Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Will There Be a Dot Com Bust 2.0?

The question of a potential dot com bust 2.0 has been on my mind for some time. Today you can't throw a stone without hitting some type of new niche social network or start up SaaS.

An example would be Artie Isaac's SpeakerSite. This network recently launched and already almost 700 members who have bought into a platform to connect speakers with audiences at events.

And if you're so inclined, you can do even visit Ning and start your own niche community without too much trouble at all.

Anyone can build groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter. We can start blogs on any topic we choose. And what's more? There's enough people on the web today that you can find readers who will be interested in just about any fancy you choose to write on.

All this is too cool. But I wonder - will web 2.0 come crashing down similar to the dot com bust almost a decade ago?

In a conversation this week with @DanHarris, a tenured technology guru, I posed the question: So do you think we'll see a dot com bust 2.0?

Dan didn't think so and commented that a major component in the dot com bust of the 90's was related to a lack of infrastructure to support the boom. There simply was just not enough bandwidth to keep up the exponential growth of start web companies and the high demand drove the cost of starting up through the roof. The risk associated with failure was high and extremely costly.

Today we've become much wiser and have more resources available at a fraction of the cost. Failure happens every day, and then new concepts are born again, and the ball keeps rolling.

But Seth Godin writes an interesting perspective, warning us that the internet is almost full. And by almost full he means that we are so bombarded by so many messages online - from social networks to blogs to email et. al. - that in a sense we, as consumers of the content are full.

This Happend to TV
How many times do you watch a commercial during your favorite tv show, and not two minutes after the spot has aired, you can't seem to remember the brand or product that the ad was pushing?

We've been bombarded by so many messages over the years via traditional media like television, print and radio that, while these outlets can still be effective means of persuasion when integrated as part of a larger strategy, a huge majority of the messages just don't stick. We stare at the box, glazed over as the content bounces off of our face.

But will history repeat itself? Will the social web (and the web in general for that matter) follow the same pattern of over saturation. Maybe we're already there or getting close. It's tough to keep up with all your favorite blogs. Just keeping tabs on your facebook friends can take hours, even if you only have a few hundred connections.

What do you think?

Worst case scenario: If there were to be a dot com bust 2.0, what would it look like? Would it be challenges with the technology or our ability to consume the messages it delivers?

Photo Credit: mathewingram.com/work

How localized content can build a global audience - iMediaConnection.com

Sheila Mooney, Director of Content Development
for Nurun, offers some very though provoking ideas on generating localized content to build a global audience for brands. The article is absolutely worth a read and discusses the strategic approach to content in relation to context, taking in factors such as cultural nuances, as well as technological factors like bandwidth.

What are your thoughts on her approach?

Consumers will seek out brand content, but only if it appeals to them on a local and personal level. That's why your content strategy needs to factor in context as well.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Social Media Strategy: A Business Development Perspective

Over a cup of Starbucks with @heycrane this morning, we landed on the subject of discussing different methods that sales and business development gurus can employ on various forms of social media to connect with more people and subsequently, more opportunities to someday sell their stuff.

Sure, not everyone sells products or services. But Just about everyone sells something - ideas, their personal brand, their knowledge and experience, etc.

There are so many platforms and tactics and strategies that will help generate more relationships online. But will business transactions actually happen via social media? Probably not. That was never the intention of web 2.0 IMHO.

This confusion regarding the objectives of the social media universe may be one of the reasons that a fair amount of C-level executives have trouble buying into social networking as a viable alternative to the more traditional approach of "smile and dial" cold calling. In reality, closing business happens in face to face or voice to voice interactions, not online.

C-Levels who are weary of social media applications in business should consider the amount of time and resources that can be saved by having their sales force approach prospects on platforms where the prospects have "opted in" and are receptive to the messages coming their way. Older mediums, like phone and email for example, deliver messages to end users without the garnering their permission. It makes sense then that the mediums that are not in a sense permission-based, would yield lower conversion rates.

You might try this
Here is a snapshot of one approach I use that has allowed me to capitalize on the reach and and available data present on social platforms. Is this the only way to do it? Heck no. But does it help open doorways to relationship selling? Absolutely!

Start on Twitter
Micro blogging in itself delivers speed and efficiency to the basic concepts of networking - actually, I believe that is it one of the MOST effective ways to network. I use the cocktail party analogy. Picture the Twitterverse as an online networking event that is open 24/7 and free for all to attend. You can come and leave the room as you wish, and you have the ability to make your party or circle of conversation as large or as small as you like.

I'm becoming a proponent of the balanced follower vs following dynamic, i.e. an equal ratio of followers to people you follow portrays a certain sense of street credibility. Follow too many people, and you appear desperate or not fully engaged. Follow too few, and you may appear lofty or disinterested in what others have to say.

Either way, Micro blogging in general creates visibility and access to other people with lightning speed. For the sales and business development professional, not everyone you follow will be in a buying cycle at the time you connect with them, but the technology will automate the delivery of their information and may someday alert you to potential opportunities as they become relevant to the user on the other end.

Tip: So many people get caught up on the technology itself, that we sometimes forget the basic rules of networking:

  • Don't be pushy. People will ask you for advice when they need it.
  • Offer to give, give, give and someday you might just receive something back. But don't go in expecting to receive anything.
  • Be legit and honest and ask questions. People will tune you out if push your ideas too hard. Rather, blog about your ideas and then invite the Twitterverse to read if their interested.
  • Be a connector - listen to what people REALLY need and try to connect them with someone who can deliver it to them, even if it's not your product or service.
  • Talk about more than just what your selling. Take down your guard. Show people who you really are. This means talking about more than just work and careers and objectives.
Transitioning the relationship to a profile-based platform
What Twitter does not deliver is very in depth information on the individual. That's done on purpose. Yes, there are limited user profiles available, and reading peoples Tweets can help frame up background and situations, but more relevant background data can be found robust profile-based networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and the barrage of niche networks out there.

How many of you ever collected baseball cards when you were a kid? Platforms with robust profile functions are really the same concept. As on baseball cards, these networks provide the stats. The difference is that these stats provide a valuable lens into who the other user is, their background, their personality and interests, how they communicate with contacts and friends, etc. Social media has made it possible to learn more than just a batting average so make use of the data that's there. What's more? The data comes straight from the user themselves and can be regularly updated. Keeping tabs on RSS feeds makes it painless to keep tabs on all of this intelligence as the new information comes in. TweetDeck helps as well.

All that said, social media professionals will need to make a gut feeling call as to when it is appropriate to suggest connecting on other networks.

Tip: Having dialog with a potential prospect on Twitter? Suggest that you connect with them elsewhere so you can learn more about each other. Ask them what networks they prefer and how they use them. It's likely that if they are on Twitter, they started out on social media on another platform.

Now take it offline

I strongly believe that social media will never replace a handshake. The platforms are merely tools that deliver more efficient ways to gather information and connect people to people.

Tip: The savviest of sellers will recognize when it is time to take the conversations offline and create face-to-face or phone dialog. Social media creates the opportunity to open those doors, but cyberspace will never replace having a cup of coffee and bouncing ideas of a real human being.

So there you have it. This is just one approach to playing the social media game that I've been using.

What are you doing to find success on social media? Are you willing to share it on Chasing Change?

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