Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Web 2.0 - The Era of Incomplete Thoughts

YouTube - no business model
Flickr - no business model
Facebook/MySpace/LinkedIn - no business model
5000 other contenders - no business model

Advertising is not a business model for the power of the web. It discounts it.

How can I be helped? - that's the Internet traveler's root impetus. Help! Who can? How about Facebook's 200gazillion? How about they help show me all the things I want to know. I'll pay. Tonight, for example, I want someone, maybe from Mexico, to show me how to make real tortillas, my-non-real-tortilla-making-self doesn't know how to make. For this lesson I'm willing to pay. Isn't someone out there ready, right this second, to earn that fee and teach me? (By the way, when I finish making tortillas, I'd like someone out there to teach me how to fix my vacuum and then someone else to debate the classics with me. I'm willing to pay.?.) Let's use those Web2.0 tools together to enrich the experience: Youtube for videos I'll need, Flickr for pics I'll need, and you descending from the Facebook and using the ever-handy Web 2.0 tool, chat, to interact with me in real time.

The business model for Web 2.0 is not within the applications, but from without, when they're used as tools.

Pieces of a chess board. How those pieces are arranged around a product or service is the business model.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Social Media - Time to Rethink Your Life

I feel sorry for the mass media journalist, 46, married, two kids, mortgage, whose life is unraveling because of Social Media. I generally feel sorry for anyone else whose job was based upon their opinion: Judges, Politicians, Doctors, Stockbrokers. Their opinions are the standards of the Old World, the pre-Social Media days. Their professions brought with them the distinction of a fairly secured life, almost in repayment for the careful dedication they burdened in divining opinions on which others could rely.

The old school foundations supporting, and supported by, these once-honored opinions are eroding in the seemingly infinite sandstorm of the Internet as the group-opinion becomes more sought than the opinion of a single professional.

Take the mass-media journalist above, for example. Let's say, he writes an article that gets published in both the hard copy and online versions of his journal with the online version accepting instant comments from readers, dynamically more effective than letters-to-the-editor of the paper version. The variety of opinions provides depth and perspective to the subject of the article, the comments provide the reader with information about the website he's visiting, about the writer and about his fellow visitors, and, all the 'Green' reasons are supported, paper, emissions, etc. There are probably more reasons than this short list.

With comments/opinions way out in front as the greatest value-added of the online version, the question gets begged, "Is the original article or are reader comments more valuable?"

This professional's opinion is no longer valuable. It has been replaced by the opinion of the masses. What does he have left?

This has got to terrify him. This professional dedicated his life to learning how to succeed by refining and marketing a respected professional opinion. The old school that established the standards, his adherence to which was honorably certified, is too far behind. He'll likely die before it catches up.

Our journalist must be brave here. He is now free. Free from the well-trodden, secure path to the horizon promised by the paradigm to which his life is/was mortgaged. Thinking now becomes his razor-sharp saber, in exchange for the dull knife of his old school opinion.

Is Social Media making you rethink your life?

You must be brave.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Why Working on the Internet Is Going to Happen...#1 Reason #1

Just to get a gripe off my chest, I pitch my first reason for working online by citing a group I detest so much that I'm dedicating myself to fixing them and getting them the hell out of my way. More than a gripe, however, they are the main reason I push so hard for people to work on the Internet. I say 'detest' because the group I cite here is completely the opposite of what I admire. They are non-conformist, negative, counter-productive, burdensome, dependent, lazy, depressing, and dumb, but they are not stupid - they can be respected for that - and they are willing to work. They do, however, lack the imagination to do ANYTHING on their own, so to justify painful, fearful lives lived doing, working, being what they don't want to do, work or be, they take on similar traits, universally.

Allow me to introduce the 'Sloth' and the 'Bitch.'

Everyone has seen these two working in modern cultures. Examples later. One doesn't need to work with them to see them. In fact, they are most visible when one in need approaches them for help or assistance thus releasing their essence. It is in that essence, however, that a glimpse of a speck of their own true passion and creativity can be seen. And, if that creativity can remain the longterm target of this project, then at least I will have uncaged the sloth and the bitch, two relatively harmless beings, and I might even be able leverage their creativity into a business model.

Without monikers, the group to which I'm specifically referring can most easily be described as: Those workers who are simply in a job for the paycheck.

I don't know where to find the statistics, but in just the sheer numbers of these people I see when I'm out every day or so makes me believe that businesses must spend billions, maybe trillions, employing those who don't want to be there doing jobs they don't want to do. I remember an airline ticket agent who consumed with great relish the impact the push of her finger had on others and me as a flight cancellation was announced. She loved the fact that she got to deliver that message. The uproar of groans and complaints poured into and uplifted her.

