Friday, February 24, 2012

The social media fingerprint....Iran...Iran so far away

There has been much talk in the papers about Iran.  Most of it centers around the issues with their nuclear program.  But recently, there has been a ton of talk about linking the recent climb in gas prices to Iran.  Rather than simply sit on the sidelines, I figured I would take a quick look to see how the "news" reporting on this has been accepted by consumers.

This post will be short, because I have a ton to do tonight, but in order to preclude the issue rising and saying I knew it I figured I would throw out there what I found.  It is very telling look at what I call the finger print of social media.

I have often been curious how one could categorize social media fingerprints.  By fingerprints, I mean when a story hits how does it flow through the different channels of social media. The first time I noticed this was doing some work for our PR firm around an announcement about a changing of the guard in the wine critique world.  Big whoop.  When I looked more closely there wasn't a ton of data.  Really it was just a few thousand soundbites.

In this study, a very well respected wine critique named Robert Parker retired and passed the baton to his protege Antonio Galloni.  I am not a big wine guy, so my interest in telling this story is truly from a social media perspective.  It was big news in the wine community.  But when I went to study it (and there was lots of telling stuff in there), I noticed something very interesting about where they talked about both these wine aficionados.  Below are the source breakdowns...they are fascinating (to a social media geek like me anyway).

What jumped out at me immediately was the top sources differed so greatly.  In addition, I was so used to seeing Twitter and Facebook dominate the social media sources that to see Blogs for Robert Parker and Forums for Antonio Galloni was astounding.  It was the same area of focus, same job, but totally different breakdowns.  This awakened me to the idea of a social media fingerprint.  How does the data flow when announcements happen.  In this case, it makes sense.  The established wine critique is talked about in a bit more mainstream way on blogs.   People sort of reporting the news about wines and what he says.  Galloni, on the other hand, represents a more niche persona in niche industry.   Only the very serious talked about him.  They dialogued about the change and their opinion of him.  On to the forums baby!  On the most committed  talk about a subject on a forum and Galloni was new.  They were bantering about whether he could cut the mustard in the new job.  Again different places for different conversations.  I drag on because it is important to share the moments when a concept is born.

What does this have to do with Iran?  Everything.  I have started noticing the constant discussion BY THE NEWS AGENCIES about how we are in trouble because gas is rising on worries in Iran.  I wanted to experiment with this fingerprint idea and figured I would see what it looked like in social media.  My hypothesis was that the news is where things are "created" and as they move through social media they eventually end up on twitter where the average person takes it viral as an issue briskly stating their opinion on the subject.

First, I looked at Iran as a discussion over the last year.  Again, to keep is short (too late I guess), I took a look two searches.

Search 1
Topic: Iran
Time frame: last 12 months
Context:  All data

Search 2
Topic: Iran
Time Frame:  Jan 1st to Feb 23rd
Context:  Gas, Gasoline only

The goal was to see what Likes/Dislikes surfaced in the total data versus when focused on gas/gasoline.  Below you will see the total counts of both searches. 

Firstly, you will notice how little data comes up in the sub search on gas/gasoline.  This already begins to tell us that this topic is only being discussed in the news and people have not started reacting.  it makes up less than 2% of the total data.  People are more worried about other things than gas/gasoline when talking about Iran.  This is no surprise actually.  They are more concerned about nuclear war one would suspect.

Next, Let's look at the buzz trend and the sentiment trend for the last year on Iran.  

The net sentiment is about the same for both.  But there is some difference.  When looking at the normalized buzz for the Gas/Gasoline search we see a much greater climb in buzz 140% versus 60% very recently.  Normalized buzz uses the NetBase index as a benchmark to account for changes in content and thus is an apples to apples comparison the change in buzz on any topic (since data is fluid we account for changes that can occur as we clean and add data from time to time).  This suggests that the amount of chatter about Gas/Gasoline is rising faster lately versus all topics on Iran.  So it is picking up steam.

I then looked at the naturally surfaced likes/dislikes on all Iran data to see if the terms around gas/gasoline rise to the top.  At 2% we would suspect it wouldn't but that is the beauty of natural language processing.  You get to just let it do its work neutrally.  Below are the likes and dislikes charts for Iran total over the past 12 months.

As expected...nothing about the rising gas prices which I am reading about all the time now.  I have noticed these articles blaming the tensions on Iran as a reason gas prices could go up.

Here is the dislikes pie chart for the gas/gasoline search.  I didn't look at likes because that isn't the point.  We want to see if this something negatively mentioned because nobody wants to see the prices go up...makes commuting expensive.

Now we are focused in on mentions of Gas/Gasoline with emotion towards Iran.  You will see in this search that there is some mention of the gas prices, but it is not astounding as to how much.  In addition, there isn't a ton of data with people expressing emotion towards Iran when mentioning gasoline.  So I figured it was only fair to flip it right.  So I then ran the following search

Topic:  Gas, Gasoline
Time frame:1/1/12 to 2/23/12
Context: Iran

In this case, we are now looking at what people are saying how they feel about gas since the beginning of the year when mentioning Iran.  Here we would expect to see something different no?  We would expect greater discussion about the rising gas prices and how it essentially sucks (I commute a long ways).  The chart below looks at the chatter since 1/1/12 AND removes the news from the data so it is mainstream consumer data (blogs, forums, social networks and microblogs...etc.)

Now we are talking...all the dislikes are fear about gas prices.  People are worrying about gas when mentioning Iran.   We see expensive by hour and expensive as the top two mentions.  Now lets look at the same search with NEWS ONLY.

You will see it is a bit different...

It is a bit higher level now with U.S. economy being mentioned first and then expensive.  It looks like news.  They are talking about sanctions and government stuff.

