It’s 2013 – the wheels are in motion, the train is gaining steam – and reality is starting to set in for those in the world of business. Welcome to The New 20%.
What is The New 20%?
They are the brands that will be meaningful enough to exist tomorrow. Despite the fact that most execs and entrepreneurs believe their companies are at the top of the charts, the reality is that the public wouldn’t care if 70% of today’s brands ceased to exist tomorrow.
For some, this may come as a bit of a shock. You certainly wouldn’t garner this type of sentiment by scouring the Linked-IN profiles of the hordes of self-proclaimed entrepreneurs and businessmen out there. Nor would you be able to tell by flicking on the business channels and watching CEOs gloat about quarterly profits in times of such turmoil. From an outsider’s view, it seems that many businesses are back on track following the 2008 crisis.
And yet, the people – the ones who buy the product, support the companies and sustain the economy – could care less if 70% of companies cease to exist.
And why not. 70% + of what’s out there is missing the mark – badly.
Because businesses are not listening ; they are out of touch.
The majority of companies continue to remain myopically focused on profitability – at the expense of basically all other factors.
But times are changing and the pushback has begun.
In their mission to find something more meaningful and build a deeper connection with brands, consumers are beginning to search out new alternatives and build communities around those companies they care about most.
A new agile crop of customer-centric companies are blossoming up through the cracks and weaving their customers’ expectations and conversations into the very fabric that the brand is made of, rather than dictating how they ‘should be’ perceived.
“Brands must foster interconnectedness and collaboration, it must show that their activity is interconnected with those who invest their time in the brand” (paraphrased from video).
Ultimately, the only way to achieve this is by building trust. To build trust in today’s world, you need to be a legit company whose interests are aligned with those of society and be willing to engage with consumers at all levels to develop a dialogue that goes beyond simple pleasantries.
The New 20% are driving the dialogue, the other 80% are on the edge of a cliff.
What is your business doing to stay on right side of the divide?
Welcome to the final phase of Build Blocks for the New-Era Business. Up to this point, we have shared tools to help you PLAN out your venture, proposed a new process to TEST the demand for your venture, and now we are going to take a look at how to SPREAD an idea through the market.
In this experimental process we call the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business, we have been looking to fundamentally redesign the way a business is created by taking advantage of the new tools emerging in the global ecosystem. We can collaborate and share basic tools to PLAN out a business, use crowdfunding platforms to TEST demand for a new business and we can use the pipelines to SPREAD the message
When we say pipelines, we are not talking about Keystone XL or Enbridge here. We are talking about the pipelines of communication, the ones that are shifting the entire media landscape and changing the way we source information. If you want to take an idea to the market, these are the pipelines that you need to know and build your communication strategy around.
Where do we look to study the best way to use the Social Media pipelines?
The social movements.
Worldwide, from Chile to Spain, Montreal to Mexico, people have taken to the streets en masse as part of the global social ( r)evolution. Whatever way you slice it, regardless of your creed or political beliefs, the social movements have become symbolic of a huge societal shift – the power shift from the few to the many.
Despite their differences, all of these movements including, Occupy, #15M, the Arab Spring, #yosoy123, etc., have one thing in common – they started with an idea amongst a few people and SPREAD to the masses. In the same way an idea for a new venture starts in the head of one person and can be pollinated through the masses.
So how do these social movements do it?
Contrary to popular belief, no social movement starts on Facebook or Twitter. The precursor is engagement, discussion and debate amongst a small group of people. That group of people then begin to educate a larger group of people, the after the idea gains traction the social-media factor comes in to play. It’s true that certain people may meet on a Facebook group or through a blog initially, but no movement starts as a Tweet or Facebook post. It requires deep dialogue, some extended validation and then a social strategy. That’s why we believe that there is a lot from the social movements that can be applied to the creation of a new business.
