Social Media Week notes: The Networked Economy

Elena Plaiter

Well, i seem to have fallen massively behind on writing blogs from Social Media Week.

Here’s a write up from the session on The Networked Economy, about how brands can succeed in today’s ‘networked economy. 

The changing landscape

  • Social media has changed the way information travels, just as the printing press did
  • We give our lives context by connecting with other people (from religion to the age of enlightenment), but the industrial era made us physically rich but passive – tell me what i want and i’ll buy it. We are now returning to a word-of-mouth society.
  • Twitter has redefined ‘me’ as ‘we’
  • Taking a commodity, and putting the human at the heart of it drives profit and purpose. Differentiation drives innovation and profit: take a commodity (e.g. coffee bean) through to a product (packet of coffee), to a ready made product (we’ll make it for you) to an experience (Starbucks), driving up pricing at the same time. The internet has no space/time restrictions so what next?
  • Companies that will perform best build social purpose into their operation that is as important as their economic purpose. So social purpose is becoming a business decision. See Elisabeth Murdoch’s Profit and Purpose Mactaggart lecture.
  • 3D printers – if people have the ability to create their own products through small scale innovation, it affects commerce and community (no one goes shopping).

How the networked economy is affecting business:

  • Open sourced design: crowd designing to get the best product possible, not the product that’s given to you. Local Motors example
  • Experiential purchasing: as well as buying a product we want the experience that goes with it.
  • Crowd funding: is changing the way businesses begin. Kickstarter
  • Mixing in pro-social impact: For profit companies beginning to have pro-social goals. Tom’s shoes.
  • Bottom up approach: new branding decided by HQs – but what if it was bottom up? What if customers advised? What if then a coffee chain became about being  more than just a coffee shop? Would it become a community centre?
  • Overcoming time/space restrictions: Skype (space – live far away, still talk), FB (time  – just met you but timeline tells me everything i need to know).
  • Market research: focus groups are being replaced by real time information and feedback. Real problems have instant real solutions.
  • Product development: work with designers not employed by you. e.g. Proctor and Gamble
  • Retention: Answer complaints on social media. E.g KLM
  • Acquisition: Loyalty schemes (Starbucks). Will online communities become loyalty programmes of the future?

Final thought: You need to give access to your brand across any device, anywhere… have to create a social enterprise and connect with everyone who touches hour brand. If you don’t what is your business model in 5 years? Burberry Social Enterprise strategy.


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