So we have looked at the issue both ways.  We have taken emotion towards Iran in the context of gas and gas in the context of Iran.  People are talking about a lot of things...but on to my point.

Is this really a viral issue that is bothering the average consumer?  Let's assume if it is, then Twitter is the benchmark for major social discussion.  If they are discussing it in blogs it is opinionated idiots (like me) talking about subjects.  If it is forums it is crazies debating the issue.  If it is facebook we know they either like or dislike it.  But if it is twitter, then it is on the mind of THE CROWD as I like to say.

Let's start with Iran overall.  Where is the conversation or the social fingerprint of the discussion on this very current topic.

For the year...33% microblogs.  This is percentage of people simply sharing their thoughts outwardly on the subject.  The discussion about Iran is pretty mainstream.  There are lots of conversations.  In addition, there is a great amount of social "discussion" on forums and people stating their opinion on the subject to whoever will listen on blogs.  News at about 10% is reasonably high (it can be about 5% so let's call it 2x).  We see that Iran as a topic is mainstream.

Let's go to Iran context gas/gasoline next.  We know when people share emotion towards Iran when mentioning gas it isn't really about the prices too much.  Is the fingerprint different.  Remember, I only looked at the period since the beginning of the year when the issue started.  

I would call this a different fingerprint wouldn't you.  Blogs or people sharing their opinions on the subject has very large volume.  40% of the traffic.  And those blathering their opinion in special places at each other a solid 20%.  Microblogs...a mere 12%.  This is not a mainstream discussion.  It is a call to arms maybe but not the populace feeling the effects of the problem.  

So I thought...great we see a different fingerprint for Iran in general versus Iran context gas/gasoline.  But what about gas/gasoline context Iran for the period from the beginning of the year.  Surely, people are getting pissed about the prices going up.  They should be screaming...let's take a look.

Remember I took this study on because it is current and I have been reading about it in the news a ton lately.  If it is affecting people they should be talking about it on twitter where people share outwardly what they think about something to whom I have no idea...drum roll please on this experiment............................................................

I rest my case!  40% blogs, 20% forums, 13% microblogs.  The source breakdown mirrors the other search.  We see in the discussion around gas/gasoline context Iran that people are expressing their displeasure about the rising gas prices (and blaming Iran) BUT the discussion is still people talking to each other in special place or just talking about the issue AND NOT sharing their frustration.

So where is the proverbial slam dunk? Below is the source breakdown for another trending topic of late. Whitney Houston...for the past year (it proves my point so much that I didn't bother to narrow it by date range)

Yes...61% of the traffic is people lamenting her death among other things AND 22% of them are commenting on Facebook a whopping 83%.

There is not much else to say accept that social media fingerprints do exist and they need to be studied a whole bunch more...

By the way, I nearly freaked out when I went to buy gas last week and it was $3.85.  On Sunday it was $4.07 and today...jeez da wheez $4.17.  Needless to say I was pissed.

But sadly...I didn't tweet about it...I wrote about it on my blog...does that make me a rube???

And then I am going to tweet this to get people to read it.

Am I creating solutions or just a small voice fishing in the social ocean.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Political Smackdown: What does social media say about the parties?

Back to politics...

It is a hot topic and of course, people are curious to hear what is going why not focus on different aspects of the election.  Today, I figured I would go up a level to look at the parties themselves.  We spend a ton of time these days focused on the candidates and the he said, he said of what is going on in a very bloody and inter-partisan Republican race.  But what is happening at the party level.

The questions I had are...

1.  Who is driving the dialogue and are the democrats even "awake" yet?
2.  Is the "red meat" primary awakening the democrats yet?
3.  Who really has the advantage as we head in 2012?
4.  What are some of the high level details driving each party's positive/negatives?

I found those answers...let's discuss them...

I wanted to take a look at the buzz and sentiment comparison for both as well as the changes in net sentiment over the last year.  They are below

I found the data fascinating.  First off, the amount of chatter mentioning Democrats is significantly lower than Republicans.  The buzz difference is at more than a 3:1 ratio for Republicans vs. Democrats.  This is not surprising as all the air time is about what is happening in the GOP, but what you will notice in the table in the bottom is the positive net sentiment the Democrats have since the Republican primaries have gone into formal and full swing.  The net sentiment for the Democrats is now at +8 (out of -100 to +100).  This is nothing to celebrate, but in my experience looking at this data, politics because of its polarity, tends to have net sentiments near 0.  Either way the spread right now between the Republicans and Democrats is at +17.  That is a significant difference.  In addition, for the last 12 months the Republicans have not enjoyed a positive net sentiment month.  The Democrats have 6 months in the positive territory as well as the last 5 months in a row (and the trend is going upward).  I did not delve into whether this is due to positive feelings about the economy or simply because of the toxic rhetoric being used in the Republican primary.  I can look into that next time.  But what it is saying, the Democrats are trending upward.  The Republicans are trending downward.  Not a good sign for a party trying to expand its lead in Congress AND unseat a sitting president.

We can see the illustration of this trend side by side in the chart below for those who are visual...

Next I will show the stacked data for the Democrats and Republicans.  Also below...

What is interesting in the slide above is how razor thing the advantage is between the two parties when measured across a year.  But take it with a grain of salt.  That difference in buzz is also telling.  Democrats have some serious momentum because of the "lack of focus" on their efforts, but if they don't get their people creating more hype that could spell another path to doom for them.  Watching you opponent tear itself to pieces is one strategy, getting you base to get the message out with more louder volume is another that appears to be missing.  But it is true that they are not the focus of the discussion right now.

