Creating an exchange platform is not about counting the connections - and their endless permutations - it's about creating movement. The call to action. Or, Marketing 101.
The key is coming up with the social proof.
What's a social proof?
Let's answer that question by winding the clock back a few years to something New York Venture Capitalist, Fred Wilson wrote about the art and science of marketing.
"I believe that marketing is what you do when your product or service sucks or when you make so much profit on every marginal customer that it would be crazy to not spend a bit of that profit acquiring more of them (coke, zynga, bud, viagra)."
Now let's demonstrate what the world of social media would look like without aid of creative marketing to brand and define the customer experience.
Nothing complex. Just a simple lesson in the value of a well thought out marketing slogan and customer value proposition.
We'll begin with Facebook and work down the list of popular social networking *platforms*.
Slogans evolve as the market evolves with the brand and so it should come as no surprise to discover we have a number to choose from.
• Facebook helps you connect and share with people in your life
• Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you
• Connect with friends and the world around you on Facebook
Now let's take a look at MySpace
• A place for friends
• Discover and be discovered
• Join the conversation on Twitter
• Share and discover what's happening right now, anywhere in the world
• The best way to discover what's new in your world
• Relationships matter
• Real-life sharing rethought for the web
Cross reference the slogans and a number of key words emerge: Share/sharing, Connect/connecting, Discover/discovering. Words designed to shape behavior and of course expectations. Expectations of what can be achieved with the product. Promises made.
Now let's strip these *Platforms* of their social promises by rewriting the slogans as utilitarian descriptors of the technology experience being provided.
Again, we'll begin with Facebook.
• A database that helps you connect and share with people in your life
• A database that is a social utility that connects you with the people around you
• Connect with friends and the world around you in a database
Now let's take a look at MySpace
• A database for friends
• Discover and be discovered [in a database]
• Join the conversation in a database
• Share and discover what's happening in a database right now, anywhere in the world
• The best way to discover what's new in a database
• Lists matter
• Real-life sharing rethought for a network of databases
You'll see that what I have done is *DeHumanised* the technology. And I have done that simply to emphasize that the trick in marketing social media hasn't been to associate the words Share/sharing, Connect/connecting, Discover/discovering with the act of being social. It has been to associate these words with interacting with a database. It has been to reposition the database as a social technology. The database as a default tool, just like the mobile phone, for augmenting our social interactions.
Simply by taking the techno-babble of the DBA (Transact/transaction, Update/updating and Query/querying) and rephrasing it as the socially compelling Psycho-babble of Share/sharing, Connect/connecting and Discover/discovering, the marketers have created a thriving new industry. Some would argue eco-system or economy.
The message here? The best marketing isn't the stuff that wins the awards. It's the marketing you don't even see.