There is some degree of chaos in the way the web and its users evolve. It does not follow a blueprint or a masterplan, nor are there any "owners" of the web (although there are groups, organizations and foundations that have a huge influence over the underlying technologies).
That is, quite certainly, one of the things that make it so attractive and interesting.
The inherent and unavoidable byproduct of the web's chaotic nature is that its players need to update the way they conduct business and interact with customers in order to stay in top of the game and maximize the potential revenue stream.
Companies that fail in such endeavor will struggle and loose market share, those that excel and can keep themselves in top of the game will have the upper hand and boost sales and conversions.
One of the rules of the web that is rapidly shifting is the idea of the corporate website as the centerpiece of a company's on-line life. This was true in 2001, somewhat true in 2006 and completely wrong in 2010.
Behemoth websites are only part of a very complex web ecosystem, they should no longer be treated as the sole departure or destination point of any web-based activity. I have already stated this much almost 2 years ago.
The general direction in which web-based users ponder around the interwebs has changed quite a bit in the past years. Instead of a single direction of searching and/or accessing websites and interacting solely with vendors at their home sites we're seeing a shift towards people interacting with companies and other people at social networks. This can have a huge impact in the way we all shop online.
Welcome to the social shopping.
There are plenty studies out there in the wild that state how users rely more on peer reviews than on anything Marketing tells them, so I'm not going to focus on that part of the discussion at all. Assume you know as much.
Truth is that although many web-marketers know that fact is that there are only a handful of companies taking partial advantage of the power social networking yield over shopping behavior.
This has a lot to do with walled gardens. Social activities, shopping, pre-shop research all seem to happen in parallel universes. There is a disconnection between all of this things that is in part a product of all of them living in separate and unconnected systems and partially because no one has cared to try to create a single, seamless experience for the user.
The thing is that people spend (and share) more and more parts of their lives through the internet and all of that information and willingness to do stuff on the web has a potential yet to be unleashed.
There are 3 basic premises for online shopping that we should look forward meeting as vendors:
- Ease of use
I have also talked about how "fun" should be a key part of the e-commerce experience in the past.
Social Networks can add part of that fun component. But they can also add a the convenience and ease of use components. Potentially at least.
- Paying for Ads
- Facebook Credits (a virtual goods environment aimed mostly at game users)
We had talked about this Jeremiah Owyang a couple of years ago and he dares to state that this move could be a testing ground for facebook to dip its toe in the e-commerce waters (although company representatives contacted J. to say that what is going on is all that is going on).
There is a huge unleashed potential in this, lets picture a scenario here for a moment.
Imagine that facebook (and other Social Networks) decide to open up e-commerce capabilities, working as a 3rd party identity provider. Users could then go into facebook, click on an ad or other users' status that lead to an app within facebook that allows them to buy goods using their tied facebook-to-paypal identity to complete the transaction.
There are several advantages for both the user, the 3rd parties and the companies involved:
- The users would only need to input confirmation data for security reasons, no more huge forms.
- Social networks can charge small fees for every transaction, shifting the current ad-based model to a broader income model with several income sources.
- Companies would benefit because they could boost sales through e-tail, at lower costs and higher margins.
Now, this would only be scratching the surface of the potential implications of social shopping. There could be all sorts of apps and functions tied with the process. Out of the top of my head I can think of functions that would allow users to brag about their newly acquired goods and rub them in their friends faces (something that would also tempt others to buy).
Also users could serve as advisors and could get discounts for referring their friends to a certain vendor. None of this is entirely new. Most of this things are already being exploited by online games such as Farmville. Yes, it can get annoying, but it is also very effective.
Finally support is also going to have a social component. It is true that many companies have forums and other peer-to-peer support systems, but I have yet to see one that can unleash the massive number of users social networks have to add them as listening ports and peer-to-peer help.
I also think Twitter might have a big role on all of this but I'll leave that for another post.
The idea of the corporate-site-centric web marketing is bound to disappear; they will still occupy an important place; similar to what it is today, yet less preponderant. Still their major role in the "commerce powered by social media" era is going to be as data feed providers.
There was a time when I was not a sarcastic, cold heart (curse words). At the time I was 4 years old. By the time I turned 5 I already was this SoaB.
I look at the twittverse and it reminds me of what I know of the 60s. Too much flower power, high hopes and interest in changing the world, but little real action and tangible proposals.
Take into account the recent events that had to do with Iran's election. I'll grant you that technology played a pretty decent job allowing the world to find out about what was going on at Iran (to some extent).