The last slide I will present is a likes/dislike attribute array on both parties.  It is a side by side comparison of the top 10 likes/dislikes for both.  I have added some color to the chart that groups some of the insights I see in the data.  See below

In my opinion, the data is telling.  You will see that there little that is unique about the positives for both.  I have color coded what I consider to be unique naturally surface insights from the NLP.  You can see that majority of the likes for both center around the discussion of them "winning" or "controlling" the dialogue in the government.  This is no surprise.  Both parties want control and believe their party will get it.  Sure the Republicans are saying they want to beat Obama but that is nothing new.

On the Democrat side there are two unique things being discussed.  I think they would be thrilled to learn that they are considered both Powerful and Responsible.  Without looking deeper into the data, this suggests their brand is gaining momentum for their continued efforts to "help the middle class".  Again, I can dig in at another time.  The issue is that these unique attributes are #5 and #9.  There is work to do but it seems their message is resonating with those discussing the party.

On the Republican side, there are three things being uniquely mentioned.  #6, #9, and #10 we see "simple", "care about", and "better job".  Like the Democrats they are not top 5 likes for the party but they do center around some interesting things.  For one, the comment simple suggests that the Republican economic platform is viewed as more straightforward.  Regardless of party, they do talk a lot about simplifying things like the Tax Code.  As for care about and better job, this suggest that folks do have some level of connection with the Republicans around being a party that is focused on the individual (their general message) as well as doing a better job overall.  Who really knows if these positives are very definitive.

What is more telling are the dislikes...

There are distinct themes surface for both parties.  I have used colors to capture some general categories across both parties.  The dark red is representing very strongly expressed attributes focused on the damage the party is creating.  The bright red are expressions of opinion about that party.  The lighter red is about control of the playing field (in the positives there was no differentiation here, but in the negative there are).  And the light pink is focused on things that are simply mentioned on both sides.

Let's focus on the dark red (rather than party by party).  For attributes that represent perceived damage, the Republicans are definitely not paying attention to the American people.  Four of the top 10 dislikes about the Republicans are focused on them literally hurting the U.S. economy.  I have read much about how the Republican's focus on cutting without raising revenue is starting to have an impact.  In addition, the constant dialogue about the 1% and protecting it seems also to potentially play out here.  I would say regardless of why, the fact that #4, #6, #9 and #10 all fit this "damage" category is a real issue that cannot be ignored.  With the extended primary and continued red meat, I would say Republicans are damaging themselves without the Democrats throwing a punch.

On the Democrat side, there is other danger.  Their #1 dislike is Kill it.  If you look more deeply at why, it seems that Democrats seem to be getting labeled as simply killing things they don't like.  People seem to be saying that Democrats simply stop it if they don't agree.  I believe this is about things like healthcare that people consider to be forced through.  They are forcing their will and sometimes that is being viewed badly.  They are also viewed as corrupt.  Not a good word to be associated with.  Especially, when the Republicans are not considered corrupt.  This is a fundamental issue being expressed.  When you are corrupt, you are not trusted.  This is bad.

The darker/light red for the Democrats is a more lopsided discussion about them losing the election and control of the bodies of government.  The telling perception here is that the Democrats are "losers".  This sort of says when they win, they win because the Republicans are trying to hard to push their extreme agenda.  Call it putting them in their place.  That being said, the democrats always have this label of losing.  It is stated here.  What is interesting about this insight is as the vitriol continues by the Republicans the risk of the back lash is growing.   Couple that with a growing economy and that spells trouble.  While the Democrats are perceived losers, the cantankerous discussion is dangerous.

the bright red.  Well it is Republican unique.  It is all about dissension and the negative impact it is having on their efforts this election season. Being called weak as #1 isn't a good thing.  But desperate?  Uh oh.  It stinks of the crazy mud slinging going on.  For crying out loud, Santorum continues to say things very exteme and then back tracks with an aw shucks mentality.  Even if you agree with his statements, you have to at least appreciate that the extremeness of them does polarize and plays into these emotional expressions of being weak, desparate and making it harder.

So what does it all are my shortened thoughts

1.  The Republicans are getting blamed for the economy now because their stubborness isn't about fixing things but holding them up.
2.  The Democrats are perceived as losers right now and need to show more strength and give a better case as to why they will not be.
3.  The GOP better finish this debacle of a primary season or they run the risk of alienating folks over to the Democrats for fear of extremism.
4.  The Democrats better get their base energized soon.  The 3:1 difference in buzz says Democrats are asleep right now waiting to take action.  Get them energized now and the opportunity to create a tidal wave is there.
5.  The Democrats need to pull out their stat sheets and let people know how all that stimulus actually did something.  They could start by showing in the first $787B how much was paid back and how much interest they got.  It shows their spending led to ROI.
6.  Stop the red meat is killing you and your persona.  It may be too late.

This election will not go quiet into the night..... 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nanocapitalism part 3 - Hovering above the social chasm

The more I think about this concept, the more it rings true to me.

I spend an awful lot of time working across many verticals watching the social media marketplace mature.  Many people are constantly clamoring to serve to create solutions that are the next big thing.  They focus on developing infrastructure with a focus on themselves and their business, but they often miss the point of why we do things.  I believe that our goals as individuals is to make the world a better place.  And make no mistake like everyone, I want to "not have to work again". 

But would I stop?  Never!  I believe that using my mind is the most important thing I can do.  I am given time on Earth and I choose to use it to help advance whatever is going on in the short blink I have.  But if you think more deeply about most people's rationale for doing things it is with a focus on ourselves.  We all work to make ends meet and when we work in something like social media, we are believers in what this cultural change in how we communicate can bring to our lives.

But there is a chasm that exists here.  I have been writing about it.  That chasm is about the world of business and the world of individuals.  On one side as I wrote above, we work to develop technologies that help the business world connect to the individuals.   The technological goods and services proliferate almost as fast the tweets on twitter.  You need a way to manage your life goals.  You need a way to have your network find you work.  You need more cell service so you can find out what movie to see and when.  All these services are the cross-cultural chasm between business helping people and making money.  It is the essence of the joke that is social media fatigue.  Which I really consider a joke (see here).  We all now beholden to capitalism because of the need for the technology that connects us.