She didn't need to be in that job. Her empathy had perverted because she no longer cared for her job which brought her in touch with these people. Still, she knew she always needed a job so she might as well keep this one: Uncaring, undreaming, unfree. Yet, in her perversion of enjoying the pain of others can be glimpsed someone who greatly wants to enjoy something.

The Sloth works as little as possible to minimize his effort in order to increase the value of his hourly wage or meager salary;

A different Bitch longs for someone to request her approval so she can deliberate granting access to someone who really matters;

Other examples are kids working behind the counter who only attempt to assist customers when supervisors are present, or, a government worker arriving at 9:01, lunchbreaking at 11:59, returning at 1:01, leaving for home at 4:59...on her best day.

(By the way, if you're in this group, smile...I'm trying to rescue you!)

All of these and countless others belong in this community that only wants to collect a paycheck. They do not want to work for you, or me, or anyone; they have not enough imagination to work for themselves; but, they yearn to live freely: Getting up when they want, wearing what they want, leaving the house if they want, thinking what they want to think(and not being forced to think as someone else wishes), being where they want to be(and not where they are assigned), working as much or as little as they want to work, and, in some cases, repairing their misanthropic attitudes caused by the unhappiness of working jobs they loathe.

Without ever understanding or admitting it, this group has completely surrendered to socialist employment. The terminally unambitious in this group would quite happily live a minimalist lifestyle working only to meet their basic needs; then, working more if necessary, or less when possible.

The Sloth and the Bitch could never have arrived at their current disdain for life without the soul-crushing burden of being shackled to lives they did not want to lead. I contend that employment is the weak link in that shackle that now can be broken with the Internet.

The life they want to lead is freer. It's time to give it to them.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Now that you've got a social network, what to do with them...

I might have written this somewhere before, so hang on if you've already heard it.

These and the other posts here are targeted to business owners who may have managed to collect a decent number of members, people, users, or subscribers. It's not really that hard to do. Go to Ning.com or KickApps.com and create, for instance, a network around an interest. Then, invite every customer and contact to your newly created network and engage with interesting content with the one who come.

Businesses are looking for ways to make money with their social networks. They might even be thinking of advertising to their network members. (Boo, hiss, bad, no...no...no.) And, as I may have also said before, if a business doesn't have an social network, it's time to get one...the sooner the better. It will make a complete difference in the near-future. If your social network is just a social network (like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), you're screwed, but help is on the way. (BTW, read the post below on 'Who is your social network?')

Your social network is like a little bottle of divine spirit. It can be used in a billion different ways to make money other than holding an ad in its face. That bottled 'essence' of humankind is only limited by your imagination.

So...since everyone has read the post on how to create a social network and since now everyone has a social network, here's what to with them...Cut them in on your deal!!!

That's right...let's use the example of an online florist who separately started a social network for those who enjoy 'flower arranging.' While her flower business is successful and her social network are successful, the two do not intersect. She must make them.

Our florist, and any e-business, must look at the total number of visits its site is getting each day; then, look at the total number of conversions the site is getting. Some better, some worse, undoubtedly there are fewer conversions than visits.

What could improved the visit-to-conversion ratio?

How about 'personal engagement?'

In other words, instead of redesigning a website every year or two, why not leave it alone and create immediate personal interaction with visitors to show them how to get around your site, lead them to products, upsell them if the opportunity arises?

But a website staff is limitied...right?

What if there are hundreds of visitors on the site at the same time? Then, what?

You've already guessed what I'm going to say, right? Create a way for your social network to interact with your visitors...Wow...bright lights, right? Allow for your social network to comment, critique, make arrangements, upload photos, videos.

Who is your company's social network?

Who is your company's social network?

You've probably already got the skeleton of one if you've had a web presence for any length of time.

If you don't yet have a social network or you're not somehow collecting people within your domain, you need to get busy. Do this...

1) Get every email address from every email, customer request, newsletter subscriber, blog poster, etc., etc., etc.

2) Organize them with as much personal data as you've collected.

3) Go to Ning.com or any of the other platforms and create a social network around the interest all your email addressees have in common. Be smart about this...an online store specializing in holiday decorations will find few social networkers interested in the store itself; however, the store's social network may find great interest in the subject of 'Decorating for the Holidays.'

Another example is that of a mattress store. The mattress store owner knew that his customers buy mattresses less often than they buy a car or even a house; so, rather than create a blog about mattresses which no one would read anyway, he created a blog about backpain, the reason several bought a new mattress, something in common they could share, and something that was more ongoing than the need for a new mattress.

Don't design your network around your business. Design your network instead around a shared interest.

4) Send an invitation to your email list to join your social network.

Presto...a little maintenance once in awhile and there you go...your social network.

Next - What to do with them?