Yet the problem is when poeple that don't live in Iran start acting like they could actually have an impact. Like that idea of changing your twitter location to Tehran to confuse Censors.
For intelligence sake! Do people actually think the Iranian government is moronic enough to completely ignore IP location or trace routing technologies. I can picture the Secret Service guy in some government bunker thinking: "Oh, Gee, I'm so confused this guy with a Manhattan IP says he is located in Tehran, what will we do? Lets re-count votes".
Don't get me wrong, I know this is all well-intentioned, but it lacks thinking.And it lacks real action.
The impression I get is that most of the twitters actually go to bed at night with the notion that by changing their Twitter Avatars to green and using the #IranElection hashtag the world has become a better place.
That is our 2009 perception of activism: type something in 140 characters, that ought to have an impact, Right? Wrong!
Then of course we get hit by news telling that the US state department asked for a maintenence reschedule so that the Twitts about IRan would keep coming.
"If the US state deparment asks for that then Twitter must be really important! I'll sleep soundly tonight!"
Sorry, but: Holy Fucking Shit.
We have been amused to idocy. We are so bombarded by information, we have been positively reinforced so much that we actually think we are that important.
Saddest thing about it is that people could actually make a difference in a lot of aspects. But not by twitting, or using hashtags or changing avatars to green, but by actually doing stuff.
Now we also find out that despite what media and new media tries to make the crowd believe Twitter did not play an important role in Iran.
The whole "changes happen one step at a time" thing has rooted so deeply that people actually believe a 140 character message has an impact. Change happens when people take real steps. Not twitted steps or verbal steps. Things happen when people act, not when they hashtag.
I think we need to grow up and grow out of this self-inflicted deceit. We need to go back at thinking at lenght. And by length I mean longer than 140 characters.
I've just went through a tough couple of weeks. Nothing epic, just trying to move houses with a 2 month old, with both the wife and I hit by the flu and trying to do everything in a 4 day time window. Add a lot of family visiting and you'll have a picture of how busy I was.
That rendered me disconnected.
But it also serves as a good analogy for the disconnection I've been feeling with social media in the last couple of months.
I don't like where most things are heading nor the way many agencies and companies are handling Social Media campaigns or initiatives.
There are some exceptions, but the general rule of thumb is that 90% of the SMM initiatives I see are either a. not authentic; b. not original; c. poorly executed; d. lack an objective; e. all of the above (in most cases).
Maybe it is just a sign of the times, but it does not suck less because of that.
Knowing myself this will yield 1 result: I'll try to come up with something interesting to cut through all of this waste of time and resources.
I despise viral. I hate most of the attempts to do viral crap. It is rather amusing to see companies spend big bucks on Agencies with the hope that a video (the usual suspect for virality) will make it to YouTube's home page and score a big hit in terms of views. This sort of strategies tend to fail, even when they do score big numbers. And scoring big numbers is getting increasingly difficult.
Yesterday we had a very interesting day at work. Let me recap how things turned out first.
A couple of weeks ago Engadget published some shots of a small Pocket PC that were snugged out of our Beijing headquarters. This was rare. We usually keep concepts strictly confidential and behind closed doors. Yet it leaked. What to do?
David Churbuck decided it was time to put our money where our mouth was and contacted the Beijing design labs team, discussed the possibility of going open on it and so it was decided. We needed to be clear on what that shots actually were. Transparency, remember?
We were to publish a blog post on Friday. After editing and prepping the post I uploaded the pictures to the flickr account, marking them as "private" so none would see them but me.
I also started a little tease on twitter, using our @lenovosocial account:
The idea was to create some expectation towards the blog post. To be honest, that didn't work. At all.
Thus came Monday. We made the final adjustments to the post and, since I needed to insert the images into the post I marked them as "public" in flickr. Hell gates went wide open.
Within minutes the pics were picked by the main gadget / tech sites. We know they watch our flickr stream, but not that closely. While I was prepping to publish it went crazy.
We were expecting some level of visibility, but this wildly surpassed our expectations. Our aim was that the blog post should get the attention, not the pictures.
What ended up happening was a 2 wave shock. While many sites and blogs talked about the pictures and went into wild speculations about what that little pocket-fitting-thing would actually do we were publishing the official story. After pushing that live and starting to draw attention to it there were updates all over the place, letting people know that what they were looking at was a concept.
