379 entries from 48 countries … good news! SCVA is a finalist.

I received a little good news last week. Social Capital Value Add was selected as a finalist by WeMedia from a field of 379 entries from 48 countries. Details here: http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/competition/powerofus

Thank you to everyone who supported my entry. Don’t forget to let me know if you clicked through. You might win the ticket.

I know that the rules say that the judges make the selections, not the voters but feel free to try to add comments or rate my entry here: http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/14479

@BeCircle tweeted this about the SCVA entry:

“@memeticbrand only after reading this http://bit.ly/14kAM did I ‘get’ SCVA. SCVA.com needs this front and center”

You see competition can make things better.  I will amend the “about” page here to incorporate the language from the submission.

They gave Al Gore more than 12 minutes when he took the WeMedia stage, but then again that was before we knew it takes just 4 minutes. :)

Is anyone else going to be in Miami for February 24th to 27th?

How did this dog get in the boardroom?

A dog has been set loose in your boardroom to bark at you about how business management has changed since 2004.  The story of how it got there is a great little case study in how valuable ideas move from inception anywhere in the world to you in the networked age.

It started with a need and a Google search.

After slugging it out in the social media startup world for years, I was ready for a glass of wine.  So we packed up the family and headed to Paris.  I looked at my MBA program there as an opportunity to put to rest a nagging set of ideas about Web 2.0.  The way in which business value is created and defended has fundamentally changed, but most of the “conversation” about social media is not designed for investors and “C” level corporate management.  From an academic perspective, I was a relative amateur.

Enter a few Google searches …

I discovered a local conference on Social Networks.  Then found myself in a room of about 10 top social network theorists.  I was waaaaay out of my league, but fortunately I was able to connect with Olav Sorenson and Matt Jackson.

Olav took the time to direct my reading.  Google helped me discover additional key pieces.  Matt was encouraging and challenging.  When I finished the paper, I sent it to almost everyone whose work I had read during the formulation, looking for credible feedback.

I received encouraging notes back.  One from Al Ries, co-author of Positioning, which is a book most consider to be a marketing bible.  Top blogger Matt Ingram said the work was “valuable.”  Then Seth Godin, author of the world’s most popular marketing blog and the best selling business books over the last decade, suggested that I submit the idea to www.changethis.com, a Digg-like site for ideas that he co-founded (but no longer runs).

The editorial board at ChangeThis selected the proposal and that is when its fate moved from the hands of a few key “influentials” into the “wild.”

To be published by ChangeThis, the idea had to compete against about a dozen others and be voted to the top.  Social Capital Value Add did not become the 8th most demanded proposal in ChangeThis history because I am a famous author.  I asked my friends and colleagues to support it.  Social capital went to work.  Through a combination of support from close connections and blog entries from looser links,  the idea gets a blast to 20,000 people who care about this sort of thing as part of the 50th issue of ChangeThis (along with the great ideas of John Kotter, Seth Godin, Andrew Abela, Vince Poscente and Jonathan Baskin).

At some point along the way, the momentum has changed.  I started out trying to take this idea as far as I could.  Now I am trying to keep up with it for as long as I can.

My search has changed how information flows around me.  After months of trying to find information, information finds me through connections far and wide. Four people on three different continents alerted me to Mike Arrington’s related post.  I have wandered or been invited into online groups like Seth’s “Triiibes” where Adam Helweh and dozens of others have instantly offered their help just as quick as I can ask.

Paul Wilmott has invited me to write something to introduce SCVA in his small but influential magazine that serves the quantitative finance community and I have connected with the right folks at Dell and Procter & Gamble about reporting on how the principals in SCVA are showing up in their businesses.  I am not sure how these initiatives are going to work out yet, but they are encouraging.

UPDATE: In February 2009, SCVA was selected as a finalist among almost 400 “game changing” ideas from 48 countries in the WeMedia/Ashoka Power of Us: Reimagine Media co-petition.

