I received this email recently where a business or church asked me what parts of the web they should engage with. I basically said “That’s the wrong question” because the web is people, and the question is where are your people, members, customers spending their time? And how can you empower them to connect with eachother?
The fact is proven, because after you read that aforementioned article, you will remember that I gave you the link, but you probably wont remember that the article was published by New York Times!
It’s a link economy. Read this private letter that has been edited for privacy:
Dear Church or Business,
Thank you for asking my feedback about web-segments.
In my mind there are no true “segments” for the Internet as the Internet itself is a convergence of all other media and technology. (Youtube sites are embedded on websites, Blogs form part of product or idea websites, Social Networking platforms link to my iPhone which links to Twitter which automatically updates my Blog to which I have an RSS feed which I listen to on my ipod! You see my point).
Personally I think the wrong types of questions to ask are:
– Do we really have to do this online thing?
– What specific online segments should we offer?
I think better questions are:
Where do our members or customers currently connect, spend their time, find and share information with each other and with those outside our organisation?
How can we elegantly empower and equip our members/customers to connect with each other, share and find information and connect with outsiders using all of the resources available in a timely and efficient manner?
The answer is what I call the “link economy” (must read). We now live in a link economy. It’s no longer about “content” it is about the connections or links between those contents.
You must not think of yourself as a provider of goods and services (content) rather as empowering your members and customers to link to and from each other and those around them.
Here’s an example:
“No one wants to read yesterdays paper” by Jonathon Sciola
News content used to be static. It was centralised. Was owned by the newspaper. And we had to go to it. Once news content was printed it was old and it died. Flow: News happened. It was captured. It was printed and then it died. No one wants to read yesterdays paper. News content is no longer centralised. It is no longer static. In the link economy my twitter account is the first to publish news about the Haiti earthquake bevause I am there. Newspaper now LINK to MY twitter, MY youtube video. That is how we need to view Product s segments. There are no segments. There are people.
Let me ask you, The last online news article read or video you watched? Do you remember the Business who’s page you read it on? (Or the name of the Youtube channel?) Probably not. You probably remember the person or search engine that sent you the link though? When you want to find a product or service you read in a newsletter you probably went back to the link in the newsletter rather than typing in the .com. Right? Perhaps.
The truth is your online community needs to link to and from and empower its members to link to and from every “segment” because people link to them.
(These are no necessarily the way I would segment the web. It’s an unnecessary question that necessarily needed to be answered for the customer)
– These sites are linke online business cards and offer static information
– These are interactive constantly updated websites that become a platform for people to link to/from.
Youtube – Sharing Video
Picasa – Sharing Pictures
Facebook – Social networking
Twitter – Real time news updates
Linked in – Professional networking
RSVP – Dating
Maps – hugely powerful
Newsletters – recurring solicited email
Search to be found:
– Paid Search – such as C3B
– Unpaid search – google for “product or idea macleod”
– Blogs – biographies
– Live Meetings – see livestream.com/northernconnections
– Products – “Above the Line”
– Events – Conferences
– Paypal – Online payments
– Affiliations – Talk to me about this. This is huge.
(There may also be a ninth…)
– Remote access
These are fictional case studies intended to give real context to the recipient of the real possibilities of this platform:
Jan is desperate to take her consulting business further. She knows she needs to “be online” but isn’t sure how or why or how much it will cost. Jonathon helps Jan to capture the content she already has by recording her part of phone calls where she repeatedly explains the same things to people over and over. Jan videos herself speaking to the her staff, with permission and video’s meetings. Jan publish the content online in various form and allows patients, friends and fellows to link to and from. This results in the first global webinar for her problem solving ability which she does using livestream or youtube and embedded chat. Because of the many links to and from her, and her open source community 1000s of people find her and engage with her business.
School is frustrated with the lack of online resources for prospective students. He cannot get the webmaster to get the website up to date and has to spend hours explaining the same things to people on the phone. These people rarely enroll because it wasn’t what they were looking for. In the link economy School scans publications and uploads them to his site, blog and twitter. Past students assignments and testimonies are uploaded with permission. Thousands of prospective students searching for Schools like School find the exact content they want, enroll and continue to build the platform that School has enriched.
Church uses Paypal to empower members to “SMS” their tithes during services. Weekly giving jumps 33% overnight because of small $5 tithes that people with no change were not giving. Church installs $100 Bluetooth transmitters in their auditorium so sermon MP3s, teaching notes and even pastors schedule are instantly uploaded into their phones, calendars and media libraries. Instead of having to design, print and force flyers onto its members. Church are given small, bit-sized promo videos they can easily MMS, Tweet (Twitter post) or email to their friends who desperately need the love, forgiveness and support of the Church. The church grows by 100% in 1 year.
These case studies could go on forever.
We now live in a link economy where the power of relationships, products, services, brands and ideas is NO LONGER the business or product itself but rather the LINK between people who connect with that product or brand or idea.