Forrester – Online Communities: Build or Join?

I’m increasingly becoming a fan of Jeremiah Owyang.  One of his recent reports at Forrester is Online Communities: Build or Join? With the increasing desire by brands to “go social,” it seems many frequently rush to judgment and build their own community without recognizing there are many vibrant, enthusiastic communities already out there. By “joining” instead of “building” it can save them a TON of time and money. But for some brands it might not be build “or” join…it might be build “and” join.



MorphMonkey: Social gets viral on Facebook

My reaction to the new MorphMonkey marketing campaign on Facebook is… well awkward. It just makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Yet that’s the point.

A press release from the American Social Health Association explains the campaign:

“In an unusual creative move, a team at Duval Guillaume (DG) has agreed to spread an infectious disease by working with the American Social Health Association (ASHA). The aim is to… highlight the dangers of Chlamydia to young people during April, which is STD Awareness Month. …(The team) devised a Facebook application called MorphMonkey in which users are invited to “make a love child” by morphing pictures of their own faces with that of their friends.

The humor then takes a different turn. The infected user is notified that they have caught the infection from their friend and is prompted to discover more on the ASHA website: The message is “Spread it here so we can beat it here”, according to all involved with the program.”

I learned about this new application from a post on TechCrunch. I find the comments below the post interesting to get the social buzz. The campaign is quite edgy in that the MorphMonkey application page on Facebook makes no mention of Chlamydia. Essentially participants… dare I say it… get caught with their pants down.

Here’s the MorphMonkey application page on Facebook.

Marketing 2015: Where everybody knows your name

Whether it’s Google’s fault or not, the web is getting smarter. The technology itself is moving toward a place where it understands more about who you are as a user, and what it’s showing you inside of your browser. Years from now these developments will have a profound effect on web experience for users, and it will have a profound effect on the economics of online influence for marketers. What will it all look like?

Search becomes Artificial Intelligence. Right now, search engines merely seek to show you something relevant to the keywords you typed in based on much-guarded, mysterious, and ever-changing algorithms. But these algorithms are limited because they are based on keywords, and as even Shakespeare lamented, words have their limitations. As the semantic web becomes a reality, search engine technology will break free of words and actually gain an essential understanding of what web pages ARE – beyond the words on them. This will make search engines more like a search “brain”, which will be able to synthesize the web to meet your needs – once it understands what those needs are.

Your identity unlocks your web. But even if next-generation search engines understand the web better than ever before, the understanding of what you need is still limited to the keywords you input, right? Well, there are big changes there as well. OpenID is the movement to unlock your identity from the websites where it is most established (think LinkedIn, Facebook, or MySpace profiles) and make it portable, such that when you arrive at a new website it will be able to know who you are. This goes beyond solving the inconvenience of managing a multitude of login profiles – it means that websites could understand your interests, your web usage, your shopping habits (provided you let them). The implications are sweeping. The web can then unfold itself to you in a way that it doesn’t for anyone else, and the gatekeepers for making that happen will be the next-generation search engine. Google and others will eventually know you, and know the web, such that it might at times seem as if it is reading your mind.

The web as one big social network. If you unlock your identity from any specific website, it follows that you will also be able to unlock your social connections in the same way. An unlocked set of connections that you have to other people is often referred to as your “social graph.” You may be thinking how nice it will be that you won’t have to put all that work in to “friend” people as much, you’ll only have to do it once and then you can take it with you. Actually, the way that is done will change too. Friending will cease to be the main means of establishing your social graph. You see, the communication technology you are using (for older folks it is email, for younger folks it is IM and texting) is listening. It’s learning who you communicate with and how often, and about the length and nature of that communication. It knows more about your true social graph than you probably do, and in the future it will be able to make that graph portable and attach it to your now-portable identity. Signs of this happening are already evident. Google’s OpenSocial platform and Social Graph API are great indicators.

The web experience in 2015 will be one where you take your identity and your network with you, and semantic search engines and websites will respond (if you let them) by showing you where your friends are and what content most meets your needs.

How does this affect online influence and marketing? Some of that is already being explored by the folks who are dealing with marketing in the insulated social networking environments that exist today. The successes and failures there are being well documented and adding to professional understanding of best and worst practices, so I won’t try to cover that ground here.

The key thing to understand about this 2015 vision is that in the future social networks won’t be a side attraction to the main flow of information on the Internet – they will be the Internet. Those who explore and begin to understand the dynamics of that new environment by playing in it today will be well-positioned to lead, while others may be left behind.

25 Online Whacks to Boost Your Creativity

Roger von Oech’s classic “A Whack on the Side of the Head” just turned 25.Roger von Oech’s classic “A Whack on the Side of the Head” just turned 25. I used this book a lot in college and at my first agency job. We’d do a few of the exercise to kick start our creative sessions. This led to numerous fresh ideas.

The 25th Anniversary Edition of this creative classic has just been released. It is updated and features many new exercises, puzzles and more. There’s a good interview with von Oech at Guy Kawasaki’s blog on Sun’s SMB site.

Check out Roger von Oech’s Creative Think blog. My favorite part is his online creative whack. Just click on Roger’s photo at the top of the page and a new creative exercise comes up. A few of my favorites include Avoid Arrogance, Imagine You’re the Idea and Slay a Dragon.

Whether you’re working on an online community, creating original content or writing for a blog – these brain teasers will help you stay on your creative toes.