Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Business vs. Community Based Objectives in the Social Media

So, yesterday I examined the social media mindset, emphasizing that it is the community and not the platform that holds the influence within the electronic media. Why did I write this post; because it is absolutely critical that the organisations involved therein realize the possibilities offered by their communities. Although I am a huge fan of the possibilities afforded by the social media, I fear that many organisation's are building their foundations upon a knife edge, for whilst many of these platforms base their business models on the availability of user generated content (UGC), any future information ownership challenges instigated by the community will invariably result in the loss of a near irreplaceable asset.

As Mike Arrington at TechCrunch suggested in a recent post recent post, users of platforms such as FriendFeed supply content from which they are unable to direct monetization. Whilst content monetization is often of secondary importance to the personal fulfillment achieved through the creation of the content itself (see my upcoming post 'The Motivation to Share'), a dramatic shift in social media expectations could result in a significant reduction in the volume of content submitted to the various social platforms. Although I do not envisage such a shift within the short run, long term societal shifts are significantly less predictable. As such, it would be naive to ignore entirely the prospect of such a shift occuring at some stage in the future.

In order to ensure the ongoing viability of the platform, organisation's should consider incentivizing the creation of UGC. This need not solely represent a financial incentive; on the contrary, such action is actively discouraged. Instead, value adding features such as skins, buttons, widgets and applications could be employed so as to enhance the user experience, whilst simultaneously encouraging willing engagement with the platform.

By incentivising the process thus, the platform takes a more innovative approach to satisfying the customer. Organizational objectives are recognized through the voluntary provision of content and data, which are simultaneously matched against the community based benefits achieved through the availability of value added features. The result is arguably mutual gain.

As mutual reliance of parties in a social media relationship continues to grow in importance, the enhanced matching of objectives becomes even more critical to the operation. Whether incentivizing the process is the best solution for platform success is debatable, however it is only by ensuring that both organization and community based goals mesh that the likelihood of ongoing viability can be recognized.

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