Posted by: pauditore | November 11, 2009

Stating the Obvious: Social Media Peer Groups & Startup Strategy & Vision

Humans are a community-oriented species; this behavior has been crucial to our evolutionary success over the last 4.5 million years. The fact that many of us are now engaging with Web 2.0 enabled communities is not surprising, but how do we interpret the future of this trend? As Liam Fahey so aptly said during a recent meeting I attended, “it’s not the data, but how you read it, and the actions you take away from it.”

When I entered the technology industry in 1989 I was shocked by what market research companies called research. I called it “market art,” primarily because of its lack of statistical discipline, vision and strategy.  The most disturbing thing about market art is that the data is collected but not fully analyzed to extract its future strategic value. Today I call this research “stating the obvious” and it is really “rear view mirror analysis.”

Market researchers today provide little advice on how companies should plan future strategies and how to leverage trends to gain new market share, innovation and/ or competitive advantage. The majority of market researchers today provide CAGR extrapolations of market growth; (box counting) based on rear view mirror analysis.

Last week I attended the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) conference in Cambridge MA, and spent the day absorbing social media research and how various universities, nonprofits and industries are engaging in this new form of human collaboration. The majority of the research at this conference, as is the case with most conferences today, was “stating the obvious.” Absent from most of the presentations was what I call “data visioning”, an interpretation of the data as it relates to the future.

I welcome your comments on this discussion, and would really like to know how market research has helped your business.

3 Questions to ask about the stating the obvious are:

  1. What does this research mean to my business now and 3-5 years from now?
  2. Is the research reliable and relevant to my customer base?
  3. Can it deliver:
    1. Innovation?
    2. Competitive advantage?
    3. Increased market share?
    4. Offer opportunities for new products and services?
    5. Can it help establish my brand in Social Media Peer Groups (SMPG)?

Perhaps the most important research presented at the conference was The New Symbiosis of Professional Networks SCNR Study. Co-sponsored by SAP, this study revealed that the era of professional Social Media Peer Groups has arrived; information and influence will travel at business velocities never seen before.

5 Ways SMPGs impact business and provide more value to customers:

  1. Content sharing and distribution in the SMPG environment will be pervasive.
  2. This is a major change in peer group communications and their interaction which facilitates easier and faster information exchange.
  3. SMPGs represent an inflection point and disrupter in marketing communications.
  4. Information flow in SMPGs will operate at Internet business velocity and become almost instantly global.
  5. The only factor that will slow information exchange and interaction in SMPGs will be time zones.

5 Key Challenges Marketers Face Managing SMPGs:

  1. Overall managing influence will require an entirely different approach.
  2. Managing and influencing independent content will be the major challenge.
  3. Control of organizational and corporate placed content will be another challenge facing marketing communications.
  4. Managing consistent messaging and content across the social network and traditional corporate communications pathways will be difficult.
  5. Understanding and measuring the tonality and effect of social media content is evolving.

This is my analysis of the Symbiosis study and this is what I call “reading the data,” and “visioning-out” the impact of the new disruptor of communications, the SMPG. As I have said many times before the social media groups are the new word of mouth marketing platforms. Startup companies need to pay close attention to this major trend in communications, which may level the playing field with competitors large and small. Startup companies that react to the market are generally the losers, those that act, win.

Again, I welcome your comments.  This week’s Personality of Fish looks at Fish Schools, the Social Media Peer Groups of the ocean.

Personality of Fish: Communities of Fish

At some point in their existence most species of fish join a community and begin a migration, salmon are anadromous, eels are catadromous, and herring, shad, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and even tuna spend most of their lives in schools together.  There are various reasons for schooling or shoaling together and most revolve around reproduction, feeding and avoiding predators. Schooling fish employ highly sophisticated means of communications to stay together in tight schools that provide a confusing mass to predators in the open sea or estuary.

The communications platform that enables this comes from a lateral line that runs down the middle of the fish. Lateral lines are thought to provide electro and olfactory sensory apparatus, in addition to the ability to sense movement and vibration such as we discussed in earlier posts about sharks. In the shark, lateral lines are also thought to sense magnetic fields and we discussed this in detail earlier this year (the Ampullaee of Lorenzini). As with many of the ocean’s creatures lateral lines in fish have been generally understudied.

Fisheries Management of Schooling Fishes

Before the advent of modern fishing methods, such a seines, purse seines, gill nets and Yankee otter trawls, hundreds of millions of American shad, herring, sardines and anchovies could be seen and harvested off our coasts. The schooling of these fish meant the beginning of the end for many species including the Northwest Atlantic Herring, shad, and the Pacific coast’s anchovies and sardines. In my home town and where I live now huge fisheries industries where built on these species, however, fishing pressure and lack of government and industry regulations has in some cases irreversibly destroyed these precious stocks.  The last great stocks of schooling fishes include the tuna and swordfish, both these species are under serious pressure from continued mismanagement by the National Marine Fisheries Service, state and local government agencies and the industries that can’t police themselves. As I have said before there is nothing sustainable about fisheries management in this country or the world for that matter. Until next time I wish you great selling and marketing in the millennium .

Photo Caption: Wooden Sculpture of the endangered Giant Blue fin Tuna, September 2009 Captain Kid bar Woods Hole, MA.

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