Miro Slodki: The Measurement of Whispers

Doesn’t it happen to you?  Once in a while, you have the best of intentions about dealing with all of those things on your B-list of priorities and then along comes a blog post or a link to an article that hijacks your entire morning because it contains deep context for you.

Is that how we experience information cascades?

Here is a post by Miro Slodki that hijacked my morning.  The links to research alone make his post a great book mark.

You will understand a lot more about how cascades work after reading it.

Check it out here.

Should I Change My Avatar? A Social Media Cultural Trip

Please click on this link & wiegh in.

Richard Florida, Roger Martin & Barry Wellman all have an opinion, I would like you to express yours!

UPDATE: five to six hours later …

So I weaved conformity & nonconformity, MySpace, Twitter & Facebook culture, innovation & creativity, the struggling artist/entrepreneur, Richard Florida & Roger Martin’s prescription for the Ontario economy & Barry Wellman’s thesis of networked individualism into one post http://bit.ly/utM1.

I had hoped it was a social media experience.  As in, are you experienced? This music should really be playing in the background while you review this.  Memetic Brand blog readers won’t be really entertained until they have the Hendrix, the MySpace blog post, the Florida post & and Wellman paper all open at the same time :) .

Some pretty interesting results.

It looks like I lost 30 followers immediately upon posting the question to twitter.

Qwitter reports that this tweet two hours before the time of notifications is the tweet that lost them. But the time of posting the question, “Should I Change My Avatar” with a link to the post & the time of receipt from emails from Qwitter are almost the same.  Has anyone else noticed Qwitter is not accurate?

It was a shameful question to ask or folks are just fed up my drivel.  Either way, obviously a notable breach of culture.

The link in the twitter post received quite a bit of attention, http://bit.ly/info/utM1.  Over 60 clicks.  So a lot more people read the post than qwit.

Both the readers & qwitters are about half from Canada & the United States.  Dunno if you can make a cultural observation from this?

Thanks to a few friends who played the game and spoke up on the side of reason.

I have changed my avatar.

Does this tell you more or less about me?

I can’t tell the difference.  Can you tell the difference?

(Forget for a moment that the former avatar was crafted 111 years ago, in another medium, for a different application :)

In any event, I do hope that this has been an interesting experience in social media.

I hope that we can all relate to each other better now.

Clearly I should have done this a long time ago.

Digg, Memes, Karl Rove & the Worst President … sparked @ U of T

Would the University of Toronto grad student who sparked this post by Rich Webster, which led to this post by John Gaynard please get in touch with me.  Perhaps you would like to write a guest post here.

Rich & John … we would like to welcome your guest posts here as well.

Natural Selection in network emergence

I have also posted this with some comments over at www.socialcapitalvalueadd.com because it is a great discussion of how network thinking is emerging as a dominant form in the 21st century.

From about the 3:38 point in the video to 7:30 Barabási and Fowler have a focused discussion on the differences between social & tech networks and the role of natural selection in the formation & structure of social networks.

These are four highly recommended minutes for anyone working towards the understanding of memetic brand.

Hat tip to Valdis Krebs for sharing this item and these related links:

The genes in your congeniality:  Researchers identify genetic influence in social networks.

The PDF of the full paper.


Seedmagazine.com The Seed Salon

The transcript is here.

Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

Hat tip to Dallas Knight (perhaps an alias? UPDATE: not an alias, what memetically gifted parents!) also known as starpath for turning us on to this great video (being promoted) by fellow Canuck Michelle Hoyle aka Eingang.

UPDATE: Note from Martin’s comment below, who’s blog is called Ed techie, as in education techie: Actually it’s mine (see http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2008/10/a-twitter-love-song.html), not Michelle’s, she’s probably been plugging it for me though, and I used a lot of her tweets in the vid. Thx for the plug, I’d happily settle for 10,000!)

What do you think are the highlights or new insights from the video? Please jot them in the comments below and I will move them up into this post to flesh it out.

As I publish this, the video on YouTube has only been viewed 264 times.  I predict 10,000 views by next Monday time that I look.

