Love is everything.

4 04 2010

The other day I was sitting on a patio at a local coffee joint and watching people walk by (in a totally non-creepy way!). It was the first day of spring in Toronto, love seemed to be in the air (this won’t get any cheesier I promise) and I couldn’t help but wonder what made relationships tick.  At that very instant, I was struck by a profile on tribe.net. This was the profile of “Love is Everything“. I was amazed at how many friends Frank (the dude behind the profile) had – over 14,000! As I spent some time going through his page on Tribe I realized some critical things –

a. Frank figured out what his brand stands for, but he didn’t stop at that. Most importantly, he found a way to translate his brand promise into a cause worth pursuing.

b. Frank is truly authentic! He solely focuses on advancing his message through posts that add value to the community. He does this by giving his community content that furthers the cause.

c. Frank isn’t obsessed with himself. In fact, he hardly talks about himself on his profile.

In today’s digital economy, companies absolutely need to engage and involve their customer communities if they want to regain their business. Unfortunately, just having a great brand and brand promise is not sufficient.

A few days ago, John Bell blogged on the “Utility Brief”. I’d like to leave you with a quote from his article. Hopefully you’ll ponder over this post and share your thoughts.

“Today, consumers want their brands to deliver more value through utility, entertainment or information (the latter two are really just forms of utility). They want high quality products and services but expect brands to go beyond that to keep them as customers or to at least earn their advocacy.”

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Personal Empowerment and Community Building through Social Media

23 03 2010

Source: Flickr: Franco Folini "Graffiti on a truck: renuer"

Throughout history, the development of technology has always sparked counter-cultural movements that have looked to subvert popular culture and societal norms.

Many of these movements were inspired by the situationist movement of the 1960s. However, all these movements did have 2 common underlying motives. They all looked to improve personal empowerment and encouraged the building and growth of communities.

One such movement led to the use of print media to create the “Whole Earth Catalog“. This catalog promoted openness, user-generated content (yes!..back in the late 60s) and stood for the democratization of information and collective consciousness. Out of this catalog was born a message board called Whole Earth Lectronic Link (WELL) in 1985. This online message board looked to again subvert culture by attempting to use technological tools (initially built for societal control) to bring about Personal Empowerment and a sense of community. Of course, I don’t need to remind you that the same underlying motives form the foundation of Social Media and the web 2.0 world as we know it.

I therefore strongly feel the success of innovation in the Social Media world will be heavily dependent on whether or not newer ideas take the fulfillment of these very motives/ideals a step further. Yes, I know there are many other factors that will influence success, but I believe that these cultural motives are critical to laying a foundation that can withstand growth.

I think a good example is Foursquare (and of course other similar location based services) because it looks to improve personal empowerment by giving businesses the ability to better cater to their customers’ needs. Are there other examples of innovation in social media that adhere to these two principles? Your input will make this post and my follow-up a lot more interesting.

References: www.virtualcampfire.org

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