Posted tagged ‘Conversational Rivers’

Where is All this Activity Going?

April 26, 2008

Pundits have said that the internet is a tool, but without focus and a clear purpose, it is a tool in the hands of a monkey. Sure the monkey can use it, but without knowledge of how best to use it, the benefits of the internet and social networks can never be realized.

However, with direction and purpose, the internet can become the best thing since sliced bread. Transferring information and bringing to light items or events which are important to you can be broadcast to millions if not billions rather than to only a few (or even many) via email. The rivers of conversation converge and swell into tremendous waves of influence, but only if there is someone on the front lines of The Emerging Relationship Economy to decide which conversations most likely will bring about change.

In the past, if you weren’t happy with the service or products of, say, a restaurant, you had two options: either you could find somewhere else to go, or wind up staying at home and cooking for yourself and your family.

With the internet, there is little hope of doing that. The ubiquitousness of the net and the wide-spread adoption of hundreds of thousands of applications creates a world in which there is almost no chance of creating something similar enough to the net that it will be as widely adopted.

Early adopters of social networking websites have witnessed a proliferation of “copycat” sites which offer a slightly different flavor than the largest networking platforms. YouTube has attempted to encourage networking, as have other businesses and platforms.

The internet needs to have people who will constantly be on the lookout for new trends in the marketplace and technologies. The key is to keep your ear to the ground and be aware of what’s going on around you.

The Markets Are Changing

March 5, 2008

tre-cover.jpgWhile the benefits of the social web are innumerable, one amazing characteristic of the social web is that it is changing the marketplace. We are seeing major companies, like the cable giant Comcast, sit up and take notice of what their clients and customers are saying on within the open networks of the emerging space.

For instance, when we wrote about the poor customer service of Comcast compared with AT&T, we got a phone call from one of the Comcast execs not asking us to discontinue expressing our displeasure or to remove the post, but rather to inform us that measures are being taken to improve customer service – which, the caller admitted, has been at times “bad” – and customer satisfaction.

The social web is making companies take notice of what the masses are saying. Facebook groups like “The Conversation on Comcast” are allowing people the forums to express their thoughts about the company – both good and bad – without going to the trouble of actually creating a blog devoted to the subject.

As social networking strategist Jay Deragon says in his blog, “The social web is the new marketplace of influence fueled by conversations and relationships formed at the intersection of people and technology.” Concerns are being expressed in these conversations or “rivers” and Comcast execs are starting to take action. When other/more companies start to realize that though their customers aren’t telling them directly, they aren’t necessarily happy with services or products, The Relationship Economy will be in full swing!

The market is changing. It’s becoming better informed, better connected, and smarter than ever before. The influence is moving from the big to the small; from the companies to the individuals – one by one until it reaches Critical Mass. Is YOUR company ready for the shift?

How ’bout it?

The Importance of Blogs in The Relationship Economy

February 17, 2008

blogging2.jpgWe have all been approached by someone trying to provide us with what he thinks is the “best thing since sliced bread,” and yet we are not convinced, and therefore, he doesn’t make the sale. What is missing, here? Certainly not passion, because if someone really believes in a product or service, his/her passion will show its way through the presentation. We believe that the most important thing – next to passion – a person can have about what he is selling is a relationship with potential clients/customers.

An important step in the formation of relationships is to find and take part in the Conversational Rivers that characterize the social web.

What are Conversational Rivers?
Conversational Rivers, also known as cascading conversations, are naturally occurring conversations which are organic in nature, one-to-one, then to millions. When we read an inspirational or influential blog, we have just dipped our feet into the Conversational River. While some blogs may be nothing but random thoughts of the author or complaints about what the local cafeteria was serving for breakfast on that particular day, other blogs are authored by great minds who are changing the nature of business. The more popular blogs, often “favorited” by readers, have vast readership and influence. They are truly the Conversational Rivers, while the blogs that have only a limited readership or are usually read by those who are part of a sub-culture are nothing more than stagnant ponds.

While it can be therapeutic to write these “stagnant ponds,” authoring of such can provide little in the way of professional improvement. But how do we become influential just by writing a blog?

How do we create influence through blogging and the social web?
Find a topic or topics about which you are passionate. Remember in high school or college when we had to write on a subject about which we cared nothing about? Our writing lacked enthusiasm and zest. But when we wrote a book report or term paper on something we absolutely loved, we excelled! Blogging can be similar. If we were to pick a topic about which we feel nothing – no anger, joy, elation, or hatred, etc. – we cannot expect ourselves to turn out a novel like Hemingway or Rowling.

