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Interruption vs collaboration and community building

Quite a few different posts recently have brought up the subject of collaboration online, time management or interruption, and community building. In fact, it’s been a quasi theme of a couple of my recent posts as well.

There are many different schools of thought on the best approach to these very subjects online, which is to be expected as the Internet as a daily part of our lives is a new thing and we humans are notoriously late adopters. So how does our desire for order and a slower pace of living as a species mesh with the influx of new technology which make it easier (supposedly) to interact and connect with people, and the inherent expectations as to immediate responses and engagement? It’s a tough one for me and I am a huge fan of the Internet, Web 2.0, and community building. It can be hard to keep up sometimes with the combination of email, IM, cell, blogs, RSS, etc… let alone get anything truly accomplished while trying to do so.

From 37Signals:

The way I see it, interruption is being mistaken for collaboration. The are drastically different things. Interruption is productivity’s biggest enemy. It sounds counterintuitive to many, but we should be working harder on staying apart and less on getting in touch too much. A healthy dose of physical and virtual distance is a good thing. If we want to be highly productive we need more alone time.

Which brings me to a question – how far will we be able to push the frontiers before we encounter the ocean (to use a bad metaphor)? How much interruption will we, as consumers, be able to stand before the inevitable push back begins? Pop-ups and telemarketing used to be okay. Not anymore. Pop-unders and interstitials are going the way of the dinasour. Music on your site… only if I turn it on. Email marketing? Hello spam and filters. It’s starting to look as if managing and responding to comments on your own blog is getting to be too much of a drain for some. How many people subscribe to RSS feeds and never check them? How many have time to visit numerous social networking sites per day? Will fatigue set in, and if so, what form will it take? Or will someone invent the next great piece of software and solve all our problems as we continue to move forward?

Not questions to which I have answers, but ones I hope to keep a look out for as we continue to grow into the Internet age.

We marketers continuously seek new and innovative ways to get the message into the right peoples hands, but we also need to constantly look forward and consider the larger societal implications inherent in ever instrusive media. Which is why, I believe, the smart marketers will need to be customer evangelists first and engage and solicit feedback from the people we are hoping to reach. They’re the only ones who can let us know if we’re starting to get too in their face with our own brand evangelism.

[photo credit: Jakob Lodwick on Flickr]

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Are 1 million people still an exclusive community?

So Harvey and Bob Weinstein have just made a significant investment in aSmallWorld.net, an exclusive, invitation-only, social network akin to LinkedIn but, umm, exclusive and with cool a-list type features. Their goal is to grow the customer base from 130k to 1 mm. Quite the leap in membership. But… how, do you find 870k more “right” people without driving away the initial 130k? There is probably a reason there are only 130k people in the network now. Because that’s how the group wants it. There’s the rub.

Do I think the Miramax boys can pull it off? Maybe. Probably end up retaining 50-60% of the base if they do it really well. But it’s hard to do it well. And takes serious planning. This isn’t like a marketing campaign for a feature film, these are your elite clients and they like it that way. It would be akin to releasing a Miramax picture in livingrooms of key influencers and their vetted friends across the world… and that’s it. This community is one of several true niche experiments in social networking online. I would have preferred to see companies partnering and participating to add value to a targeted group like this vs. a take-over; it would be much more fun (and profitable) to build from the ground up and integrate yourself and your product into the group. Testing, consumer-focused products and media, conversations, and all that jazz…

It’s about interacting with the community and listening to what they want & how you can help give it to them afterall. But we’ll see, time will tell. In the meantime, at least the players are starting to pay attention and act… let’s just hope they don’t get frustrated and give up too soon.

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The 1% (or maybe 2%) rule

From Jaffe Juice via COTC, about the sliver audience, the evangelists, the influencers, the connectors, whatever you want to call them, that account for 98-99% of your buzz and hype.

Non-profits have known this for years as they deal first hand with the power of a small subset who cares passionately, to motivate their immediate community and beyond into action. Amnesty letter writing campaigns come to mind first and foremost.

Wikipedia example:

  • 50% of all Wikipedia edits are done by 0.7% of users
  • 1.8% of users have written more than 72% of all articles

And the key take-away:

  • marketers focus on the mass – the 99%.

Well, traditionally they have been anyway…. We’ve always only had a sliver in Interactive to make due with targeting since nobody was forking over the same types of budget as mass. ;)

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