Signal of Altruistic Type and Corporate Motivations

Collin Douma, the real Johnny Cash of social media, started this train of thought rolling with a worthy request.  He is a great guy and his sister is doing something cool.  Check it out!

I explored memetic branding and altruism in this post over at www.memeticbrand.com.

But the implications of signal of intention are not limited to the branding of a corporation and/or product or service in this era of broadband empowered individuals.

Adoption of Social Capital Value Add ushers in the possibility of new motives for corporate social responsibility. Not only will the corporation be asked to be more accountable for its actions, perhaps the corporation can be encouraged to invest in ways for its social connections – consumers, suppliers, employees, investors, owners, analysts and value added resellers, etc – to move beyond feel-good CSR tactics towards a relationship in which the opportunity is seized by each forging identities based upon greater social contribution.

As I have noted before, there are implications throughout the corporate ecosystem.

“Clarity of shared purpose and principle”, “mission statement” (which is a term that has been around for a while), community values … there are many ways of describing the need for self-organisation through unity of purpose that is characteristic of the era that we live in.

Dee Hock, former CEO of Visa has elaborated the vision of Chaordic Organizations which I think is aligned with this view in his book One From Many.  I have not read the book but I did check out this outline. (thanks to John Ringland for bringing this reference to us).

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Where will co-creation lead us?

I have been seeking some constructive feedback on “Introducing Social Capital Value Add” at a leading forum “Serving the Quantitative Finance Community”.

There I have learned that I am “not a kook” and that “Your writing sucks. In a world of people with no incentive to tell the truth, I am giving you the gift of honesty.”

Tough crowd, eh?

Golly gee whiz, I guess that the quant finance set hasn’t heard that its time to come together Web 2.0 style?

I am still hopeful that the discussion there will improve “Introducing Social Capital Value Add”.

One post has been helpful and noted “This manifesto only speaks about demand-side social capital. A more complete theory would estimate internal social capital, supply-side social capital, and government social capital.”

Most of the examples that I use in the paper focus on “demand-side social capital” but I do point out that the change in media paradigm from broadcast to the Individual as Medium has implications throughout the corporate ecosystem:

click for link to slides

click for link to slides

A link showed up in my inbox a few days ago through an investment banker friend (investment bankers are so much nicer than those quant finance folks!) and the McKinsey quarterly newsletter that provides some good examples of these effects playing out in product development, etc.

It is entitled: Where will co-creation lead us?

Check it out here: http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Information_Technology/Networking/next_step_in_open_innovation_2155

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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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Web 2.0 Swan Song?

If you are reading this post you likely already understand that social media is “game changing”. The challenge ahead is to make this case to seasoned decision makers in boardrooms globally.

Perhaps it is because I watched as the public relations profession worked over the last 20 years to attempt to tune the corporation into being more socially motivated. Perhaps it is the lingering fear of the first Internet bubble. But every time I read a blog post about what is better Twitter or Plurk or see a debate raging about whether one has to be a blogger to “get” social media, I hear Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson and this song in my head (sorry – not every time and minus the first 51 seconds, heh, heh).

I don’t want this second wave of the internet coming to crest before crashing through the boardroom door. The prospect of changing the dialog about Web 2.0 and social media is what prompted me to start down the the path of writing “Introducing Social Capital Value Add” last May.

SCVA is a management method rooted in accepted financial theory that connects the pioneering intellectual enterprises of social capital and social network analysis to value based management and the priorities of marketers. SCVA proposes that we establish the link between social media and corporate valuation, in a way similar to the connection made between brand and corporate value in the late 1980s.

Investors and managers need to access the risks to future earnings and stock value associated with social media. When we evangelize Web 2.0 and social media in these terms … risk, future earnings and stock value … the focus will change from saving a few thousand dollars on a web campaign and the quest for that elusive viral story. This is the opportunity to stress the commitment, investment and special management methods required to develop the social capital that underwrites long term success in the networked age.

