best companies know it is not an either/or decision, but one of to what degree being focused on the bottom line or being focused on building reputation is emphasized. The best do just enough of each, with their objectives in harmony and a flexible attitude to know when to color outside the lines.
This is the one crystal clear advantage of having a bigger company. Unfortunately for the typical large enterprise though, that advantage is often eclipsed by their complete inability to align their goals between different groups inside highly politicized working environments. The silo walls are still quite thick, even though we have talked about this problem for decades.
It is our recommendation that you get together with everyone involved and spend an hour or two talking about the question of how much you should be focused on the bottom line vs. building your overall reputation. What are those key metrics that really matter most to the business not to your bonus? Why do you feel this way? Remember, we are trying to find the right solution for your unique situation, there is no one right answer but there is one right way of discovering what is best, and that is open and honest conversation.
Perhaps then going forward, you can find other ways to talk about things like this and get all your oars rowing in the same direction. Could you imagine such a day???
PS – we are talking more about this topic at our panel during Web 2 Expo this Friday at 2:40 PM in Room 2006.
By Chris Heuer April 2, 2009
Ever since heady days of broadcast.com back in the era of Web 1.0 there has always been promise in the field of Web video, and as the encoding technologies have grown more sophisticated and broadband penetration breaks new records every day, online video has exploded, but aside from a very few examples like Hulu no one seems to have the monetization of Web video figured out.
A couple of weeks ago while I was at Seedcamp Paris, I had the opportunity to talk to Emmanuel Gal founder of Brainient a start-up that aims to tackle this most challenging market.
Brainient, based in Bucharest, Romania is an open-source video management platform that allows anyone to publish, distribute and monetize video content without focusing on web development or infrastructure, Brainient helps media companies make money of their content and charges for Support, integration and maintenance services on a monthly basis.
Public beta will be by the end of march. See the full interview below.
[Previously Published at Blonde20.com]
By Chris Heuer March 16, 2009
From Austin, TX #SxSW
AdHocnium further solidifies itself with the announcement that Doc Searls, Cathy Brooks, Mitch Ratcliffe,Thomas Vanderwal and Steve Lubetkin have ‘bonded’ with the recently formed network of consultants. The addition of these widely recognized thought leaders to the roster of “Creative Catalysts” is a huge leap forward in validating the trust network as a business model and rounds, out the core of the initial team.
While the roster of creative communications consultants, Social Media professionals, Enterprise 2.0 experts and holistic business strategists is impressive, “the best is yet to come”, according to AdHocnium founder Chris Heuer. ”Together, we won’t be running around selling our services, but we will be focused on helping companies buy them.” This principle echoes thorughout the work of the unAgency, from the publishing of rates on the AdHocnium Web site, to the type of content being collaboratively produced, the emphasis is on sharing ideas openly, improving them through exposure to the light of day and serving the needs of companies in adapting the principles to their unique situations.
Interestingly, there will be no marketing budget for increasing awareness of their services. Instead, the Catalysts will collaborate to produce media and educational content. The “master work” of AdHocnium is a book project called “Serve the Market” which will be interpreted through each Creative Catalyst’s own point of view under the editorial direction of Mitch Ratcliffe. Mitch said that “Chris Heuer and I have been discussing a collaborative book project for the past several years. This is the perfect time, the perfect topic and a great group of people to make it a reality. The importance of being of service to your customers has been re-affirmed time and time again – from Nordstroms to Burger King, the importance of this approach is clear.” Serving the market goes far beyond mere customer centricity.
According to Chris Heuer, “When you think about serving the market, you are acknowledging your role in the overall ecosystem that supports the market in which you operate. This is made clear by commercial fisherman, who not only work with competitors to ensure everyone’s safety, but who work hard to ensure they don’t overfish a given area, destroying any possibility of future revenue.” This sentiment was also reinforced in a recent statement made by President Obama who said, “We have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election.”
Other projects of AdHocnium being announed today include “Social Media Hour” and What We Would Do. Social Media Hour will use Blog Talk Radio, bringing a different set of Creative Catalysts together “in the tubes” each Thursday at 10am PST (1pm EST) starting on March 26th. The show format will be part critical analysis of emerging issues and part call in advice talk show where we can answer people’s questions about the strategic issues related to innovation, transformation and the use of social media. What We Would Do will be a chance for the Catalysts to showcase their insights and creativity. Each week a different major brand will be selected and subject to analysis, with a thorough discussion of potential creative strategies the Creative Catalysts would employ if they were in charge of that brand’s social strategies. This media-making, knowledge-marketing approach represents what is fundamentally different about marketing and communications in the era of conversation and Social Media.