Check out the rest of the Why Twitter Matters series that I have been putting together:

Why Twitter Matters #1: Follow me, Follow You on Twitter

Why Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos

Why Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter

Why Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Why Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Comment, Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

Twitter Matters #7: Twitter Bot Auto-Debate

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 – an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 – Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”

Memetic Brand & Social Capital Value Add start socializing

Is this like dating?  I have some well planned and thought through moves that I have played over a million times in my mind but it is all a bit different when you are out there playing the field.  Will private moments be reconciled with public pronouncements? Will we score?

Now that Tim Kitchin & I have decided to take our chats at the intersection of social capital and brands public, I think that I am starting to have some insight into how Whuffie expert Tara Hunt and open source leader Chris Messina felt during their online adventure.

Where will this lead?

Where will this lead?

Maybe I am a bit like Chandler Bing?  Leading with some boyish humour.  Just trying to make the nitty gritty of connecting social media to corporate value a lot more entertaining than it really is.

In any event, what is certain is that while I am full of wonder about where this tangent will lead and can’t promise what “we will” do, I am confident that Tim is a credible thought leader on brands.  I am honoured that he is interested in having these public chats.  Even if I throw in some high jinks, Social Capital Value Add and memetic brand will be better from this exchange.  Along the way there will be something of interest to provoke your thinking or at least a smile.

“Towards Social Branding”, Tim’s post to open this series, starts out with some discussion about brand valuation and the merits of stock values correlating to underlying values.  During this time of financial turmoil it may be popular to throw the corporation as a form of organisation under the bus along with the functioning of capital markets, but at the risk of attracting the ire of the double bottom line set, I am convinced that like it or not, the corporation is a very resilient idea and markets suss out efficiency.

You can spend time questioning markets and trying to impose motives beyond profit on the corporation like arbitrarily selected social “good”.  Social Capital Value Add is not preoccupied with this. As a farmer’s son, I begin from the basis that I can not change nature.  Self interest is undeniable, people trade and, faster than most individuals, the corporation is adapting to new forms of making meaning that have emerged since broadband overtook slower forms of connection.  The corporation will be around, purely motivated by profit, long after I am dust.

Brand valuation was developed to try to bring insight into part of the sources of stable future earnings of the corporation.  That is why it is, and will continue to be, an important part of the haggling over what a corporation (or a product line) is worth to buyers and seller.

Brand valuation is product centric.  It is designed to get a handle on any enduring difference between what a product costs to produce and the price it may command from buyers.  There are many sources (not just brand) of the ability to maintain margins.  They add up to: the buyers’ perception of the product value is greater than the cost of delivering it (including cost of capital).

Broadcast media – from packaging to television – emerged as the dominate method for the corporation and its agents to shape common perception (in the pursuit of profit).  Impact on perception was unbalanced by the articulation of most insiders and virtually all outsiders (the little guys) because broadcast media required lots of capital to emit and has traditionally out scaled (drowned out) alternative interpretations.  In this context attributing intangible value to an idea like brand, i.e. a form of broadcast media, makes sense.

The problem is that brand has become a golden hammer of corporate management.  There is no shortage of conversation about what brands “do”.  Stories, cues, symbols all remain vital parts of value creation.  But when Tim starts talking about brand loyalty or another fellow I respect, Stephen Byrne asks me about participant marketing or brand advocacy, I start to worry that we might be getting off the point.

Do brands invent?

I think there is a point when the term brand gets applied too widely.  Everything looks pink through rose coloured glasses.

We have entered an era where broadcast’s ability to dominate perception is quickly eroding. (Update, Dec. 3: Tom O’Brien makes this point in a very practical way.) To have insight into stable future earnings in an era where common perception is formed by millions of competing channels (i.e. broadband empowered people) I think we will uncover new keys to productivity and value defense and creation if we open up an equally vital examination of the structural factors that underlie the content layer.

Why confuse the examination of a new media form that is a product of connection by attempting to contort the notion of brand, which is rooted in broadcast?

Lots of smart people like Nan Lin, Olav Sorenson, Brian Uzzi, Barry Wellman, Tom Snijders, Martin Van Der Gaag and Matt Jackson have established ways to describe and analyze connections between people also known as social networks.  Social capital describes the resources that reside in these networks and I think social media are artifacts of a new scaled up form of it.

