Virtual Neighborhoods

Chris Brogan has a good post on the desire for that "Neighborhood Feel" in our communications. The read through the comments to his post is interesting and revealing.

That neighborhood feeling is really about shared intimacy and sincerity. It's about being remembered as an individual in community not a market segment.

That difference between community and market segment is important. page2-community.jpg Community is active. It's individuals acting, thinking, interacting with each other. They're not necessarily agreeing, but they are communing.

Market segments are passive. They are defined by data aggregates. They are graphs. Impersonal.Segment-water-demand-05-06.gif If you read this blog much, you will know that I am a very big fan of data aggregation. But they are not proxies for community. Segments have too long been the primary focus of businesses. They are important, but they cannot replace personalization, they cannot replace community.

Enterprises that are enabling communities to emerge out of their segments are winning. Enterprises that are spending more money on identifying segments and then emailing them coupons, I suspect, are not.

What enterprises should be doing is realizing that the enterprise itself is a community. It is people interacting with each other for a purpose. Businesses should not be treating employees like segments (aka departments, reporting structures, etc).

Enterprise 2.0 technology enables communication, across geographies and across time (asynchronous). It enables intimacy. More interaction, more communing means more shared knowledge, more connections, more relating. It means we see each other more as individuals and less as departments, less as segments.

Research backs this up. A study by one Dr. Bohlmann at NC State looked at how cross functional (i.e. diverse backgrounded) teams interacted.

The diverse backgrounds of the team members means there is a focus on finance and marketing, as well as design and functionality, from the beginning of the product-development process. But that diversity also makes effective communication essential, in order to ensure that team members are collaborating rather than working at cross-purposes....Bohlmann explains, "If you think you are being treated well, you are going to work well with others on your team." (emphasis added. LINK)
While the Bohlmann study looked at how well a product manager communicated and interacted with the team, such communication and interaction presupposes a degree of intimacy, sincerity and awareness that is possible in community, not segments.

When teams are geographically and temporally disbursed E2.0 technology is the communications bridge enabling community.

Comments:

Good post. I like your differentiation between market segment and community. Which leads to the question, what does it mean to 'target' the market segment? I don't like being a target. Maybe 'reach out' to the community might be a better description.

Posted by Rex Williams on March 24, 2009 at 11:56 AM CDT #

I’ve been reading your post and found it interesting! Internet Marketing these days is spread almost everywhere in the IT world. I run a blog on Internet Marketing so I can use something from your blog as well.

Posted by Jeff Paul Big League Players Club on April 13, 2009 at 08:46 PM CDT #

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