The Social Network: Ecosystem vs. Egosystem by briansolis


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									The Social Network: Ecosystem vs. Egosystem
By Brian Solis, blogger at and principal of FutureWorks, Author of the new book
Engage!, Co-Author, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and Now Is Gone

Of all the social networks competing for our online persona and social graph, Twitter is special. The culture and self-
governing rules of engagement shaped by the “me” in social media, create a personalized experience that looks and feels
less like a “social” network and instead, creates as an empowering information exchange.

Twitter is at the heart of the Web’s evolving egosystem and its archetype is powerful and quite understated. For better or
worse, Twitter introduces the notion of notion of popularity, whereby the numbers of followers and also the friend to follower
ratio we possess indicate ones stature within Twitterverse. As I’ve said over the years, popularity does not beget influence,
but the egosystem and all who define it, do in fact reward and nurture it. The true promise of Twitter is revealed not in the
size of our social graph, but instead how we influence digital culture shaped by Tweets, responses, retweets, trending topics,
and the evolving patterns of connectivity we explore as both individuals and as denizens of a global community. Eventually,
what happens on Twitter will influence behavior offline as well.

The Illusion of Control and Influence
In business, the illusion of influence is often measured by the quantity of followers and as such, the success social
campaigns is routinely defined by the volume of responses and retweets we trigger and the overall share of voice we earn
through participation. As numbers factor into metrics, programs must include strategies for expanding visibility and reach.
Brands then look to those individuals with remarkable social graphs to represent products and services much in the same
way celebrities endorse products in traditional media today. As a result, businesses are targeting individuals with substantial
connections and rewardingthem with incentives and also compensation for introducing a series of paid or sponsored tweets,
updates, and posts to their audiences.

While social media presents a wonderful opportunity for individuals to define their “15 minutes” and ultimately their online
legacy, brands and individuals must take responsibility for their streams and their valued networks. We are now venturing
into domains where “eyeballs” and “audiences” transform into relationships and each are curated and cultivated to mean
something deeply personal. Here, people are the masters of their experiences and they are defined by those to whom
they’re connected.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Actions speak louder than words and as such, we earn and retain the relationships we deserve.

Influence is the ability to inspire and measure action. Awareness counts, but if social activity can cause action or change or
impact sentiment or perception, we begin to understand the transformative and powerful attributes of true influence.

For example, if we align a group of undeniably popular Twitter users who are recognized for their celebrity and not
necessarily recurring topics, passion, and interests, broad reach is certainly an inherent benefit of the alliance. But does
reach equate to influence? I don’t believe so. Followers don’t equal influence.

If anything, reach contributes to awareness and buzz.

Twitter is unique in that its most active users, to some extent, are developing their own dedicated audiences. And just
because they follow a popular person on Twitter, these campaigns don’t necessarily translate into desired actions or
outcomes. They do, however, succeed in spreading the word and most commonly done so via ReTweets as followers of
notable personalities also have followers of their own, which are as important to them and therefore require constant feeding
of valuable and interesting information and content. Essentially, followers aren’t really followers at all. They’re collections of
“interest graphs” where individuals are not bound by social relationships as much as they’re tied through context, common
interests and goals, and shared experiences.

In a recent study entitled “The Million Follower Fallacy,” author Adi Avnit observed, “The act of retweeting (based on my
personal experience), typically indicates that the receiver reads the tweet carefully, found it interesting, and deemed it to be
of sufficient interest and value to forward it further to her followers. In some sense, retweets capture the content value of the
In relation to the number of followers one earns in Twitter, Avnit concluded, “Popular users who have a high indegree
[number of followers] are not necessarily influential in terms of spawning retweets or mentions.”

As an organization, how would you test the value of these connections? What if our goal was to raise donations for a
particular cause or increase pre-orders or registrations related to a soon-to-be released product? Retweets are a necessary
step in spreading information, but in the end, it’s the resulting clickthrough and donation, purchase, or registration that tests
influence and defines the success of the campaign.

Perhaps the answer resides in the following statement, “we are defined by our associations.”

Brands seeking reach, presence, and connectivity must look beyond popularity and focus on aligning with the influential
beacons who serve as the hubs for contextual networks or nicheworks.

The Conversation Quotient
Conversions are already a key metric in other forms of sales and marketing and eventually, it will permeate social media as
well. Formulas exist to measure conversion ratios and if we analyze the performance of conversations, we can then not only
assess influence, but also identify how to improve or increase conversation to action ratios. If a campaign earns 100,000
tweets and retweets and elicits 600 donations, purchases or registrations, the conversation quotient represents a .6%
conversation rate. In this case, it can be assumed that for every 100,000 tweets, we can potentially expect 600 actions.

In the simple example above, conversations contribute to presence, but it is conversions that measure the effects of
awareness. It’s imperative that we introduce a click to action, one that evokes response and also a measurable and
meaningful event. However, as attention is increasingly thinning and information competes against itself, we must be mindful
that multiple factors exist that already working against you. While popularity factors into the likelihood for visibility, the design
of the tweet contributes to whether it’s read, read and retweeted, or read, retweeted, and activated.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
The Growing Popularity and Prominence of Nicheworks
Users on Twitter are already forging social graphs based on context. As such, Twitter will eventually base its Promoted
Tweets advertising program on frames of reference. For instance, if you Tweet about coffee on a regular basis and build a
small, but dedicated audience around the subject, you are building a network of influence based on an identifiable topic.
While I refer to these contextual networks as nicheworks, Twitter views the relationships formed around subject matter as
interest graphs. Accordingly, these interest graphs will then receive advertisements in their streams, in this case, coffee.

Starbucks is already experimenting with Promoted Tweets tied to interests. The company also recently partnered with Klout
to run a test campaign whereby “influencers” identified to related keywords where given a special offer. Applying the
conversation quotient would immediately measure the performance of the campaign. And if Starbucks experimented with
certain variations to test conversion ratios, the company could then introduce an awareness component to the program
where the influencer is then empowered to extend the offer to their audiences. The campaign then focuses on context and
influence rather than popularity, which will most likely result in a significant increase in clicks to action and ultimately greater

You Get One Tweet to Make a First Impression
You only get one shot at a desired outcome and one-click to make a first impression. Plan accordingly and ensure that the
series of crafted tweets are optimized to incite desired behavior. It is for this reason that we look beyond popularity towards
those individuals and organizations that have established influence within relevant subject matters. Thoughtfulness, strategy,
research, rewards, and context are critical ingredients of our programming recipe. The consistent introduction of value linked
to interests and influence, sets the stage for the establishment and cultivation of active, dedicated, and beneficial social

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(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of most prominent thought leaders and
published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has
influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing,
communications, and publishing. He is principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning New
Media agency in Silicon Valley, and has led interactive and social programs for Fortune
500 companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. is ranked
among the top of world's leading business and marketing online resources.

Solis is the author of Engage! The complete guide for businesses to build, cultivate and
measure success in the new Web.

In 2009, Brian Solis, along with Deirdre Breakenridge, released, Putting the Public back
in Public Relations.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook
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