Another “New Age”

IMHO, hyperbole can never be overused in headlines or the titles of books ;)

Just in case we have any stragglers–IMHO=in my humble opinion. FTR [for the record], this shorthand is meant to create a nostalgic air. To quote my daughter again, “no one txts like this anymore–thanks to smartphones and auto-correct.” Just the same, I’m setting up a somewhat ungainly point that technology has a long history of affecting the ways in which we communicate, from the things we say to how we say them.

Today’s post is inspired by a new book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra. Well, it’s inspired by an HBR blog post introducing the book. I haven’t read the actual book yet. But, having sneaked a peak at the “11 rules” I can tell you that the better part of the theory may have come out in the HBR book report.

Here’s the inspiration, especially for any entrepreneurs whose business/product is a service, like say independent insurance agents:

[paraphrasing a little] Nilopher Merchant proposes that the business world has moved from the Industrial Era through the Information Age and landed now in the “#SocialEra”.

reach of social nets

According to a recent Washington Post article, the average Facebook user has 245 friends.

What does she mean? According to Ms. Merchant one of the ways to define each era or age is by looking at the way that organizations operating in those periods created value and achieved success. In the Industrial Era, it was all about scale. Bigger was better. We made stuff and we became more profitable by making more stuff more efficiently. Scale and efficiency translated to other MBA-ish topics like accessibility and the flywheel favored the “800 lb gorilla”.

The Information Age built on this “size matters” concept by touting the power of data to drive efficiency. I’m not sure that the sun has entirely set on the Information Age. Last time I checked, many of us were still talking about “big data”. However, recent years have uncovered many of data’s shortcomings. For example, those of you who remember the ninety’s will recall the promise of “mass-customization” driven by data. We thought it was the answer to making more meaningful connections with consumers. What we found out is that human beings still have a leg up on machines when it comes to connecting with other human beings.

Usher in the #SocialEra and the [potential] rise of small service oriented businesses. Small, local businesses tend to be much better at making connections than large brands–especially large brands with a limited local presence and limited human2human interaction. GEICO employs a super-charming gecko. But, how many opportunities do they have to connect with you or greet you by name the way your local Starbucks barista has?

Now, bring technology back into the mix. Social Media facilitates creating and maintaining networks. From the entrepreneur’s perspective, Social Media makes you a far more efficient relationship manager. If you commented “awesome” on one customer’s picture from this weekend’s soccer tournament today, then you’ve accomplished a consumer connection the likes of which Progressive only dreams of.

The title of the blog post that started this conversation was, “Traditional Strategy is Dead.” As I suggested at the outset, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration. Still, it’s good news for you. There are certain things that bigger is not necessarily better at. Among them are making local connections and actively managing meaningful customer relationships. But you, Mr. or Ms. small business owner, are gifted at both. With the dawning of the #SocialEra, you have the technology create even more value via your networks and connections.

One Response

  1. Greg Fasking says:

    Check out this insanely relevant article from AdAge about how Walmart is coming up short with its local Facebook page initiative.