I work at a big company, (our reported headcount is larger than the employee base of Microsoft or Google combined) but my mission is to think small.
What does small mean?
It means that every single voice is important, and so is every customer. It means that every customer has specific needs and no too alike. It means that there are real people behind those forums, blogs, and trouble tickets, both at our company and customers.
- I’m listening to the marketplace.
- I teach the right people in our company to listen.
- I want to have individual conversations with people using the web.
- I teach the right people in our company to use web tools to have these small conversations.
- It means that we don’t think of marketplaces but we think of individuals that are talking to each other using the conversational web.
- As the Community Manager, I’ll be an internal advocate for customers.
- Using the web, we can be a better company, listen, converse, and build better products and services with our customers.
I’ll be having lunch with Anil, an industry blogger, and a data storage expert in a few weeks. Hu, our CTO Blogger wanted to come, but he’ll be traveling –I’ll be happy to host Anil. Anil, this doesn’t mean I think you’re small, but it means that your individual opinion and comments matter both to folks in our industry and to us.
Who said big companies can’t think small?
Steve Rubel wrote three ways to ride the Long Tail:
1) Rethink reach
Be very granular, think small, individuals matter and influence others. “Marketing” by “Markets is dead.
2) Fund niches
To me this really means cultivate, harness and encourage communities. I’ve quite a bit of thoughts on Community Marketing, view all my thoughts on the subject.
3) Demand more from media
Linking to individual content producers is not enough, enterprise media needs to become, interact, and mesh with the participants
Ok, here’s my additional points:
I’ve included four and five:
4) Align your workforce
Line up the right people in your organization to have discussions with each hair on the long tail in your community. Employees (just like consumers) are niched too! Folks will have a natural background or connection with specific haris, everyone in your company can become a specific community advocate. Get organized, and connect –I’m living the dream, as a Web Professional at a Data Storage Company my employer thinks I’m the best person to talk to Web Market –so off I go! (Yes, big companies can think small)
5) Build options into products
One size doesn’t fit all, If the long tail holds true for Marketing, Media, and Economics, then product teams need to start socializing that ‘one size fits’ all products are not going to cut the future. Building products that can easily be changed (either by company or consumer) need to be considered. So many choices.
Lastly, I’ve been having some very interesting thoughts with colleagues at Hitachi Data Systems about how the Long Tail applies to Data storage. Did you know that not all data is equal, and only a small percentage is used frequently –treating it equal can be a very costly situation. Our CTO Blogger Hu Yoshida has more information on “Tiered Storage”.
Edit: This just in from one of my colleagues. 88% of all data stored is “long tail” Maybe 12% is “production” data: databases, files, etc. that is “Bighead”. Does long tail have specific percentage breakdowns?
Jeff Pulver has a nice list of Internet TV shows, I expect this list to triple by the end of year. The barriers to create online content are pretty low, and will continue to drop. The Consumers are becoming Producers.
“Somewhere between the world of professionally “produced” TV shows and personal video blogs lies the world of what can be best described as “TV Shows Only Available on the Internet.”
I’m keeping an eye on Internet TV, I’ve written a few other things (and taken video) of what the future could be.
How do you Pitch to a Blogger?
It’s pretty simple, you don’t.
I get pitched to blog about products via email, comments, and in person. People send me free products (I even got a nice bag of alcohol) and some companies treat me like a web industry analyst.
“Pitching” is a horrible term to use for communicating with someone that you’re trying to build a relationship with. It means you ‘throw’ something at them, and you hope they catch it.
So rather than pitching, Instead, build a real relationship with bloggers, be their advocate, listen to them, talk to them, build a community. Once you achieve this level of trust you can have real and trusted conversations. Customers and bloggers are important –they are in control. The savvy companies will learn to be let go, and embrace the open conversation on the web.
As a Community Manager, I promise to be a customer advocate. I will listen, dialogue, then listen again, I think small (Edit: My thoughts about thinking small). I wrote about this very topic a few months ago –it still holds true.
A few days ago, I had a wonderful conversation with Carlos Garcia, the CEO of the self-funded Scrapblog startup. I promised to give a trial run of his Visual Mashup, I just tried creating a Scrapblog, which is an online version of a scrapbook.
I quickly imported my flickr pictures, and then selected a theme. I grabbed some of my more famous photos –those from the most recent TechCrunch 7 party.
Scrapblog Demo of TechCrunch7
Find out what REALLY happened at TC7. You’ll see pics of Scoble (and his Camera), Pepper, Laughing Squid, the Guy, Winer, Canter, and Flockstar.
I had the same issues as Tara, the Scrapblog would not embed. The player is kinda slow –that needs to be improved (Hint: Flatten to image). I also want to see collaboration between multiple authors, perhaps use your ‘flickr contacts’. The editor is a tad slow, however the interface is pretty intuitive. So far, I’m really impressed by this mashup –there are other features I think that should be included, I sent the info to Carlos.
I’m not employed by Scrapblog (Although a few of my friends are helping them) –but I’m willing to try interesting or cool new products and blog about it.
Maybe, someday he’ll fly me out to Miami to meet the team –I’ve got some other ideas.
Recently, I’ve encountered a Usability Professional who may or may not realize that he is really doing Information Architecture work (but considers it Usablity). By performing a content audit, analyzing data, and sorting for display, he is really thinking in a larger perspective than just process orientated usablity.
Difference between Usability Professionals and Information Architects:
Content Focused. Goal is to understand and categorize information in a way that makes sense to the user. Understands that content may be accessed in multiple methods –data is perceived and consumed in different ways. Analogy: They organize the products, aisles, and signs in the store.
Process Focused. Goal is to create efficient process to complete a task. Seeks to create process to benefit majority of users. Analogy: They streamline how folks get around the store, organize the checkout process, and also help with signs.
Both of the above fall in the realm of User Experience Research –if you’ve not done so already, please learn Jesse James Garrett’s Elements of User Experience —memorize the 5 planes (PDF). Have you seen the website Ok Cancel? Worth a look, the cartoons are pretty funny.