Social Business Design: Birth of a New Industry

La Défense

New industry sectors coalesce and crystallize as a result of a number of factors converging.

In the case of Social Business Design this is an area that has been bubbling under for about 18 months with a range of different tags, such as Enterprise 2.0, but it never really gelled together. There were differences of opinion on who the market was, how to approach it and what exactly did it constitute. Was it simply setting up a corporate blog, an internal wiki and a customer forum or was there more to this area?

Charlene Li’s book Groundswell went a long way towards gathering impetus behind this new industry sector, but still the gel wasn’t quite there. When she left Forrester and set up the Altimeter Group people took notice, but their attention wasn’t galvanized.

And then Jeremiah Oywang left Forrester as well and joined Charlene. People started to sit up and really take notice – they were primed for something to happen. Around about the same time David Armano, an exec with the Dachis Group gave a presentation at the Social Fresh conference titled Social Business by Design. The industry now had a moniker to focus around.

The key inflection point though came last week when Dachis acquired Headshift. Much has already been written about this and most industry commentators will agree with the following tweet from @amayfield:

Headshift/Dachis is massively significant. Not marketing…this is a new sector shaping up: social business.

The Social Business Design meme is now starting to spread rapidly courtesy of one of the classic tenets of this industry: sharing. David Armano had placed his deck of slides on Slideshare two weeks ago. It has since been featured on Slideshare’s new “hot on Twitter” section and is gaining a lot more viewers.

This depth of attention around the topic is rapidly turning to more widespread adoption of the term, both by potential industry practitioners and by their potential clients. An industry is born.

What is Social Business Design?

Anne McCrossan has delivered a cogent summary of this arena:

Social business design sits at the intersection of organizational development and marketing, and can loosely be described as the practice of developing communities of engagement to develop ideas, activities and outputs for commercial and social benefit.

As organizations adopt the principles of social business design, intangible, soft assets like brand value, purpose, human resources, processes and capabilities come to the fore. Social business design is about engendering involvement and it’s inbound.

Slightly differently, marketing services and ‘broadcast’ media operate on the basis the message and transaction are the means to the end. Marketing services communicate primarily outbound.

Her entire post is pure gold and I highly recommend anyone who has read this far to jump over to her site and continue reading.

You will be hearing a lot more on the topic of Social Business Design and I will aim to synthesise and analyze as much of it as I can.

ADDED: Gaurav Mishra has posted a comprehensive summary of this burgeoning space and I wanted to point to his thoughts as they complement the thread in this post.

The key take out, for me, from his comments are that both Altimeter and Dachis focus on using emerging social technologies for transforming businesses, instead of merely reaching out to customers.

This is a salient point. As the social technologies shift, so can the emphasis that an agency puts in those technologies. For example, Augmented Reality is still in its early infancy as a technology and a few years out from being of use within the enterprise. However, when it does mature as a technology it will have an immense impact, until then it is on all of our watchlists, but it’s not worth confusing clients with until it matures somewhat.

[picture courtesy of JArous]

5 ways influence is rapidly changing the media and advertisting landscapes

On Tuesday I’ll be co-chairing the Future of Influence Summit together with Ross Dawson. It’s an extremely topical area as we are rapidly seeing a complete shift in the media arena as a result of innovations in influence. I personally predict that the whole concept of an advertising industry is about to be turned on its head and that this is already more well advanced than many industry players are aware of.

Ross has pointed to five key trends that are the leading edge of this transformation:

1. The democratization of influence

It used to be that influence was a direct result of a person’s placement on some form of elevated platform – the CEO of a multinational, politician or a journalist with a media empire backing them.

These folks are still heard, but more and more voices of influence are emerging from completely left of field. Tools such as Twitter have liberated the great unwashed masses. Anyone can start a movement and many are.

2. Quantifying influence

How well a brand campaign runs has always been one of the advertising industries great smoke and mirror acts. No more. Influence is becoming far more measurable. In fact, as Ross points out, there will be more metrics for individual influence as well and these will be used as for more accurate guide to who we hire and do business with.

3. Individual reputation trumps corporate influence

We are more likely to trust a company based on the reputation of the individuals running it than ever before. Steve Jobs drives Apple’s influence. Jeremiah Oywang’s move from Forrester to The Altimeter Group was more about him as a key influencer than about Forrester.

4. Influence is the new media

We listen to those who we trust, we listen to those who deliver us value. If a newspaper continuously delivers news items well after you’ve digested them from your personal newsfeed, the newspaper’s influence over you will decrease significantly. Ross sums this up well – publishing itself won’t get an audience – only influencers will create views.

5. The influence economy is born

Again, Ross has this covered: the $550 billion advertising industry may be transformed.

I’m really looking forward to the conversation next week.

The New Deconomy: Advertising Under Siege?

Yesterday I mosied around the Sydney ad:tech conference. Being in that wonderfully liberating point of time of seeking my next windmill to tilt at I figured it to be a worthy destination.

My first impression, after factoring in the change of venue from last year, was that it was much subdued. Bearing in mind how photographers see things in capture frames, I spoke with one of the photogs doing the rounds and she had the most wonderful comment which totally summed up the atmosphere.

Her takeout was that she was reticent to take pictures of speakers whilst their slides painted doom and gloom backdrops. She kept finding herself hesitating and waiting for more upbeat slides – which didn’t often materialise.

