Steve Grossman

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Information in the information age

People + Questions = Social Media

Despite their status as a pseudo-competitor to my sister company (how’s that for an opening line?), I have to hand it to Cars.com for a new feature that perfectly explains “Social Media” and why most explanations are wrong.

AutoRemarketing.com reports that “Cars.com rolled out a new sharing tool that basically can
push out potential vehicle selections through Facebook and Twitter.”

“”Before making a purchase, car buyers often turn to the people they
trust most to help them with this important decision. We wanted to make
it easy for shoppers to share cars of interest with their friends and
family,” explained Bill Swislow, Cars.com’s senior vice president of
product.”

Why the “perfectly explains” comment? Because there’s no mystery to social media – it is and will ALWAYS be people interacting. Anything that encourages or empowers interaction will succeed and the opposite is true as well.  In this case there are people who want help to turn to their friends for help with the important question of “should I buy this car?” Nothing new about that.

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Filed under: Life_technology, Social_media, Trends

Questions + Seth Godin = WOW!

I’m posting a link to this Untemplater video interview of Seth Godin on all my blogs today for two reasons.

1.) It’s brilliant and I’m not exaggerating. If you are wondering what’s going on the world today – financially, socially, etc., etc., – this interview covers most all of it thoroughly and insight-FULLY in ways you will not find anywhere else. Not only does Seth see the big pictures, but he puts them in dead-simple terms that will impact your life. At least I hope they will. Two quotes:
– “The future will not be like the past only shinier”
– The current economic template “was invented by people who owned factories”

I cannot oversell the importance of watching this video and paying attention to what’s said.

2.) From a web interconnected, new business model perspective – which is largely what this blog is about – relevant information does not come better than this.

Enjoy

Filed under: Business_models, Society, Trends

Too much stuff = confusion = opportunity

More evidence found today about what I believe we’ll see next online – acquisitions, mergers and convergence. Why? There’s too much information in the world, and it’s growing everyday. As Steve Rubel says here, “more information will be created in 2009 than all prior years.” Not prior years online, or prior years in your life, ALL PRIOR YEARS.

So how are you keeping up? You’re not.

But don’t worry, no one else is either and the need will bring the next wave of opportunity online.

Curation
The Steve Rubel post correctly describes one of the growing trends dealing with this overload: curation. He sites several examples of sites that are designed to find, sort and deliver relevant information to interested niches. Give it time, there will be niches of every sort and variety.

Social Media
And then there’s the six trends in the Social Media space described by David Armano. The two that stand out to me are his take on “serious play” – game based services that reward participants – and the growth of mobile. Both of these will sort and filter content: “games” will give us what other people in our network deem relevant and mobile will, by it’s nature, deliver information filtered by proximity.

But these will only be steps towards where we’re going as long as all the services remain disconnected and focused on THEIR interests. For example: I’m interested in Marketing, Social Media, the music business, auto industry (mostly wholesale) and my friends in TN and across the world. Some of my friends are on Facebook, others are on MySpace and still others are on LinkedIn. American Express’ Open Forum covers many of the business topics I mentioned and so does BusinessWeek. The problem is they also cover all other aspects of business and industry. So on any given day I have to sort through these curators to find what I want as well as the three Social Network sites named above.

It’s doable, but how much am I missing? Lots.

The coming years will see the acquisitions, mergers and convergences of all these services into hubs. Hubs that will be customizable and powerful in the way they’ll pull (and push) information based on detailed preferences.

What do you think? Would that help your life?

Filed under: Business_models, Life_technology, Social_media, Society, Trends

Unrelated stories = future

Three unrelated BusinessWeek stories caught my eye today that pointed to a future I’ve written about here and here.

First, a report on Microsoft’s decision to give external programs access to Outlook’s e-mail, calendar and contacts. It is an unusual move for them, but one that clearly speaks to the move towards fewer walls and more data integration despite software programs and web domains. It’s a smart move.

