@ Mixx: Social Networking: From Shut-Ins To Political Action To Products

imageIt’s day two of Advertising Week in New York, and to keep people in their seats at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Mixx conference, Charlie Rose was tapped to bring his talk show format to a morning session with new media academic Clay Shirky. In offering a primer of social networkings evolution, Shirky told Rose that it started with with people who didn’t leave the house — “people who were confined in some way” — and then spread to others who wanted to share photos and details about their lives. It then got serious as political activists started using it, which was shortly followed by the business world.

Almost all you need is love: In seeking to understand how social networks work, Shirky says you have to understand “household economics.” Shirky: “Economists have a tough time explaining why you feed your children. Household economics is not seen as terribly important. But it is and it explains a lot about why we do what we do, especially in social networking. Non-financial motivations are getting people to do something. People create value for each other because we’re human. We’re not self-obsessed, we like to know other people. Pierre Omidyar, the founder of *eBay*said the idea behind it was that people are basically good. He was proven wrong three months later when *eBay* nearly tanked because people were stealing from another. ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll send you a check for those Beanie Babies.’ But when the grades were added for buyers and sellers, people suddenly got good.”

More on marketing and what Steve Jobs knows after the jump

Don’t fire the marketing dept. yet: TV producer Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) has a new show that hasn’t aired yet, Dollhouse and fans have already charted its life-cycle. This is an example of the hopes and dangers of social media. Shirky: “The show’s about trained assassins with a high budget for haircair products.” There are groups on the internet who are already sure that they will love Dollhouse, sure that it will be canceled and sure that it’s the marketing department’s fault. They have plans for fixing that. The idea that your own viewers don’t have confidence in the marketing department is strange. That doesn’t mean that amateurs will replace experts. Hybridization is the key. Finding the people who have ideas, the passion, the people who have their hands on the lever, that will move advertising and marketing.

Cross-fertilization: You have to give the user something to talk about. And usually, design is the main part of the conversation. “*Apple* knew that. People who use the mug-me-white earphones are walking billboards. And when *Amazon* wants to launch Kindle or something else, they can rely on its users to spread the word.

What Jobs knows: The *Apple* head knows who to hire. “He also knows how to have product design involve cross-fertilization. The engineers and designers are constantly sharing thoughts. Secondly, he knows to listen to customers but not take dictation. Henry Ford said, ‘If I did what customers wanted, I’d have shipped a faster horse.’

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