Thursday, 27 May 2010

Eight Generatives Better Than Free

Immediacy -- Sooner or later you can find a free copy of whatever you want, but getting a copy delivered to your inbox the moment it is released -- or even better, produced -- by its creators is a generative asset. Many people go to movie theaters to see films on the opening night, where they will pay a hefty price to see a film that later will be available for free, or almost free, via rental or download. Hardcover books command a premium for their immediacy, disguised as a harder cover. First in line often commands an extra price for the same good. As a sellable quality, immediacy has many levels, including access to beta versions. Fans are brought into the generative process itself. Beta versions are often de-valued because they are incomplete, but they also possess generative qualities that can be sold. Immediacy is a relative term, which is why it is generative. It has to fit with the product and the audience. 

A blog has a different sense of time than a movie, or a car. But immediacy can be found in any media.

Personalization -- A generic version of a concert recording may be free, but if you want a copy that has been tweaked to sound perfect in your particular living room -- as if it were preformed in your room -- you may be willing to pay a lot.  The free copy of a book can be custom edited by the publishers to reflect your own previous reading background. A free movie you buy may be cut to reflect the rating you desire (no violence, dirty language okay). Aspirin is free, but aspirin tailored to your DNA is very expensive. As many have noted, personalization requires an ongoing conversation between the creator and consumer, artist and fan, producer and user. It is deeply generative because it is iterative and time consuming. You can't copy the personalization that a relationship represents. Marketers call that "stickiness" because it means both sides of the relationship are stuck (invested) in this generative asset, and will be reluctant to switch and start over.

Interpretation -- As the old joke goes: software, free. The manual, $10,000. But it's no joke. A couple of high profile companies, like Red Hat, Apache, and others make their living doing exactly that. They provide paid support for free software. The copy of code, being mere bits, is free -- and becomes valuable to you only through the support and guidance. I suspect a lot of genetic information will go this route. Right now getting your copy of your DNA is very expensive, but soon it won't be. In fact, soon pharmaceutical companies will PAY you to get your genes sequence. So the copy of your sequence will be free, but the interpretation of what it means, what you can do about it, and how to use it -- the manual for your genes so to speak -- will be expensive.

Authenticity -- You might be able to grab a key software application for free, but even if you don't need a manual, you might like to be sure it is bug free, reliable, and warranted. You'll pay for authenticity. There are nearly an infinite number of variations of the Grateful Dead jams around; buying an authentic version from the band itself will ensure you get the one you wanted. Or that it was indeed actually performed by the Dead. Artists have dealt with this problem for a long time. Graphic reproductions such as photographs and lithographs often come with the artist's stamp of authenticity -- a signature -- to raise the price of the copy. Digital watermarks and other signature technology will not work as copy-protection schemes (copies are super-conducting liquids, remember?) but they can serve up the generative quality of authenticity for those who care.

Accessibility -- Ownership often sucks. You have to keep your things tidy, up-to-date, and in the case of digital material, backed up. And in this mobile world, you have to carry it along with you. Many people, me included, will be happy to have others tend our "possessions" by subscribing to them. We'll pay Acme Digital Warehouse to serve us any musical tune in the world, when and where we want it, as well as any movie, photo (ours or other photographers). Ditto for books and blogs.  Acme backs everything up, pays the creators, and delivers us our desires. We can sip it from our phones, PDAs, laptops, big screens from where-ever. The fact that most of this material will be available free, if we want to tend it, back it up, keep adding to it, and organize it, will be less and less appealing as time goes on.

Embodiment -- At its core the digital copy is without a body. You can take a free copy of a work and throw it on a screen. But perhaps you'd like to see it in hi-res on a huge screen? Maybe in 3D? PDFs are fine, but sometimes it is delicious to have the same words printed on bright white cottony paper, bound in leather. Feels so good. What about dwelling in your favorite (free) game with 35 others in the same room? There is no end to greater embodiment. Sure, the hi-res of today -- which may draw ticket holders to a big theater -- may migrate to your home theater tomorrow, but there will always be new insanely great display technology that consumers won't have. Laser projection, holographic display, the holodeck itself! And nothing gets embodied as much as music in a live performance, with real bodies. The music is free; the bodily performance expensive. This formula is quickly becoming a common one for not only musicians, but even authors. The book is free; the bodily talk is expensive.