There were many lessons learnt. Most of those shall be kept private for the time being. The ones I can share with you here are:
- Content is still king (even when content is just pictures)
- "Viral" will happen in unexpected ways. And the not-so-prefabricated virals go to greater lengths than the agency stunt ones.
- Innovative design is the key for a company in the PC industry
Things didn't play exactly as planned, but they turned out nicely nonetheless.
(Post en español!)
Last December I wrote a post on shopping process. One of the main premises on that post was that e-commerce should be entertaining, it should somehow captivate the customers and drive them through the entire thing while making it an enjoyable experience:
Buying stuff should be fun. Or as close to fun as it can get. It must be a pleasurable experience. Once we understand that our abandonments will invariably go down.
So I click the link and head over to this newly-found reading material. What do I see? The very first post I set my eyes on is talking about e-commerce, and from a perspective that has several contact points with what my personal opinion is.
(...) during my round trip to and from the milk, I munch a free sample, and grab a box of fudgesicles, knowing that my kids’ enthusiasm will counteract my wife’s annoyance.
When we build e-commerce sites, certainly we need to know what the customer wants, and give it to them. But we also need to use our spiffiest analytical tools to optimize two things: profit (dollars, not percent) and Net Promoter Score.
So, what would happen if we combine this thoughts on making the Shopping process entertaining and tempting our customers with extra treats with that other thing that has become a buzzword lately: Targeted ads.
Forget about the “ads” part for the time being. Lets just concentrate just on the Targeted part instead.
Using smart analytics, a powerful CMS and some multivariate wizardry e-commerce sites have the potential to create a unique experience for each customer that arrives to the site.
E-commerce has three main advantages over Grocery stores: 1) you don’t have to physically move products from one side to another, shifting aisles and pushing fridges, 2) you can track every single visitor and see how they behave and 3) you know where the visitors come from and, to a certain extent, in some cases even why.
With that in mind it is quite natural to imagine scenarios where visitor segmentation serves the purpose to profile each visit and build the e-commerce experience accordingly.
Granted, the approach would require massive investment in both Analytics and CMS, but the payoff should be huge. If the analytics team can profile and breakup visitors into smartly differentiated groups (natural search visitors, ad visitors, affiliate program referrals, coupon page referrals, etc.), pass along that information to the publishing / developer / user experience people and they, in turn can create experience that present stuff in ways that maximize the buying potential of each segment you’d have a winning recipe.
Multivariate tests should help determine what works for each segment.
In-site behavior should also be tracked, studied and used to present the visitors with different options according to the path they take.
This can be taken to various levels of complexity, and an investment & experimentation to revenue ratio would be determined. In other words: how much to invest, experiment and segment to obtain the highest return.
Another ingredient comes from a suggestion Mark made in the comments of my December post:
Reading what people write about your site shopping experience can fill in the gaps in analytics. Sites like Bizrate gather customer comments, and of course, blogs and forums are another great place to learn about the barriers to purchase one may have unknowingly created.
So Social Media (monitoring) can also play an active role in enhancing conversion rates and customer spending on e-commerce websites.
The final piece would be a dashboard that "adjusts" the settings under special circumstances. It is not the same to have an e-commerce site during the seasons than in Mid September when nothing happens. Since such events can be planned, they should be planned.
Stir together, cook for 90 minutes and you’ll end up with a “Fluid e-commerce experience”.
We don’t all have the same tastes, why should our shopping experience be dull and unique for all the population? The tools exist, the expertise exists, and some sites already run similar experiments.
Finally I encourage you to go ahead to his site and subscribe to the feed. It looks like we have another very eclectic blog at hand.
I find I'm spending incremental time trying to understand the hidden strings behind the web-as-a-whole behavior.
Something is brewing under the hood; and many pre-conditions for massive changes are starting to get deployed all over the web.
We've all read posts about Web 2.0 being dead and headline-seeking link-love-hunting titles of that sort. It is my understanding that "2.0" is not dead, but being taken for granted. Novelty has worn off. It is no longer "cool stuff" but becoming increasingly "everyday stuff". May this be precondition #1: 2.0 is now mainstream.
There are quite a number of things brewing under the hood. For starters we have the greatly publicized "Semantic Web". It is a good concept, an interesting thing, which might make finding, correlating and aggregating content easier. Yet it has not gone mainstream. There are some good implementations and early adopters. Aptana is a good example, but I still feel it only scratches the potential for the Semantic Web.
Cloud computing is another trend on the raise.
Let me rephrase that: Cloud computing is becoming more common as a buzz word.
