The popularity of a web site is measured by traffic. The popularity of a product is measured by sales, transactions from consumers. In a world of information overload we rely on search engines to help us find what we’re looking for whether information, products, services and now people.
Popularity is also an influence of conversational content that people relate to for whatever reason. Advertisers flock to web sites with the most traffic hoping to attract viewers to their offering. As the web has evolved it has caused a fundamental technology and communications market shift toward the person and away from the place and things. The social web has created a shift by moving away from connecting people to things and shifted towards people connecting to people in the form of conversations.
What connects the people?
There are many things that motivate people to connect with one another. The attractions include age, demographics, industry, expertise and last but not least activity. Activity comes in the form of content which raises an individual’s profile and frames the reference of appeal and affinity to others.
A person’s presence is largely driven by the “hits” to topics, conversations and their participation within the social web. BusinessWeek reports: Barack Obama is a winner on the Internet. His status in cyberspace now surpasses that of Hillary Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, and even Paris Hilton, according to Garlik, a British startup that rates people’s digital reputations.
Such rating systems aren’t new. But Garlik’s service, called QDOS, claims to operate on an unprecedented scale. Garlik founder and CEO Tom Ilube says QDOS has taken the digital measure of all 45 million adults in Britain, rating them on how active they are online, their popularity, individuality, and impact on all things digital
“Imagine the impact of a searchable source of tens, or hundreds of millions, of QDOS status scores,” says Ilube. People could use such assessments in recruiting, or to find status-appropriate mates. Corporations, Ilube notes, spend millions of dollars analyzing consumer information. Someday, he says, “consumers will demand to be active participants in that personal information economy.”
What is it that businesses need to learn about the conversational web?
If you visit the web pages of the Fortune 500 you will find one way conversations filled with content that is not necessarily relevant to “the people”.
A global company that does in excess of $60 Billion a year in transactions wanted to learn how to use the social web for business. They were interested in creating their own social network with the aim of “connecting” their employees, customers and suppliers. When asked why would these people want to connect with your business? Their response was, “because we have something of value to offer them”. So we simply checked the traffic rating on their corporate web site and it ranked close to 900,000. In comparison this blog had a traffic rank of 183,000.
What is the difference?
The executives were surprised and indicated they need to work on SEO to increase the traffic to their web site. Our response was no, you need to learn how to have meaningful conversations and create relevant content that appeals to your customers, suppliers and employees. If you have something that is relevant to the hearts and minds of the people you want to relate to then, and only then, will you understand the power of the social web and your traffic will follow. The best approach to leveraging the social web is to understand the systemic nature of people’s interest, desires and needs: a relationship.
Connecting the dots requires a conversation, not just a connection or SEO strategy. What say you ?