Patronage -- It is my belief that audiences WANT to pay creators. Fans like to reward artists, musicians, authors and the like with the tokens of their appreciation, because it allows them to connect. But they will only pay if it is very easy to do, a reasonable amount, and they feel certain the money will directly benefit the creators. Radiohead's recent high-profile experiment in letting fans pay them whatever they wished for a free copy is an excellent illustration of the power of patronage. The elusive, intangible connection that flows between appreciative fans and the artist is worth something. In Radiohead's case it was about $5 per download. There are many other examples of the audience paying simply because it feels good.

Findability -- Where as the previous generative qualities reside within creative digital works, findability is an asset that occurs at a higher level in the aggregate of many works. A zero price does not help direct attention to a work, and in fact may sometimes hinder it. But no matter what its price, a work has no value unless it is seen; unfound masterpieces are worthless. When there are millions of books, millions of songs, millions of films, millions of applications, millions of everything requesting our attention -- and most of it free -- being found is valuable. 
The giant aggregators such as Amazon and Netflix make their living in part by helping the audience find works they love. They bring out the good news of the "long tail" phenomenon, which we all know, connects niche audiences with niche productions. But sadly, the long tail is only good news for the giant aggregators, and larger mid-level aggregators such as publishers, studios, and labels. The "long tail" is only lukewarm news to creators themselves. But since findability can really only happen at the systems level, creators need aggregators. This is why publishers, studios, and labels (PSL)will never disappear. They are not needed for distribution of the copies (the internet machine does that). Rather the PSL are needed for the distribution of the users' attention back to the works. From an ocean of possibilities the PSL find, nurture and refine the work of creators that they believe fans will connect with. Other intermediates such as critics and reviewers also channel attention. Fans rely on this multi-level apparatus of findability to discover the works of worth out of the zillions produced. There is money to be made (indirectly for the creatives) by finding talent. For many years the paper publication TV Guide made more money than all of the 3 major TV networks it "guided" combined. The magazine guided and pointed viewers to the good stuff on the tube that week. Stuff, it is worth noting, that was free to the viewers.  There is little doubt that besides the mega-aggregators, in the world of the free many PDLs will make money selling findability -- in addition to the other generative qualities.

These eight qualities require a new skill set. Success in the free-copy world is not derived from the skills of distribution since the Great Copy Machine in the Sky takes care of that. Nor are legal skills surrounding Intellectual Property and Copyright very useful anymore. Nor are the skills of hoarding and scarcity. Rather, these new eight generatives demand an understanding of how abundance breeds a sharing mindset, how generosity is a business model, how vital it has become to cultivate and nurture qualities that can't be replicated with a click of the mouse.
In short, the money in this networked economy does not follow the path of the copies. Rather it follows the path of attention, and attention has its own circuits. 

Careful readers will note one conspicuous absence so far. I have said nothing about advertising. Ads are widely regarded as the solution, almost the ONLY solution, to the paradox of the free. Most of the suggested solutions I've seen for overcoming the free involve some measure of advertising. I think ads are only one of the paths that attention takes, and in the long-run, they will only be part of the new ways money is made selling the free.

But that's another story.

Beneath the frothy layer of advertising, these eight generatives will supply the value to ubiquitous free copies, and make them worth advertising for. These generatives apply to all digital copies, but also to any kind of copy where the marginal cost of that copy approaches zero. Even material industries are finding that the costs of duplication near zero, so they too will behave like digital copies. Maps just crossed that threshold. Genetics is about to. Gadgets and small appliances (like cell phones) are sliding that way. Pharmaceuticals are already there, but they don't want anyone to know. It costs nothing to make a pill. We pay for Authenticity and Immediacy in drugs. Someday we'll pay for Personalization.
Maintaining generatives is a lot harder than duplicating copies in a factory. There is still a lot to learn. A lot to figure out.

