Archives for posts with tag: Social Web


We have worshipped our own existence since the beginning of time. We believe that there’s an afterlife because whoever we are, whatever we stand for can’t just disappear when we breathe the last time.

The Social Web helped us created an altar of self-worship: the personal brand. Economic pressures, the increasing feeling that all of us are free agents in this volatile world were the rational reasons for the advent of the personal brand. But it goes deeper: We don’t focus on achievements anymore, we focus on reputation.

We are not judged by skills, interests and motivations anymore. We’re judged how we can package all of these in a tweet, crystallize them in a blog post and get labeled as someone worth “following” or “liking”.

That’s why Snooki gets paid $32,000 for a commencement speech. $2,000 more than Nobel-winning Toni Morrission.

Whatever you think about this trend, Intel has captured it with their “Museum of Me”

It’s a rather lovely and moving depiction of all your Facebook relationships. And it showed me that way too many of many friends use their kids as an avatar. Museum of Me is pure imagination and very well executed.

I can see possible negatives when you have dead friends in your Facebook network or way too many exes you want to eliminate from your mind.

More importantly, Intel and Saatchi have captured the “Zeitgeist” of the “Me Economy”. Everything is about me: MeMail, Mevision, MeAd, MeMeMe.

The real question is: Where it will end? What kind of society are we building when everything is based on what each of us want and need?

When you travel around the world, you learn to understand how difficult the math of human interactions is. Personal space in Europe is different than in Dubai. Or India. What we consider staring in the Western culture is normal in other cultures.

Social norms were developed over thousands of years. The Social Web had barely a decade.

We encounter people that make us feel uncomfortable, annoy us, get us all riled up. Brands that use the Social Web as another push channel, develop sites that drive us nuts, spam us and don’t get how you should act on the Social Web.

Are there any rules? Sure there are. The rules were made by all of us. We created our own social norms on the Social Web. When I post an Instagram of my breakfast, it’s okay for me if you do the same. If I find over-sharing annoying, any over-sharing in my community will set me off. We interact and engage with people who have comparable social norms than we have.

That’s why we feel so uncomfortable at certain parties while everybody else has a great time. Or at a new job because we don’t understand the internal, social norms yet.

People congregate, they develop weak ties than become a community. That’s when norms become important and are formed. We like people who are like us. We don’t really care about diversity. We live in a global world, the United States is a diverse nation when considered as whole. But your block is a relatively homogeneous community.

As a marketer, when you have problems attracting the right people online, evaluate if you’re acting the way they do. You need to understand their social norms and act accordingly. That’s the difference between being an annoyance or a welcome addition to the community.


Brands are addicted having relationships with people. They build Customer Relationship Management systems, 360 models of customer relationships, measure the number of followers and “likes”.

What kind of relationship are we talking about?

When I was 13 in summer camp, I started a “relationship” with a girl. After a few days of staring at each other, blushing and looking away, she found the courage to ask me if she could be my girlfriend. I said yes. Both of us had no clue what that meant or what the relationship of boyfriend/girlfriend entails. So, we continued to stare at each other, blush and look away. I think I held her hand once for a minute. A few days later, camp ended. We never saw each other again.

We’re dealing with the same kind of confusion when talking about relationships between people and brands. Since people don’t care that much having relationships with brands, the onus is on companies to define the desired relationships with customers before engaging with them. Is your brand a partner, an advisor, a consultant, butler, temporary guest, friend, acquaintance, enemy, drinking buddy, bro, BFF?

The rise of the Social Web has allowed to form larger number of weak social ties. And they allow us to connect with people just on the basis of shared views, preferences, ideas or “likes”. That doesn’t mean I want to hear from them daily, weekly or even monthly. Instead, I want to interact with them when they need help and I can provide them with value. Or vice versa. I would argue, that’s where most brands should start when engaging in the Social Web. Help people get things done. Be a butler. A servant. An advisor. A consultant.

And, maybe, just maybe, one day both will walk off into the fog, saying: “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”


Image: Courtesy of Coralie Bickford-Smith

I took this journey of 13 blog posts to better define the model of Human Business Design. It was necessary to walk through the ideas of systemic thinking, introduce various systems, introduce the idea of interactive management, planning for the apocalypse, pie in the sky models, gap and assets, how to develop a community enterprise based on market principles, design a multidimensional organization, stay away from quick fixes and develop leadership for organizational evolution.

The model of Human Business Design is based on above foundation and rooted in the belief that all human interactions inside and outside of your organization matter now. They way human beings are motivated to connect and realize value has fundamentally changed. We’re seeing a fundamental reset in the nature of work due to drastic changes all of us are experiencing in how people communicate, coordinate and collaborate. And the Enterprise 2.0 “movement” tries to capture this changed behavior by applying Web 2.0 principles to the “command-and-control” needs of the enterprise. In addition, we see a mere obsession with tools for tools sake without much understanding of the socio-business context. The old problem of throwing software solutions at organizational problems is just being re-invented in the social networking arena.

