Archive for Communities

Linkin Parks

Posted in Internet with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2008 by manuscrypts

I’ve been a fan of del.icio.us for a long time, and was extremely happy with the plug-in they’d made for FF3.  Although this offers a perspective of people who don’t bookmark, I’ve found the idea of a taggable, online database that can be shared, extremely valuable, which is why the question of what Del.icio.us 2.0 would offer was an intriguing one. But I was quite disappointed with the url change, to delicious.com . There was something cool about the earlier url, but they have their reasons, as has been well documented by another fan here.

So what did they say the improvements were? You can hear it right from the horse’s mouth here. To summarise, they have promised speed, a faster and more social search and a new design. Hmm, good, but I think they could have done better, because to me, this is a maintenance job, albeit a good one. As a die-hard fan, I wanted something radical, like Facebook (another favourite) taking the pedal off social networking and putting it on conversation sparking off comparisons to Twitter and Friendfeed. Yes, it has its detractors, and they’d say not many conversations seem to be happening there, but hey, only a small % of my fb friends are on twitter, its early days, and I, for one, am getting responses to my status messages, video uploads etc.

But meanwhile, more than an FB progression path, this user generated discontent has been sparked off by a couple of entities I happened to come across, each of which could have been the lateral step that Delicious could’ve taken. I’ll start with Social Median. Its an online community where you can share links. So?  Well, if you use twitter, you’d realise the number of link sharing that happens there. Well, you can submit news to SM through Twitter. So, in this age of ‘noise’ you get like minded users to do “collaborative filtering to help people with similar interests identify/discover what to read/view.” And it’s not just people you can follow, its topics too. It is packed with features, perhaps thanks to an extremely user feedback based alpha mode. You can vote on the ranking of the keywords, sources that are used to seed the networks and can rank topics based on how important they are to you. In essence, it allows you to customise how frequently you want to read about ‘x’ topic and from ‘y’ media source. You can share the news you add, find through mail, and even twitter. You can also add a bookmarklet to your toolbar and add news to SN as you browse. A short term problem I see is the noise level, since many people would want to be community makers first. But the system will filter it in due course. They’re also planning to use the Google Social Graph API in some pretty advanced ways. While it seems closer to Digg, or Mixx, as a user, to me its fundamentally a collection of links, and shared interests,  and that’s Delicious’ premise. Meanwhile, there’s another one with the same idea, though not as feature packed.

The other site I came across is httpfuse (via pluggd.in). The idea here is to allow the community to build a set of ‘fuses’ (bookmarks/links) around a topic of interest. Their differentiation wrt Digg, Delicious etc is clearly explained here. While I agree with the explanation on Digg, I am not quite convinced on the Delicious part. Maybe I need to explore more. But one thing I’ll grant, and I’ll use an example for this. If I search for ‘India’ in Delicious, I’ll get links bookmarked by other people with all the tags they have used. But when I do the same in httpfuse, it shows me the subtopics under India. And that’s definitely better.  I’d like a browser plug-in though, or did I miss it? Again, a focus that Delicious could’ve tried out.

The last entity, is Browzmi, a browser within a browser. It not only allows real time collaborative browsing and bookmarking, with comments, but also has a chat functionality built in. You can also clip photos from a site you’re visiting, and share only that. All your actions are stored and can be viewed like any lifestreaming service. Unlike say, Yoono, its not an extension, and is actually quite a cute social browser which can be just another tab in your FF/IE browser. This is way lateral, but no harm in imagining. 🙂

That said, you are still my first bookmarking love, Delicious. But the competition is getting hotter, and  you seem very absorbed in a linear way, so please buck up.  I really wouldn’t want to see you in this list. You could at least have added image bookmarking, you know.

Meanwhile,a couple of other things you should check out, Feedly, an FF extension, which brings Google Reader closer to home, er homepage 😉 and this one – iglue, which reminded me of Snap (only reminded, its not the same) and left me very impressed, with its potential.

until next time, spread some link love

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Brand Manager 2.0

Posted in Brand, Internet with tags , , on July 24, 2008 by manuscrypts

Disclaimer: I promise to work on the 2.0 fetish -#7 here

I’ve always been a fan of this thought – ‘the tyranny of the big idea‘. This is also a great read on the same subject. The one line take-out would be that in the presence of the big idea, smaller ideas which might have had the potential to make the brand more interesting would get lost. I can safely say that I’ve seen this happen, with smaller, but good ideas being thrown into the bin because of the lack of sync with the prevalent communication theme. While these posts are around a couple of years old, in a world where conversations are becoming more important, the relevance of the thought remains as much as before, in fact more important.