(Full Article -

Jason Barrett

Facebook Talk On Privacy

Jason Barrett

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

1000 True Likes - What does that get you?

The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches.

But the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist's works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales.

Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?

One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.
A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. 

They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.
To raise your sales out of the flatline of the long tail you need to connect with your True Fans directly.  

Another way to state this is, you need to convert a thousand Lesser Fans into a thousand True Fans.
Assume conservatively that your True Fans will each spend one day's wages per year in support of what you do. That "one-day-wage" is an average, because of course your truest fans will spend a lot more than that.  Let's peg that per diem each True Fan spends at $100 per year. If you have 1,000 fans that sums up to $100,000 per year, which minus some modest expenses, is a living for most folks.

Jason Barrett

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Online Privacy Freak Out Continues..

We can be assured, each morning, that we will read something new about our vanishing online privacy.  Today’s entry: “Facebook, MySpace Confront Privacy Loophole.”  I’m sure your first question was “What’s MySpace?” (We kid! We kid!)  Your second question depends on whether you are naturally cynical, jaded and annoying (like so many of us in the legal profession), or whether you are the type of person who still believes in the tooth fairy. 
No, there is no option 3.
For the cynical, your next question was probably something along the lines of “this is a surprise?”  Many folks simply believe the worst of all online services, and presume that they are nefariously seeking to monetize every last drop of your personal identity.  The more trusting of you probably wondered “how could this happen?  The privacy policy was clear! Did they lie?”
The truth can be found in a description of what was actually happening here.  To quote The Wall Street Journal’s big scoop:
Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers’ names and other personal details, despite promises they don’t share such information without consent.
Did you catch the important word in that paragraph?  It was the word “could.”  This was not a situation where Facebook was out there selling your name on a streetcorner for three nickels and a dime.  Instead, as part of the standard practice of online advertising, referral information was sent to advertisers in connection with click-throughs on the site.  In a typical scenario, however, the referral information does not include anything identifiable about the individual clicking on the ad.  In the case of many social media sites, however, the referral addresses included “user names.”   This could permit advertisers to track the names to public profiles, and thus to other information about the individual.  In some cases, these user names were also the real names of the consumers.
Obviously, this is a problem — it may, in fact, be literally in contradiction of the privacy policies used on these sites.  But it was also notpart of the larger effort of Facebook to mine as much information about its users as possible through the magic of personalisation.  So, should these sites be worried anyway?  They obviously were worried enough to change their practices on a moment’s notice after the Journalpressed their story, but is there larger significance to this story (part 327 of our national privacy freakout)? 
The bigger point, for everyone else, is that privacy policies are more than window dressing — they actually have meaning, and there are legal repercussions when they are wrong.  As I have mentioned before, the critical thing about any privacy policy is that it must accurately describewhat you may do with the information you obtain from users.   Heck if you intend to use the information gleaned from site visitations to steal the immortal souls of your customers, that’s generally fine as long as you disclose it.   Therefore, you must regularly consider what your privacy policy says, and whether it actually matches up with what you’re doing.   The world moves quickly, and you may not have the same web site today that you had 3 months ago.  In fact, your marketing folks may, as we speak, have devised the best thing ever, which just happens to be slightly inconsistent with your privacy policy.  You need to know what’s going on, and you need to make sure that it is reflected in your privacy policy.  Yes, there are legal repercussions (the FTC is almost certainly going to look into the newest charges against social media sites), but even worse these type of stories can be PR nightmares, and in a rapid fire online environment your brand may not have time to recover.
So read your privacy policy.  Today.  Think about what you’re up to.  Is it accurate?  Does it need a tune up?  Regular attention to your privacy policy can keep your company out of trouble, and out of the newspapers.

Jason Barrett
(Article source: )

Monday, 24 May 2010

Get Smarter With Twitter

The facts

The following statistics will show you the growth of Twitter and give you some ideas for how to use the platform effectively.

So how can you make this work for you?  

