How the music industry gamified social proof

If you grew up when MTV was still a music channel you’ll remember that many music videos were recorded at live concerts… except that they weren’t. Nine out of ten of them we’re in filmed studios in a way which made things look bigger than they were. Clever camera work that looked like the band was already a big thing, when many times, the band was a new thing. It was a brilliant method to gamify social proof that this band rocked! Just take a look at these famous music videos:

Walk this way

Living on a prayer

Wake me up before you Go Go

All of them filmed in studios for bands who weren’t big yet. It’s a very important part of selling anything new, especially a startup. We need to create the perception that others think this ‘thing’ is terrific. We are a social species, and we rely on our social nature as a survival mechanism, and so social proof is one of the most powerful tools we need to build into promoting anything. Blurbs, Stars, Reviews, Fans, Shares, Likes, Hearts, Testimonials.

And before you ask, gaming social proof like the music industry does, is not misleading, it’s necessary. Anything we’ve ever done as a species has at some point required someone to paint a picture of what could be, not what is. We are simply pre-empting the future reality. And unless what we are selling lives up the gamified social proof, it won’t last anyway.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Twitter vs Facebook vs Linkedin – is the medium still the message?

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The medium is the message, first coined by Marshall McLuhan has been a staple belief in the world of advertising and communications for a very long period. During the heady days of Mass Media, being seen on TV itself was beacon of success. Products on the shelf would proudly beam ‘As seen on TV’ on their packaging. For only those who sold a lot of their product could afford it, or was it that if you were on it, you’d sell a lot of product? Regardless, the channel a brand appeared in said a lot about its place in the commercial world.

While, it feels like the now infinite number of media channels might make this maxim less true, I’m certain it still applies to a large extent. Ofttimes the context shapes the content.

As far as this blog goes there are some clear patterns. If you’re a regular reader you’ll notice that I have only 3 social sharing buttons at the bottom of a post. One for Twitter, one for Facebook and one for Linkedin. I ditched Google+ because it was just too embarrassing have a share button with no shares. Here’s what I noticed with the sharing of my posts:

Twitter – always gets more shares if the post is tech, startup heavy, recent news commentary or political in nature.

LinkedIn – always gets more shares if it’s about escaping a corporate position, about becoming an entrepreneur, industry disruption, human motivation, selling and horrible bosses.

Facebook – always gets more shares if it’s about personal finance, goal setting, hope, criticism and social issues. Yet, I’m connected to the same people in all these channels.

My takeout of all this? For startups or any business using social forums trying to reach an audience, it is far less about the demographic and for more about the ideology and topic of the particular post. The interest graph is far stronger than the social graph. Now the only question on my mind is what category does this post fall into?

New Book – The Great Fragmentation – out now.

Great Advertising – by Wikipedia

While Wikipedia doesn’t run any adverting on it’s, it sure knows how to write a copy line to sell it’s fundraising. If you’re like me, Wikipedia has become an indispensable life resource for self learning and contribution to society. So giving something back is dame fine idea for a non-profit like Wikipedia, but like all things it does take something to get us across the line from intention to action. This was the line that inspired me to take action.

….”If everyone reading this gave $5, our fundraiser would be done within an hour.”….

To me this line is close to perfect. It tells us so much with so few words. A small amount from it’s readers in a ‘moment of time’ would do it. It’s a clear indication that it’s part of the fabric of our everyday existence, and that all it takes is a little from many. It was enough for me to tip in the paltry sum of $30. And the additional message from Jimmy Wales is also some great copy writing. Seen below.

If something is delivering us great value, then it’s worth us giving back so it doesn’t change its shape into something less attractive.

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Omnipresent deflation & the longer tail

I’m convinced that pretty much everything is getting cheaper as time progresses. Relative to incomes there are not many things I can think of that have increased in price over time (excluding property). I wrote about this in a recent business manifesto post:

Omnipresent Deflation – While tabloids decry the rising cost of living and most everything we purchase, the reality is the opposite of what is being reported. Energy, housing, technology, entertainment and even food are all getting cheaper in ‘real terms’. Rapid technological change, Moore’s law and developing nation labour forces will ensure this continues. It’s creating the great business revenue maintenance challenge as we quickly move the price of ‘free’.

This is good news for startups. The barriers to entry have been infinitely reduced to well, almost nothing. One such service that is so cheap it is ridiculous is fiverr.com While it may not represent a bastion of quality, there sure is a lot of interesting services one can get for $5. Some of which could form interesting fun stuff to pimp your new brand. Many of these services could never have been available at such low prices… while many would never exist at all without the craziness that goes with all things web. Here’s a few of my fav’s from Fiverr:

Another case of the tail getting longer and the impact of connected labour.

Just when it feels like it’s all been done, it seems that the next idea will just take that niche a little further, and they’ll be some people who demand it too.

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The lifecyle of awesome

As far as I can tell the life cycle of awesome is in perpetual decline. Every day we all get sent something that’s awesome. Something that’s great. Something that’s shareable. and every day we make a judgement. A decision whether this piece is worth sharing. There are so many things to share, and so many places to share them, that the stakes get higher and higher for what qualifies – it has to. Which means that when we see something amazing, it’s only amazing for a little while. It means the window is very small and getting smaller.

Today I saw something awesome. A simple video projection come moving art, come installation, come viral video. It was very next level. In fact the guy show sen it to me (Rohan) said it was ‘off chops’. You can see it below. But what I’m really wondering is, for how long can we keep going to the next level until there is nowhere left to go?

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