Next is a story about Jaguar jumping to “Google Mail and other cloud software – saving millions of pounds.” The story outlines the difficulty in making the switch, but also mentions that it is a strategy “of simplification, standardisation and modernisation”. Um, yeah. It’ll also give them access to integrations and mashups that haven’t even been invented yet.

Last, a report on Twitter’s Business Model. No really. David L. Smith presents the best article on the subject I’ve read as he presents a number of possible revenue streams for the micro-blogging site. The one that stood out was this one:

Network marketing

The larger Twitter grows, the more the connectivity between users benefits all. But there is gold beyond the conversations that are going on. The pure connectivity in itself is valuable. While Twitter may not run advertising, many companies would love to license the right to target people using what is called “birds of a feather” targeting: identifying a group of people with a common interest and then expanding that target by finding others with similar interests. A number of companies are doing this right now, while honoring privacy; they don’t have to know who the people are.”

Though I’d not thought of it in terms of Network Marketing before, this is exactly where I believe we’re heading and I don’t believe Twitter will be the only one. We’re about to see a huge movement towards consolidations and acquisitions and the beginning of scalable revenue streams. One of them will be co-branding between users and companies.

Think I’m right or wrong?

Filed under: Business_models, Life_technology, Society, Trends, Work_technology

This video = the future of business

I saw the video below today thanks to Chris Brogan. Click here if you can’t view.

SOUR ‘日々の音色 (Hibi no neiro)’

At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss this as another example of the young people of today wasting time online. And perhaps there’s truth to that too. The video doesn’t actually DO anything, right? It’s not selling anything or espousing a message, nor making money directly or indirectly. But I see the future of business.

A future that must have vision, technology and expression.

This video represents the willing and joyful participation of people all over the world. People engaged in the experience of collaborating to make something bigger than themselves. Something that couldn’t happen without the technology and the participation. Participation that allowed them to be fully themselves while contributing to the whole.

And the result is a powerful video. And Linux. Firefox. The Ap store.

And the future of business.

Filed under: Business_models, Society, Trends

Manheim + Training = Award

I’m proud to have an opportunity today to brag on my company and several of my associates. Under the guidance and vision of Tabetha Taylor and Tony Ocasio, my company’s training department created an online training module for our 1200 plus vehicle inspectors that work at our locations throughout North America. This module was entered into the Web Marketing Associations annual WebAward Competition and it won the Employment Standard of Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Web Development.

Read about it here.

The website offers a comprehensive and immersive learning experience covering the basics of vehicle imaging and inspecting. It’s an important part of the training philosophy that seeks to engage our employees in multiple ways. New hires are invited to participate in the training as a part of their initial onboarding. This provides a foundation on which the local certified trainer (at least one at every location) can build. In addition, members of the National Training team make periodic visits to all locations to conduct specialized training and certification testing.

I’m proud to be a part of a company that is embracing technology as a means to train and engage its workforce. Winning this award makes it all the better. Tabetha and Tony have had the vision for online training for years and I’m thrilled to see their efforts rewarded. My congrats to them, their team and web developers. 

Filed under: Trends, Work_technology

Product + Me = Success for Them So Pay Me

Mashable reports the possibility that iTunes 9 might integrate with Facebook, Twitter, etc. From Apple’s Social Media Strategy = iTunes? “At the heart of the supposed features is the ability to broadcast what you’re listening to…”

They go onto to discuss including short links to the music, movies, tv shows etc and how “that would directly translate to additional revenue for Apple. I couldn’t agree more.

I also think this is the tip of the iceberg as companies create better and better ways to piggyback on our online activities. And why wouldn’t they? At the heart of this trend is the fact that personal recommendations are the biggest factor in consumers decision making. Especially recommendations from friends. At the heart of this potential feature is a recommendation engine powered by you and me!

So where’s our take?

