Popularity is also an influence of conversational content that people relate to for whatever reason. Advertisers flock to web sites with the most traffic hoping to attract viewers to their offering. As the web has evolved it has caused a fundamental technology and communications market shift toward the person and away from the place and things. The social web has created a shift by moving away from connecting people to things and shifted towards people connecting to people.
What connects the people?
There are many things that motivate people to connect with one another. The attractions include age, demographics, industry, expertise and last but not least activity. Activity comes in the form of content which raises an individuals profile and frames the reference of appeal to others. Content also comes in many forms including news, articles, commentary, endorsements, links all of which drives hits to a persons profile.
A persons presence is largely driven by the "hits" to topics, conversations and their participation within the social web. BusinessWeek reports: Barack Obama may or may not become the next President of the U.S., but he's a winner on the Internet. His status in cyberspace now surpasses that of Hillary Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, and even Paris Hilton, according to Garlik, a British startup that rates people's digital reputations.
Such rating systems aren't new. But Garlik's service, called QDOS, claims to operate on an unprecedented scale. Garlik founder and CEO Tom Ilube says QDOS has taken the digital measure of all 45 million adults in Britain, rating them on how active they are online, their popularity, individuality, and impact on all things digital
"Imagine the impact of a searchable source of tens, or hundreds of millions, of QDOS status scores," says Ilube. People could use such assessments in recruiting, or to find status-appropriate mates. Corporations, Ilube notes, spend millions of dollars analyzing consumer information. Someday, he says, "consumers will demand to be active participants in that personal information economy."
Hits in the Relationship Economy are driven by Conversational Attraction
Barack Obama's conversations seem to be working. His relationship with Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of Obama helped raise the conversational bar. His conversations with America raised his "hits" as indicated by the Business Week article. But did the content of his conversations bring him the attraction he needed to win in Iowa ? Additionally the content of Mike Huckabee's conversations ended up getting him a win in Iowa as well . One would conclude that Huckabee's and Obama's conversational content created a "better relationship" with voters than did the other candidates. So we could conclude that attraction is driven by hits and the quality of the "conversational content" in the networked world.
What type of conversational content creates the greatest attraction (hits)?
Jack Welch, previous leader of GE Capital, writes a column for each edition of Business Week. In his year end column titled "Hot-Button Columns of 2007 he notes the top issues he and his wife addressed in his column during 2007 that sparked the greatest response. Jack writes:
Talk about blindsided! "The high cost of corruption" was one of our most controversial columns of the year,, inflaming slews of readers, who accused us of everything from ignorance to collusion
Take our March column decrying the Employee Free Choice Act. If our column on corruption set off a firestorm, this one unleashed a conflagration.
By contrast, our most popular column this year was a love letter we wrote to Gen Y, a group of young people who, despite their negative press, we have consistently found to be engaged, worldly, entrepreneurial, and hungry to win. Our view struck a chord, and "Generation Y's bad rap" elicited a rush of letters from grateful twentysomethingsâ€"and their employers, professors, and even some of their parents. "Thank you!" one mother wrote us. "At last someone has the guts to see these kids as we see our daughter and her friendsâ€"the hope of the future."
Finally, a July column "Bosses who get it all wrong," didn't spark controversy as much as inspire a boatload of advice to usâ€"about what we failed to mention in our list of the top five corner-office dysfunctions. (One reader even sent us a list of 15 bad behaviors we left out.) But we were perhaps the most taken aback by the e-mail we received from a reader who hung the column in her cubicle. A few days later, a manager told her to take it down and stop "pushing the envelope."
Jack Welch's column content was relevant to the "swarm"of readers that follow the column and could relate to the issues, good and bad. The conversational web creates hits by connecting people to people and engaging in relevant conversations that "hits" people where ever they are at, at any given time, everywhere and anywhere.
What is it that businesses need to learn about the conversational web?
If you visit the web pages of the Fortune 500 you will find one way conversations filled with content that is not necessarily relevant to "the people".
We were recently in dialog with a global company that does in excess of $60 Billion a year in transactions. The company wanted to learn how to use the social web for business and wanted us to provide them the education around the related issues. They were interested in creating their own social network with the aim of "connecting" their employees, customers and suppliers. When asked why would these people want to connect with your business? Their response was, "because we have something of value to offer them". So we simply checked the Alexa traffic rating on their corporate web site and it ranked close to 900,000. In comparison this blog had a rank of 272,000 on Alexa. What is the difference?
The executives were surprised and indicated they need to work on SEO to increase the traffic to their web site. Our response was no, you need to learn how to have meaningful conversations and create relevant content that appeals to your customers, suppliers and employees. Simply building or participating in "social networks" so you can connect with people is a waste of time and money. On the other hand if you have something that is relevant to the hearts and minds of the people you want to relate to then, and only then, will you understand the power of the social web. The best approach to leveraging the social web is to understand the systemic nature of peoples interest, desires and needs: a relationship.
Connecting the dots requires a conversation, not just a connection. What say you?