Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama: The First Social Networking President

Tomorrow is the big day. Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th US President and the first black president.

Being the first black president is a spectacular achievement in a country where many did not believe it was possible in their lifetimes. It seemed so unlikely only 12 months ago and here we are, it’s happened. Amazing!

What’s been missed in this celebration and is potentially even more significant is…

Back in June in Book Rapper Issue 5 “Leaderful” on decentralized organizations (derived from Brafman and Beckstrom's The Spider and the Starfish) flagged:

“On the political platform, Barack Obama may become the first black president of the US."

"However, this will be a mere sideshow to the real change - the first president elected using a fusion of decentralized campaigning.”

"Whilst Hillary’s campaign was up to $36 million in debt based upon a classic top-down approach of seeking big donations from major players, Obama broke funding records. More than 250,000 people contributed to his campaign with more than 90% offering $100 or less. This is more contributors than any previous candidate and simultaneously he gained more than a million friends on social networking sites."

"Whilst elections are not won by dollars in the bank they are won by grass roots action one vote at a time.”

Two more highlights of his social networking campaign:

  1. Obama’s Facebook page currently lists 3.88 million friends.
  2. Against John McCain in the presidential campaign, Obama had the cash to fund a full 30-minute advertisement. It showed on prime-time television drawing more than 20 million viewers. It was the top-rating “show” on that evening! It’s also on YouTube and has now received almost 2 million visits.
In “Leaderful” we also asked:
“Most interestingly, if decentralization gets Obama to the White House, could this be the beginning of the redesign of democracy?”
It looks likely if this is any guide… On Saturday (January 17, 2009) Obama announced the formation of “Organizing for America” that looks to draw upon the masses of volunteers who drove his campaign to promote reform in Washington and improve their local communities. Read the Irish Time report.

Stay tuned for more on the Obama Social Networking Presidency!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Do Facebook Friends Count?

I love Seth. Seth Godin that is.

He says smart things in simple ways.

His books and writings are simple translations of what's happening out there in web land and what it all means for your marketing efforts. Our third issue of Book Rapper "Marketing Now-How" is a marketing plan derived from Seth's book Meatball Sundae.

Lately, I've been asked a number of times, "Do Facebook Friends matter?"
I usually give one of three answers...
  1. Barack Obama has a couple of million friends on Facebook and he got to be President. Whilst these people didn't necessarily vote for him, it showed that social networking counts for something.
  2. The meaning of the word 'phoney' comes from the first telephone calls made over 100 years ago. They weren't considered real conversations because you weren't there face-to-face talking to a real person - the conversation was 'phoney'! Now we are used to phone calls, they count as 'real' conversations. Facebook friends are 'phoney' right now, but once we get used to them as a new way of relating and interacting with other people, they won't be anymore. They'll just be friends you hang out with online.
  3. Over to Seth. Having millions of Facebook friends ain't worth a cracker. It's the difference you make to each other in your actions that matter. Seth says it better than me in this off-the-cuff interview from Debbie Weil's You Tube page.

PS: You gotta love those glasses and yes, I am on Facebook.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Free Chris Anderson!

No he’s not in jail. At least not that I know of...
Chris Anderson, author of “The Long Tail” is working on his next book “Free” – due out in 2009.

As is usual for most authors, a second book is going to be a continuation of their first in some form and Anderson follows this path.

The Long Tail (see Book Rapper Issue 1) showed that the economics of the web and digital products extends the potential for profit from mega-hits to micro-niches.
The previously unprofitable is now viable and there is virtually a market for everything.

‘Free’ zeroes in (sic!) on the web dynamics of digital distribution. If a product costs nothing to distribute then it can be given away to entice an audience.

The obvious question is… “If your product becomes ‘free’ then how do you make money?”

Here's four FREE strategies for you to consider...
  1. The typical model is to provide a basic service for free and charge for the premium one. For instance, Skype offers free web calls and charges for calls to mobiles or landlines. The power and weakness of this approach is the ability to build a huge market through the free offer and have enough scale to earn a living from the 1% who do pay. If you don’t get sufficient scale you go broke.
  2. The alternative is to presume that content is free and become a distributor instead. Think iTunes and call yourself an aggregator of content.
  3. Google has a third strategy – that old favourite, advertising. Whilst searching is free people pay for more prominence in the hope of attracting more eyeballs.
  4. A fourth model is shareware. Let people use your product and then they can pay if they want to. The web is a disruptive tool and ‘Free’ needs to be considered in your web strategy today. It may even change your entire business model. What are you giving away?
PS: No, I don’t think Anderson's book will be free, although it should be to prove his point. Seth Godin’s first book showed that ‘free’ works. Seth built a huge following by giving away his book in digital form and was still able to make some good sales when the book when physical some time later.

Some Resources

“Free” article as published in Wired Magazine
3 minutes of Chris Anderson on YouTube (video)

Cory Doctorow connects ‘Free’ and ‘The Long Tail’

Chris Anderson's blog

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Daniel Pink Goes Manga

Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation (Amazon) and A Whole New Mind (Wikipedia) has written a manga comic. It’s illustrated by the award winning Rob Ten Pas.

“The Adventures of Johnny Bunko” is touted as ‘America’s First Business Manga’. In the spirit of the One Minute Manager or Who Moved My Cheese, Johnny Bunko offers six simple career lessons.

Given this is the internet I’m not going to spoil the surprise. Either buy the book or visit the Bunko website to learn the lessons. You can read 50% of the book online for free.

The book itself didn’t do much for me. Sorry Daniel, I didn’t buy your book. I read it in about 15 minutes in a bookstore. His website says it’ll take about an hour…

But who cares about me… the book has hit the bestsellers list and is doing very well. It’s a fresh take on Careers. As a manga it’s written in a style that’ll appeal to youngsters questioning their future options. It’s also simple and that’s the way it’s intended to be.

Bunko is also a not-to-be-Googled book. Pink makes this point on his website. We can Google almost anything, eg how to write a resume. Instead, Pink reasons we need strategic lessons. The Post-Google world is emerging!

My summation about this book is… it’s not about the book! Check out the website to see what I mean… Pink has made the book the basis for a movement. He’s built a tribe and a community around a straightforward idea.

It’s precisely what I didn’t like about the book that makes it work… it’s simple, it’s of interest to most of us and it sparks discussion. He’s even created a competition for readers to uncover a seventh lesson to stir the conversation.

Even better, he’s inspired the Bunko Breakfast. From Japan to Romania, people are getting together to discuss the book and their careers. Pink is building the Bunko Nation!

Now that’s food for thought for your next career move!

PS: Bunko is Japanese for ‘library’. Also, Bunkobon is a small book format about A6 in size and the most popular size of Manga comics.

Book Rapper Issue 2 - How to Think Right was based upon Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind.

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