Social scientists refer to the craving for online contact as “Ambient awareness”. They liken the feeling to being similar to being physically near someone and sensing their mood by their body language, mood and comments.
I think the desire for ambient awareness is what has driven the popularity of Facebook, which through it’s provision of the news feed feature, is supplying a stream of up to the minute updates on what your friends are doing. In many cases this feed substitutes the need for email. Twitter is another service which streams snippets of thoughts into a single stream.
Whilst the craving for ambient awareness of our social graph (or friends list) might be strong, it is surprising to me that the use of RSS feedreaders to supply a personalised interest based news feed is still quite low.
Gartner has released some new research which describes how various people engage in online communities.
Using the term “Generation V”, the research confirms that segments do not relate to age, gender, geographic location or social class, but instead are grouped by their interactions and behavioural usage preferences of digital media consumption.
The 4 levels of engagement in Gartner’s model are creators, contributors, opportunists, and lurkers.
The report suggests
Up to 3% will be creators, providing original content. They can be advocates that promote products and services.
Between 3% and 10% will be contributors who add to the conversation, but don’t initiate it. They can recommend products and services as customers move through a buying process, looking for purchasing advice.
Between 10% and 20% will be opportunists, who can further contributions regarding purchasing decisions. Opportunists can add value to a conversation that’s taking place while walking through a considered purchase.
Approximately 80% will be lurkers, essentially spectators, who reap the rewards of online community input but absorb only what is being communicated. They can still implicitly contribute and indirectly validate value from the rest of the community. All users start out as lurkers.
“Companies should plan to segment all four levels in the community – each has significant business value,” said Adam Sarner, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Differentiation exists between sectors and industries. Marketers with strong brands attract more creators. Certain industries, such as insurance, draw more lurkers.”
Successful communities support the needs of all four segments, and my research suggests that as communities grow, the percentage of each segment will remain relatively consistent.
Description: Allows users to create an accurate 3D walk-through model of their home, preview renovation possibilities and products provided by vendors, and contact service suppliers. People can share their home interiors and gardens for collaborative design. The viewing software will soon be available as a free download, allowing manufacturers and retailers to display products and themed homes in interactive 3D on their websites. Software being sold and licensed in a number of overseas countries.
Description: Collaborative filtering and recommendation engine provided as a web service for online retailers or entertainment providers. The consumer site Scouta.com provides personalised recommendations for video and audio.
Description: Residents rate their streets and localities on criteria such as public facilities, noise, and neighbourly spirit, and write reviews. Users earn ‘streetcred’ and ‘local experts’ are appointed. The primary focus is on Australia, US, UK and Canada, but it has been launched in many other countries.
Person/Company: Matt Tilleard/ Mack Nevill/ Jehan Ratnatunga/ Simon Griffiths
Description: Charity site that generates income for donation through advertising and sponsorship. Buttons and search boxes are available on Facebook, widgets for blogs and websites, Google gadgets, and browser toolbars.
Description: Citizen journalism websites that allow local residents to report and comment on what is happening in their city and community. Currently available in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. ure directions include licensing the platform into overseas markets.
A new social network has launched in Australia which hopes to address some of the key insights from online social media research.
Vibe Village is a social network which is hoping to connect brands to social influencers, by targeting 3 needs.
I still remember running home to tell my brothers that I had found a way to get through the lane way at the back of my house, only to be disappointed when it became apparent that the news wasn’t news to them.
One of the key motivators for research and discovery is to be one of the first to know about a certain product, service. Being First can be a relative concept, for example there is only one Neil Armstrong. Yet, it’s much more common to be the first person in our social group to communicate a new fact.
We all like stuff for free, so much so that we are almost suspicious when we are offered free things. Vibe Village lets its members chose products that match their interests, offering programs that members can register for, and obtain free stuff such as advance copies of soon to be released DVD’s and new innovative products.
Share and Shape.
Members are encouraged to shape the innovation of products by being given a direct voice to products, and are also given opportunities to share news by hosting parties.
In today’s world of advertising clutter, it’s more and more difficult to get your message in the hands of the people who can provide a genuine word of mouth communication. Vibe Village is attempting to provide a targeted solution for brands wanting to recruit product evangelists, by providing access to individuals who are passionate about your category.
When I was young, radio shows such as American Top 40, or Billboard were the established authorities on determining the most popular artist or album. The internet has revolutionised the distribution of music and it’s no surprise that there is no shortage of innovation in the delivery of informational services.
Recognising that popularity includes discussions, consumption as well as purchase, the BBC has created an index of bands and tracks.
The more conversations an artist or song receives and the more it is is downloaded or played, the higher up the Sound Index they are listed.
The Sound Index can also be filtered based on genre, location of people and age group.
Whilst you are unable to “click through” to the actual conversations for a given artist, this index represents a good indicator of their marketing performance.
I can see these type of measures being applied to almost any industry or category. The Food Index, The Restaurant Index, even the Agency Index. Are you monitoring what is being said about your brand or service?