Archive for December, 2009

“The greater strengths of weaker ties ” in The Facebook Era – Highlights from the book by Clara Shih

Monday, December 21st, 2009

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach new Audiences, and Sell More Stuff by Clara Shih

I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to hearing her speak tomorrow at the Sears Headquarters at Hoffman Estates tomorrow.  The most important concept for me was what I term “the greater strengths of weaker ties.” In that I am referring to these weaker ties that Shih talks about in the new “modes of interaction” and “new categories of lower commitment relationships.” Our cultural invention of these new types of modes is amazing. This is the basis of what I see for her “Democratization of Business” in which people not only have a voice that is heard, but the power to act and own their own online identities. It isn’t B2C is it B+C.

Quotes from the book that I thought most important. Or what I call 5 star ideas.

(pix) “Bringing together social networking with enterprise applications represents the next phase in this evolution.”

(px) “… mashing up business with consumer social networking sites.”

(pxi) “In an age where traditional advertising influence is dropping like a rock, we have looked to social networking as an opportunity to become relevant in our customers’ conversations, in their communities, where they want to be.”

(p7) Trends in Social Business – “flatter organizations, stronger offline communities, more small businesses, greater collaboration across organizations, and tighter integration with mobile devices.”

(p17) “You gain from the new technology only if you use it to accomplish something that was not possible before.”

(p23) “Over time, technology is shifting from “command and control” to distributed, engaging, and empowering to the individual. Information, communication, and tools on the web have given individuals not only a voice, but also the power to act and to own their own online identities.”

(p41) “Why not use the social graph as our filter to make sense of the abundance of information on the web.”

(p43) “By inventing more casual modes of interaction and thereby making possible new categories of lower-commitment relationships, social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, and LinkedIn are fundamentally changing how we live, work, and relate to one another as human beings.”

(p45) “Facebook is CRM for the masses. It is fun and intuitive, visual, active, searchable, and self-updating.”

(p47) On status messages – “It has become acceptable because social networking sites reduce the cost of both sending and processing information.”

(p50) “One of the reasons why Facebook has been so successful compared with it’s predecessors is the focus on suppporing offline networks over online-only relationships.”

(p54) On reciprocity rings – “The reason this works is that the cost of helping is generally miniscule compared with the benefit of being helped.”

(56) On asking favors on the network “… your entire network is given an opportunity without the obligation to respond, which frees you to make more requests more often because you are not expending any social capital with any one individual contact.”

(p90) Why do customers participate? “The person is not expressing anything unique about herself by being a customer advocate for Company X because everyone else on Company X’s website is also a customer advocate. . . . Social networking sites give people a semipublic forum surrounded by friends where not everyone has the same interests are affiliations.”

(p191) “. . . these three components – visibility and notification, ability to organize connections, and casual ways to interact – have remarkable come together to define an entirely new class of interaction.”

(p203) “With the social networking revolution, we are brought closer than ever to becoming people-centric instead of technology-centric. The online social graph allows our relationships and business goals, rather than technology limitations, to drive business strategies and decisions.”


The Facebook Era by Clara Shih


Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Last week we had a book club meeting down in the local Argo tea (located on the first floor of the Sears Store.) In attendance was Pete Simon, Fred Leise, Nina Bieliauskas , Rod Rakic and myself Dennis Schleicher. The book was Shoptimism by Lee Eisenberg.

Here are some of the things I wrote down from the discussion

  • The big difference between the act of buying and the process of buying.
  • That people buy things for so many different reasons.
  • The aspect of buying as a social process and that sometimes we buy something just because other people buy it.
  • We talked about Syd Jerome’s  in Chicago as a great buying experience. Fred talked about how much they know about you and why you bought what you did, even if it was a year ago.  We thought it contrasted with companies today that try to buy that information and build that profile on the fly rather than earning it. Online it is so hard to know why someone bought something. One person reflected on for all that big online companies know about me/us – why isn’t it a better experience. Gift-buying really throws it off.

Here are some of the highlights from the book

(p12) “An anthropologist …  asks of a woman buying a new dress, say, what self do you take up with this dress, who will you now become?”

(p28) “Shopping has melted into everything . . . “

(p70) “The hard part, he said, is helping stores configure data into passkeys that actually open our credit card cases and unlock our spending through improved store layout and sales training. It’s not that a guy walks past a fancy display. It’s how do you use the captured video to come up with a display that will stop him, you, me, cold in our tracks.”

(p70) “Seventy percent of what people spend in a mall, or a grocery store for that matter, they had no intention of buying when they walked in the door.”

(p88) “retailers [need to] define themselves by the customers they serve, not by the products [they sell].”

(p131) On the ton of UGC product reviews and forums where potential customers can ask questions – “This all represents a turning point in Sell Side history. We have become valuable selling assets.”

(p168) “The Internet, as O’Guinn later explained to me, is the ‘backyard fence’ across which we and fellow tribe members toast the brands we like and roast the one’s we don’t.”

(p173) On American Girl Place – “The observers saw something close to brand quintessence here. There’s interaction: an environment charged with energy and activity, a destination that exemplifies a successful “brandscape,” …”

(p194) On the supermarket as the great retailing change of the 20th century – “self-service, the ultimate death of the salesman . . .”

(p211) “How do we decide – when we resolve to clean out the attic and garage – that certain items are “junk” and others are collectibles . . . “

(p242) “… exploring the notion that it’s the buying process itself, not what is bought, that drives the compulsive to the mall.”

(p254) “… shopping online is both like and unlike shopping in a store. One thing they have in common is that what we say we do when shopping isn’t necessarily what we do when shopping.”

(p255) “Optimally . . . we want maximum flexibility of choice and ‘minimum decision complexity.’”

(p288) “the celebrated anthropologist Mary Douglas declared in their classic The World of Goods “It is extraordinary to discover that no one knows why people want goods.”

(p294) On McCracken and home visits to find out what’s important to people – :They should invite themselves into other people’s homes and ask about the things best loved, the things people keep on their walls and on the mantel. Ask where those things came from, how folks came to own them, and what meaning they hold in their lives.”

(p300) “So these things you didn’t buy but were attracted to, or the things you bought and didn’t return – they offered what, exactly? I asked Williams. She thought about that for a second. ‘I’d say they offered a sort of hopefulness.’ Aha, shoptimism!’ However momentarily,’ she added, ‘the things I bought and keep turned out to be somehow enhancing.”

Shoptimism The Website for the Book

Chicken Chorizo with roasted mixed peppers

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Chicken Chorizo with roasted mixed peppers $6.95

Mango-lime agua fresca

The tacos were good. but it seems like it was mixed together too well. I’m starting to think that the best food I’ve tasted so far are those that the ingredients aren’t too small or too mixed together. The chorizo was spicy but could have been a bit hotter. The chorizo was so good I wanted to have it served for breakfast as eggs & chorizo. Or perhaps used in a chicken tinga dish where schredded chicken would gave given it more body. In terms of mouth feel the tacos reminded me of a sloppy joe. Sometimes they overcook the tacos and the tortillas get chrunchy on the edges, that would have been a welcome accident for this plate in order to add more texture.

And I was able to confirm that they put cheese between the two tortillas that they make the tacos with. See the video for proof. Acording to my “Subject Matter Experts” on Mexican street food, this is not common.

My dinning companion, Jim McNally, made a really insightful comment in the mango lime agua. He said when you first take a swallow it starts off sweet, but then finishes with a strong sour taste. A really unique tounge experience.