On the other side, we have the individuals who use the products of the New Corporation to change our lives and how we now treat each other.  My kids can be bullied in a virutal world.  People can see pornography without anyone knowing.  You can cheat on your spouse and hide so easily.  You are able to connect with old friends more easily.  You can let people know what you like even if they don't want to know.  You can show off on Facebook about how great your are presenting yourself as something you are not.  I don't mean to bash, but the reality is the MEO as I have heard it termed is now solely about bringing attention to oneself through the multisocial channels that are growing everyday.  I almost see people put each other down for now knowing how to use technology.

Call me a ludite but I think its all a big pile of you know what.  We are losing our identities in the sheer fact that we think that others are not on top of it when the reality is that we are locked in a new cultural war that is seemingly sucking the life out of culture altogether.

There has to be a middle ground between the corporate technology and the personal narcissism.  A place where people can feel free to leverage the technology to help others succeed not to put them down.

This is the place where the chasm will fill.  I believe this is where the concept of nanocapitalism plays.  Its is almost a time warp backward with an eye to the future.  The concept of Nanocapitalism is really about a time when the past principles of business which had so much more that what you did for me lately.  When technology was not there to "cyber gossip" or "cyber show off" people cared more about each other in business.  They were loyal to the principles of true relationship building.  We didn't know so much.

But today, as the concept of C2B grows and the individuals take back power from the companies meant to serve them, the rise of the entrepreneur has new meaning in a nanocapitalist  model.  Nanocapitalism is really just about increasing an individuals ability to live their life and prosper by focusing on what they do best.  Nanocapitalism is about helping you be rewarded for your specialized skills in a new form of meritocracy.  It is about using social media tools to help you "find" opportunities to perform and help others who have what you need perform to bring the best solution possible to those who need it. 

It is about trust, transparency and collaboration across a network fed by new tools.  Everyone can win.  Each individual who doesn't want to work for a large company can more easily be brought to solve problems for those who do. 

The rise of a concept where social media tools help people bring their best for parts of project where specialized solutions are needed is  a from of expert crowdsourcing that is truly missing.  There are many services out there that tout crowdsourcing as a means of cutting costs for your business.  There we go again a system that hurts the individual.  Instead, wouldn't you want to pay more for expert value that is efficient and effective?  Skills that save you money while bringing you value and expertise you need?

Nanocapitalism is about breaking the corporate social media paradigm AND the individual one.  Closing the chasm is about removing the cost cutting at the expense of your workforce.  It is also about showing individuals that it is more about creating a reality show narcissistic  spotlight because we are so good.

It is about getting more people to win.  15 years ago, that sausage maker in west texas I read about in the book Evil Plans had only those fortunate enough to stumble upon them for them to grow their brand.  Boy that has changed with the event of ecommerce. 

Now we need to find ways to help people find each other to bring the best team with the best solutions for the problem to the table when the answer is needed.

It removes the narcissism and increase the collaboration.  It destroys the inhumanity of increased ROI for some and brings it to many.

Nanocapitalism is the perfect chasm closer that helps the issues GEN Y has with corporate America to be solved in a way that meets everyone's needs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nanocapitalism part 2 - My sister the nanocapitalist...a model for success

I have been thinking about the content of my last post which discussed how social media data will change how small business runs.  (See previous Blogpost) link here The reason?  With increase technology that is happening around us, there will clearly be efficiencies in how things get done, but there will also be changes to how we interact as business professionals.  The advent of social media is about create tons of key content, connecting people more effortlessly, and giving you key modalities to share information.  While this is all very good and interesting, the rise of nanocapitalism in my opinion finds its foundation in something much deeper.

In my previous corporate lives, I spent the majority of my time working to help large organizations find reasons to do things they didn't want to do.  Whether I was working in the lab developing toilet bowl cleaners, managing partnerships at a high level to connect people who needed technology or simply finding new ideas that could be applied to the business to create ROI, the core of those efforts was about people, culture and change.  So while all the tools and methods involved in social media create astounding ways to communicate, tools are just that tools.  They are merely a means to an end.

Are they powerful?  Absolutely!  Why?  Because as I often write here, with my companies' product, I am able to learn about the consumer behavior on just about any topic in a very short period of time for little to no money from my dining room table (literally).  NetBase has an offering that is changing the way you filter and understand social media data.  What I see countless times within customers is always the same.  It is about people, it is about application of that technology and almost always it is about cultural change.  You can sell anything to anyone (insert ice to eskimos analogy here!) but once they have the tools you need to help them see how it fits the structure.

This brings me back to my point (sorry for rambling a bit).  Nanocapitalism is a concept that is about the application of tools to a process of doing business that can lead to a "new world order".  And from a competitive perspective, changes to the landscape mean changes in who is successful.  We say giants can't fail.  I believe one day the rise and fall of groupon will be a great case study, but that is for another day. 

Nanocapitalism my friends is not only going to be about the efficiency created by new tools.  It is not only going to be about the costs you can save in your business.  It is about the corporate culture of one.  It is about the confidence it will bring to the small business owner to focus on what they are good at and not feel compelled to hire others in a formal way to run things.  The cross section of great technology, connectivity and small business corporate culture to create an acceleration of what's possible to achieve.

