Jed Hallam

News.

I know it’s been six months since I published any posts, but I also know that there are still some people* reading my blog.

Well, I thought I’d publish a really quick update on what I’ve been doing for the last six months; as well as working at VCCP like a maniac, I’ve also been writing a book which will be published later this year (I submitted the manuscript today) by Palgrave Macmillan. I wrote all the words myself and everything. (I wasn’t allowed to draw the pictures though.)

I’ll keep you posted, yeah?

 

 

* Hey Mum!

Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people

I’m sat trying to hammer through about twelve books in search of something inspirational ahead of a pitch next week. It’s not working. However, I did just find this little gem…

It’s Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people, and it’s from the 80s, but it’s obviously massively applicable today, so I thought I’d share.

1. Be proactive

2. Begin with the end in mind

3. Put first things first

4. Think win-win

5. First understand, then be understood

6. Synergise [ed. don't laugh, listen]

7. ‘Sharpen the saw’

 

My favourites are (obviously) one and two.

Black Swan

 ”No amount of observations of a white swan can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan can refute that conclusion.”

David Hume, 1711-76.

 

“It is often said that he “is wise who can see things coming”. Perhaps the wise one is the one who knows that he cannot see things far away.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan.

 

“I don’t care what the future holds,
‘Cause I’m right here and I’m today,
With your fingers you can touch me.
I am your black swan, black swan.”

Thom Yorke, Black Swan.

 

“Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go.”

Thomas Leroy, Black Swan.

 

Thom Yorke – Black Swan

Social media #fail culture

I obviously spend a lot of time on Twitter, mostly (these days) grabbing interesting links and publishing random thoughts and ideas. I’ve been on Twitter a while, I’ve got a fairly good handle on it, and in general, I love it. It provides me with an accelerated adjacent possible into things I wouldn’t usually encounter and I try and follow a really broad mix of people. But there is one thing, one constant meme, that frustrates me.

The “madding crowd’s ignoble strife”; the cry of “#FAIL”.

The major and minor social media backlash when we don’t like something that someone else (usually a brand, but not limited to) has done.

I hate it.

When did we become the judge, jury and executioner? Maybe, just maybe, we’re not the target demographic for the latest social media campaign by FMCG brand X? This type of negativity helps no one. The internet is a big place, and we have to share it with other people, other people that might not be just like us. Our sense of entitlement seems to be skyrocketing well beyond our freedom of speech.

This is part of two much wider problems; 1) the expectation brigade (which Paul Carr, Charlie Brooker and Becca have written about fairly extensively) and 2) the speed at which we want to criticise others. We’ve been empowered by access to information, people and brands, but it’s gone too far and people are demanding, not collaborating or talking.

I am in no way exonerated from this. In fact a few years ago I caused a storm in a tea cup when I publicly criticised a telecomm brand’s social media agency – so my hands are just as dirty. Except I learnt two things pretty quickly; 1) my opinions are my own and it isn’t always necessary to share them in a very public way and 2) the #FAIL brigade can work against people (after the blog post went up, there were about 500 tweets about why I was an idiot for sharing my opinion – you can see that there was a certain irony ;-) ).

As marketers, we spend hours and hours advising brands on how to become more human and more collaborative, yet a lot of the time we’re criticising other brands for putting a foot wrong. The human interaction works both ways and if we want brands to become better at interacting, we need to stop burning their fingers with flippant remarks and snarkiness.

Deconstructing the future of the ‘social media’ industry

Over the next few days I’m going to publish three blog posts that are pretty much the same blog post, however, to save your eyes, I’ll break them up into three smaller posts.

The first post is my thoughts on how the social media industry has evolved and where the market may or may not lead. The second post will look at the developing social business market and the third post will look at how brands might start to actually implement this stuff. You know, the ‘how we make money out of all of this’ post.

I’ve always been interested in seeing how business and technology evolve, which has always come in handy as that’s been my job for the last three or four years. Well, about two years ago, I was talking with Tim Hoang about Everett’s Diffusion of Innovations and how you could apply this to network analysis to see how you could track messages moving through a network and how marketers could then unpick the network mechanics to understand the role of influence better. This then lead to me reading a bit more widely into adoption and growth theories and then I found life cycles.