AdHocnium provides services to communications agencies, venture capital firms and big brands with a diverse product portfolio. We work with startups as well as mulinational corporations in mature markets. It is unfortunate that most traditional PR and ad agencies haven’t been able to make inroads into the emerging practice areas that Web 2.0 and Social Media have created. They are not organized in a way that allows them to stay on top of emerging trends, despite having to compete with an entirely new class of agencies vying for the same client’s business. They have an even more difficult time of recruiting the best and brightest talent, who like many other professionals in this emerging space, generally prefer to be independent without having to clock in with a corporate overlord at 9am each weekday.
By focusing its attention on businesses that serve an array of other business, AdHocnium provides day long and ongoing education and creative strategy sessions, which are referenced as a “Catalytic Converter“. According to Chris Heuer, “The problem with the traditional agency model is that they are often forced to put whichever employee they have available on a project, even when that person is not the most qualified or well suited for the job at hand. Our model allows us to bring in the right people for the client’s needs.” With several of the Creative Catalysts serving on the Intel Insider advisory board, AdHocnium can facilitate and lead a one day innovation program, a multi-day organizational transformation session or serve as an ad-hoc advisory board for its clients with monthly sessions.
AdHocnium isn’t the agency of the future, it’s the agency for today.
[Personal Note: I am really excited to make this announcement today as it is something that has been in the works since the day we announced our formation during Le Web in December of 2008. For me personally, it is a validation that the idea is the right one, for the right time. Then again, only time will tell as we turn more conversations into clients, and develop more opportunities to work together. This was originally intended to be a press release, but I changed my mind and don’t have time to rewrite it since the news is already out over at ReadWriteWeb)
Posted in Announcements, Chemistry, Services, Thoughts. Tagged with cathy brooks, doc searls, market, mitch ratcliffe, serve the market, Services, social media hour, steve lubetkin, thomas vanderwall.
This is an interview with Jaan Orvet from Noded about his book and the model behind their Noded business network. Rather than working in hierarchically driven organizations or in a distributed team, Jaan and his colleagues each work as nodes within a trusted network. Each are free to bring work in, turn work down or do what they want.
This model is very similar to what we are doing with AdHocnium, except they have no central entity at the heart. This is small pieces, barely joined (except by trust) as opposed to our approach of pieces loosely joined. (small semantical difference, but important).
Please check them out, and check out the book if you are interested in living the Noded workstyle too!
The average site for a popular consumer product is:
A. Slick with a high level of ‘production values’.
B. Made in flash.
C. About as socially engaging as a log.
Skittles changes all that in one go by essentially giving up on having a site of its own. If you go to skittles.com you see a realtime Twitter search for “skittles.” All that is left from the old corporate branded experience is a small widget-like navigator in the right hand corner.
If you click “videos” it goes to Skittles’ Youtube page, if you click “images” it directs you to a Flickr search, “products” is the Skittles Wikipedia article and clicking “friends” will take you to the skittles fan page on Facebook. This breaks with the tradition of consumer products with boring mass sites that feel like generic dance clubs -I’m looking at you Pepsi. Skittles have decided that the best online experience is one created by its own customers.
Predictably the Twitterati went wild after discovering that any tweet mentioning “skittles” would make it the new Skittles front page and it was inundated with tweets like:
mobob: #skittles is doing a very nifty thing, but i’m still not going to eat them, they always tasted way too much like rocks.
shehulk123: All the skittles talk on twitter today makes me want to go out and taste the rainbow.
brianboyko: @poneal – so… skittles gets people to talk about skittles on twitter by showing people talking about skittles on twitter. I don’t get it.
Many have said that Skittles is making a mistake opening itself up to the worst impulses of the Web. They should ask themselves if any other consumer product has managed to get this level of attention online, ever. Kudos to Skittles for leading the way!
So Skittles now defaults to the Wikipedia page for Skittles (yesterday it was their Facebook fan page). It seems to me that they are rotating through their different profiles, either as part of a strategy or just trying to see what achieves better customer interaction. To see the Twitter live search now click “chatter”. But the question remains; when will we see some Digg love?
By Chris Heuer March 4, 2009