Friday, March 20, 2009

The Future of Social Networking Sites

The Future of Social Networking Sites is that most of the Social Networking Sites Have No Future. MySpace and Facebook have battled for new users, climbing up the demographic food chain. MySpace has struggled to hide the migration of their user-base over to Zuckerburg's much more hip interactive site. All the while, the giants of online have been eyeing the now-established online phenom and have plotted their own fast-track into the social media cash pool.


Much like XM and Sirius, this will become a market where only one can survive. Social media users have watched as the two majors, MySpace and Facebook, each reporting over 65 million U.S. monthly viewers, revamped their user profiles and interactive applications into a strikingly similar format. Both now incorporate FriendFeeds, both incorporate (limited) customizable layout options, and both feature a Twitter-like status update.

Facebook boldly steps towards the next obvious plateau in social media networks, the Universal Profile. Rather than creating multiple individual profiles or even cutting and pasting your favorite quotes, pictures, and About Me's from one site to the next, you will be able to create one profile and export it across platforms. Right now, Facebook only offers this feature with "partner sites" (see highlight), but soon it will have to expand the service to their top competitors, like MySpace, Bebo and Google's Orkut.

What Facebook says about its new Exportable Profile:
Real Identity
Facebook users represent themselves with their real names and real identities. With Facebook Connect, users can bring their real identity information with them wherever they go on the Web, including: basic profile information, profile picture, name, friends, photos, events, groups, and more.

Friend Linking
People count on Facebook to stay connected to their friends and family. With Facebook Connect, they can take their friends with them wherever they go on the Web. Developers can add rich social context to their sites. Developers even can dynamically show which of their Facebook friends already have accounts on their sites.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Who You Need to Run a Company

I have heard it too many times to even know if this needs sourced, but you need three things to run a successful company:
  1. The Right People
  2. Product(s)/Service(s) that Customers Want
  3. Customers
Although all three are worthy of a blog post (and have been written about ad nauseum) I want to write my current ideas on the 1st one. Who are the Right People?

I believe that every company really needs people who fill these five roles:
  • Idea Guy
  • Legal Guy
  • Numbers Guy
  • Sales Guy
  • Get Stuff Done Guy
Now, I don't believe these need to be five different guys (or even "guys" at all, so don't get hung up on the gender-specific pronoun, obviously these can be girls, too). What I DO believe is that these skill sets need to be represented in the company leadership or out-sourced to someone that can handle it competently. Here is what each role should be bringing to the table:

Idea Guy needs to have strategic long-term thinking. This would be a Marketing or Strategic Planning title at a big company. Someone with vision and lots of imagination. He sees opportunities in places that other people haven't even thought to look. When you're like, "What about an online video contest?" he's already saying "And they can call in on their mobile phones and vote for their favorites-- for $1.99 per call. Bam! Digital revenue stream."

Legal Guy needs to love the law. He gets fired up about reading contracts, licensing, intellectual property ins-and-outs and any print smaller than 10 point font. Legal documents, IP/patents, and law suits are a common part of business today, so someone at your company needs to love it. LOVE IT!

Numbers Guy should also be Spreadsheet Guy. He doesn't just like tables, charts and numbers, he has general ledgers printed on his bedsheets. This guy understands that money is making money even when it isn't creating revenue from assets. He does percentages and long-division in his head, can give your company's current cost per sale ratio in his sleep, and feels physical pleasure when the monthly account balances just right.

Sales Guy is your best friend and your worst enemy. He knows everyone and would rather be on the phone or in a meeting than working alone on his projects. Don't ask him to do paper work, just let him create relationships and get other people excited about what your company does. The people who are best at this are True Rainmakers, not salesman-types looking for a quick deal or taking advantage of customers.

Get Stuff Done Guy is the Executor. It needs done, he finds a way to get it done. He is to a Gantt Chart as a 13-year-old girl is to WhateverLife. Put him in charge of your projects, your staff or your whole company and he will make sure it all gets done within scope, on time and under budget. Do you need to have a presence at a trade show in Albuquerque in 3 days? Give it to this guy and get out of the way.

In this essay by Paul Graham, he refers to Good People as "Animals" and illustrates them as: "A salesperson who just won't take no for an answer; a hacker who will stay up till 4:00 AM rather than go to bed leaving code with a bug in it; a PR person who will cold-call New York Times reporters on their cell phones; a graphic designer who feels physical pain when something is two millimeters out of place."

I think he's on the right track. I would call these people Passionate, but that's because I'm a soft/squishy Idea Guy and not a hardline Sales Guy or a straight-shooting Numbers Guy.

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