I will use dear sister as an example of the rise of nanocapitalism.  Her efforts as a sole proprietor in her photography business is what I consider the perfect example of someone who is going to kick some serious tail in a nanocapitalistic society.  Let's start with her website (link here).  You go there and see a great example of her storefront.  Anyone can do this.  She has done a great job of giving you insight in to how she runs her shop.  Her photos will strike you as different (she shoots tons of weddings, people, food and I guess whatever).  Next, Let's take a look at her ability to market herself online (2nd generation of ecommerce) (her facebook page).  Again, beyond her storefront, she has done a great job of "sharing" her work with others.  She also has a blog (blog link here).  Again, she canvasses using freely avaiable tools to connect you not only with the images she shoots but also enable references on facebook to "like" her and through her blog gives perspective on what she is shooting and why.  My sister is a great example of a small business owner who is leveraging social media to build her brand.  She is missing doing market research on her very craft however (tee hee...her brothers' job and passion).

Most would say, wow, that is nanocapitalism.  Look at the small proprietor building her business using social media tools.  In my opinon, it is not.  I grew up with my sister (duh).  One of the reasons she has always been an inspiration to me and someone who has taught me much about how to embrace differences in people's path in life is because of her ability to leverage her strengths (like we all have) to get where she is today.  She is a potential model for nanocapitalism because of the things she is doing that are not mentioned above. 

She hires no marketer because she has the tools.  She is constantly mentioning new social apps to me like pinster that are driving connectivity between what people want to what she has.  No market research needed.  She shared with me the tools she is implementing to connect to her bookkeeper who works for her on a part time basis.  She is part of a network of expert photographers that "validate" her work because she is part of the group.  She partners with other photographers to round out her resource needs in running her business.  The list goes on an on.

She is a nanocapitalist because the tools are giving her the confidence and path to have a networked corporate culture.  I always tell her she has two paths towards expansion:  bring in more people or do such a great job she can charge a hell of a lot more for what she does.  I often believe to leverage her own skills the second would be better.  Nanocapitalism gives her the choice.  Why?  Because the second path is possible because that method can be attained with the help of the tools she uses.  When her business gets too big for her to take the time she can find other "experts" to spend a portion of their time helping her.  She can "partner" for pieces of their time to build her brand bigger without taking on any overhead whatsoever.  And thus her corporate culture can play to her strengths and desires and give her options.  Hell, people can pay her for a piece of her time.

Imagine a time when her blog writer who she pays a small fraction to do work knows of a bloggers conference (I made it up) that needs a photographer for two days.  Because her marketing efforts have allowed to focus on creatively building her expertise and brand she may get that opportunity and be able to charge 3X versus if she spent all her time having to be the expert.  But wait there's more!  Because she uses nanocapitalistic principles, her ROI on this work is 50% higher because her overhead will be lower.

This process could help the US win in its innovation effort because the free market is getting flipped on its head.  Gone will be the days that size and scale are needed to really grow a business.  Is it better to have your own business that has $50 million in sales with a 10% profit margin or a business that has $10million in sales with an 50% profit margin.   Oh yeah, the $50 million dollar company has 50 people working for it, while the $10 million has 3.  The point is this...small businesses are going to get the opportunity to think about the American dream differently.  We are all overworked, overtired, and in my opinion OVERCORPORATE CULTURED to death.  To have control, make the same and perhaps have more time for yourself is becoming the American dream. 

Social media has shifted the balance of power from B2C to C2B.  The consumers have the power and are taking it back from the corporations.  In the coming years,  I predict that new brands will not be made but purchased because it is cheaper to Buy than Make.  The second is people's financial gain could grow if they can leverage others with technology as a means to enable it to increase their profit margins.  The term MEO can move from a narcissistic statement about our own need to be heard and into a place that means I run my business with quiet confidence.

And my sister...she has the frustrating tendency to take the predictions or advice I give her as I have for years about how great she is and why her decisions are so good and attribute to someone else later.

I figured I would go on record publicly to predict this.  She is a model of nanocapitalism and her desire to maintain control of how she does things AND leverage others to scale her business in a smart way will lead to a day where her ability to do the same work for higher fees is the reason she will succeed.  Her mindset is the model of small business and her ability to conquer the fears many of us have in starting are own thing is something that requires some thought.

I just hope she doesn't charge her brother too much to get a better headshot.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Social media and the rise of NANOCAPITALISM

What the hell does microcapitalism mean?  I guess it is a fancy way to say small business development, but I call it that for several reasons.  Below is a definition I got off the internet.

"Microcapitalism, an idea that capital should not only be in the hands of private citizens, but in the hands of as many private citizens as possible. Seth Godin has published several books an articles on this, including Small is the New Big. Microcapitalism is, in fact, an old idea. The idea that the village blacksmith, the family farm, and the general store owner should own their business, the land their business sat on, and take full responsibility for their production and income are as old as civilization itself." (

To me this is just saying that microcapitalism is about small business and having your own business that you control.  It does not discuss how you form, build and execute your business.  This concept seems redundant in the current permutation of the business landscape.  It does not take into account the manner in which the future of business will run or in some cases already running. 

I would submit that with maturation of e-business and the advent of the market research age of e-commerce (as I like to call it the 3rd generation of e-commerce...generation 1 was the storefront, generation 1A was the backbone of the storefront, and generation is the marketing age of social media sites), one can begin to view to future of microcapitalism...nanocapitalism.

What is the difference?  Nanocapitalism takes a small business and breaks into even smaller pieces.  The aforementioned view of microcapitalism suggests that individual owners own their business.  It assumes that people will put the brick and mortar in place they need to run the business.  Tangible assets that report to the leader of a business with a goal of generating revenue and control for the owner and their partners.  Those who work for the small business are still employees. 

Nanocapitalism's foundation is based on a more networked model of running a business.  My good friend Cindy McCann owns her own business called customer performance solutions.  Her business is based on providing customized training and consulting to help educate the workforce efficiently and effectively.  She has worked with me providing 3rd party support for an education strategy I own.  She is my partner and although she does not work for my company, she works along side me as if she does.  What makes her business a nanocapitalistic model?  She can bring ANY resources to bear to solve our issues on an AS NEEDED BASIS.  If I need video...she is connected to another small business owner who she can charge us for to use on an as-needed basis. 