Instead, we need to focus our attention on the shifting nature of work itself and how enterprises need to evolve in a rapidly changing world, Organizations need to dig deeper, define new principles around which work itself can be reworked. Forward thinking companies will develop their own constitution, a bill of rights and a social contract for all stakeholders to have a common purpose everybody involved can rally around. In short: enterprises need to socialize their business.

Technology is the critical enable to implement Human Business Design within your organization but technology is not a sufficient agent for change. We have to focus our work on humans, the limitations of extrinsic motivators (external reward or punishment) and the need for intrinsic motivators (finding meaning in work):

– Developing a foundation of trust
– Motivating and educating the stakeholders to become more active participants
– Providing access to stakeholder knowledge and skills
– Facilitating individual freedom and control
– Encouraging emotional/aspirational co-creativity and participation.

    Successful evolution of the organization to a Human Business Design Enterprise requires them to find the appropriate locus of learning, between both market and non-market sources of ideas and knowledge. Most established firms are still trying to access these autonomous idea pools using industrial age logic and rational economic arguments, and, in most cases, tired and outdated marketing efforts where the emphasis is on surface-level tinkering of the customer engagement model, not a complete realignment and reorientation.

    Enterprises have to understand that each business, with money and investment in structures, is no more than its people within and its people outside (all stakeholders). Enterprises need to rely more on people and bridge their left-brain thinking demands with the desires of people to focus more on their right-brain capabilities.

    More than 10 years ago, the Cluetrain Manifesto exclaimed “Business is fundamentally human”. We need to stop treating stakeholders as “resources” and regard each stakeholders as clients with their own interests, desires and drivers.

    If you want to learn more about Human Business Design and how we can help you implementing these principles into your organization, feel free to contact me at

    And, all previous installments for this series, can be found here:

    Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12


    Image: Courtesy of

    While the Facebook Privacy debate rages on, we have to accept a few facts:

    • Facebook is making a play to own identity on the web.
    • Not only that: Facebook is making a play to own everything associated with identity on the web.
    • Facebook is banking on a value exchange between sites and their own database: We give you site traffic and data, we keep all the data to build a semantic map of the Web.
    • We are entrusting personal data to a company that has a problematic record of dealing with user privacy.
    • The majority of Facebook will continue to share information. Why? Because we want to share information.

    Does this mean Facebook will continue to be the de facto Social Web? Absolutely not.

    Facebook presents a huge opportunity and promise for brands: A data pile of personal information that should enable marketers to deliver more relevant and targeted advertising. Sounds like Behavioral Targeting 2.0. This model implies that people want to receive more targeted and relevant messages. And that’s where the whole model falls apart.

    Most of the day, people want to be invisible to advertisers. They want to read or entertain themselves without any disruption of the advertisers. And there are times when I want to hear from advertisers or would love to have a comprehensive profile I want to share with companies. During that limited amount of time, I would love for Acura to know what kind of car I’m looking for and have an insight into my purchase history to develop a personal proposal for me. I would love for Travelocity to know that I’m looking for a hotel close to Heathrow Airport.

    We just don’t want this information stockpiled, used against our wishes and used against us during a time when we don’t want to hear from brands. We don’t want information that we shared with one company sold to another company to deliver more disruptive messages.

    What we want is to share our digital DNA on our terms. Not on the terms of data mining companies and marketers. On our terms.

    Which leads me to the second reason why this model won’t work: My Facebook profile is not the real me. Nobody is the real self on Facebook. We’re revealing a very small part of our real self. Nothing more. Most people stay away from politics or religious topics. We never hear from major conflicts in anybody’s lives. Facebook reminds me of kid shows like Cailou or Berenstein Bears. Sure, there are some minor conflicts but, overall, we’re doing great and everything is awesome. We’re all playing a part in the Facebook world, just like the avatars in Second Life. How do you expect to deliver relevant messages to me if you don’t know the real me?

    Last but not least, if Facebook becomes the Social Graph, innovation will stop. Imagine Internet Explorer as the only game in town. No Chrome, no Firefox. Only IE allows you to access the web. If that’s scary, think about Facebook being the only Social Graph in town. No innovation. Stagnation. The Social Web would end before it even really started.

    That’s why we need for people to claim ownership of their data. Allow them to store their personal data in a safe and secure space. Share any data on their terms:

    • Dental records with their periodontist and general dentist, avoiding lengthy approval cycles and wasteful document exchanges.
    • The intent to purchase a car with preferred brands. Allow them to send personal proposals. Eliminating the guesswork and sneaky, behavioral tactics of marketers.
    • Their food preferences and budget with restaurants through a location-based application. Allow restaurants to send time-sensitive offers based on personal profile.

    Advertising, as defined by Wikipedia, is a non-personal form of communication intended to persuade an audience to purchase or take some action upon products, ideals or services. The current landscape of advertising feels more like a battleground and not a persuasion lounge. We have done the same thing over and over again. More efficient. More relevant. More targeted. It’s still not working.

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t really see the benefits of living in a world where brands constantly have to fight for and with customers. I’d rather live in a world where brands and people co-create and collaborate. And people share what they really need. On their terms. And advertising could get back to its core business: charming and persuading people.