Flutterby™! : The Social Marketing Revolution

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The Social Marketing Revolution

2005-03-18 21:29:14.789538+00 by Shawn 6 comments

I suppose I'm now in a headspace that other Flutterbarians have already achieved (the social aspects of technology never really interested me that much) but various random thoughts have been firing more frequently in response to the growing availability of creative, indie products. Tuesday's post about marketing over at Grumpy Gamer finally brought it together for me.

Ron points out that yes, the Internet has proved to be the Great Leveler in terms of distribution capabilities, but distribution is not the key component of success (which, for the purpose of this discussion, I'm defining as "number of people who know about and consume your stuff"). It's the marketing, stupid. And that is where we're stalled.

(continued in the comments so I don't take over the front page)

[ related topics: Consumerism and advertising Net Culture Marketing Community ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-03-18 21:42:21.15687+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

For example:

I know that there are indie bands out there who's music I would love. So how do I find them amid all the other crap (and non-crap that just isn't my thing) that's out there? I don't have time to become a music snob, reading The Stranger every week to stay up on local bands or making regular forays into downtown bars to sample for myself. And quite honestly, I'm not interested in all the ancillary data about the music industry - I just want to listen to music that sounds good.

The original mp3.com was a good start. I could listen to a stream of the top-rated songs in a particular genre. When I came across one I liked I could look them up on the site. I still listen to streaming stations - usually while I'm working - but I find that it's too much of an interruption to be stopping all the time to look up an artist. What I need is something that would help when I sit down specifically to go find some new music. Mp3.com did have a "This Band Influenced By..." feature, but I never found it to be in any way reliable. Obviously the people making these correlations weren't looking at the same comparison points as I.

The various sites I've seen since the heyday of mp3.com haven't been able to do any better, and in many respects seem to have taken us backwards. iTunes does a reasonably good job of suggesting other artists (at least by my standards), but those suggestions aren't constant - when I came back a couple of months later I couldn't find the album that had caught my eye (and I couldn't find any kind of bookmark functionality). Michael Robertson's latest effort to reclaim the mp3.com glory days, mp3tunes, doesn't have the "radio" streams, and the Similar Artists data isn't searchable.

But my point is not to bitch about the crappy state of music delivery sites. I have similar problems with movies, anime[Wiki] and games.

I've tried a variety of community sites, but I find that they quickly scale beyond my capacity (in terms of time) to continue monitoring them, get too involved in discussion of the various elements of the industry or both. I'm not into debating the merits of various directors, producers or studios - in most cases I don't even have any idea who filled those roles in my favorite products. I just want reasonable recommendations for products I might like.

The way human beings have historically done this has been by word of mouth. But these days there are hundreds - if not thousands or millions - more options to choose from, and many of us don't enjoy the same amount of face-time with friends that our ancestors did. The accelerating pace of technology has served to increase our choices exponentially while our inability (or reluctance) to adapt to this change has negatively impacted our ability to take advantage of them.

The recent LID discussions got me to take a serious look at the Friend Of A Friend concept and how it could apply to other models. What I eventually started envisioning was a web of "trust" where friends can rate and add their favorite music (for example) to a shared list, then I could see a list of "recommendations" based on how much I "trust" their tastes to be similar to mine. (Ratings from friends of friends could have a lower degree of impact on the recommendation and multiple first-degree friend ratings could increase the recommendation.) Or, to think of it another way, a Bayesian-like filter for electronic word of mouth.

What Ron's essay helped me to realize is that this too is just a kind of marketing. The question is; is it the kind of paradigm shift in marketing that would level the playing field for indie products in the same way that the Internet provided distribution capabilities?

#Comment Re: iRate has worked for me made: 2005-03-19 17:14:50.254717+00 by: FnDragon


Indie music, free to download, good selection, (somewhat) intelligent downloading algorithm that learns from your tastes. I found a bunch of songs that I would never have heard otherwise. (and there is some crap, but YMMV).

#Comment Re: made: 2005-03-20 07:29:30.887808+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

Thanks, FnDragon. iRate is working very nicely. I'd like to see a few more features in the client, but so far it's exhibited rock solid basic functionality. Now we just need something for other products...

#Comment Re: made: 2005-03-21 18:20:45.454076+00 by: Dan Lyke

Shawn, something else that's occurred to me is that weblogs make recommendations about products. What if your "aggregator" could grab recommendation info from various weblogs and tell you when people whose tastes you trust give a product a recommendation? So I could markup reviews with "<product rating="awesome">Aerosol Cheese</product>" and when your aggregator notices that 5 people you trust have said good things about Aerosol Cheese then you can re-think your stance on spray-on dairy products.

So more manual than an automated music selector, but also something that might be implementable in a more general way.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-03-21 18:45:21.397667+00 by: Shawn

That's pretty much where I was headed, Dan - not so much a specific application as a standardized way of defining my ratings that could then be consumed by others. I don't think I'd want to tie it too closely to blogs, though. Right now most of the people in my life who's opinions I trust don't maintain blogs.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-03-21 18:54:26.777949+00 by: Dan Lyke

In my utopian moments, I see blogs becoming more automated, that the information published on a blog will come from software that's more and more tuned to expose things about ourselves that we want published while reducing the interface load on the users of such software. Since webloggers are the early adopters, that's where it will show up first, but I believe that in the future we'll all have URLs that can be queried for this sort of data (probably with authentication on the "who's asking").