Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Web 2.0 - How Networked Media Are Reshaping Business: Alan Moore - Video Interview

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Web 2.0 is reshaping the media and business landscape to an extent unimaginable even a year ago.

Photo credit: Alan Moore

At the very center of this shift in how media is produced and consumed and in how businesses function, is the increased importance of community, collaboration and participatory, networked media.

The days of passive audiences and disengaged consumers are behind us.

Empowered by a read/write web driven by social networks and independent publishing platforms such as blogs, podcasts and video sharing, Web 2.0's users are tuned in, turned on and waiting to be engaged.

Whether you are a part-time blogger, an independent film-maker or musician, a small business or an ambitious startup seeking capital, Web 2.0 is going to have an impact on how you do business. Working with these changes, or indeed ignoring them, is making and breaking businesses around the globe.

To shed further light on the opportunities and deep changes that this evolutionary web phase is bringing about, I have invited media and marketing analyst Alan Moore to share a few minutes of his time. Thanks to his kind approval I was able to capture him on videotape during his recent flash-visit to Rome for a "global media and entertainment" micro-summit organized by HP at the Eden Hotel.

Here, thanks to Michael Pick, who has co-edited with me this interview, is Alan Moore's vision and insight into this fascinating Web 2.0 world.

Introducing Alan Moore

Photo credit: Alan Moore

Enter Alan Moore, seasoned blogger, CEO of community and engagement marketing firm SMLXL (Small Medium Large Extra-Large) and co-author of Communities Dominate Brands.

Alan has 16 years of experience as a creative brand strategist, representing global brands at leading international marketing agencies including: Publicis, London; DDB Needham, Vienna; Hasan & Partners, Finland; HHCL & Partners in London; and Lowe & Partners Worldwide.

In this video interview Alan discusses the changes taking place in the worlds of business and media, the opportunities arising from Web 2.0, and the challenges facing entrepreneurs hoping to take advantage of this community dominated, participation fuelled emerging landscape.

Interests - ''What are your interests?''

Co-Author of Communities Dominate Brands Alan Moore believes in the power of community based engagement and peer to peer communication to transform the way we do media, business, management and even government. In every sphere, from independent publishing to international politics, Web 2.0 has the power to engage people on a number of levels. Casting off the old model of "interruptive marketing", Moore's SMLXL takes a different approach in advising their clients on how to reach and sustain audiences:

''Where Interruptive Marketing attempted to change belief through image building, Engagement Marketing changes behaviour through involvement.

Engagement Marketing will involve the customer way beyond the short term cycles of current interruptive marketing campaigns.

SMLXL believes that there is a bigger opportunity to engage with customers than is presently offered by all other marketing communications companies by harnessing combinations of the interactive communications channels now available, giving more compelling reasons to engage."

(Source:, 2006)

The success of any enterprise drawing on Web 2.0, then, depends not on interrupting the flow of user experience with unwelcome, unsolicited marketing, but of actively engaging them within compelling communities. YouTube, MySpace and Craigs List are just three of the major players building on this vast wave of user generated content and engaged, active audiences. In his Web 2.0 themed video interview, Alan answers all of the important questions about this radically shifting way of doing business.

Changes - ''What are the key changes taking place?''

Alan puts across the idea that we are a "We Species", a species that thrives on communicating with each other. When you replace the top-down, one-way flow of communication associated with mass media and our governing institutions with a peer to peer model, open communication becomes paramount.

Engaged audiences want to communicate, to be heard, to have their say. It is not enough to be talked down to, to be presented with the finished article, to be expected to sit back and passively consume. So while CD, DVD and newspaper sales continue to dwindle with little sign of recovery, community focused Web 2.0 enterprises move from strength to strength.

Definition - ''What is this Web 2.0 to you, can you define it?''

At the heart of Web 2.0, then, is the notion of peer production - of people working together to create value. If the old way was to make a product or service in isolation, and hand it polished and complete to your audience, the Web 2.0 approach is to have them play an active role in its production.

And Web 2.0 is all about delivering the tools for people to make this jump.

Instead of simply presenting their audience with a movie trailer, Web 2.0 savvy film companies ask them to remix it using simple tools like online video editing service Jumpcut. Rather than telling audiences what to think in the news, Web 2.0 experiments in journalism like The Guardian's Comment Is Free invite readers to discuss and redefine it. This is a lesson that businesses of any size can put into practice.

