Content curators: How are you sharing content and influence online?
This is an important article. The idea that a small group of highly influential brand advocates are doing most of the work occurred to be when I created FoundObjects.com (now RIP except in the archive) in 1999. Here is a quick funny story that illustrates one of the problems hinted at in this article:
Martin's Maven Search Story
Not long after launching FoundObjects.com ( now RIP but you can see it here : http://scenttrail.blogspot.com/2010/02/martins-first-web-site.html ) in 1999 I read Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell explained something I intuitively knew - not all people visiting my new website were equal. I wanted to find out who were the Mavens, Salespeople and Connectors on our new website. I posted an offer. Help Foundobjects.com and I would send a free T-shirt with our thanks.
Each week we would get 2 or 3 requests and dutifully pack and ship a fee Found Objects tees with a thank you note. One rare Saturday we, my ex and I ran the company, took the morning off and had a long quiet breakfast before going to the office to pack and ship orders. Before heading into the warehouse I checked orders. Seeing 1,400 requests for free Found Objects t-shirts I panicked.
The offer had been placed on FatWallet.com long before I knew what a "coupon site" was. I pulled the offer and went across the parking lot to the people who printed our tees. Covering the costs was going to take $5,000 we didn't have, but I placed the order and we shipped the tees. Today I would have provided a coupon as a make good instead of risking being able to eat (LOL). We painfully got through my first lesson in viral marketing's downside. I learned a valuable lesson about the web's netowork effect, speed and power.
The real funny part of the story is months later I attended a Work With Seth Godin day (http://scenttrail.blogspot.com/2008/05/working-with-seth-godin.html ). Still broke since the tees ate our cash, I had to sell my beloved Litespeed bicycle to pay for the airfare. Seth generously let me in as a "schlorship student" not having to pay the gate fee everyone else did. In that meeting who do I met Tim Storm, the founder of FatWallet.
Point Of A Funny Story
The point of this story is twofold. It is hard to find your Mavens or "influencers" (I prefer advocates since advocates typically work from love and for free where influencers work for money) without disturbing the delicate balance that makes them so effective on your brand's behalf - they are belivers and so evangelical in their support. Secondly, things happen very fast online. Ever try to stick your hand safely into a fan? No right, because there isn't a way to stick your hand into a fan (at least not the ones with blades). The web's ballet is delicate and full of grace. Dance in with the wrong shoes and the gig is up.
This doesn't mean we should put some flypaper out and about to find out who is helping us and how. It does mean to be thankful for the cool air and not stick our hands where they don't belong.
Via witszen, Martin (Marty) Smith