It’s the right question and I suspect we’ll see it answered in the coming years as the “everything’s free” model catches up with reality. There are costs involved in services like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The hype that is driving the free mania will die off and there will be bills to pay – with Advertising being the likely revenue source. But not blind spending like today. The advertising model will only succeed if it’s affective. And I beleive that will mean paying individuals their share too.

Here’s what I mean. As I said here, “We will someday pay for a service that assists us in living our lives and we will do it one of two ways: literally paying or by merging our interests with sponsorship. Sure some will pay, but the majority will be a part of the “influence economy” we’re already seeing develop. Countless studies are showing that the number 1 factor in purchasing decisions is the opinion of a friend. Couple that with the fact that people are excited to include brand support in their personal profiles (Facebook fan pages) and I beleive we’ll soon see personal sponsorship arrangements paying for online services.”

There will come a day when your Social Networking Hub – your online desktop – will be paid for by sponsors you LOVE that pay you to simply be you. And your friends won’t mind the advertising because they will know it reflects you and your tastes. It’s a win/win.

What are your thoughts? Would you pay for a service you love online by allowing a beloved brand to piggyback on your activities?

Filed under: Social_media, Trends

Pro Journalists + Reputation + Internet = Newspapers

According to this Wall Street Journal Market Watch post Newspaper web sites attracted 36% of all internet users in June – about 70.3 million unique visitors.

I find this fascinating. Fascinating because on the surface, newspapers are in massive trouble. Readerships are down, revenues are down and the future looks bleak. And there are truths to this perspective. The internet is systematically – organized or not – dismantling the business model of newspapers (and TV news too) and replacing it with an always on news source with up to the second alerts. Example? News of January’s airliner landing on the Hudson was broken on Twitter with a guy and a cell phone.

Yet despite these changes, 36% of the people using the internet are using it to visit Newspaper sites. Oh sure they’re visiting blogs, YouTube, Facebook and all the other stuff, but most have simply moved their reading habits online. Or, the internet has created a whole new audience for newspapers. My guess is it’s a little of both and I think it’s because of professional writing. The fans – old or new – of these sites have found that newspapers are still the best source for in depth reporting.

It reminds me of the music industry. Despite all you hear about the demise of the industry, the reality is that it’s exploding. Sure, CD sales are down, but. Well, so? People are not abandoning music, their abandoning a delivery method – just like with newspapers.

This is all symptomatic of the dawn of the information age. And I find it fascinating and exciting. I hope you do too.

Filed under: Society, Trends

Guidelines + Social Web = Corporate Success

Our company’s moving out onto the Social Web so I developed the following document to define our mission and establish guidelines. All reference to my company has been made generic for this example.

How did I do?

Online Networking, Blogging and Interactive Strategy and Guidelines

Introduction:

For quite sometime, our employees have been actively involved in the “social web” – a loosely knit collection of websites and online tools that allow 1-to-1 or 1-to-many communication and dialog. Though this activity has been personal in nature, it is not surprising to find that work and life at work has been discussed as well.

During this same period, there has been increasing corporate involvement on the web too. In addition to shifting advertising online, companies have begun to embrace the social web as a means to get closer to customers. GM and Comcast are two examples of companies that use a blog and twitter respectively to interact with customers everyday.

Because of the growth of the social web, the fact that we have employees engaged already, and our desire to grow our business, we’ve decided to get involved too. If we are to do this correctly, however, we feel it important to define our social web strategy and offer guidelines for success.

Our Social Web Mission:

Just like a company has a mission for products and services, we must have a mission for our online activities too. Whether you’re involved in an official capacity or not, please make sure that any departmental related online activity supports the following Social Web Mission without exception.