Here's my take on cloud computing (something I am becoming more and more involved with lately). It is a nice concept. Not new. Not at all new. Sun has been preaching that "the network is the computer" for almost two decades now.
So how is it that Sun is not Google? Or Amazon?
Because Sun had the overall concept right but: a) they were too early (the infrastructure was not ready) adn b) they never even tried a user-friendly approach for cloud computing. Yet Sun might just be in a good position looking into the future.
If you push me a little bit I might risk it and say that the infrastructure is not ready even today. At least not for household private users. It is one thing to use an online spreadsheet or word document, that works; but what about online storage and backup? Not to mention more complex tasks such as image editing on the cloud or other data-heavy things people might want to move over the cloud.
My take is that the cloud will be among us when a consulting or accountant firm starts using it. Why? Because this sort of firms stand on the opposite end of "early adopters". Gosh, I know accountant firms that use programs in DOS this very day. And yes, account firmswould benefit greatly from using cloud applications.
Another very important fact right now is the economic downturn. In the internet world we've seen much of the push happen thanks to individuals or small startups driving big changes. Even when those projects get acquired by the established companies the germ came from the garage. Yet to drive things from the garage to something that gains a userbase some money is required.
Under the current circumstances funding for new projects might be just too hard to get. This does not mean that ideas will die, but that they will be stalled.
Also, big companies that have scheduled releases and upgrades to existing technologies as well as new products are already considering delaying things. Most people and companies won't buy or upgrade until they are forced to.
Until economy smiles down on us again we will witness some degree of stagnation in the innovation area. The result is that after an economic downturn thre is an explosion of new ideas.
Since people don't stop having new ideas, but stop having the chance to realize them those tend to accumulate and pile up.
So basically: where do I think things are heading in terms ofthe internet?
- Web 2.0 will be given for granted
- We will see improvements on already existing and implemented technologies
- We will witness some degree of stagnation on visible innovation
- Things that we know are on the brew right now might be delayed or slowly implemented
- Lower end technologies and services will do better than more complex and more expensive counterparts.
- Overall cheaper alternatives will flourish
Then again, I might be completely wrong. Yet, as a marketer, it is imperative to try and do some sort of futurology exercises so that I can stay on top of the game instead of finding myself reacting to it.
Recent news about changes on Facebook's ToS have spread like wildfire. To make the legal mambo-jumbo short: users renounce to all their content's rights and hand them to facebook (depending on the privacy setting).
Since controversy did not wait long, Mark Zuckerberg decided to post at Facebook's blog to try and clarify things a little bit.
While witnessing the entire soap opera and especially while ruminating Mark's reply it is quite evident that the never seriously addressed problem of an ever-outdating legislation is at the core of the entire thing:
When a person shares information on Facebook, they first need to grant Facebook a license to use that information so that we can show it to the other people they've asked us to share it with. Without this license, we couldn't help people share that information.
Facebook's argument is that users need to entitle the social network with usage right to enable sharing with other users. And, truth must be said, with the current state of the law-technology relationship that point is valid.
I will not discuss if I buy or don't Facebook's possition of "you need to trust us", since it is irrelevant for this post.
Am I the only one that thinks that the fact that a user needs to recede his content rights in favor of facebook so that that same user is enabled to share stuff with his/her friends is inappropriate?
The whole thing reminded me of Lawrence Lessig's introduction to his book "Free Culture". In it Lawrence retells the story of the early days of flight. Before airplanes existed the legislation granted land-owners right of the airspace above their piece of land.
This was bound to be a major source of trouble as flight became more of a commonplace. Mr. Lessig describes what happened when things went to congress in a wonderful fashion:
But Justice Douglas had no patience for ancient doctrine. In a single paragraph, hundreds of years of property law were erased. As he wrote for the Court,
[The] doctrine has no place in the modern world. The air is a public highway, as Congress has declared. Were that not true, every transcontinental flight would subject the operator to countless trespass suits. Common sense revolts at the idea. To recognize such private claims to the airspace would clog these highways, seriously interfere with their control and development in the public interest, and transfer into private ownership that to which only the public has a just claim.
"Common sense revolts at the idea."
This is how the law usually works. Not often this abruptly or impatiently, but eventually, this is how it works. It was Douglas's style not to dither. Other justices would have blathered on for pages to reach the conclusion that Douglas holds in a single line: "Common sense revolts at the idea." But whether it takes pages or a few words, it is the special genius of a common law system, as ours is, that the law adjusts to the technologies of the time. And as it adjusts, it changes. Ideas that were as solid as rock in one age crumble in another.