Now, for anyone with a casual interest in business or marketing theory, life cycles will be old hat. But for me, they were a revelation.

Using life cycle graphs, you can begin to predict which services/products/industries/agencies are going to be rising (or declining) in the future – this is obviously incredibly valuable in such a fast moving industry as social media.

I then started plotting my own work (developing products and services) against Levitt’s theory of Product Life Cycles (PLC) and trying to understand at which point products and services needed an overhaul. After a weekend of further reading, I saw a reference to Steven Klepper’s work on Industry Life Cycles (ILC) and how it had been applied to various industries for more than fifty years. Things started to click a little bit more with how I could apply these models to social media  (services, agencies and the industry) and using the models to think smarter about how social media would develop as whole.

The graph below is Klepper’s Industry Life Cycle, it’s a simple graph that highlights the four key areas of an industry’s development; birth, growth, maturity and decline.

Industry Life Cycle

Klepper probably explains the phases better than I could;

“Three stages of evolution are distinguished. In the initial, exploratory or embryonic stage, market volume is low, uncertainty is high, the product design is primitive, and unspecialized machinery is used to manufacture the product. Many firms enter and competition based on product innovation is intense.

In the second, intermediate or growth stage, output growth is high, the design of the product begins to stabilize, product innovation declines, and the production process becomes more refined as specialized machinery is substituted for labor. Entry slows and a shakeout of producers occurs.

Stage three, the mature stage, corresponds to a mature market. Output growth slows, entry declines further, market share stabilizes, innovations are less significant, and management, marketing and manufacturing techniques become more refined.”

The idea of applying this ILC to the social media industry is a little bit on the fluffy side until you overlay the ILC analysis with Everett’s adoption curve and begin to plot out where certain brands fit within the analysis.

Industry Life Cycle and adoption analysis

It’s even possible to begin matching dates to the x-axis – the ‘innovators’ period could quite comfortably be around 2000/2001 and it’s fair to say that we’re currently (in 2011) experiencing the late majority/laggards phase. Suggesting that the industry is maturing and we’re (potentially) about to hit a period Hugo Hopenhayn coined ‘The Shakeout’.

‘The Shakeout’ is a simple principle. During the growth period of the ILC many organisations join the market without differentiating factors – the market fattens up because the overall market value is on the rise, so people join to enjoy the spoils – causing an overflow of suppliers once the demand begins to mature and level out. Hopenhayn believes that this ‘The Shakeout’ hasn’t actually happened until the amount of suppliers is less than 70% of the volume at its peak. With this in mind, and given the current state of the social media industry (specifically in the UK), I’d say we’re due to lose about 30% of the suppliers over the next eighteen months or so as the market matures and levels out.

While this sounds terrifying, it’s simply market forces acting naturally. However, there is a way to break the trend of the ILC and access a new market at the bottom of a new curve.

Six months ago I was reading the Harvard Business Review and I stumbled upon an article by Tim Breene and Paul Nunes (both of Accenture) who were promoting a book they’d written calling Jumping the S-Curve. Breene and Nunes are interested in helping their clients to break the cycle of decline and ‘leap’ onto the next s-curve and by providing a methodology for innovation, they hope to help many organisations ‘buck’ the decline of the PLC. After spending a considerable amount of time looking at how Klepper had applied the PLC to the ILC, I began to try and overlay some of my thinking to Breene and Nunes’ model. The results of which are highlighted on the graph below.

Industry Life Cycle analysis of the social media industry

Here we see three s-curves, each representing a period of around ten years. For the first curve, I’ve taken the second graph and I’ve begun to look at what and when the next curve could be. Given the last few years has seen the original innovators (Brian Solis, Jeff Dachis, David Armano etc) from curve one begin to discuss social business, it’s a fair guess to say that the next ten years is going to see social business becoming a large part of the industry. It will be the innovation that the industry needs to sustain itself.

It’s a difficult leap, but it will act as a filter and force true innovation amongst suppliers and the potential rewards (i.e. market volume) are, in my opinion, far greater than anything that the industry has seen over the past ten years.