This is why I think Gary Vaynerchuk is a genius. As the world gets more connected through social technologies, brands will increasingly be beholden to the rules of the small town. If you have lived in a small town (as I have) you’ll know what this means. Have you considered doing something outrageous but held back, for fear of what everyone at the local pub might say about you? Well that is ‘small down rules’ in action. It’s essentially a case of ‘on the Internet, EVERYBODY knows you’re a dog’.
When I saw his video it reminded me of a few caveats:
a) Broadband accessibility - the digital divide still persists, and it’s worth noting that (as per this Ofcom study) that the Internet is main source of local news for only 4% of UK people, and this goes up 6% for national news (see P4) I’d imaghine this is largely defined by broadband access, either due to geographical or monetary reasons. Are you likely to appeal to the ‘white van man’ with, say, a custom developed Ronseal iPhone app? Probably not.
b) Smartphone adoption - to reach those who spend more time interfacing with their mobile device than the internet on a PC, there’s the consideration of whether location-based apps or mobile social media could prove a solution. In terms of engaging harder to reach consumers/prosumers. Worth remembering that smartphones, while popular, are yet to ‘cross the chasm’ on a global perspective (most of the BRIC and Asia-Pac are on featurephones).
c) Web 2.0b sophistication of most PC users - regardless of accessibility, the vast majority of people are *just* getting into Twitter (after a good few years of hype!). Apps for more ‘advanced’ (or at least enthusiastic) social media users such as Google Sidewiki may have struck some brand owners as a bit of a worry, but this depends on how many people use these tools in the first place. Definitely a consideration for the longer term though!
d) Fickleness – aka the ‘social notworking’ phenomenon – how many of you joined Friendster? Faceparty? There’s one thing measuring your brand footprint on a network, especially one as explosive as Twitter, but what about the long view? Will brand equity and investment matter if the site only get adopted by influencers or the mass consumer market for two years, especially in the age of ‘built to flip’ networks? Personally I say Yes in terms of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, too early to tell for Bebo and Ning.