Or at least, this is how things happen when there's no one powerful on the other side of the change. The Causbys were just farmers.
Sounds awfully familiar, right?
The law around Copyright is outdated and obstrusive. It does not apply to the current state of affairs. At the time most of the Copyright legislation was put in place infromation and content could not flow (and be transformed) the way they do so nowadays.
To over-simplify here's the scenario: technology moves much faster than legislation. There are two main reasons for this: 1. the way the legislative process works and 2. pressure groups with interest in keeping things as they are until they can find a way to profit under the new scenario.
This needs to change. We can no longer afford remaining in the dark ages in terms of the laws by which we try to do things. Copyright is just one of the areas where outdated laws cause problems. Under the current circumstances the highest risk is that everything might turn into a black market of sorts.
Back to the Facebook problem: under the current law facebook must act as if it were a content publisher. It is not, and there is no legal place for services such as Facebook, YouTube or Flickr.
Things such as Creative Commons help. A lot. But they fall short, and are initiatives that are -not at all coincidentally- started by users and consumers, not by law makers. Things such as this yield the innevitable question: if law makers fail to do what they are supposed to do, wont people start to question their validity? The result posts a serious threat to the order of things.
One more thing catches my attention in a powerfu way: How Social Media Marketers and luminaries as a collective fail to address such a central issue.
Let me be clear here: Social Media is all about content. What happens to that content (and the way it is distributed) should be on the top on the priority list for anyone that makes a living out of social media.
I guess I can understand people trying to keep away from such a hairy issue. Yet the time has come to become responsible and start acting up.
Perfect scenario for Social Meda to go profitable. And Ugly.
Since I've been recently called out "Emo" due to the nature of my recent posts and Mark made the valid point that "We need to [...] call out the frigtards", I decided to go upbeat and have a little fun with how ugly some things will turn out for social media this 2009
As CFOs shake up the dust and make a comeback to steering companies' fates we're witnessing budget cuts everywhere. If you can't prove what you do can earn money (not just save, but earn) your have good chances of facing a difficult reality. Difficult as in "job hunting" difficult.
I'm prepared to witness a ton of experiments that will make me want to go and live as a hermit in some obscure and inaccessible cave with no internet access. Dire situations require desperate measures. This can be the recipe for:
a. unprecedented originality or, much more frequently:
b. nasty efforts that smell, look and taste like desperation.
This can be a good thing for a couple of reasons. For starters it will be fun to watch and blog about. It will also put many the self-proclaimed social media experts in evidence as little more than hot air.
As water levels go down stuff that was previously hidden starts to pop-up. Exposure can be ugly. Particularly for those exposed.
Accountability is an excellent concept to stay somewhat in the safe zone. At least it can keep you in the safe zone if you have some results you can be accountable for in the first place. So, in case there are results to be proud of the challenge then becomes one that is common ground already: how to measure in Social Media. But that is a matter for a separate post.
Generating direct revenue and increasing ROI should also be high on any social marketer's agenda. Signing off the papers to wipe out a department or team is always herder to do if that same department or team is earning money.
Yet the risk resides in trying to make money at any cost. The infamous bread for today, hunger for tomorrow. Spam email is the perfect example of this sort of behaviour. It might generate some revenue. It will sell a few products, but the negative impact on the brand is perdurable and undermines future profits. It is the same principle that yields Soil degradation as a product of overgrazing. Fit too many cows in a plow of land (or try to sell too many products through the wrong channel) and you'll have one moderately good year and a nice desert (or lack of customers) soon.
That is what we'll witness during 2009 and that is the sole futurology attemtp I'll make. It is going to get nasty. And that is always fun.
One of the reasons accountable for the lousy number of posts in this blog in Jannuary is probably disenchantment.
Let me frame the picture.
For starters I'm not a summer person. I was born and raied in Patagonia, cold is my game. If it is hot I don't function, I can't think, I can barely react. Air conditioning helps to a certain extent, but it is not 100% effective.
Recent events have also shifted the perspective in which I see many things. My job and my line of work included. I have been sort of forced to re-evaluate priorities, and the result is not that nice for Social Media. There are things far more important than that in my life.
With that in mind and the fact that I'm not too fond of where parts of the Social Media industry (is there such a thing?) are heading builds up my disenchantment.
I am still a believer. Heck! I'm more than a believer I'm a friggin' idealist, thus, chances are, I'll be back to my normal mood soon.