Social Capital Value Add (SCVA) is an idea that started in the social media startup trenches and was connected by a Google search to experts and influentials.  Wrapped up in a Wizard of Oz metaphor and signaled by a nameless dog, SCVA is powered by the social capital of a few concerned groups and now it has made its way to you from a trusted source.  It is a management and valuation approach that has been developed as a framework to help companies understand and track the impact that communications technology is having on their ability to create and defend value.  Woof, woof.

UPDATE: The SCVA ChangeThis manifesto has been released:

http://www.changethis.com/50.05.SocialCapital

Mark Zuckerburg: looting block party or catering service?

Nic Hodges has a thoughtful post up down under.  Thanks to John Maloney for flagging it.  Nic says,

“If Mark Zuckerberg turned up to your neighbourhood and started throwing you crazy block parties, while at the same time mining your backyard for gold, wouldn’t you want a cut of that gold?”

I agree with and have explored many of the same concepts Nic touches upon in his post.

I agree that social networks are not owned.  But social network software services like Facebook are privately owned so there is a transaction: service for terms of service.  A problem can emerge when companies like Google and Facebook and others are becoming so entrenched in social networks and our old watchdogs like government and journalists are not motivated or equipped to help us bring the implications into focus.

I believe that the most important thing that we can do to cope with these potential problems is to establish the link between social capital and corporate valuation, to motivate corporate competition, bring into light the true sources of value and make them accountable to investors, markets and users/consumers.  Then the regulators and press gallery will be all over it.

Social networks can not be owned.  Agreed.  That is why I think it is very useful to distinguish social capital from social networks.  I think social capital, i.e. the resources that are embedded in social networks are intrinsicly individual assets.  (Note: the corporation is a form of individual).

By investing in a connection with you, I get flow of information, the exertion of influence, certifications of individual social credentials and reinforcement of individual identity and recognition.  Hey! Smells like social media to me.  That is why I think of social media as a new, scaled up form of social capital that has emerged since 2004 when broadband overtook slow connectivity in the USA.

Aggregation of individual returns result in collective assets and properties such as trust, norms, reputation, authority, sanctions, culture, network structure (open, closed, density, clustering, diameter, average path lengths, degree distribution, bridges, weak ties, betweenness and other forms of centrality, etc.) and location (structural holes, structural constraints, etc.), which are extrinsic variables that contribute to the formation, access and use of social capital.

This is the stuff that we need to zero in on developing, measuring and valuing at this point – not just page views, unique visitors, CPMs which are all broadcast paradigm metrics.

P.S. I love Michael’s comment over on Nic’s post, “We are all becoming Paris Hilton“.

Check out Lin, Nan, “Building a Network Theory of Social Capital” ©1999 INSA, Connections 22(1):28-51, see pp.28-31 for compact history of social capital.

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Thank You Canadian Marketing Association

A post went up today on the Canadian Marketing Association blog covering ChangeThis and making an appeal in favour of “Introducing Social Capital Value Add”.

Thank you to Jennifer Morozowich and to CMA for your support.

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MESH, UnMESH – the danger of social capital

I guess a little grass is good. It gets you thinking. As I was out in my yard mowing the lawn, digging up the flower beds, planting … the Florida, the MESH, the bonding and bridging social capital … it came together for me in a moment.  Shall we see if I can piece it together for you again in this post?

A couple of weeks ago I attended Canada’s biggest Web conference, MESH08 at the MaRs Discovery Centre in Toronto. Thanks to Mark, Rob, Michael, Stuart and Matt. It was a great event!

Coincidently, I bumped into Richard Florida while he was walking into his office at MaRs, KD Paine & Joe Thornley were leading the social media measurement meme during the week and I received word from ChangeThis.com that their editorial board has selected my idea to link social media to corporate valuation.