  • Customer support: people are already talking about you, so why not interact with them? It’s been proven again and again that customers are demanding that companies and people engage online. If you fix a customer complaint, then it will prevent a possible viral forest fire.
  • Brand awareness: If you look at the statistic above, 87% of people are aware of what Twitter is. For you, as a brand, if you stop tweeting, your face will stop showing up, but your competitors faces won’t. There is an opportunity cost to completely dropping Twitter.
  • Job searching: Stop using job boards and start locating jobs and hiring managers on Twitter that can actually help you get a job.
  • Networking: If you’re specific in who you want to build relationships with, Twitter is the best platform to do so.
  • Creating buzz: By giving away something for free to some exclusive content, you can use Twitter to get people talking.
  • Recruitment: I believe everyone in the world is a recruiter, whether you have a job, or work in the HR department or not. You can use Twitter to locate people that you want to partner with, hire, or refer, very easily.
  • Researching: By using the Twitter search function, you can find out what people are saying about you, competitors, partners, etc

Jason Barrett

Social Payments Made Easier With Visa New App

Payment card company Visa is partnering with DeviceFidelity to roll out a NFC payment tool that plugs into the dock of the iPhone to turn the handset into a payment device.
The solution, which has been certified by Apple, was developed in collaboration with Visa and uses a protective case that is designed to stay permanently attached to the iPhone and which provides a micro USB slot for users to sync and charge their devices. Users then simply insert a standard In2Pay MicroSD card into the case and can then use their iPhone to make payments at merchants equipped to accept contactless payments. Trials are scheduled to start during the second quarter of 2010.
“The more than 200,000 apps on the App Store are an integral part of iPhone users’ lives,” says Amitaabh Malhotra, COO of DeviceFidelity. “With our In2Pay solution, we want to give both iPhone users and app developers the power to do even more, by putting the convenience of interactive secure mobile transactions, right at their fingertips, anywhere they are.”
“Visa is working to bring the security and convenience of digital currency to mobile users around the world,” adds Dave Wentker, head of mobile contactless payments at Visa. “Our collaboration with DeviceFidelity can extend the reach of Visa mobile payments to millions of iPhone users.”
Visa announced in February that it would be running a number of field trials using DeviceFidelity’s MicroSD technology from the second quarter of this year and the Apple one was actually announced two weeks ago before the press release was inexplicably pulled.

Jason Barrett

7 Social Media Terms That Need Killing Off!

If you know me, or have met me I'd like to think I'm a reasonably positive person.  Although I might vent frustration in certain aspects of social media, in general I'm the kind of person that just gets on with it and makes it work.  Either the original idea is strong enough, or I have the experience and skillset to make it successful campaign. Or both.

But, there are things that need to be said, terms that need to be killed off, sayings that are getting so common, even people who have no understanding of marketing or word of mouth marketing (let alone social media, or social business) are just dropping into everyday language - this needs to stop.  Why?  Well many of the terms are either incorrect, or just misguided.

Engagement, ROE, over strategising or under performance usually cover some of the terms in this list - you decide if you've heard them, or mentioned them before...just think about it as I break down each one in more detail.

1. Getting More Followers and Fans
Its almost like how many points you have in the social business game.  Facebook vs Twitter isn't about how many followers, friends or likes you have.  Attention to what you are doing only matters if people can move beyond noticing and into the more interesting realm of people investing their time and energy into what you have generated.  This could be 100,000 or 100 people, its about how engaged they are.  Yes, it really is.

2. Misdefined ROI
Lets take this back a little.  Do you know what ROI is? Do you measure ROI throughout all parts of your business/sales/marketing activities?  If you do - and I mean if you really do, then great.  But think about those metrics you use for that and how success points from the ROI you are currently experiencing.

If you don't then please stop using horrible fluffy marketing terms for avoiding the fact that you don't understand it.  People using this "Show me the ROI" or even worse "Show me the ROE" phrases when they don't even know what success looks like in everyday business - how can they get close to understanding this?  Worse, using ROI arguments to try and stand up to a case that's really just a lack of business sense - Why do you even need to use Social Media, or Social Business? Just 'cos everyone else is? Drop it, its embarrassing.

