Social Networking: The New Outside The Box Paradigm Breaking Buzzword. Over A Shark.

Well, at least community people who tire of the gaming industry will never lack for employment. When COOKIE MAKERS talk about how creating community is part of their brand strategy, you know the drones have taken over the specialty.

I don’t mean to sound cranky. Well, I sort of do, it’s 7:30 AM, I’m a night owl who has been waking up at 6 every morning to feed my poor commuting mate a little breakfast, because left to his own devices he would just snarf a fistful of honey roasted peanuts and a Diet Pepsi standing over the sink and then die on me of malnutrition before I was finished with him, and oh, I’ve been househunting, houseshowing, and vacuuming up beagle fur tumbleweeds for what feels like YEARS and I pretty much hate all of humanity, especially the ones that walk in after I frantically clean and race outside with the dogs even though I was RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A SPREADSHEET and sigh about how it’s lovely, really, but they REALLY wanted a basement. The one that does not exist, as clearly stated in the listing. But that’s not the point.

The point is why on earth do some people go feral at breakfast time without close supervision? He wouldn’t eat such crap for dinner.

NO. The point is that the most effective community managers get into the field because we feel that the community is a thing of value in and of itself. When marketing is thinking of community work, social networking, and the interactions of customers as a tool to be used, the priorities are skewed. Furthermore, the “why” of social connection gets lost unless catering to the “why connect” element is the point of the project. How we frame our projects shapes all of the thinking about the projects.

The company I am working for is not a charity. If I wanted to work for free, I’d make lovely photo albums all day. We fully intend to monetize the entire shebang. I don’t do a lick of work without considering how each task might further one of the company’s goals. HOWEVER. Being a higher order primate, I’m capable of keeping several things in mind at once. And the primary goal I use when doing development or design is “Will this be entertaining/useful for the kind of people who bond with their friends in online games?”

I believe that social networking is a buzzword for something “my” people have been doing online for more than a decade now, and the collective power of my people has not yet been tapped. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc, are all great in their way, but gamers were there first. As a result, we’re a little more jaded than say, my mother (who would totally love the Pepperidge Farm network). Furthermore, it’s my opinion that because online players are so “been there done that” about virtual connections, the bonds between gamers are not something that can be “leveraged” or “strategically deployed” without destroying the essence of those bonds. I think that a truly successful social network site for those of us into gaming will not be about exploiting our obsessive online lives, but rather working with us to amplify and simplify the things we love.

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12 Comments

  1. savagex said,

    November 21, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    whats wrong with honey roasted peanuts and diet pepsi for breakfast?

  2. Grant said,

    November 21, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    I’m wondering the same thing, savagex. It sounds like a perfectly reasonable breakfast to me.

  3. sanyaweathers said,

    November 21, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Not helping, you two.

  4. Ernie said,

    November 21, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Obviously the problem isn’t with the peanuts, which are full of protein and salt, its with the diet coke that doesn’t have any carbs, and thus, won’t give you any energy! Tell your husband to switch over to regular coke, lots of sugar for that stressful commute!

  5. Makaze said,

    November 21, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    I lost 15 pounds (and I’m scrawny with those 15) the last time my significant other went out of town for 3 weeks. It’s not even like she cooks, just reminds me that I need to eat instead of code/play/all the other things that are so much more attention grabbing.

    And I’ll second the motion for regular Coke.

  6. Grimwell said,

    November 22, 2007 at 2:13 am

    The good news is that this wave will crash to the shores and the people who like to ride waves will go away… all in the space of a year or two.

    Does that mean community is not important? No, community is important, just as synergy is important, and having an internet presence is important, and many other fads of the last decade that run through the business world as a band aid solution to problems that are actually much simpler.

    Why is this good news? Because those of us who value community for reasons that we recognized well before it became the trendy thing to champion will still have those same reasons when everyone has moved on to the next fad. That permanence gives us the best odds on doing good things in the name of community over the long haul.

    What? I was supposed to talk about peanuts? Meh.

  7. Jeff Freeman said,

    November 22, 2007 at 7:20 am

    NO. The point is that the most effective community managers get into the field because we feel that the community is a thing of value in and of itself.

    Community managers should feel that way, I think.

    I just don’t think the people that hire community managers necessarily agree with you, there. They’re selling something, and they want to sell it to everybody.

    When marketing is thinking of community work, social networking, and the interactions of customers as a tool to be used, the priorities are skewed.

    But that’s the stuff marketing is paid to think about.

    Priorities are skewed when community managers are thinking of marketeering, or marketing is thinking of product design, or production is thinking of sexier industries than the one they happen to work in.

    Priorities are skewed when the people hired to know all about one thing are ignored by the ones who hired them, especially when they’re protesting a plan devised by people who aren’t hired to know anything about that one thing, which would result in that thing’s equivalent of a nuclear meltdown.

    That’s just bad management, though.

    At the very least, marketing people should be using current buzzwords even where inappropriate. I don’t know why, I just know that they always have, and no way could they be doing it wrong all these years.

    Furthermore, the “why” of social connection gets lost unless catering to the “why connect” element is the point of the project. How we frame our projects shapes all of the thinking about the projects.

    I think lots of folk are way off track on this one. Communities are defined by their barriers – as I’m sure you know, unless you disagree – which is why the “everybody” that companies want to sell to cannot be the community they’re trying to define.

    When the internet was small, it was a community, and was defined by its boundaries and barriers to entry. Now it’s big, and enter all these social network sites, because they are needed.

