It’s All About Popular – July 20th, 2010

by admin on August 20th, 2010

It’s All About Popular


The Broadway hit “Wicked” features one of the leads singing a catchy but biting tune: “To think of celebrated heads of state or ‘specially great communicators — Did they have brains or knowledge? Don’t make me laugh! They were popular! Please – It’s all about popular!” Which begs the question of whether social media is just another way to promote popularity as a goal in itself. Social maestro Brian Solis thinks “influence” is a better measure of impact. But can you truly be influential without being popular?


Where Do You Stand (on Privacy)?


This week there’s been a lot of talk about Facebook’s launch of a geolocation feature that may pose a threat to current players in the market like Foursquare and Gowalla. Much of the press talk has been about privacy concerns, which loom large for those of us who care about protecting some of our personal information (like the car we drive and our home address). But to me it was just one more reminder that marketplace success isn’t always about innovation. While old school economics teaches that companies with the best ideas, products and services should prosper in a competitive market, the fact is that more often it’s about momentum. Having a lot of marketshare, in particular, allows you to take your customers in new directions. Meanwhile, I agree with Gizmodo “The First Thing You Should Do With Facebook Places: Don’t Let Other People Tag You.” For now, I disabled geolocation on my account.


The Economy Goes à la Carte

An extremely popular viewpoint on the new economic landscape is that consumers are now in charge of driving content, services and products. A relatively easy-to-understand example of this was reported in the NY Times –a restaurant that purports to “make a game” out of customers’ designing the food on the menu. At the same time, I would imagine that the kind of fine dining being popularized through reality TV shows like Top Chef are heightening people’s culinary expectations. All of which puts me in mind of the old Henry Ford dictum “If I’d have asked customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”


Rusty Wheels of Progress 


 They say the squeaky wheels get oiled, but it seems to me that companies spend a lot more time learning how to muffle squeaks than how to buy the right kind of oil. Over the years firms large and small have, with increased efficiency, ignored complaints made in writing or by phone, wearing consumers down with lengthy processes, forms and procedures. Social media networks promised to take control away from corporate do-nothings and give ordinary citizens the means by which to get their complaints heard. The problem with that, of course, is that you generally have to be highly entertaining, or have a particularly vocal and large network, before social media can help you spread the word about your own problem. And the more consumers make videos, songs and blog rants about their pet peeves, the harder it is for any one individual person to be heard.  While a few companies are starting to make name for their twitter-based customer care, I predict the rest of us can just cool our heels and listen to the hold music. Plus ça change.

  1. Agnes M permalink

    Location-based apps are fun and a great way to connect with my friends. I dont care whether its facebook or fourswuare, I’m going to keep enjoying it.

  2. Sheilah Link permalink

    I just don’t get this whole “checking in” thing? What do you get out of it? Some discounts? Don’t most places have a sale rack anyway? Oh well thanks, great post this week Jonathan.