What Is Your Standard?

by Jay Deragon on 07/30/2008

A standard is an established norm or requirement. A de facto standard is a standard (formal or informal) that has achieved a dominant and accepted position.

It is usually a product, process, system, or technical standard that has achieved status informally by public acceptance (consensus of crowds), market forces (such as the market of conversations), and has persisted and developed over time by practice and acceptance.

In social sciences, a de facto standard is a usual solution to a coordination problem. The choice of a de facto standard is the better choice for situations in which all parties can realize mutual gains, but only by making mutually consistent decisions.

Today we’re witnessing a clash of standards between traditional vs. social marketing methods. The traditional methods were aimed at eyeballs, impressions and click through using slick messages, banners and digital enticements. Social marketing standards, unspoken but defined by conversational consensus, are and will continue to play significant roles in setting new standards for business. Businesses can expect to devote time and money on learning, deciding, forecasting, and adhering to emerging conversational standards established by the markets of the people they aim to serve.

The new standard rejects the old standard and unless you adopt the new standard social consensus will likely reject your business proposition. A worse outcome may be the social consensus is to create negative media about your product or service, one to one to millions. Why? Because when people don’t think you’re listening or care about their issues they tend to raise their voice in frustration.

What Happens When Standards Change?

When standards shift so do the markets. Japan created a new standard in product quality and performance. The markets shifted. Social networks have created a new standard of relating. The markets are shifting. Social media has created a new method of influence. The markets are shifting. Conversations are creating new methods of marketing. Have the markets shifted yet?

Kevin Kelly writes in his book, New Rules for The New Economy: “All information and communication products and services demand extensive consensus. Participants at both ends of any conversation have to understand each other’s language. Multiply one conversation by a billion, factor in a thousand different media choices, and then start to count three-way, four-way, n-way conversations, and the amount of consensus-setting skyrockets.”

“Since the network economy is so new, we as a society have paid little attention to how standards are created and how they grow. But we should notice, because once implemented, a successful standard tends to remain forever. And standards themselves shape behavior.”

All this “social stuff”, the technology, the dynamics, the migration of crowds, is advancing rapidly and each cycle of betterment creates more influence through the new standards set by the people. Each cycle of advancement goes not to corporate profits but to consumers in the form of cheaper prices, higher quality and more real time influential power.

The behavior of the markets is the new standard which continually shapes the markets behavior. As Kevin Kelly said: “a successful standard tends to remain forever”. And businesses dare ask, How long this “social stuff” will last? Go figure.

What say you?

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