  • Feedback – our primary purpose online is to get feedback on what we’re doing. The Social Web functions best as a dialog and there is no better way for us to understand the needs of our customers – internal and external – than to interact with them 1-on-1. Seek feedback on what we’re doing and graciously accept whatever they may say.
  • Information – proactive communication about our beliefs, passions and expertise. Having a presence online affords us the opportunity to share information that will advance not only our plans, but the growth and success of our customers.
  • Subject Matter Leadership – an opportunity to direct the conversations about our industry

Guidelines for the Social Web

1. Sites:

  • • Corporate: we will establish official presence on a number of popular sites. If you wish to be involved, please talk to your manager.
  • • Personal: You are free to establish your presence anywhere you like as long as any and all work and business related information follows the rest of these guidelines.

2. Personal Responsibility: when writing/contributing work and business related information, be yourself. Use your actual name or identification that can be linked to who you are as an employee and take full responsibility for your contribution. In accordance with the Employee Handbook, please note that you will be held responsible for your contributions. We consider representing our company on the social web as an extension of our business.

3. Tone: be personal, authentic and fun – just like we are in our day-to-day work.

4. Copyrights and Fair use: respect all content related laws and give credit where credit’s due.

5. Proprietary Information: do not share any company or departmental secrets. This includes the use of client or client employee names without express permission. Everything online is searchable and permanent so when in doubt, leave it out.

6. Bring value: add to the conversations by seeking to serve our customers – inside and out – by responding appropriately and/or bringing them useful information.

7. Go beyond our business: at its core, the social web is entertainment first, business second. We will make a bad impression if all we do is tout our business. Information about things outside of our industry and business will be read and appreciated by your readers and give us a better foundation from which to accomplish our mission.

Conclusion:

We wish to support you in your online activities while ensuring the long term success of our organization. We’re hopeful that these guidelines will help. If you’re already involved, or get involved later, be sure to link up with our sites on the social web.

Filed under: Social_media, Trends

Internet + users + needs + me = random thoughts

So my mind’s full of random thoughts tonight.

That the internet and computers are far from done. We are still in the beginning phase, a phase dominated by the fact that our technology doesn’t work for us, we mold ourselves to our technology. Nothing we have is intuitive. I mean, we still shut down PCs by clicking on the start button. Yes it’s a funny line in a joke, but it holds much truth too.

And this truth means that the majority of users do not yet interact with the internet and computers. Everyone reading this is the exception. Imagine what happens when there are no exceptions.

Imagine that the internet and computers actually meet needs. Intuitively. Easily. Seamlessly. Whoa.

I imagine when I – me – will have appliances at work, home and with me that allow me to:

  • Access news that I need. And by need I mean need – information that helps me live productively, informed and aware. This means that my online world (the appliances will do nothing but access what we are starting to call “the cloud”) is set-up to deliver from sources I know AND from sources I don’t know based on my desires, responsibilities and cares. For instance, I wouldn’t knowingly subscribe to disease warnings but I’d need them when they are vital to the survival of my family.
  • Interact with family, friends, associates and acquaintances appropriately. In the same way that I have “news that I need” functionality, my writing/thoughts/posts/statuses/photos/rants will go to only those truly interested in the topic(s) being addressed.
  • A fully functional online hub: what I’ve just described won’t happen without acquisitions and mergers of what we see today. The biggest challenge to the use of the myriad of online aps is the myriad of online aps. The masses will never sign up for g-mail, Twitter, Zoho docs, WordPress, flickr, Facebook and Pandora much less some service that links them together. Web and computer development is about to enter a phase of consolidation similar to the American automotive industry over the early part of the 20th Century.
  • And the online “Big Three” (four or five) will charge a fee – real or sponsored. I know everything on the web is “free”, but this will not last. We will someday pay for a service that assists us in living our lives and we will do it one of two ways: literally paying or by merging our interests with sponsorship. Sure some will pay, but the majority will be a part of the “influence economy” we’re already seeing develop. Countless studies are showing that the number 1 factor in purchasing decisions is the opinion of a friend. Couple that with the fact that people are excited to include brand support in their personal profiles (Facebook fan pages) and I beleive we’ll soon see personal sponsorship arrangements paying for online services.

internet + users + needs + me = random thoughts = more to come.

Filed under: Life_technology, Trends