Last year there was almost a feeling of whimsical discovery – ad execs and marketers in a discovery comfort zone: “tell me again how social media works?”. This year – a totally different picture: “we’ve gotta figure a way to make money from this social media stuff”.

I was also somewhat bemused by the rise of Twitter across the conference consciousness. It was definitely the tech word of the day – much like Google was on everyone’s lips a few years back. Expect a Twitter consultant or two to pop up near you soon. It’s the new SEO in the new Deconomy.

Seriously though, the new epiphany for an industry that is increasingly under pressure, will soon be around engagement and I suspect there to be a panel or more at next year’s event on this topic.

Social Network User-Placed Videos Get Auditude With MySpace and MTV

Palo Alto-based Auditude is a startup focused on identifying videos, and parts of videos, uploaded to the web and then overlaying ads within these clips. They’ve amassed a database of over 250 million videos and 4 years of TV content and have now done a deal with MySpace and MTV that will allow these parties to monetize the videos being uploaded by MySpace users.

As MySpace’s president of sales and marketing is quoted as saying in the LA Times, “This is a game changer.”

No longer are the content players swimming against the tide – if this holds as a precedent, we should see a complete about face and some strong strokes as they all try to pull ahead in the race to monetize their content.

Web Advertising Rates Cross The Rubicon

Ad-optimizer, The Rubicon Project has reported that CPMs dropped by 11% from Q2 to Q3 across their advertiser and publisher networks.

Nicholas Carlson, writing for the Silicon Alley Insider notes that:

Particularly hard hit: social networks (down 3% q/q), young adult (down 8% q/q), music and entertainment sites. News and reference sites actually saw a 36 percent increase.

Is Facebook Desperately Seeking Monetization?

Do we need a new business model for monetizing on the Internet?

Barry Diller, while being interviewed by the WSJ on the break up of IAC, pointed out that social-networking advertising is currently a big headache and methods are yet to be found to make it effective –

will that get figured out? I absolutely believe it will. What form will it take? Absolutely unknown.

It seems Facebook is still grappling with the right algorithm as well. The company’s COO and ex-Googler, Sheryl Sandberg stated at the American Magazine Conference in San Francisco yesterday –

“The monetization question on the web is a very big and open one.”

The holy grail, according to her, is “demand generation” and she’s calling for a new model and metrics.

John Furrier believes Sheryl needs to focus more on being a product leader and landing key business development deals – both things that MySpace has excelled at – rather than worrying now about monetizing.

I’m not quite with John yet. I believe that Facebook, and others in the industry, should be starting to think very seriously about what business model they follow.

We are definitely entering a phase when advertising growth slows. I’ve had this view corroborated by a number of very smart people on Sand Hill Road, including folks like Jeremy Liew at Lightspeed Venture Partners, and companies who totally rely on advertising for revenue are going to do it tougher for a while.

LookSmart Shuffles The Board

Nasdaq-listed online advertising and performance solutions provider LookSmart (LOOK) has appointed Mark Sanders as Chair of the Board.

Mark has served on the former Australian company’s board since 2003. He replaces Edward West, who is CEO and President, in a move aimed at beefing up the company’s corporate governance regime.

The San Francisco-based company’s shares were down 1.28%.

Metarand Unplugged: Matthew Colebourne, CEO of coComment On Markets As Conversations

In this session of Metarand Unplugged, we talk with the CEO of Geneva based coComment, Matthew Colebourne.

As an aggregator of millions of comments across the web, Matt has a good understanding of how brands are beginning to grok that markets are conversations and that there is a huge opportunity to build deeper brand engagement through conversations.

Stream the mp3:


Stream the Session in Quicktime:


Playboy Embraces Social Media

Playboy has dived head first into the social media arena, setting up partnerships with Break, Howcast, Metacafe, Veoh and YouTube.

The entertainment-lifestyle brand sees this move as a great way to leverage off of the success of “The Girls Next Door” and create the Playboy Audience Network.

Mixercast will also be developing ad-supported content and contest widgets for use on the network, which will move to short-form content franchises. This suite of marketing and interactive content widgets will be used to extend Playboy-branded experiences to social networks and also to blogs and start pages.

A talent search is currently underway on YouTube to find the 55th Anniversary Playmate.

Playboy is aiming to create more of the interactive engagement in their digital business that they’ve achieved through the high-touch world of parties, events, location-based entertainment venues, and retail stores.

Twitter Has Steady 20% Daily Active User Rate

Twitter has doubled in size over the past nine months. From one million total users to two million.

What’s really interesting, though, is that it has kept a steady number of active users over this time: 20%.

This is a really high DAU rate and points to a depth of engagement not found, for example on Facebook apps. Most apps on Facebook have a DAU in the 1-2% range [there are exceptions, of course, like the massively mulitplayer game Imperial Galaxy – DAUs have reached as high as 30%].

I’m sure both the rate of growth and the level of engagement are factoring heavily in the current financing round Twitter is going through.

My current favorite Twitter apps:

* Twhirl, an Adobe Air-based Twitter interface, recently acquired by Seesmic;

* Twinkle, an iPhone app that taps into other Twinkle users in a specified radius – great for swarming.

[via Techcrunch, disclosure: I am Chairman of Creative Enclave, the makers of Imperial Galaxy]