She only carries the resources she needs when she needs them to provide the services her clients needs.  It is a network business model that helps ALL microcapitalist owner function and OWN what they kill so to speak.  So big whup...this is just a networked business model.

I have written before about why the dot com bubble won't happen again and it has to do with evolution of ecommerce.  Social media as stated above is the 3rd generation of ecommerce.  The marketing of individuals (trying to be their own brand and nanocapitalists in their own right) are now generating the content to allow businesses to study the marketplace. 

Over time we are already seeing the 4th generation of ecommerce coalescing.  It will be the advent of sourcing talent.  And I don't simply mean sourcing microtask workers...we are talking about expert talent.  As the concept of crowdsourcing works its way through the value chain we can imaging our ability to find people in the social media sphere will actually become the vehicle to enable businesses to run themselves with little to no infrastructure.

In the future, I could source all parts needed to create a business;  my virtual storefront (1st generation ecommerce), my marketing efforts (2nd generation ecommerce ala facebook/twitter or other not yet seen products), study my market (3rd generation media analytics) and finally source my company's talent to run it (4th generation ecommerce...the talent pool).  In this future state we will all be microcapitalists connected through the nanocaptialist network of talent. 

As Cindy says, not a moment before they are ready.  Are you ready to think about your entire business as being yourself sitting in a room with a phone and computer running what could be a vast network of people getting the right things done at the right time.  I guess we will need to have better ways to connect that talent to monitor its way of doing things.

The fun is just beginning it is a matter of time before the size of companies shrinks because you can own your culture, your methods and your time at a higher profit margin that carrying overhead that you don't need.  You will be providing service as a small part of a vast network and thus the rise of nanocaptialism begins...

As it pertains to the cross section of small business and technology some might say that small companies who are technology saavy would fit into the concept that HOW they do business is microcapitalism.  If this were true however, the way the provide value to their customers/consumers would be fragmented.
So what am I getting at when I mention the term microcapitalism.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Election 2012 - Who can resist social media meets politics????

During the fall, I spent some time looking at the Republican political field (link here)as well as President Obama (Link 1 here, Link 2 here).  While there have been a hundred debates already on the Republican side and even some controversy around that Chrysler Ad during the Superbowl, the reality is we are really getting into the thick of the political season.  And whether you are a Republican or a Democrat the thought of how social media analytics is going to impact this election is exhilarating.  Which ever candidate can tap the power of what people are saying and how they can make adjustments to their strategies is going to have a huge advantage in the coming election.  There is so much proof of how social media commentary can impact things.  As I wrote the other day, I was amazed when doing some novel prototyping of new social media methods, how impactful these methods can be.  In fact, I was visiting customer looking at some historical data around some business analysis and we were all shocked to dimensionalize how social media could have impacted how they dealt with issue.  We literally all learned something about their strategy and the social media reality of the situation.  It was almost shocking.

As I always say when it comes to social media analysis, it is the wild west (link here), but it is changing in 2012 .  Everyone is realizing the social media sun is coming up and there is so much room to grow (link here).  As for the political climate, I decided to take a wholesale look at the last 5 candidates using brand passion and little funky dance with the data.  For this data pull, I created a brand passion index around two key data points.  I took each candidates' data for the full year from 2/8/11 to 2/8/12.  And since the election is in 2012, I pulled the data since the 1st of the year to give a sense of comparison. 

This brand passion index is getting pretty fascinating to me.  If you looked at my previous posts, you will see some interesting things.  For one...President Obama is slowly improving his brand passion.  while he does have the most negative sentiment overall, he is showing some significant movement in since year began.  What is most amazing about this is the sheer volume of data that he generates.  Moving the titanic is difficult and the good news for President Obama is his is moving in the right direction...upward.

As for the Republican field, it really is sort of a mess.  With the pummeling the President has taken since the 2010 elections, any movement at all is welcome.  As for the Republican field, however, they all live in a better world of sentiment, but boy do people lack passion for them all.  Good, bad or otherwise President Obama generates more passion than all of them by a long shot.  If you think about what is going in the race for the nomination we see decent correlation with all the things being said.

Mitt Romney continues to languish in the neutrality land of mediocre passion.  And if you look at past posts on the subject he really is dead stuck where he has been versus every analysis I have done.  He may have the most buzz of the candidates (a good thing), but he can get ahead. 

Newt is true that he had a brilliant flash forward, but he has peaked and is slowly diving down.  His reality is looks like has not broken out as he thought.  He merely caused a rucus that seems to be dying (much like our friend Herman Cain) (link here).

As for Santorum; even though is the darling that last few days, I would say that his overall buzz and position are good, but not great.  He trails all candidates in buzz, which means that he is not dominating the discussion as much as a real threat should.  They say too little too late...I agree. 

And Ron Paul...he does have the most passion an strongest sentiment.  I would even argue he is in the best position of everyone.  Those who like him...really do.  The problem he faces is this it seems like a passionate niche following.  I would say this, however, he is a real threat to the Republicans is he is a 3rd party candidate.  He could easily throw the balance of the election by pulling 3-4% of the vote should he run.

But lets take a different look at this data.  Below is a chart that shows the raw data that makes up this chart.  We will see their Buzz, Sentiment and Passion for the two periods discussed.  But I added another column.  To get a sense of "momentum" I also calculated what percentage of their buzz in 2012 represents the total.  It seems like an interesting way to look at their momentum going forward.  And I believe the results are interesting to say the least.