Business - ''Is there an opportunity for business?''

The power of social networking cannot be underestimated in establishing a new business, or transforming an established one. Alan cites the example of, who without investment or traditional marketing built their company up to an impressive 200,000 sellers in the space of four years, by tapping into the productive, participatory potential of their userbase. By facilitating the creativity and productivity of their users, Spreadshirt have taken advantage of the power of the network in forging a successful startup.

Engage your users, and involve them in every step of the process - this is a model that can be applied to almost any sphere with a little careful thought and planning.

Capital - ''Does it need to be there really always a venture capital... or is that an option?''

Cases like show that starting from nothing is a very real possibility, with the right idea and commitment to social networking. What is important though, if funding is secured, is transparency. It is one thing to engage and involve audiences, and another entirely to attempt to exploit them. While communities will quickly get wise to attempts to sell them down the line, or to fakers in their midst, reputations are easily tarnished. Joseph Thornly (of Pro PR) writes - on corporate blogging:

''The bottom line: Avoid shortcuts. If you conclude that the blogosphere is important to you, establish your own voice first. Go ahead, contact the bloggers who you think are the most influential. But let the rest of the world see that you are prepared to say in public what you privately encourage an intermediary to talk about.''

(Source: Dharmesh Shah -, 2006)

Time - ''What do you think is a good incubating (beta) time for a company?''

In a global marketplace, businesses can come to fruition both very quickly or over a longer period of time. Key to the success of this new breed of business, however, is in forging links around the world, drawing people into the network not based on demographics such as age, location and income bracket but instead on psychographics - what interests your users, and how they think. Dharmesh Shah writes that:

''Traditional approaches to segmenting customers based on demographics is not as effective as doing so by psychographics.

For example, a small business owner who is a "corporate refugee" will often manifest behavioral patterns that are much more like a big business. This is because their prior experience in a big company causes them to run their small business with some of the same ideas and concepts.

Another small business owner, in the same industry, might have a completely different approach to her business. Understanding the psychology of how customers think helps determine why they buy - much more so than coarse-grained segmentation based on demographics.''

By engaging and involving audiences on their own terms, globally focused Web 2.0 businesses draw people together through the very things that they are passionate about.

Opportunities - ''What do you think are the opportunities for traditional media companies?''

Traditional media companies monetization of their content is changing radically. As advertising becomes contextual rather than interruptive, as in the success story of Google AdSense, users expect both content and the advertising that supports it to match their individual needs and interests rather than attempting to appeal to a generic mass. The promise of IPTV, much like the reality of the emerging Internet TV (see Robin Good's comparison of the two) is that of both much greater choice, but also much more clearly targeted content. Just as online news hubs aggregate the latest news for specific audiences, with specific interests, so the IPTV channels of the future will need to target niche audiences with content carefully selected to suit their tastes.

Business opportunities - "So do you see a kind of more business 2.0 opportunity there with all these changes and different scenarios...and new ways of doing business?"

Alan discusses Yochai Benkler and his influential book The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Benkler argues that the what we create, how we create it and how we deliver our creations to the marketplace are changing in fundamental ways as we shift from an industrial to a network society. The future of business is a networked future, and those prospering in the Web 2.0 landscape are tapping in to the power of socially networked media.

Key Advice - Key advice to entrepreneurs and traditional management inside media companies

Alan's parting advice is that companies wishing to succeed in the Web 2.0 media landscape will leave behind the industrial mindset of top-down mass production and embrace the network society of passionate, engaged users.

The power of communities and peer-to-peer flows of communication are essential to the future success of companies of whatever size hoping to take advantage of the network age and the Web 2.0 that enables it continuing expansion into new and uncharted territory.

Read More Elsewhere

If you are interested in learning more about Alan Moore, Web 2.0, engaged audiences and the network society, you may wish to visit:

Michael Pick and Robin Good -
Readers' Comments    
2006-10-11 23:58:45

Kimberly Kay

Awesome Post! It is interesting how this will impact work in the next 20 years when these young workers have been raised in an enviroment when they have the same access to production, tools, and "eyeballs" as the big guys decide that "traditional work at the company" no longer is a good idea. It is also important to mention the global effect that is taking place and how this is allowing startups in the far flung corners of the world, but also create synergies in the every shrinking world in which we live.

posted by Robin Good on Wednesday, October 11 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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