The objectives of the SPREAD phase are the following:
Education – explain about the problem, why the need for a solution exists and how your solution works
Engagement – engage with people in your potential target audience and discuss your product/service with them directly
Influence – get the people who shape perceptions to understand why your product or service is better
Diffusion – give people the tools and content to proliferate your message for you
The number of ways you can actually achieve this are infinite. If you have followed any of the social movements, you will have seen a number of creative tactics employed to get the messages heard. The tools that they use, however, are all pretty generic. Here are how they breakdown:
Blog – a blog will help you educate people and give you a place to discuss any aspects related to your venture in depth
activist example: Occupy Wall Street was started by an Adbusters blog (see post here)
YouTube (or Vimeo) – video gives your entire venture a personal feel and will help you build trust with your audience. To influence people and give power to an idea, they need to be able to see who you are and feel an authentic vibe
Twitter – Twitter is big because of it gives you the ability to tap into trends and make new connections. The hashtag (# symbol) has become a cultural icon, and for good reason. Hashtags let people connect into streams of consciousness related to a specific topic, which is why a strategically crafted campaign needs to look at the possibilities enabled by Twitter. It can help you engage your audience, influence key players and scale diffusion
Facebook and Google+ – despite the fact that we are bearish on Facebook, and starting to really warm up to Google+, both need to be considered as key platforms in the social media pipelines. While engagement on Facebook is falling off significantly, the Like button and Brand pages can still help diffuse ideas and facilitate discussion. The Google+ pages for business are much cleaner and have added features to take audience engagement to a new level (ie. Hangouts), but the network is not there yet
Guerilla campaigns – guerilla simply means bottom-up, spontaneous formations that happen in the streets. You see ‘guerilla marketing campaigns’ when someone hands you a free sample of Starburst in the street, but those lack the tact and creativity that the social movements employ. Guerilla campaigns are all about face-to-face engagement and audience participation
We are not the type of people to write a ‘5 steps to achieve …’ blog post because there isn’t a simple five-step process to just move your idea into a market. To really SPREAD an idea you need to have a grasp on the fundamentals and take advantage of the crowds to help you gain traction. If it’s a good one, something that is both timely and valuable to a broad audience, social media is the way to get it out there. After going through the PLAN and TEST phases, SPREAD helps you build momentum behind your venture.
If you are looking for help to put together a social media-driven strategy, make sure you separate the wheat from the chaff. Getting someone to get you a few Likes on Facebook or few hundred Followers on Twitter will not move the dial without the core components of a campaign to back it up. Find the people who both understand the dynamics of your market and know how to coordinate campaigns across the channels. We are big on the blog, video and face-to-face as a way to drive deeper engagement initially, and then start looking to the bigger channels after.
The winds of change are blowing. The social, economic and political landscape are undergoing seismic shifts, every industry is being reshaped. The question is, what’s driving this change and what does it all mean?
On a fundamental level, people are upset – with big business, with the government, with each other. Questions are getting asked, discussions are being sparked and knowledge is being exchanged, the social movement has begun.
The medium to facilitate such a movement is the web, a network of nodes that is making borders seem irrelevant and distance obsolete. In its infancy, the web was a series of websites that was indexed and categorized by search engines – today, thanks to Facebook, Twitter and recently Pinterest, the web has become a social hub for everything that’s relevant. Communities are being created, content shared, and connections created, all in an effort to redefine the way we work, live and play together on this planet.
What does it mean for business?
While five years ago, it was acceptable for a business to put up a website and tell the world what you had to offer, today things are different. People want to participate in the businesses that they are patronizing; everyone wants to take part in building the brands of the future.
Consequently, three key have emerged for the next generation of commerce:
Community has always been an essential part of human interaction. Communities are being created everyday in new ways as people find overlapping interests, causes and circumstances; however, before the advent of social networks, communities were primarily created around physical interactions or boundaries (ie. a neighborhood community association).
With the social network boom, suddenly there is an exponential increase in the number of opportunities to discover new people with similar passions, beliefs, desires, etc. Today, people from all over the world who have never even met are forming communities. These communities are becoming the main pillar for a new era of commerce, as they become active participants in the brands they love and progressively build their clout to influence decision making.
Once communities have been created, collaboration begins. Thanks to a host of new technologies and applications, including VoIP (ie. Skype), mobile phones, social networks and the cloud, collaboration is being taken to a whole level. No longer confined to geographical or physical boundaries, people can erase distance and collaborate on projects, causes, ideas, etc. anytime, anywhere. Information and knowledge can be exchanged at light speed, thus collaboration is enabling new business models (ie. AirBNB), knowledge networks (ie. Wikipidea) and processes (ie. crowdfunding) to be created faster than ever.
Traditionally, companies have always developed their products in-house and delivered them to the market, then adapted their strategy or modified the product based on market reaction. Today, companies can collaborate with knowledgeable and loyal customers in their communities to develop new ideas, prototypes and products. Co-creation creates a new paradigm for businesses, as companies are now able to get customers before they even release the product to the market (ie. Quirky).
Overall, the social web is redefining the way commerce is conducted, and it’s only the beginning. Now is the opportunity to get connected and start taking advantage of the social capital in and around your organization – get ready for the next generation of business!
What started as a spark of energy in the Spanish streets earlier this spring has now become a full-scale global protest. Spain’s #15m movement, the first large-scale social movement outside of the Arab world, has spurred a wave of protests in the streets of major cities around the world, which culminated in a unified global protest on October 15th (#15o). In this blog, we’ll look at the communication tactics used to make the movement happen and see what lessons can be applied to make your message heard in the marketplace.
