Archive for “March, 2007”

Social networks and the Web 2.0 "bubble"

You must, must, must, must read this article by Michael Hirschorn from The Atlantic Monthly online. I don’t agree with everything he says, or what appears to be his overall thesis, which is that all the interest in Web 2.0 is a bubble because someday something better and/or more interesting will come along and everyone will forget about it (I just think that’s the way things work, and it’s not like every single person will leave the party – the “book bubble” didn’t burst when radio was invented).

Nevertheless, here’s a wonderful on-the-mark quote:

Few of the social networks have yet proved adept at truly linking people of like-minded interests, and many of the networks being started now, especially by entrepreneurs and corporations looking to grab their slice of 2.0 glory, tend to miss the reason the best sites work: They facilitate behavior that people already engage in.

I’m with you on that, Michael. Again – the article is here. Read it.

Is it better to join communities, or build them?

I’ve been thinking about this since I received an email from a colleague of mine – we met when I worked in marketing at MuchMusic (he was a rep for one of the labels) and ran into each other, a mere (11? 12?) years later at the Profectio Power Breakfast I spoke at on January 31st (which was sold out, incidentally. We should really do another one of those). It was really nice to see him again, and so interesting that we’re both working in very much the same field.

But I digress, the question (inquiry, really), which I will quote below, came in response to our announcement about Phase I of the Yamaha Motor social media strategy, launched March 1st.

It looks like there are lots of Yamaha owners who have opinions, ideas and thoughts. Brand loyalty might be strengthened even further if Yamaha could foster exchange of user experiences through their portal.

Which raises a very good point, one that Charlene Li and I discussed in a recent Social Media Today podcast – the fact that blogs are not exactly the most interactive platform on the planet – they’re very linear, they’re mediocre at fostering discussion between participants, and don’t generally allow conversations to be threaded (though I understand there are some platforms that offer this functionality), whereas the notion of the “community suite” – many different types of web-based social functionality – is probably the way of the future when it comes to business use of social media. As soon as business understands what social media is.

So, would Yamaha have gotten more engagement bang for their buck if we’d built a more interactive suite of tools and platforms, rather than a blog? In this case, I’d have to say no – and I’m going to quote something Jeremiah Owyang said in a Marketing Voices podcast in January as part of my explanation why:

You don’t build communities – you join them.

In the case of Yamaha, there is an incredibly active community out there already, embodied in the form of Totally Yamaha (over 7000 registered users on their forum). For us to try and recreate the success of this and other existing grassroots forums would have been madness, both because of the Herculean nature of the task and the bad feelings within the community such a move would have engendered. So, rather than try and build a community where one already existed – we joined it, adding our own unique and valuable perspective, and something not available anywhere else – the ability to go right to the source and hear Yamaha’s take on almost anything.

Of course, as with all rules there are exceptions: you can build the framework for a community that does not yet exist if you’re trying to introduce people to something that’s completely new, and/or want to connect with lots of disparate individuals who belong to unconnected communities of interest. But you must remember that you can’t build the participation or the engagement, all you can do is create the ideal conditions (almost like a social media petri dish) for this behaviour to take place, and one of the most important ingredients is content – for if it is boring, they will not come.

Hat tip to Nigel for providing the inspiration for this post!

Social Media Today Podcast – Robin Fray Carey

Welcome to the third edition of Social Media Today, the official podcast of the Social Media Collective. In this episode, I interview Robin Fray Carey, President of Carey Publishing Group and co-founder of the Social Media Collective.

Do subscribe to our feed – we’ll be interviewing a new member of the Social Media Collective each week, the podcast is published fresh every Wednesday. You can even leave us audio comments right here using the handy tool below.

Click to listen:

Show Notes:
Robin and I have a wide-ranging discussion, including, but not limited to: the business model that supports a free press, how technology has changed the traditional publishing model, the “marketplace of ideas”, the strength and value of professional networks like the SMC, the notion of social media as a “happy rupture”, not-for-profit and pro bono use of social media, using web events to confirm and nurture networks and build brands, what’s good and bad about webinars and other business communications, social media and WOM, knowledge management, her work on a case study of SAP’s use of social media within their developer community, Robin’s involvement with the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women & Children and her recent trip to Uganda, and the notion of social media as a “flourishing of culture” and the beginning of a new golden age, as theorized by Carlota Perez in her book, Technological Revolutions And Financial Capital, The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages.

To leave an audio comment, use the “my voicemail” tool to record direct from your computer’s microphone, or leave a text comment (which we will read aloud on the show in a voice that we imagine to be like yours) simply leave a comment on this blog.

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Social Media Group Monday Roundup

Here’s everyting that’s fit to blog from the last week and beyond…


1. There’s all kind of buzz about this Ning Thing. It’s a free online platform that will let you build your own social media or community suite – lots of different tools, and aparently very easy to use.


1. Robert Scoble has published an excellent Corporate Blogging Manifesto – I’m including it in my client education materials. Fab!

2. Not surprisingly, people are increasingly coming to rely on using user-generated content in their Internet searches for health information. A very kind client provided the complete Envision Solutions study, and I think the most important takeaway from all this is the obligation that it places on providers of healthcare information – you need to make sure that what these people are finding is correct, unbiased and useful. The best way to do that, of course, is to join the conversation.


1. Is Dell using social media to turn it around? This is a great case study and example of “fighting fire with fire”.

Last Friday:

1. Canadian-grown tech firm Blackberry launched a UGC campaign south of the border (now that all that nasty patent stuff is settled) which came up a little short, according to Ogilvy’s Rohit Bhargava.

Last Thursday:

1. Stowe Boyd had an excerpt of an interview with Jack Welch which touched on the issue of corporate use of social media… briefly.

Hope you had a great weekend!