Looking at the momentum column you will see little surprise that President Obama's buzz since the beginning of the year is the lowest.  He generates so many sound bites and is in the news for so many reasons the buzz since the beginning of the year is proportional.  That being said to see a 7 point jump in his sentiment versus the last year is pretty amazing.  That is a big jump in the last 5 weeks.  It is real.  The economic news they say bodes well for him.  These number suggest that is true.

The next number worth noting is Rick Santorum's.  It is amazing to see that the amount of buzz he generates as a percentage over the past year is almost 66%.  While his buzz is lower, this change in momentum means to me that there real discussion going on about him.  It is almost as if the Republicans are trying to figure out what to do.  It will be interesting to watch how this "momentum" changes.  It will cool to watch if we keep calculating this number going forward if it goes up or down.  The conversation is real but will it amount to anything.

On the flip side, our potential spoiler Ron Paul is seeing the opposite trend.  He may have the best position in the brand passion index, but his momentum is starting to wane as are most of his polling numbers.  The discussion for him a s serious candidate is waning but those who talk about him love him as we all already know.  Watch out gang...if his brand passion maintains you are looking at very interesting situation should he run as a 3rd party.

As for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.  They are deadlocked in the middle on momentum.  Both of them have generated 45% of their buzz since the beginning of the year.  Boy are they simply floating along.  Neither of them seizing position against everyone else.

What we see here is what we hear.  Candidates are trading positions rapidly.  One would expect that Mitt Romney should have a higher "momentum" in his buzz, but alas even with the most buzz his acceleration is lower that Rick Santorum.

What does this all mean.  Not sure, but I do believe we may have uncovered another metric in social media we can track and watch going forward.  The concept of social media momentum may be a very telling sign of things to come as the year wears on.

It will be interesting to watch the following

1. Once the Repuclican Field picks its candidate will we see a major climb in the President's "momentum?  For now there is little need to discuss him politically as the fight is going on somewhere else.

2.  Will future Romney wins correlate to greater momentum for his candidacy? He is generating the buzz, but he lives in a sad part of the Brand Passion Index AND he has less momentum in the discussion. That needs to change.

3. Can Santorum continue his astonishing momentum or will the vetting he is going slam into going to affect it?  He has the attention of everyone after the other night.  That could be good or bad.  When Rick Perry had it...he nose dived.  When Herman Cain had it, he did too.  Newt Gingrich...same thing.  No one has stood up to Romney effectively, but we shall see.

Boy politics is fun regardless of your affiliation.  I find watching it unfold and linking it to social media is a great way to take over the wild west...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Social Media Fatigue is a Relativity Thing

I have been reading a lot about the concept of social media fatigue.  This idea which simply states that people are totally worn out from the cacophony of engaging with each other over a virtual world.  In fact, I read an article on Yahoo! about a guy who totally unplugged from all things social: email, facebook, twitter, even his cell phone.  I found the article interesting  (link here) because I remember a time when I had none of these accessories.  In fact, I often benchmark social history for some strange reason with the movie Less than Zero because I remember these raucous 20 somethings going on LA base drug adventures without the use of cell phones or even pagers for that matter.  When people couldn't triangulate each others whereabouts they simply dealt with it. 

In fact, as a teenager, I was fortunate to have a mother that had one simple rule on the weekends.  She would say to me, "I don't care how many times you call, but the last phone number on that answering machine better be the one of the house where I can find you". Can you imagine parents today dealing with such rules?  No friggin way.  Today, we are afraid (me included) to let the kids walk across the street to their friends house on a cul-de-sac because they read a story online that someone's kid disappeared walking that far.  Or if they do go, we need them to text us when they get there.  The technology leash helps allay the fear.  Irrational or not!

Or how about that my first job was working for Heaven Sent Couriers (R.I.P).  Who is Heaven Sent Couriers?  The genius business created by my sister's friends step father that had a team of people who worked on bicycles delivering letters and packages across town the same day!  You could call us and we would come by your office, pick up the letter and deliver it across town in less that an hour!  You didn't hav to wait days before you would receive that letter locally.  A 16 year old kid making $250 bucks a week would give it to you quickly.  This guys made tons of money running this know the end of the story.

It is amazing what technology does isn't it?  It sounds sophomoric to say so, but the reality is with technology the world shrinks and the noise has gotten louder.  And unless you are ADD, dealing with the noise can be deafening. 

Where am I going with this?  I am not sure, but the story about the guy on facebook really struck a cord.  I think where I am going is just how pervasive social media is and how much it has impacted our society as a whole.  As a teenager, I like many my age had a distinct punk rock phase.  A phase in my life where I would wear combat boots, go to shows every week with my friend Yuriy, slam dance and simply talk about the angst towards society for fun. 

If you think about it, that type of angst is totally dead in our society.  Why do I think it is dead?  Because no matter how edgy you think you are, you are really just a slave to technology that is being monetized by corporate America.  If the people I hung out with during that period of my life could see today from the where they were in the 80's (where we called each other, said we would meet each other somewhere and just wait till everyone got there...or hell we would just go to a spot and see who was there) they would call everyone posers.  Why?  Because every single cause, change agent or otherwise needs the social technology they have to actually accomplish anything today.  If you boycott it, you are just denying what will never change.  You need the technology to simply exist.  You can't have fatigue.  If you do, you can't connect with the world anymore.  And if you can't connect with the world in the language of the world, it is hard to get ahead in it.  So sure, cutting yourself off would be refreshing, but the reality is that being a contrarian is not the same as it once was.  You have to be a conformer in order to even be a contrarian because your message will be drowned out by the crowd.

Punk Rock? I can use Pandora to listen to my old favorites I remember and even the one's I don't.  My Combat Boots?  I can probably find the exact make and model online on either Ebay or  Yuriy?  I found him on facebook about a month ago.  He is a venture capitalist. My angst towards society from my youth?  It is lying all over this blog called the innovationmusings as I have taken up the cause of being a change agent...because I am by nature a contrarian. 