If, in the new context of the networked era we are looking for new competitive advantage as we consider the content layer, then I have found the established work of Richard Dawkins, Susan Blackmore and Ben Mack (who used the term memetic brand first in a powerpoint presentation that I can no longer find online) and other replicators of memetic theories to encompass the content layer but also provoke new insight into the structural factors that cause ideas to spread.

Let’s give the brand establishment the day off.  Sorry Tim, Social Capital Value Add is not “a prescription for the measurement of brand value”.  I have not proposed it to compete with or replace brand valuation, I think it is a useful compliment to brand valuation.  It is proposed to measure scaled up forms of social capital that are an important corporate asset distinct from brand.  For example, if I pick up a great idea or contact like Kim Patrick Kobza at Verna Allee & John Maloney’s value networks LinkedIn group, why should we use “brand” to describe that transaction?

Having said all of this, Tim is bang on in noting “a fundamental change in the way that brands drive value” due to the emergence of scaled up forms of social capital.  I think bouncing these related concepts back and forth will help all of us understand them.

Tim & I are committed to this effort over a series of posts ahead.  We hope our opening two posts are received as an invitation to others to link up their thinking.  In addition to the many esteemed thinkers referred to above, Chris Brogan and Julian Smith have a related manifesto and book in the works. Maybe they already have this Whuffie thing figured out in Cory Doctorow’s Magic Kingdom? Tim O’Reilly has been tweeting it up about social capital lately.   Jonathan Salem Baskin says Branding Only Works on Cattle.

Feel free to add a tweet or post and please use “SoCap&Brand” as a tag.  For example, I hope that Tom Chapman &/or his peeps over at www.socialmediatoday.com add the SoCap&Brand tag to this related post:

Social Capital and building a quality social graph. (I hate registering to leave comments by the way!)

What are the boundaries between social capital management and brand management?

Tim?

The Art of Memetic by Wes Unruh & Edward Wilson

Hey Wes & Edward!  What happened to that conversation that we were having?

All – click below to get Wes & Edward’s book:

The Art of Memetics: Memes, Meme Theory, Memetic Marketing

Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Okay, now seriously!  It is nice to have amusing examples like the one below of how a meme can spread via twitter.

Pointing out a memetic trigger like a “violation of viewing habits” is valuable to this idea of memetic brand building.

But check out this, perhaps more complex example, of twitter being at the heart of the development of shared perception.  Click here to see the whole discussion.

vibemetrix and JBordeaux could of had a discussion like this in person, over the telephone, via email or IM.  But they never knew each other until this conversation broke out.

a chat about social capital

a chat about social capital

That is significant in a number of ways.

1. Their Twitter use made their interests and expertise findable so that they could quickly and easily explore the idea together.

2. Twitter made their exchange findable by others, who could quickly add to the development of the idea or at least follow their thinking.

3. Many who were not trying to find the related discussion have been “infected” with the thinking because they are followers of the users involved in the exchange.  In this case, that may have added up to thousands, with little or no effort on behalf of the original thinkers.  Even though these two users are working at the genesis of an idea, they are thought leaders.

Whether observers accept or reject their thinking is one thing.  The cool point is that they don’t have to go through that thinking learning curve in the same way for themselves.  They have a memetic blueprint to work forward with.

I think there are many productivity breakthroughs to explore along these lines that we are only beginning to see the potential of.

I would be interested in hearing thoughts on why Twitter seems more exciting and/or useful than forums?  Forums also enable people to find topics and related discussions but they always frustrate the hell out of me.  I expect to find what I am looking for, but never can.

Maybe it is because on Twitter, I find what I am not looking for and it is related discussion?

Great comment below by Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America re: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

Update:

I have turned my evolving reflections about twitter into a series of posts.  Catch the other thoughts:

Why Twitter Matters #1: Follow me, Follow You on Twitter

Why Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos

Why Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter

Why Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Why Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

Twitter Matters #7: Twitter Bot Auto-Debate

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 – an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 – Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”

Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter (escalator + helicopter)

Now that I have used Twitter for a while, I am more convinced than when I started that it is an example, along with activity feeds & other microblogging platforms, of a new medium that is particularly suited for memetic branding purposes.  It is involved in the genesis of shared perception.