But if we find something about which we really feel passionate, we are on the way to forming a Cascading River of Conversation. Whether we’re writing about the latest advances of nanotechnology, the rules of grammar, the difference between craft beer and the mass-produced beer of AnheiserBusch, it really doesn’t matter, though it may affect your readership and the types of readers you have.

The key to it is consistency. In order to have a blog which provides widespread readership day-in, day-out, we must post on a regular or frequent basis. Some of the most successful bloggers post every single day, sometimes with multiple posts per day. Others post five days a week, and some only post once a week. Though we don’t have hard data providing us with the information that one who posts once a week has a fifth of the readership of someone who posts daily, it stands to reason that the search engines are more likely to “hit” on one with more frequent posts, but at the same time, it may be the subject matter covered in the blog which ultimately determines what the numbers are.

What’s the appeal of blogging?
Even thirty years ago, being “published” meant that one was either a journalist working for a newspaper or magazine, or that one had written a book which a publisher had agreed to purchase.

Today, it is much easier to be published, and though it may be increasingly difficult to get a book deal from Random House or some other big-name publisher, there are companies which will print and produce your book – for a fee. While this may be the way to go for some, there is an even easier way to be “published.” It’s called the internet.

Technically, “published” means that more than one person reads what was written. Therefore, even the casual blogger is “published.” As long as someone besides the author reads the text, we can call ourselves published. The difficulty is explaining that no, we haven’t written books, nor do we work for a newspaper or magazine, but we are still published.

Besides padding our egos, blogging allows us to influence others’ thoughts and actions without being overtly demanding or pushy. By creating connections and a frequent readership, we allow others to see inside our minds: they can learn what is really important to us. When we provide our views, whether religious, political, existential or other, we are not only revealing how we feel about certain issues, but we are in a sense swaying them to see our way. In essence, we are persuading them to see the world through our personal filter.

How do I get people to find my blog?
The internet provides us with a vast array of tools which we can use to increase the readership of our blogs. Not only can we find the sites offering to host our blogs for free, but there are also a number of sites which can increase our readership. Technorati is a site which allows the search engines to find the most recently-updated blogs. Other good sites which can boost our readership are MyBlogLog, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.

Another way to increase the number of hits to our blog is to comment on others’ blogs. When we read a good blog, or even one which is not good but makes good points, we should comment on it, specifically, and show that we understood it and either agree or disagree with the post. By doing this, as long as we don’t leave an anonymous comment, we provide others with a link to our blog!

In terms of The Relationship Economy, the creation and maintenance of a blog provides us with the means to begin fostering relationships with others. Time is our most valuable commodity, and by providing a single portal through which others can the information they need and want, we make ourselves more valuable to them. Not only does a blog provide us with the credibility that we know about what we are talking or writing, but it also shows complete strangers that we recognize the value of forming relationships via the social web.

How ‘bout it?

The Genius of Einstein Applies to the Social Web

February 2, 2008

relationshipeconomy-mid.jpgIn his recent post, Max Kalehoff of Online Spin revisits some of Nobel-prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein’s famous quotes and explains them for the marketing world of today.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” In an increasingly quant-driven marketplace, it’s easy to obsess on what you can count and disregard the rest. This paradox contributes to the confusion of aims mentioned above. To be successful, it’s critical to find alternative means of codifying and leveraging the important things you can’t count.

Social Networking Strategist Jay Deragonprovides us with daily proof of Einstein’s statement. The social web – or the use of which – enables the relationships between members of the global community. Most of the online “social” networks (Linkedin, Facebook,  and our personal favorite, Link to Nashville) provide us with quantitative results for the number of connections we have.

However, what really matters most is not the number of “friends” one has, but rather the qualityof the relationships established. The quality of relationships cannot be measured or counted. Each one of us “KNOWS” with whom we have the best relationships, but at the same time, it’s difficult to put a number on some of our top “friends” – even online.

 It can be argued that the relationships can be improved through the use of such applications as Booze Mail or Virtual Cards for example on Facebook. However, some of the best relationships we have are the ones which don’t involve APIs but rather simple emails indicating support.

As The Relationship Economy emerges, those who are most engaged with others online via the conversational rivers are the ones who are going to gain the most – both personally and professionally.

How ’bout it?