How Will You Stand Out From The Crowd?

When many things are equal: your features, your customers, your products, your product roadmap, it’s often hard to differentiate.

Often, I’m getting pitched during briefings by White Label Social Network vendors they’ll often advance to a quadrant slide (almost always in the first quarter of the deck) and their almost always on the right hand top quadrant, using parameters they’ve selected. I’ll frequently ask them to tell me ‘how they are different’, only then, does the conversation get interesting. Of course, I already see stratification in this industry, with differentiation on product offerings.

This is not an endorsement for Jive Software, I’m simply commenting on the marketing efforts that they deploy to stand out from the very crowded marketplace (80-100 competitors, with more on the way). It’s also only a reflection of my perspective, I’ve not done a formal survey to brands to ask them what they think.

With that said, if you take a look at how Jive has been marketing themselves, they clearly stand out. Their VP of Marketing blogs, he ‘s part of the conversation in Twitter, and he tells stories that are intended to relate (whether they do or not is unknown) to corporate clients using imagery, storytelling, and icons.

But does it work? Maybe it gets attention, maybe it starts a conversation with those that are pained, but it doesn’t necessarily impact the product, service, and delivery of products. One thing is for sure, it’s significant enough to get me to tell you all about it.

When your market is one sea of gray, and underneath the corporate color scheme you’re all very similar, what are you going to do to standout? This applies to not just your company, but you as a future colleague or employee.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Interesting tweet came in:

    @Mobasoft says:

    “@jowyang Standing out from the crowd is fine, as long as one is cognizant that they’ve just become part of another crowd.”

    I’m sure we can expect to see other vendors lean forward with their own icons…

  • http://crueltobekind.org Nicole Simon

    For me, any SNS is a fish in a big big pond with other pretty fishes. Deal with it and get to me where I really listen. ;)

    The user / moderator of communities side:
    It may be that I like the colours better, or some features they have. There may be a geo preference for a certain type of software (as it may be already known and others are not), and it might be importatnt to me that they support the language I want to have my community in.

    But other than that, most SN are really exchangable. Except that it is hard for them to realize that. Blogging and being open is fine, but needs to be second to ‘working and uptime’ or whatever you promise your customers. If you deliver what you promise I am happy to tell others about it for you, as well as tell others why not to use you.

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  • http://agencysocialmedia.blogspot.com mn_social_media

    Jeremiah,
    do you think standing out in the digital realm is too difficult for many companies to do right now?

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    MN not difficult, but even it if were, there’s absolutely no way most companies can ignore this trend.

    Remember that your corporate websites is often more important than your physical storefront.

    And beyond that, google search results is your new homepage

  • http://www.utterz.com/~h-gtowna/r-1/profile.php Adam Daniel Mezei

    Hi J.O.,

    A propos to SNS differentiation…I appreciated the graphic/metric you’d supplied from a few wees back concerning the geographic distribution of the various SNs across the globe.

    I think the source was some French newspaper (Le Figaro online, methinks), but I have these conversations with local colleagues here all the time, as we attempt to knuckle down on the reason *why,* say, Romanians and Brazilians are such strident Hi5 users, while Brits are big MySpace/Facebook users, for instance.

    Or the reasons explaining why certain chat applications are still being used by certain EU countries, long after they’ve gone into remission on the other side of the Pond.

    For example, using that same Romanian example — I can’t for the life of me understand why Yahoo! Messenger still has such massive spread in Bucharest, while here in the Czech Republic, it’s still ICQ — I don’t know too many Americans that are still on ICQ, ps, do you?

    So, there must be something more to the colour/widgets/language availability that needs to be parsed out by people in the SN strategy industry.

  • http://crueltobekind.org Nicole Simon

    Most of the times, because the ecosystems are separated from the rest – and in Europe it very often is due to langauge. In Germany ICQ is running high numbers as well – for the reason that a tv channel is still pushing it. Which is also why it is so important for the people in these spheres to have a look at other areas.

    Similiar for example with biz networks – Linkedin is second if not lower rated in Germany in regard of being a biz network.

  • Christopher Coulter

    Quite simple…make great products, with great pricing. That stands out, as so few actually do that. It’s either great products at a serious premium, or commodity churn gone cheap, rarely do you ever ever see great products and great pricing together. Not sure why you need an army of consultants to figure this out, it’s not hard to understand, make great more efficient, not more expensive.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Good points Chris, I’d add that that once they do this, they’ll need to tell the market. I see some products in this space that are pretty good, and priced lower than others, yet few know of them.