The only thing I would say is this...

I embrace the change, because as a liberal capitalist who is objective about all opinions (doesn't matter the politcal party or belief), it is better to think about how your enemy thinks rather than simply wag your finger at them in an attempt to scold them to your point of view.

I often say as a member of the social media typhoon...change is my business and business is good.

Imagine what social media will look like in 10 more years.  

Hopefully that asshole out there with a contrarian bee up their butt to invent SkyNet is allergic to bees and gets stung by one...or there will be a whole lot more people that look like Arnold Schwarzenegger around that I care to imagine....

And a tribute to the greatest punk band that neverwas...

RUIN (from Philly) had the best version of white rabbit ever performed...

it is below...


Friday, February 3, 2012

Happy New Year 2012 - When the hockey stick meets the road!!

While it has been a while since writing about so many things, I figured I would re-engage with my fingers (boy do I hate writing) to discuss some changes in the social media landscape.

There has been an analogy I often use to describe the development of the social media marketplace.  It is an analogy that is based on the concept of the day.  I had the great fortune of getting involved in social media analytics and application a long time ago.  In fact, I didn't even realize I was doing anything novel until I began working in social media on a daily basis.  Two lives ago, back in 2006, I actually met NetBase as a customer when they were known as Accelovation.  At that time, I was working in the R&D function developing a corporate technology strategy process and in consumer products a key part of that is finding consumer insights.  At that time, working from R&D, it was taboo to spend money on consumer insight development.  Voila, this novel concept of using social media crossed my desk.  It just made sense.  We found a way to get sponsorship for looking at trend work in a new area of business.  In fact, the output of this work was viewed as very novel.  Later, we had the chance to work on a new brand launch.  In this case, social media data helped provide the WHY that the marketing folks could not get from their traditional methods.  The low bias and free speaking consumer on the web, was better able to articulate their interests.  And then lastly, we were able to insert ourselves in the acquisition process.  On this project, we were able to give the executive team consumer insights they couldn't get and we helped inform a nearly billion dollar acquisition.  You would think that under these circumstances that social media would catch like wildfire.  It did not.  Even with all that value in the 2006-2007 timeframe, people still couldn't feel comfortable with the data.

FRANKLY...IT WAS MIDNIGHT (my day analogy)

People laughed at midnight.  They chuckled.  They questioned who was on the internet.  They worried the data was influenced. They didn't see that we were controlling bias by simply capturing data in the "wild".  It wasn't how things were done.  We use focus groups etc...etc...etc...

Fast forward...

Over the next several years, I would say that tools were not up to snuff.  NetBase, Radian 6 and others didn't have their operational tools.  Everyone was focused on different parts of the organization.  Radian 6 focused on PR, NetBase focused on market research and the JIVES of the world (CRM).  The market is fragmented, and more importantly the consumer had not begun to drive the marketplace.  Why? Data maturity.  Twitter and Facebook were still growing in their usage and application. It was a slowly maturing market.  But as we moved into the end of 2010, something started to happen.  C2B!  The arab spring saw people using twitter to manipulate governments and more tactically, we saw consumers shouting out.  The greatest example occurred September 2010 when GAP launched its new logo.  The logo survived a week.  Why?  Consumer backlash. They hated it...they let people know and they made the adjustment because of this.  On the corporate side, however, people were still wedded to their methods so they weren't paying attention to what was happening around them. 

Corporate behavior (how they interacted with consumers) was not aligned at all with their own consumer behaviors.  What do I mean?  Everyone person uses social to make decisions personally, but corporations weren't telling them what to do.  Essentially, I use the web to pick a restaurant, decide what to buy, understand what hotel to stay, what doctor to use BUT I don't trust my own personal behavior to make business decisions.  There are a lot of misalignment from the corporate side, the data side and the technology side.


Today we see constant social media change.  Just today, after several days in the news, the Komen foundation not only caved on removing financial support for Planned Parenthood, but the amount of support Planned Parenthood received from online microdonations during this event almost equaled the $680,000 Komen gives in a year ($400,000 from 6,000 donors).  Think about that.  Komen makes a controversial decision to pull its funding.  Social Media not only turned them around but the infrastructure it provides helped it get an addition 75% funding for its programs over the controversy.  This is a unique case.  Usually we simply see reversal.  Such was the case for both Bank of America this past summer ($5 debit card fee) and Verizon (Sept/Oct $2 fee) this fall.  But now we have an example where they reversed their decision AND came out ahead (planned parenthood that is).  It is only a matter of time that controversy is staged to see this type of effect.

Either way, the data infrastructure is built to support the consumer driving business.  The cycle accelerates and the impacts are impossible to ignore.  The question continues in the corporate and service sector; will they figure out they need to trust this data so they can get busy living.  To date, my experience with the market research community (who sort of owns the analytics side of things) has been guarded at best.  I again last week asked a room of 150 market researchers how many of them trust social media and less than 5 raised their hands.  There was no improvement versus the same question last year when the room had 60 market researches and only 2 raised their hands.  That being said they all raise their hands when you ask them if they turn to the net when buying something or picking a restaurant.  The culture shift in Corporate America continues to be filled with people who behave like consumers one way but act at work in their corporate cultures another way.

I am happy to say that things are improving.  For one, I see the cycle of purchase for social media tools getting quicker.  People know they need something to help.  Unfortunately, we are still in a manual people process world.  This means that people think they know how to pick a tool, but they continue discard a scalable human methodology to make their tools/toolbox sing.  Although I work for NetBase, I do understand that some solutions take a suite of tools and in the current technology landscape that might be still be how you implement.

The good news is that corporate culture is getting its head around what is happening to them...


The question remains...when will the sun sit highest in the sky?

When will it be NOON?