Crowdsourcing: Proof that Ayn Rand Got (at least some of) It Wrong?

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When Paul Ryan appeared on the Republican ticket last fall, two familiar words burst onto the scene like popcorn: Ayn Rand.

Like for many others, Ayn Rand burst into my life at 19, and I lapped up her entire cannon like a plate of cream. Twice. But the world has changed a lot since I fell for the ideal of hyper-individualism.

It’s not that the Internet Age proves she got it wrong. In fact, it shows that Ayn Rand got a whole lot right. She said the human will is amazing and that freedom and opportunity make it flourish.

Working in social technology, I see how right she was. There’s a deep passion for human ingenuity in this business. Where the stakes are high, the talent is top notch and the work product is fantastic.

Yet there’s another group that plays just as important a role in the Information Age: The crowd.

Delivering Great Social Customer Experiences—You Gotta Be Loved!

you_gotta_be_loved.jpgJust wrapped an intense but very exciting project with Lithium—the release of a new survey in partnership with the CMO Council of both consumers and marketers on their use of social media. Findings analysis, a full whitepaper, an infograph and a webcast—whew! It was a full sprint all the way, but I admit that’s what I love about social media marketing. It’s a fast moving train.

The survey findings underscored what we at Lithium have always known—that consumers are social, that they want and like to interact with brands through social media and that they respond to compelling social customer experiences.

Marketing Maxims from Socialize West

socializewest.jpgJust wrapped up my attendance of Socialize West, a nice little 2-day conference put together by mediabistro.com The focus was Monetizing Social Media which is slightly out of my domain in my demand gen role with Lithium, but the subtitle Gamify, Mobilize, Optimize, Monetize captured my eye and I registered.

Two minutes in the door I felt right at home when I immediately met two Lithium customers, Firebelly who uses LSMM, and Vindicia who has a Lithium community. I thank the new ritual that’s propagating throughout social marketing conference culture to begin the show by being asked to “stand and shake the hands of your neighbors.” Just like church. It’s a great thing to do at a gathering.

“Now with the other hand, slap your neighbor across the face.”

Huh?

Right Brain Renaissance

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In A Secret History of Consciousness, Gary Lachman (among many other very interesting musings) muses that the Internet could be the harbinger of a right brain renaissance. The decisively non-linear, highly contextualized way content is displayed and digested online, he says, moves markedly away from its hugely linear predecessor, the printed page.

Language functions such as grammar and vocabulary have long been attributed to the same hemisphere said to control linear reasoning—the left. But because the way we consume information while moving across web pages involves not just language, but visual and audio cues across many more complex spatial relationships, it’s the right hemisphere that’s getting the workout when we go online.

Right Brain Workout

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Speaking of right brain, I recently had the good fortune to work with an interesting social business, TeamWorks. Far outside my B2B marketing technology wheelhouse, the positioning and awareness building done for this cooperative business network was a welcome stretch for me and a rare opportunity to go full-on right brain with the production of a new video declaring for TeamWorks who they are, what they do and where they’re headed. I wrote, produced, directed and edited this 8-minute piece for an audience of potential donors and advisors—in two very full weeks—giving my right brain one mother of an exhilarating workout.

>>Check Out TeamWorks on YouTube

Right Brain – Left Brain Integration

right_brain_integration.pgn Last fall, it was data-driven marketing I declared as the new black when I cited a recent NYT article glamorizing what had traditionally been the realm of geeky good with numbers types (like, ahem, yours truly). Data-driven marketers, it said, are a hot new business persona that looks something like Madison Ave. meets Wall Street: Don Draper meets Gordon Gecko. At last! Those who actually enjoy manipulating spreadsheets, know the difference between a mean and a median, love to talk about outliers and statistical confidence, experimental design and hypothesis-driven adaptive strategies could come out. “Hi my name is Bonnie and I’m a dataholoic,” I could finally admit—and become fashionable!

America’s Love Affair with Being Dialed-in

paul_revere.jpg Less than 100 years after Paul Revere’s famous ride, cementing the American capacity for—and success with—the power of the network, the nation’s eastern half had swelled to the outskirts of Missouri—St. Joseph, Missouri to be exact—then considered the very outpost of civilization.

Between the hinterlands of St. Joseph and the booming economy of San Francisco lay a vast dead zone, thousands of miles of nothing but wilderness and hostile forces. Any communication at all would take an arduous, indeed perilous journey of 20 days or more to get through. Can we even imagine waiting 20 days for the results of a presidential election or news of the Civil War?

Indeed not!

Paul Revere: The Original Key Influencer

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I caught an interesting documentary the other day suggesting that one of the key factors of success for the American Revolution was our networking ability. One thing the British hadn’t counted on: America’s ability to move information through the colonies at astonishing speed.

America, it seems, has been deeply networked since day one. Even with our colonial wings of communal will radically clipped living under British law, Americans consistently, methodically, routinely organize in groups. Powerless groups, really, who have little authority over anything—not British law, not taxes. Yet convene they do. To discuss “the concerns of the day”. To communicate, to network.

Since the first Representative Assembly in 1619 Jamestown to the first Committee of Safety in 1774 Massachusetts, America grew in tight networks—local committees who elect regional representatives who attend colonial assemblies. Veritably powerless under British law, but here, there and everywhere. Hugely connected.

Social Media: The Death Knell of Elite Opinion?

buzzards2.jpgThe New York Times recently asks, do elite thinkers matter anymore? Big commentator analyses of current events today drown in a sea of collective voices blogging and tweeting real-time thoughts, as they occur. By the time Obama’s first White House address was over, public opinion was already formed. No need for a week or so of fallout, reviews or media analysis to tell us what we should think. We already think.

The rise of social media has undeniably diluted influence, changed the way conventional wisdom is formed and freed culture from reliance upon the elite few for getting things done. That Obama won the white house by going straight to the masses online while Hilary cozied-up to the Democratic establishment to no avail is testament to the dramatic dilution and decentralization of our political system.

What to Expect from Social Media? Ask Mr. Carnegie

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The Social Media Examiner recently published a post, 7 Social Media Truths You Can Ignore and still be Successful. In it, Rich Brooks deftly points out that Claim #1: Social Media Has Changed Everything is nothing more than hooey.

I thought I was the last one with a copy of Dale Carnegie’s seminal How to Win Friends and Influence People on my shelf, but apparently, Rich has one too. He reminds us that anyone who feels disappointed with their Twitter ROI is well to be reminded that Twitter is just social network—just like the one Dale cultivated way back in the 1930s—and that it’s purpose is to win friends and influence people, not change everything. Granted, online social networks operate at lightening speed. But fundamentally, what we call social media—Twitter, Facebook, forums, user groups and review sites—are just plain old social networks that happen to live online.

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