Over the last month many people have joined in to support the idea of “Introducing Social Capital Value Add” at www.changethis.com/proposals. Thank you very much. It is not over yet. Voting closes sometime, probably end of day, June 19th. It might not come together tomorrow.

The odds are against this prospect of changing the dialog. I must admit though, the process of engaging as many people as I can about these issues and the response has been inspiring.

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Supernova 2008 – Help ChangeThis

Welcome if you are an attendee or organiser of Supernova2008. 

This is a simple call to action. 

“One the key points in the history of brand management was the whole “Barbarians at the Gate” period, when the link between brand value and corporate valuations was established, touching off a wave of corporate deal making. Deals like Nabisco and Kraft commanded the headlines but the main outcome was the broad realization in global boardrooms that brands are a top priority. They require commitment, investment and special management methods.” – from the Canadian Marketing Association blog, Friday, June 13, 2008.

It is time to link social capital to corporate valuation. Social Capital Value Add is a management method designed to connect the pioneering intellectual enterprises of social capital and social network analysis to value based management and priorities of marketers.

It is designed to greet the challenges of the Network Age that you will be exploring at Supernova 2008 this week.

You can help usher in SCVA by supporting in until June 19 at www.changethis.com/proposals

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Ontario Government Please Invest in Global Links

I am not a doctor, but I play one on T.V.

That sort of covers my depth of analysis here. I am not an expert on how to make the VC ecosystem better, but about three months ago I had lunch with someone who is and we talked about the Ontario government’s approach.

A comment on a post over at http://www.startupnorth.com has turned into a post here because it is a good follow up to MESH, unMESH. Jonas’ points and Mark McQueen’s post both do a good job at covering the shortcomings of the Ontatrio government’s plan to resuscitate the local venture capital industry.

What’s that they say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Basically, this plan reinvests in the same players and doesn’t dedicate cash to domestic seed/venture startups.

I do not think that there is a shortage of entrepreneurial talent and energy. As some have pointed out, government regulation/programs/tax breaks are actually pretty good in Ontario. And while it is nice to see the Ontario government stepping in to address the VC crisis in this province, few authentic capitalists would argue that it is government’s job to be a venture capital market maker. Just get out of the way.

And if you are going to prime the pump with some cash, try to stimulate some competition and establish high value links to global VC markets instead of reinforcing the tightly bound social network that can sometimes stifle innovation (as I wrote about in the MESH, unMESH).

Here’s what I remember from that lunch. The nachos were good. Israel seemed to have come up with the model worth emulating and Peru has emulated it with some success.

In those cases, the government provided enough funds to convince top tier US venture firms to open a local office (with Americans contributing some matching funds). Typically a VC partner with a winning record opened the office. The startups received the value add of that experience, the experience of successful partners in the US and most importantly, a bridge into the US market for follow on rounds and marketing.

These foreign VC offices also eventually spun off talented VC partners into stand alone local firms and encouraged globally successful nationals to repatriate.

The effect was the development of a layer of global class venture capital partners and returns on investment that obliged institutional investors to open the flow of cash to the asset class. Ah-ha!

It is tough to message this kind strategy politically though. Who is going to lobby for and sing the praises for this kind of approach? Cash starved entrepeneurs who are too busy trying to get their idea off the ground? The TD Bank who just got a juicy management contract as a reward for sitting on the venture capital sidelines for years? The local VC firms who are the only game in town? Hmm … maybe this is a job for David Crow??

ONTARIO GOVERNMENT FUNDS U.S. VC FIRM TO COMPETE LOCALLY … not a very catch Globe & Mail headline if you are the Premier but it is probably the best job creation strategy possible.

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Privacy on social networks

What happens if the market comes to accept that social capital is directly linked to corporate valuation, as advocated by SCVA, and then FACEBOOK or a publicly traded company is found to be irresponsible with consumer data?

I believe that as the market factors social capital into stock price, the pressure will mount on companies to conform to transparent best practices regarding management of consumer data. The corporation will become more responsive and responsible in their relationship with their customers. The corporation will become more socially motivated. Where do we go from there???

Interesting story about how Facebook is accused of violating user trust in Canada.

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