So, continuing from yesterday’s post, ideas being non-commodities, it’d actually make more sense for brands to have the idea-buckets that the posts speak of. Which leads me to this post, which mentions that “a brand can, and should have more than one one proposition for itself.” For those who believe in the inflexibility of positioning, this would be difficult to swallow. But look at it this way, on any given day a technological or even an environmental change could deem your entire communication premise infeasible. Theory, huh? Okay, another perspective, what’s google to you? Search engine? Mail? IM? Office Tool? Communities? …. You get the picture? Meanwhile, the thing I’ve been wondering is, in this new way of brand diversification, how different should the different propositions of a brand be? Do they have to be related to each other so that the strengths of one can be used to help the other? Or can they be like Big Adda and Big FM and Big Flix, seemingly unrelated? And the last question, as audiences become more fragmented and individual niches become too small to monetise each separately, would it force brands to become aggregates of several similar niches along the long tail?

Which brings me to the point of my post. What does all this do to my role – that of a brand manager. The very fact that I’ve got my brand being different things to different people means that my audiences are differentiated and there’s probably no single animal out there who I could define as the brand’s audience. Its more a zoo. It also means that I’ve keep myself abreast of the conversations and the needs of different sets of people. That makes me more of a communities manager. Is this the natural evolution of the brand manager. Wait, that’s not all, I also have a human angle to this. When you’re dealing with communities, it works best if you are part of the audience itself in terms of interests. It  lends credence, and thus, in a way, the line between professional and personal interests start blurring. Which perhaps is a great thing, as more and more people get to do what they’d like to do. But given the fact that we’re still dealing with businesses and individuals here, how exactly can processes be evolved in this scenario, where there is so much of the individual in the brands he deals with? Bluntly, what happens when the person leaves, or something like this happens?

until next time, people management 2.0 😉

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The Virtual Address

Posted in Brand, Internet, Social networking with tags , , on May 21, 2008 by manuscrypts

Read a very interesting argument yesterday here on how an online community is different from a group on a social network, or is it?

As i commented there, while Orkut definitely works as a way to rekindle those school crushes/ get in touch with those long lost friends, Facebook goes beyond that, thanks to its applications. I’d written about it earlier. The idea is that Fb allows you to connect on more planes with an existing contact (hey, you’re a Heroes fan too) or know people who share a common interest, like the group ‘I love trashy Hindi movies’. Facebook allows a lot more scope for activities on the group as opposed to Orkut’s polls an forums. Its way more social.

But that was not the debate I had in mind. I look at Fb and Orkut as a sort of mall in the virtual space. As in a mall, there are various sets of activities that one can done on these SN sites. As a businessman, would i rather open an outlet in the mall or would I take retail space outside? That’s a question I’d like to ask specialised websites. eg. say HolidayIQ or Burrp.

If i open the shop in a mall, I might be have some constraints imposed on me by the mall -space, opening/closing times etc, but which may not be issues in my own retail space. But think of the cost that I’d incur in getting people to come to my stand alone shop, as opposed to people coming into the mall and visiting my shop with maybe a few catchy posters/offers to boost their chances of walking in. In a virtual world, I think the cost of building my own site + marketing it would be much more than making a ‘shop’ inside say, Facebook. In Fb, like the mall, I can utilise the existing population to build a brand. This is specially true for the typical time-strapped net audience. A simple thing like a newsfeed (Manu has joined/added the group/app …..) would itself attract some ‘pull’, because there all kinds of people in an SN site – book lovers, backpackers, music fanatics, food lovers….. And if i keep doing it right, then maybe it would warrant a spin off later- an own site. The case for existing specialised sites to have an app/page on SN sites is a kind of no brainer, I’d guess.

So, what do you think is a better way – to build a specialised site in the beginning or use an existing site’s pull to build a brand, and start a site only when the audience is ready for monetisation?

until next time, a group of communities