Yelp has been growing at a good clip and in the last couple days touted how well they were doing. This growth was probably a big factor in Yelp’s rumored $200 million valuation on its fourth round in February. A lot of this growth has been fueled by the excellent SEO that they receive as a result of a partnering arrangement with Google.
I noticed recently that Yelp isn’t as prevalent in my searches. Where Yelp used to show up almost every time I Googled a restaurant, instead it looks like Yelp competitor Citysearch is Google’s new review partner.
We haven’t seen a press release yet, but if Yelp has lost its relationship with Google this could lead to a downturn. While they may have the best reviews, that will mean little if people can’t find them. Could Yelp’s recent crowing be a scramble to paint a pretty picture before the decline?
A recent discussion about what critical mass is for a social network site started me thinking about the difference between tipping points and critical mass. Technically both are defined in similar words (sometimes considered synonymous), but they do have different connotations.
A tipping point can be defined as “the culmination of a build-up of small changes that effects a big change”. It is many times tied to an event that adds a missing catalyst or critical amount of energy to achieve a self sustaining reaction. In Gladwell’s book (The Tipping Point) he refers to the mechanics of this being related to “three agents of change” which he calls “the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context”.
Continue reading The Tipping Point
“It” is a paradigm shift. A concept that may be elusive, visceral and something that we need to understand completely to be part of the conversation. We see the symptoms in sales statistics and market reactions and try to understand it in terms of what we already know.
The changes happening to the societies of the world due to the advancement of Moore’s law and the Internet into every facet of our lives represents this on a titanic scale. The problem is that this paradigm shift does not fit in the box we understand. In order to understand it we frequently have to look for the things that change on a macro level. What are the currents that are shifting the sands? Where is that sand going?
To come up with comparisons we have to look at the telegraph/telephone as a precursor and realize how profoundly it changed the world. We then realize that even that shift pales in comparison to what we are experiencing today.
Getting our feet under us in this whirlwind of currents is difficult. In order to start understanding we have to examine the foundations of enterprise, social interaction and even assumptions of why we do things in our daily lives. We track the currents and try to predict where the next wave will hit.
This is an interesting time we live in, it can be a lot of work keeping up, but it can also be a lot of fun. Part of the fun is running into other people who get it. These meetings are often a fervent exchange of ideas and feelings as we negotiate a common understanding of the most exciting thing we have ever witnessed. We challenge each other and grow. Stitching together what is happening is in an imitation of blind men trying to describe an elephant.
There is a patchwork of understanding, a mosaic picture of convergence that is coming into focus. The world is changing and the new shape is just starting to emerge. The only constants are change and our basic human needs. To those that are awake to the possibilities this represents opportunity. The world has become a canvas for us to paint on.
Jeremiah Owyang posted a question about how we define “Online Communities”. In referencing Jake Mckee’s post on the subject he wonders is Twitter a community?
Before we answer that question we have to define what a “Community” is? As has been pointed out by Robin Hamman, “Community” “has dozens if not hundreds of distinct definitions”. In practice we shouold go by the most common definition that covers the specific context. If we go to the dictionary we find a definition of “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (e.g. “The Business Community”)”.
The key’s points here are:
1. Common Interests.
2. Perception of being distinct and separate.
When we examine Twitter and find that the common interest is Twitter and the activities on it, and that the perceived distinction is of those who use/get twitter and those that do not. So yes, by definition, Twitter IS a community.
That said, groups of followers within Twitter may NOT be a sub-community since they do not identify themselves as being separate from Twitter itself. We are not the “following Scoble” community.
Of course all this “definition” talk begs the question, how should we forge this new online vocabulary? Like any lexicon it will develop on its own via adoption patterns. When creating definitions I lean towards either adhering to already established meanings, or inventing new words entirely. This makes words less confusing when we use new meanings in conversation.
To a previous post, MaxS commented that my reaction to SPAM was different than his and particularly to that of teenagers and young adults (Millennials).
SPAM is in the eye of the beholder. The point of the other article is not whether we should consider one thing or another SPAM based on frequency or other metrics, but instead that we should pay attention to how our perceptions of the source color our assessment.
There is a double standard that we take for granted. We classify companies and people of authority differently in our minds than we do friends. The type of interactions we expect are completely different.
Regardless of the generation if someone radically changes the interaction context on us (turning mentoring or friendship into marketing) then we are going to view that as betrayal of our perception of what we have signed up for. I give you permission to be my friend, not sell me a car.
In the end while we may each have different ideas of what constitutes SPAM it all comes down to unwanted or inappropriate interactions as colored by our perception of the source of those interactions. Appropriate interactions build trust and “Social Capital”, inappropriate ones tear it down.