Sunday, November 30, 2014

Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media

            During his TED talk at TEDIndia in 2009, co-founder Alexis Ohanian highlighted a number of empowering truths about the today’s internet. He also talked about how emerging professionals can enact social change through social media. The subject of Ohanian’s speech was an article that went up on Reddit’s front page, involving the environmental rights group Greenpeace demonstrating against the Japanese government’s latest whale-hunting endeavor. A proposed solution to the conflict was for Greenpeace to put a tracker on one of the whales, for which they would need a name. A polling process ensued, ending in a near-unanimous vote for the name “Mr. Splashy Pants”.  After some reluctance on the part of Greenpeace (which was met by the unbending will of the people), “Mr. Splashy Pants” was the name granted to the tracked whale. Greenpeace was also successful in their campaign to stop the Japanese government from hunting whales off their coasts.

            Among the plethora of subject matter present in Ohanian’s talk, 2 points stood out the most as beneficial to me:

·      Open-Ended Messages- Ohanian expressed the importance of being okay with not being in control of how people perceive your message. The situation between Greenpeace and the Japanese government was serious issue. Reddit chose to approach such an issue with a combination of levity and interaction with their community. This ultimately accomplished the primary objective and fostered a sense of empowerment throughout Reddit’s online community, as it was their contributions that made the triumph possible. Questions with no right or wrong answer will usually yield more valuable information than a pointed one.
·      Inclusion-’s format allows contributors to post stories for the approval or disapproval of their peers. The popular stories end up on Reddit’s “front page”. Allowing the audience to have input on different aspects of the user experience benefits content creators in 2 major ways. First, including the audience in decision-making transfers accountability for overall appeal of the subject matter to the community. Secondly, since creators have a direct link with their consumer base, the community can then become the think tank/beta group for new products and/or services.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mugen no Sai Hatsumei

            Deeply engrained in Japanese philosophy are the principles of universal transference and infinite reinvention, or “mugen no sai Hatsumei”. Pioneered by the Land of the Rising Sun, these precepts quickly made their way into what was, at the time, the mainstream business sector. This development gave way to such historic events as the formation of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the ending of the Period of Warring States (Japan’s expansive and brutal civil war), and even the rebuilding of Japan’s economy following World War II.
            Upon further analysis, it isn’t difficult to make the connection between this near-ancient school of thought and modern business intelligence. The principles of universal transference and infinite reinvention are echoed through author Robert Greene’s The48 Laws of Power, specifically Law #25: Re-Create Yourself. This particular evolution has seen prevalence in business and the arts alike. Corporations like McDonald’s, Walt Disney Co., and MSNBC are in a perpetual state of re-imaging, as the public’s demands dictate. The rise of the “social media revolution” brought with it the demand that business professionals and corporations alike constantly innovate their business models by incorporating trends found intriguing by the public in their marketing, and soliciting contributions from the consumers themselves.

The concept of reinvention is becoming more and more commonplace in the music industry. reported that recording artist and industry veteran Stevie Wonder will be on tour through the month of November, celebrating his 1976 release “Songs in the Key of Life”. “Weird Al” Yankovic, after a 31-year contract deal, has gone the independent route and is now marketing his music through Youtube. In both cases, the artist has seen a bounty of success in his respective genre and is transitioning his entrepreneurial focus through more enticing and unorthodox means.

            Keeping pace with your specific industry takes a few things. First, you must show humility in realizing that your current business model isn’t the work of art you think it is. It is but a work IN PROGRESS. One that must be cultivated and adapted to suit the demands of the consumer. Secondly, you must show vigilance in your knowledge of the industry. The CEOs of companies don’t rise to such a status without keeping themselves abreast of key developments or breakdowns in the market. RSS Sites like Feedly offer access to massive cache of industry trade publications, blogs, and other official correspondence from industry leaders around the world. Finally, you must direct your creativity with reason. Imagination is the fiber from with innovation is created. However, in order to become viable, efficient innovations, creativity must have more direction than restraint. Such is the difference between Lycos and Google, Hardeez and McDonald’s, Fox Sports and ESPN, you get the idea.