Archive for October, 2011

October 24th, 2011

When curation gets a real business model

by Laurent François

Most of people against  Pearltrees or other curation tools say there’s no cash-flow below. But they’re definitely wrong.

OpenSky a curation / e-shopping platform, has a very strong business model.

The core principle is simple: once you’ve logged in, you follow experts / stars you trust. They recommend you products or services. It’s not only following celebrities like in a bundle package; it’s really a value added as he/she curates items depending on their scope of expertize.

The curation promise is linked to other leverages:

  • social currency & social gaming : you earn credits anytime a friend joins the platform. You can also earn credits once you win or satisfy some missions. Brand content projects can be pretty numerous
  • couponing : picked items also have “deals”. It’s both addictive (as Private Outlet or Asos.com) and relevant for the consumers

One more time, “opinion leaders strength” + “recommendation power through WOM” is a good combination. The growing influence of Twitter as a business case (they’ve finally entered the entertainment business…) is decisive.

Good news for curation start-ups: filtering data and making the web more physically-manipulable is key.

October 11th, 2011

Tribes’ problems: destroying Social Media spreading and discoveries

by Laurent François

Many observers are talking about a threat in Social Media: as Mark Schaefer writes on SMT, Twitter would be dying as an information tool, because of the tribes themselves.

Affinity groups, if they have a lot of advantages in real life (solidarity, network effects, business possibilities…), also have a big problem on social web: they tend to only promote themselves.

Mark notifies some negative elements: “auto RT” for instance, propagated by communities of allies, give the feeling of a giant new kind of ad space. Auto RT helps bloggers to appear in a very competitive market; but value added is very low, as it pollutes our attention. It’s a kind of necessary thus pervert leverage, because of Google too, which focuses on live search and dismantles the access to relevant archives…

Communities filter new entrants (arent’t hashtags anoter discriminative barrage?) and also filter external sources (besides important news as a tsunami or a war…). It reduces to a certain extent the quality and quantity of information.

Natalie Rastoin et Camille François summarized the main issue of this hyper-personalization + hyper-tribalization: what I want to get as a consumer is not what is necessary to access as a citizen.

3 main examples today:

  1. the very bad coverage of the new Huffington Post in French: communities of journalists + media-related spheres polluted my timeline, without really informing me
  2. the Mashable article on the new Facebook for iPad has been RT 10 times during the last 5 minutes (I only follow 760+ Twitter users, which is already enormous for a single man…)
  3. no info on Karachi affair

2 conclusions:

  1. curation is now a kind of investigative work; it requires a huge amount of time. I’m wondering if I’m not going to leave mainstream tools like Twitter to focus more on “1 to 1″ lunch with relevant people
  2. because of Twitter becoming mainstream, and linked to its real core business, entertainment, I’m now wondering if I’m not going to dive into more “underground” or hidden netwroks
October 9th, 2011

Talibans on Social Media

by Laurent François

NATO and their allies seem more and more scared because of a new evolution in Taliban strategy. If some decades ago, they were considered as modernity’s lost children (ie listening to music or watching TV were strictly forbidden), they are now massively entering digital era, deploying an efficient Social Media strategy.

For many months now, citizens or activists can follow Alemarahweb account, on the current fights from islamist troops vs American soldiers. We’ve also seen a true Twitter war between ISAF and Taliban spokeperson, which is a very interesting trend for next battles; giving live updates and controling the WOM spread is as important as earning new grounds. It is highly strong for Taliban as these social platforms endeavour their contact strategy with foreign opinion leaders. Websites pro-Taliban are sky-rocketing and it is linked to a “real” and daily pressure pattern on local populations. Not only through dangerous, violent and costly raids, but also through massive SMS sending, diffusing ideas and information on Jihad. Because it is sent at a very frequent pace, it could be compared to a digital minaret. Every channel used by international brand is also mastered by Talibans. It gives coherence and “form” to their ambition.

If we summarize: Bin Ladin implemented a TV-oriented communication. It had advantages (shock, expectations from media, fear…) but it lacked what the new digital strategy owns:  resilience with their target groups.

It is to be approached as one of the most jeopardizing threat against NATO; because the vision is now kind of blurry, local citizens start doubting, whereas Talibans suggest a simple thus coherent platform.

Talibans managed to control again the communication funnel, as Thomas Ruttig explained in 2010 en 2010 :  “Ces huit ou neuf dernières années, les Taliban ont réussi à diminuer le nombre de voix émanant du mouvement. Les premières années après la chute des Taliban, il y avait différents porte-paroles donnant souvent des versions différentes de la situation. Mais c’est terminé.” 

Conquering new cash-flow providers in foreign countries + a necessary need to get direct responses capabilities in terms of influence were two priorities. Because the new generations are highly pervasive in Afghanistan; they’ve been raised with internet and with Afghan diaspora. Soft Power is not only great powers’ main asset; it’s now also widely relevant for niche groups like Talibans for 2 reasons: they move faster than big organizations; they have a will in which deat is also part of the programme.