3. Joining the Conversation
OK, now before I elaborate on this, I will be honest (as I always am in all my blog postings and consultancy!) - I have used this and have noticed myself use it a couple of times recently.  BUT, in my defence, I have been doing this a while.  Some people could call me an early adopter or just an innovative thinker, but using this in the early days was probably OK.  

Things have progressed a bit over the past couple of years.  It's not about joining the conversation.  That's how horrible bots were spamming us in yahoo chat rooms in the 90's.  (If you weren't there, you missed some great viral marketing disasters).  

What conversations do you think you should join? For what purpose? With who? and why? (and why at that time?) - think about the intent and the intrusion factor here too.  What allows you to join in on others conversations with marketing messages that are going to get ignored?  Think rather, about the underlying value of being present and engaged with the right people who care about what you say.

4. The Next Facebook Killer
Arghhhhh! If you want to see the next Facebook killer then you're going to have to delete your facebook account, then get all your friends to do the same, all their friends (etc etc) and get them to join something else.  

Its easy to latch onto something new and unproven, because then you're not accountable for its success.  Understand what is available, what the choices are and make an informed decision based on research, strategy and study - then, make that work to the best of your ability.  Its going to be enough to use the tools effectively to make your time worthwhile.

5. Social Media Experts
Please be careful out there.  At the end of the day, its your business - just perform the checks and due diligence you would with any other advisor you would hire.  Ask the right questions about results, about previous examples, strategies, time frames, accountability, privacy, social policies (some of these may or may not be relevant for your business, but all are important), successes, failures, mistakes (and why, how did these happen).  

Read blogs (and I don't mean mashable in this case - or try and catch out people on the current mashable latest story) - I mean blogs on how to hire the best social media strategist, consultant, social media/business agency, or just a social business professional that knows what they're doing.

This is me, and if you're a social business / social marketing consultant and reading this - I've got some advice for you.  MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  Do something amazing with social that you can show of, be proud of, speak at events about, inspire others, share mistakes (without fear).  I did with TwitJobs, and continue to still be incredibly proud of what I've managed to achieve through social for the largest social based job site in the world.  Allow the idiots, and TALKERS (not do'ers, like you and me) hang themselves alone with their broken promises, poor strategies and empty methods - I have no sympathy any more for the gullible.  

One of the reasons I started this blog was to educate people further into the power of social business and help them make better informed decisions on hiring consultants, or social agencies.

6. Social Media Is Hype, Stale, Old, Over it or Pointless
I've met and spoken with a lot of people that go down this road.  SOMETIMES it's the right road to go down.  Social Business isn't a one size fits all solution.  Its not for every business out there, for some it is indeed pointless in their overall marketing or growth strategy.  But, (you were waiting for the but weren't you?) this isn't about them. Offer something constructive of your own, just do it better yourself.  Teach, listen and learn.

Its about the people who moan and groan about unfollowing someone because they were talking nonsense, tweeting too much, or didn't meet their standards when they met them in real life.

Think its all a load of nonsense that you can live without? Fine - close your twitter account, your facebook, linkedin, (and probably your e-cademy), stop blogging and focus your efforts on something else.  It's really no big deal.

7. Universal Constants
What do we need to do to get more followers on twitter? What do I put on my Facebook page? Should we have a Linkedin group? How many people need to manage social campaigns? How many hours a day should I spend? How long does it take to get X followers?
OK.  Enough.  
There is a lot of information, guides, how to's etc on all of this (just google it, you'll be amazed how much there actually is!) - the rest, you're going to have to find out by getting your hands dirty and getting involved in it too.  After all, how you can you understand the processes if you haven't been involved. 
Another tip - if you are talking to a social professional or agency, and as a business, you have done things that haven't worked, ask them why.  OK - probably not in that way, but more like "what if I did this", or "what would happen if someone did this" and get a better overview of the outcomes of things you shouldn't do.

Jason Barrett