Between Third Tuesday & MESH, I bumped into a lot of people.  I appreciated the chats with David Crow, Jonas Brandon, Scott Pelton, Michael O’Connor Clarke (ain’t he the best!), Jeremy Wright and Duncan Hill.  And as usual, I really enjoyed savouring new connections.  Reconciling Dragon’s Den, Sean Wise, Will Pate and VenCorps as consistent was fun.  David Jones & I connected through our ‘hood.  I am worried. Tamara Kremer might be more fun than me and Collin Douma has already taken the “Johnny Cash of social media” spot.  Networking on the patio through tech star Amber MacArthur to stir up the attentions of Mark Kuznicki was memorable.  Learning more about Radian 6 was key and of course, my personal favourite random media effect … the Mike Kelly, Mike Cayley human alliteration (heh, heh – his blog is entitled “strangely entangled”).

If you have not quite caught it yet … the subject of this post is links.  Helpful, influential, supportive links.  Links that must be invested in, over time, with contribution, sharing and commitment.  Or in other words, the resources that are embedded in social connections known as social capital.

As I reflect on MESH08, I keep thinking of a Harvard Business Review article entitled “When Social Capital Stifles Innovation” co-authored by Richard Florida, Robert Cushing and Gary Gates.

Once again, I want to commend “the MESH guys” on their effort to create the premier web conference in Canada.  My wondering about “the state of the nation” in terms of the Toronto scene and innovation in Canada in general is a testimony to their success.

So here goes the wondering bit:  Is it impossible to create an innovation led culture and economy when our baby boomer bubble is so pronounced, we underfund startups, the venture capital market is shallow, small populations, small markets and a “branch-plant” mentality of scarcity breeds local hypercompetition?

I don’t think so, but Florida, Cushing and Gates serve a cautionary note.  “Relationships can get so strong that the community becomes complacent and insulated from outside information and challenges. Strong ties can also promote the sort of conformity that undermines innovation. Weak ties, on the other hand, allow a basic level of information sharing and collaboration while permitting newcomers with different ideas to be accepted quickly into the social network. Thus, social groups with weak ties could be expected to encourage innovative thinking.”

I don’t think Toronto (or Canada) is yet taking full advantage of our diversity, but I am hopeful that we are moving in the right direction.  Events like MESH08 and Third Tuesday help (on a different front) by connecting our tightly bound community through weak links to people like Marshall Sponder, Natalie Johnson (Shel says she gets it), Rohit Bhargava and David Gratton (great moderator!).  Panelists – you must really feel like “the new kid in town” when everyone rushes you at the end of your session.

At some level, perhaps the point is – who cares?  Once you understand the Gladwell/Wattsinfluencers-shminfluencers” thing,  but that is a whole other post.

Brian Uzzi has found that striking a balance between bonding and bridging social capital is the best formula. So perhaps a couple of ideas that may be useful for any community that wants to steer clear of the dark side of social capital

When a peer tries to innovate, makes a major move, attempts to reinvent an industry, risks financial and social capital and personal ego, a tightly bound social network can either help their fellow lobster out of the pot, or drag them back into the boiling cauldron.  A mentality of false scarcity and local hypercompetition can breed indifference or satifice driven criticism.  On the other hand, mobilizing in support of efforts to build global success stories enriches the home town crowd over the long term, digg it!?.  I am not suggesting a free pass, just a healthy awareness of the pros and cons of a tight social network and enlightened self interest when it comes to the weak links that are so valuable.

Wrt MESH specifically, maybe somehow broadcasting the twitter tweme on public monitors or projecting it can open up the amazing (but exclusive) dynamics of the back channel or the video shot during the conference could be played in the common area to create some feedback loops.

And perhaps there are some ways to bring in even more value packed outsiders into the conference?

Music, advocacy, Club Penguin, StumbleUpon, Social Media and the Enterprise – I think that the content already meets the new standards for meetings and conferences that make them worth travelling for.  May be some strategies ontop of that great content like:

–  giving each panelist 5 free tickets and asking them to bring a posse of out of towners,

– coordinating twemes and a skype swarm with a sister conference, or, (UPDATE: Here is an example of someone getting going with that sister conference idea mentioned above: http://www.futureexploration.net/fom08/)

– raising the price to $1200 per person but including free air fare (airfair?) scholarships from anyplace in the world.

Just a few half baked thoughts.

Oh, and Jacquelyn, thank you! I don’t take links lightly and I really appreciate this one.

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