On Saturday May 15, 2011, the streets of Spain erupted in a wave of indignation against the Spanish government and financial sector. Catalyzed by young people and supported by (almost) everybody, Spain’s “indignados” tapped into a vein of discontent and motivated thousands to #tomalacalle (take the streets) and start a movement (#spanishrevolution, #15m). Despite being smeared by mainstream media, ignored by the government and beaten by police, Spain’s indignados have been successful at making their message heard, not only in Spain, but around the world.
Within the #15m movement, there are many valuable takeaways for any organization, whether a social enterprise, business or otherwise, on how to create some serious buzz. Here are a few of the key communication tactics that #15m has used to kickstart the movement:
Focus on motives
People need to know why they should get behind something.
If you want people to get out of their chairs and spread the message, it needs to be for something worth rallying behind, and people need to know what that something is. The reasons need to be relevant and affect a significant quantity of people.
Example from #15m:
Democracía Real Yá published a manifesto to educate people about why they should care and how together, real change can be made.
Unify Around Themes
Create common and simple themes that people can easily communicate and spread.
Once people get behind something, they usually want to discuss it and share it. Create one or two simple themes related to your message that people can easily communicate and share (with a #hashtag).
Example from #15m:
Sin Casa. Sin Pensíon. Sin Curro. Sin Miedo. hashtag: #bcnsinmiedo (No house. No pension. No job. No Fear.) hashtag: barcelona without fear
Unidos por un cambio global. hashtag: #globalchange (United for a global change)
Create a kickass video
Videos help bring messages & movements to life and add an emotional layer to give people that extra push to get involved.
Make your video short (under 3 minutes), then put some powerful images, clips and wording together, all tied in with your overall theme. Finally, put some music behind it that moves people in one direction or the other (sad, energetic, etc.).
Example from #15m:
Take Advantage of the Networks
Millions and millions of people log into Facebook, Twitter and other networks everyday to share content, express emotions and organize amongst each other. Take advantage of it!
You can take advantage of the networks to not only add scale to your message, but also to engage influential people. The key is to understand how the networks work and to not just open a Twitter account and Facebook page thinking that people will automatically gravitate to your message. Social media is about two-way dialogue and conversation.
Example from #15m:
From very early on, the #15m movement had influential people behind it ex. @martinvars, @edans.
See this amazing report to visualize how the network traffic flowed on #15m.
Whether you are trying to start a global movement, or simply launch a new widget into a domestic market, you need to get people fired-up about what you are doing. Never at any period in history has the opportunity been so great to make your message heard – with some careful planning and creative execution, you can create that buzz you need to make the launch of your idea, venture or project, a hit.
There’s no more disputing it. Social networks are the new norm in the world of marketing. Many wondered five years ago whether Facebook and Twitter would be the next MySpace, but since that time we have continued to see an explosion of growth across all age segments in the usage of social networks. While it’s hard to foresee exactly how things will shake out over the next few years, one thing is for certain, social networks will drive commerce and change the entire business landscape, so you better start learning to tap into that power sooner rather than later.
While some brands may be having a lot of success using Facebook, others Twitter, and maybe others with the newly launched Google+, the key is to understand the fundamentals behind your social strategy. After all, what is social media all about?
Social media is about creating a medium that facilitates real dialogue between engaged people from around the world. Yes we are talking about real engagement. And that engagement is influencing hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people into making decisions in their daily lives. Whether the topic is politics, the environment, technology or whatever, people from around the world are uniting themselves around brands, topics and trends to figure out how to get more of what they want and less of what they don’t want.
What is so amazing about the social networks is how global they truly are. If Facebook has over 700 million users with a growth rate of approximately 750,000 new users everyday, that’s like adding a whole city worth of people to a giant social web. Twitter, with its over 200 million users, 50 million of whom login daily, is the proxy for a plethora of conversations all organized around a simple hashtag (#). Like streams of consciousness, people are logging in from every corner of the world to have their say of things should be.
So how do you make these networks work for you?
With millions logging in daily to converse about everything under the sun, it’s about finding the conversations that are salient to your business or brand, and becoming relevant in the conversation. With the social networks, you can’t fake it – there’s no flying under the radar pretending you are someone you are not just to slip a quick pro-you sound byte into the conversation. Either you bring something to the table and become a part of the conversation, or you’ll be watching as someone else does.
The key to tapping into the epicenters of the action is to know how to find out what people are talking about. And the best place to start is with keywords. Take a word, or phrase, that is relevant to your business, put a hashtag (#) in front of it and type it into Twitter. As an example, let’s say that you wanted to search something to do with entrepreneurs.
Type in “#entrepreneur” in Twitter and you will find out what people are saying – but keep in mind, that’s only in English. There are also people in Spain, Brazil and everywhere else in the world talking about the same subjects. Knowing a few keywords, and hopefully enough of one or two languages to be able to participate in a conversation, can help your company become part of the “entrepreneur” conversation globally.
