Social Media Is About Relationships with Social Objects

Markets Are Relationships

Hugh McLeod, the popular web 2.0 bloggerpreneur and cartoonist recently published an interesting series of posts on Social Objects.

He makes the point that for a product or service to be marketed successfully online, it must have that social element that drives people to talk about it, or talk about other people talking about it.

In other words, it must be a social object.

He gives the example of the iPhone as a social object and he is spot on in that regard.

People speculated about its release date in the UK (and the rest of Europe) within hours of its launch in the US in January and people are still talking about it now, day in day out.

Right now every one is anticipating the 3G version coming out in the spring…

Social objects, McLeod says, can be digital or abstract and the key is determining whether a product or service fits all of the following criteria:

1. You should be able to define the social object your service is built around.

2. Define your verbs that your users perform on the objects.
For instance, eBay has buy and sell buttons. It’s clear what the site is for.

3. How can people share the objects?

4. Turn invitations into gifts.

5. Charge the publishers, not the spectators.

Those five sentences are Jaiku founder, Jyri Engstrom’s Five Principles of Social Objects and they underpin the whole idea.

It’s well worth reading the rest of Hugh McLeod’s series on Social Objects.

McLeod’s background is in advertising and … fine art, of all things. His cartoons are highly entertaining and show his keen appreciation of social media and web 2.0.

Now on to the relationship bit…

I recently came across a fantastic article by Doc Searls, the esteemed social media veteran where he discussed the conversation with Nigerian religious scholoar Sayo Ajiboye that convinced him that markets are relationships.

Now, advocates of the Cluetrain Manifesto will tell you that Theses 1 – 6 state that Markets are Conversations.

Doc’s conversation with Abijoye over a long cross country journey convinced him that ‘the next level in the Cluetrain’ was that Markets are Relationships.

Here’s an excellent excerpt:

“It’s about relationship,” he [Abijoye] said. “When the vendor says something is worth $500, he’s not saying that’s the price. He’s inviting a conversation. He also isn’t just looking for a sale. He’s looking for a relationship with you — one that only starts with your repeated business with him. The whole market is a system of relationships.”

I couldn’t agree more. This lies at the very core of social media. I’d go as far as saying that social media allows the whole notion of markets as relationships to come alive. More on that in a forthcoming blog post…

And in news just in, Compete, the web analytics firm is reporting that total time spent online is up 24.3%.

These are US online numbers, by the way, but that hockey stick between June and August shows that a lot of people are quite familiar with the fine art of killing time on the web.

The Manchester Christmas market is in full swing. I wonder how many of the stall owners realize that they are inviting shoppers into a relationship.

Over to you? What do you think?

Do you buy the whole ‘markets are relationships’ business?

Leave your thoughts in the comments

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