In the meantime I'll pay some attention to my family's needs (which I've neglected way too much) and divert some thoughts to different places to look for inspiration. I need to rest the mind, rethink plenty of stuff and get back to doing breaking ground stuff.
I'll be back, realoaded, and more of a smartass than ever before. Watch out.
(Editors note: bare in mind that disenchantment is not the same as disappointment)
I'll start by self-quoting and self referencing. After all what can be more reverberating that one's own voice? In March, 2007 I wrote:
Some “visible” customers yield a lot of power over companies. Possessing a blog, for instance can be used as a weapon to threaten with creating bad fuzz for a company. The result is that if you threaten or actually post a negative review, comment or experience, chances are you’ll get a sort of VIP treatment.
Now others have seen this light. Or so it would seem. Yet, the usual misconceptions and hurried conclusions seem to show up, at least
Chris Hall, inpired by Peter, wrote a post on Vocal minorities:
Just because I’m able to get on Twitter or (insert social tool here) and complain about a policy or an ad campaign that I don’t think applies to me, while amassing a bunch of sympathizers to take up my cause, doesn’t give me the right to automatically get my way. Whether I’m in the majority or I’m part of the minority in any given group, bullying is not cool.
After visiting Chris's post I read two related tweets by Aviansh:
I have the highest respect for Aviansh, he's one of those rare cases of people who actually generate well thought and valuable content. Yet, I have to agree with David's Tweet reply to him:
So, after way too many quotes: what is the point?
Social media is about minorities.
It is about the minority that connects through facebook because they went to a certain school, about the minority that works for a company and connects through yammer, it is about the minority that takes UFO's pictures and places them at flickr.
The whole point (and one of the original flags) of social media is that minorities and the underpowered get to have the same voice than the majorities and those in editorial control. And that is nothing more and nothing less than plain good old democracy.
I have a personal problem with majorities. Huge atrocities have happened in the name of majorities. I tend to feel that when you try to please too many people at once no one gets what they want.
Although I am a believer of croudsourcing I think it does not apply to every single situation and that the masses can numb individual creativity.
Masses are great to aggregate collective knowledge, but I have yet to see enough examples of collective creativity to become a believer of that.
So I can drive to my point I need to quote Chris again:
I smell a trend… What gets me is that these vocal minorities of less than 1% of their group’s total population are imposing their collective wills upon millions of other group members because they have realized that they have a platform.
Is that right?
Nobody’s asking that question, so let me take a stab at it. I’m not an unreasonable man, I think that a case can be made for the vocal minority. However, I don’t think that people with complaints are always right, nor do I think that they’re ever immediately always right.
For starters: I already made that question
There are several observations I have to make.
It should be noted that the 1% Chris mentions might be influencing the other 99%. People use to think the world was flat, remember? A minority came, stating the world was a sphere, were proven right and now the majority of thinks the world is not flat. Paying attention just to munorities does not seem like a smart thing to do. He raises the question of what opinion matters most and concludes:
Rather then proclaiming a groundswell every time the little guy raises a stink, we should be championing the opportunity for dialogue and understanding.
Well, I sort of agree.
The problem is that there is a lot of noise in the conversation. And that noise is increasing; probably more rapidly than the signal. The real problem then becomes how to tell what in that ocean of conversations is of value and what not. So we end up with "judgment". Nasty.
All of us in the social media world need to make judgments about where the important conversations reside. And that is an error-prone process. Thus we end up in a conundrum: we can't possibly pay attention to all conversations, so we make a selection and we end up either listening to the vocal minorities or just to those that agree with us (the infamous Echo Chamber).
Sound familiar? Yup. That are the exact problems Chris and Peter started complaining about.
Listening to conversations brought us to this point in the first place.
So, what could be the solution? Minorities. Ironic, isn't it?
Let me explain:
We need to connect with those representative of minorities to get in touch with what those minorities think. We shouldn't be trying to add minorities one in top of the other to get a majority, we should be respecting what makes them different, listening to that and we might be in good course for that concept called "long tail".
Minorities are important. Listening and respecting them is crucial. As I stated, Web 2.0 fosters minorities, so we will only see more of that, not less. We better start getting used to that. Need I remind the readers how Obama used to be minority facing both Primaries and Presidential election?
What we need to do is smarten up while connecting to and with minorities. They will have lessons to teach us. We also need to find ways to connect minorities between themselves so we don't all end up living and talking inside walled gardens.
Wait... that IS already happening.
Bottom line is: We need to break all the walls around our gardens.
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