What you will find, as your searches become more refined, is incredible sharing of knowledge and insights that span globally across borders, time zones and cultures. Suddenly, you may find out that someone in some market you have never thought of is looking for exactly the product you are selling. And that’s a powerful realization.
Overall, social networks are exploding across the world as people look for new ways to connect with what matters most to them in life. As a brand, knowing how to get involved in this global phenomenon is something that will some getting used to, but needs to be done in order to stay in business over the long term. In today’s world, going global has never been more simplified. Now its time to go do it!
To say that social media is disrupting industries worldwide would be an understatement. But just how deep does the social vein run and what impact will that have on future business models? In this blog post, we will explore that question in order to determine the power that social media has to alter verticals worldwide and what it means for businesses everywhere.
In the video footage above, taken from the 2010 Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shares his vision for the next generation of businesses, which he thinks will be built around people. According to Zuckerberg (17:58 of video):
“I think that over 5 years most industries are going to get rethought to be social and designed around people.”
According to his thesis, social media will be the catalyst that drives a major shift in the way business is done globally. He uses the example of Facebook Photos, which was built in a couple months by a few Facebook Engineers and was able to overtake Flickr because of one simple feature set – social integration. Zuckerberg states that “a social version of anything will outperform any other version,”; and he may have a point.
Pushing aside the fact that the Facebook CEO would have an obvious bias on this topic, there is a strong case to be made that the difference between now and any other other time in the history of business is the disruptive potential of social media. The almost instantaneous proliferation of information and data from person to person, network to network, has the potential to transform verticals around the world almost overnight.
The question is not so much if socially-based business models will transform industries worldwide, but when, where and how. The seismic social shift is already beginning in areas like fashion and design, but it will be interesting to see social business models that have a much larger societal impact. Given that we may be at only the beginning of the social media wave, it may take some time, but you can bet that the impact will be profound and that anyone who doesn’t get on board soon will be left in the dust.
+ Download a copy of the business model canvas (click here)
Google has done to competitive analysis what the IPod did to music: revolutionized it. Finding competitors has never been easier thanks to the savvy web spiders Google employs. But finding out who your competitors are is only one side of the story, which is why in this blog we will look at how social media takes competitive analysis to the next level.
Knowing your competition is as important for starting a new business as tying your shoes before a marathon. You won’t get very far without doing it. Real knowledge about your competitors, however, comes not only from knowing who they are and what they do, but also from understanding what people think of them. And that’s where social media comes in.
While reviewing competitors websites, checking industry reports and browsing through articles can help you understand them from a macro level, social media sites can be used to glean deeper insights about what people really think.
Lets look at some of the social media sites that can kickstart the competitive analysis process:
Linked-In Answers: Linked-In announced that it had a user base of approximately 90 million at the beginning of the year. Linked-In Answers is a part of the platform where users can go to ask a specific question — in most cases these questions are answered by an expert on the topic. There are many different categories of Answers, which leads to a lot of good insights on peoples’ experiences with or knowledge of a certain industry.
Twitter: Twitter is quickly becoming the new search when it comes to people looking for products or services. By typing in a certain competitive phrase like ‘computer store’ or by using a hashtag (#) followed by a common phrase or term (ie. #laptop) you can see results that are sourced from any of Twitter’s nearly 200 million users who posted about the topic. One thing you can’t do on Twitter is people search or company search, which is why directories like Twellow and WeFollow are useful.
Facebook: About half of Facebook’s 500 million+ users go on Facebook everyday, and the average user spends about 46 minutes a day on the site. With that much information being shared, you can imagine that there is some great information being posted. Simply by looking for company pages where people can ‘Like’ a business and post comments, you can learn a lot about your competitors and how they do business.
Quora: undoubtedly the most talked about new social network of 2010, Quora is all about Q&A. If you have a question, you can go on to Quora and ask it, as long as someone has not asked a similar question previously. Quora differs from Linked-In Answers in terms of style and the way answers are aggregated, but the overall theme is quite similar. Quora also breaks down its answers into four major topics, making it easier to research certain industries (ie. anything to do with technology).
Niche Sites: Many niche sites have emerged that are less about quantity and more about quality. These sites are often comprised of a group of individuals who are passionate about a certain subject and have organized themselves into a community. These sites are heavily moderated to prevent spam, meaning that most of the answers are well thought out and relevant to the topic. In most cases, you have to be accepted as a member by site moderators, so you need to ensure that you can put in as much as you take out if you are approaching one of these sites.
Overall, the exploding popularity of social media is making it easier to find timely, relevant information about just about everything, including the competition. Take advantage of the opportunity to go beyond simply looking what a competitor writes on their website by digging into the sites where the conversations are happening.
If anybody knows of any other social media sites to facilitate this process, let us know!