Picked up on twitter …

MarkusvonRoder: Demonstrating the memetic trigger “Violation of viewing habits” – the Escalopter (escalator + helicopter)

Update:

I have turned my evolving reflections about twitter into a series of posts.  Catch the other thoughts:

Why Twitter Matters #1: Follow me, Follow You on Twitter

Why Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos

Why Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Comment, Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

Why Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Why Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

Twitter Matters #7: Twitter Bot Auto-Debate

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 – an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 – Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”

Memetic Pepsi: Somewhere between Mintos & A Cure for Cancer

UPDATE, April 2010:  Could it be?  Is Pepsi listening?  What do you think of Pepsi foregoing the traditional Superbowl ad and stepping up with its REFRESH program?  For details on REFRESH catch this series by a group of my HumberPR students.  Kudos to Pepsi and Weber Shandwick.

ORIGINAL POST:

Hot selling book authors Seth Godin & Jonathan Salem Baskin, who both released manifestos in ChangeThis’ 50th issue (I was fortunate to have my manifesto released @ along with theirs), have picked up on Pepsi’s recent announcement that they are going to “pour some $1.2 billion over three years into a push that will include sweeping changes to its brands“.

Seth’s “punchline is: take the time and money and effort you’d put into an expensive logo and put them into creating a product and experience and story that people remember instead.”   He has a corner on the whole idea of making products remarkable that is well worth following.

Jonathan finds it “stunning that nobody is asking these businesses why they aren’t focusing on making cola relevant again.”  It is a great post.  Check it out. The bit that really got me noodling was:

“Use or need cases are used in technology development to identify the places and times  people might require a software product or widget.  That approach to the mechanics of consumption is based on actual experience, not imagined desires or emotional associations, so the strategy doesn’t start with brand…but certainly impacts it.”

Can we use this notion of memetic brand to get more prescriptive if we are sitting in boardrooms with folks like Pepsi?

The money quote from Introducing Social Capital Value Add would probably be a bad place to start:

“Social capital means far more to Coca-Cola than Coca-Cola means to social capital.”

Ah, that might just get you the door before you had a chance to get the account!  So perhaps it would be good to start with a little illustration of the difference between being “viral” and “memetic”.

I bet the traditional brand folks over a Coke have been counting all that “free advertising” they have been racking up since someone discovered what happens when you drop a mintos into a bottle of diet coke.  That is, after they took weeks to stop hand-wringing about what such an image does to “the brand”.

Now that is entertainment! I love it! Millions of views. Probably billions now that dudes like me are clipping it into web pages all over the internet. But is it selling Diet Coke? Hmmm …. maybe a little bit. That awareness and repetition is not likely hurting any. But I am pretty sure that this isn’t the stuff that is going to effect market share, or share of stomach or any of the other fun ways to measure soda pop.

So how about something that can be remarkable, address needs and mobilize the entire Pepsi ecosystem towards something amazing?

I am certain that there are many memetic approaches and I would very much appreciate it if you could jot down your thoughts below.  I admit it.  I am a bit stuck on this idea of a relationship between altruism and corporate motivations.

I think that I would like to present the folks at Pepsi with some case studies and trend analysis of approaches like the one the folks at TripAdvisor are taking.  I have some criticism of the execution and if TripAdvisor is still burning VC money, god bless ’em.  The trick is to go beyond feel good CSR tactics and tie this into your mission and maybe even your business model if possible.

Then maybe we could get some serious new thinking about how to change the game with Pepsi.  How about a crazy idea like committing Pepsi to being a cure for cancer?  That just popped into my head as something provocative to help reboot thinking and then, as I sifted though my reader while procrastinating on writing this post I picked up this link from June Avila on the MaRs Innovation & Commercialization Blog:

Better Beer: College Team Creating Anticancer Brew

Yes.  Still seems off the wall, but somewhere between mintos & the cure for cancer there is a better way.