    Not that this is in any way profound, or anything. Communities have always been defined in terms of who is not in them. Otherwise they wouldn’t be communities so much as just… some people. Being online doesn’t change that.

    Social networks aren’t new in that regard, either. People have always known people who knew other people.

    What they do bring to the party, is a suite of tools which enables communities to define their borders in this previously futuristic world the 1980’s called “cyberspace”.

    Offline, we have other tools which serve that purpose, such as three-dimensional space, fashion, and skin color.

    Some people believe that bringing those things online will be the next big thing… but could be other tools developed online will already serve the same purpose, and potentially better than they do, online.

    I mean, offline, it’s tough to beat skin-color for functionality, as any ex-con will tell you. Online? Meh… avatar skin-color just isn’t the same thing. White kids act like black guys, black guys frequently defy the stereo-types being depicted by the white kids, and there are too many 14 year old girls whom are not CBS News Undercover Special Reporters, which sucks because I sort of have this thing for ’em, but never mind that.

    As for the cookie club…

    It’s a much better idea to hire some professionals and roll your own than to cash-up with the kinds of numbers required to get FaceBook, MySpace, etc.’s attention. The old woman target demographic hasn’t been captured by one of them yet anyway, so they’re all the wrong partner for it.

    So the third option would be to wait for a social network/community site to be invented and deployed which succeeds in capturing the eyeballs you’re after, and then pay that company way more than anything it has ever had or done is worth in order to reach the users (’cause those, now, are worth $500 million to MicroSoft just because) with whatever it is you have that they would like.

    They’re out there. As the comic said, “Brand loyalty is like soda patriotism!”

    The patriots want to hang together, and just as the internet enabled all manner of solitary fetish enthusiasts to come together as previously only motor cycle fans, drug users, and the urban poor had sufficient population densities to do, it can also empower the cookie fans, the maxipad with wings enthusiasts, and the FOX World’s Scariest Police Chases alumni to socialize with those with whom they share a special bond.

    Seriously…

    This reminds me of when television shows had sponsors rather than advertisers.

    It’s not necessarily going to be as horrible as you’re probably right in supposing it will be.

    I don’t think they’re going away though, Grimwell. Lots of the noise about them will, and some of the 18/00’s they claim to have honestly rolled when no one was watching will be replaced with 13’s and such, but communities need borders, which the internet sucks at providing otherwise.

    Final thought: It’s absolutely stupid that Netflix wasn’t the first company to make its customers the members of its social network.

    It’s like they’re fumbling around searching for the eye-glasses perched on their noggin’.

  8. Union said,

    November 22, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    If you switch the peanuts to peanut M&Ms and the diet coke to a red bull, you have my standard breakfast menu. As soon as I recover from my diabetic coma, I generally am quite productive!

    Also, is is just me or does it seem that the myspace wave has crested?

  9. mythago said,

    November 24, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    The point is why on earth do some people go feral at breakfast time without close supervision?

    Because (at least subconsciously) they know it means some other people will drag their asses out of bed to cook them a nice breakfast. “Why doesn’t he eat this crap for dinner?” should be an actual question, not a rhetorical one.

  10. MouseJunior said,

    November 26, 2007 at 10:22 am

    The point is why on earth do some people go feral at breakfast time without close supervision?

    Because some of us don’t start to function well enough to prepare anything until after we’ve eaten. If the lowest effort path between me and calories/caffeine is peanuts and coke, then peanuts and coke it is.

    This would be why I buy energy bars by the box.

  11. MattF said,

    November 30, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    A lot of people don’t consider breakfast important, but it is. It jump-starts your metabolism and wakes you up when you accidentally touch a hot pan or burn the toast and your apartment has that “burnt toast” smell.

    And I haven’t had a chance to say this yet, but “good luck wit hthe selling and the moving. 😀

  12. Bob the Barman said,

    December 11, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    I had one of the early production run diet sheets from the medical idiot commonly known as ‘my doctor’ that insisted I had to consume an ‘absolute minimum’ of 7 portions of fruit/fresh veg a day (this thanks to a totally Royal mess up by medical idiots in another specialist sphere).

    Thinking that if I didn’t take this advice seriously, then the chances of me living to see the Truly Great Cheerful (a worse Depression than 1929 that we are now entering, but hey, these are the days of doublespeak and Media Commentators – God Forbid we call them ‘newsreaders’, which are now extinct, and have been since the ‘Globalisation of 24 hour ‘News Avoidance’ Shows) might be rather remote, I exceeded the advice. Minimum of 7 portions says in the strongest possible terms, “You better damned well have 9!”

    In comes the blender, and the major breakfast campaign.

    Day 1 – Banana, pineapple, orange, apple, pear, frozen forest fruits, frozen summer fruits, live yoghurt, honey, oats, special drink with the great heart stuff in – changes rung dependent what was in season. Half in the morning, half when I got home.

    Day2 – Tomatoes, carrots, onions, turnip, apple/whatever/whatever/whatever/herbs dependent upon what was in season. Half when I got home, if the weather was cold, that was microwaved into soup.

    Each alternated from then on.

    It nearly killed me. In 6 months I put on 2 and a half stone. My guts were the sort of mess you don’t want to ask about.

    I complained to the medical idiot.

    He said cut it back a bit.

    I cut it back to 3 portions.

    Then 3 portions every other day.

    I accepted the inevitable. I am not built to be either a herbivore, fruitivore, or a saladivore.

    Bacon, eggs, sausages, black pudding, fried bread, mushrooms and tomatoes, wins!

    and I lost the weight I had put on.

    Weird huh?


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