Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who is King…..Content or Collaboration?

I’m going with collaboration. In their simplest form social media/networks/communities are nothing more than organized collaboration, or un-organized collaboration depending how empty your glass is. Every company is scrambling to figure out how they can tap into this world wide web of social collaboration. Who needs content when you have 1 million followers on Twitter?

Twitter is a King because it's a collaboration hub. I’m sorry, but 140 characters are not content. It is a quick shuttle service ride via a tiny URL to the hottest new SaaS inside sales blog or the coolest new movie or the worst restaurant or just a simple narcissistic update on exactly what you are doing right now. By the way…I’m writing an article right now on the new King in town…..Tweet!

Think about it…you could have the hottest new SaaS product going, backed by the most content rich website, but if people are not collaborating and talking about you, recommending you to others, then how successful do you expect to be? Social-networking sites or collaboration hubs as I like to call them are the hottest real-estate in town. In real-estate it’s all about location. Location….Location….Location. A rundown hole in the wall in a great location is worth more than a mansion on the wrong side of the tracks. Why is it good to be King? Because King’s are platforms and social networking platforms happen to be the alpha’s of location.

Twitter is 5th Avenue, Facebook is Park Avenue and Google is the entire city of Manhattan. Both Twitter and Facebook are the places where people go to collaborate both good and bad. What they have figured out, is that it’s all about building a following in the beginning. They want to be that platform in which people gather, communicate, recommend, rant, and be creative. Ever notice how few of applications Twitter actually provides themselves? It’s tiny compared to the 1000’s of Twitter apps built by others. Empowering the masses to be creative and collaborative on their platform…how ingenious is that? They built a great platform from the get-go and now they are a King. Being a King allows you to be a platform in the software world and let’s face it…platforms always seem to get the biggest multipliers. Look closely and you’ll see that most Kings are indeed platforms.

Not every company starts off as a platform. The typical evolution is from tool to application to platform. I understand that you just built the world’s most amazing social-media application, but you need to pump the brakes a little and think both short and long-term about your goals. In today’s world you have to start off as a platform or plug into the world’s best platform as a tool or application. The easier route is to start off as a tool and plug into a cloud. Tools can grow into platforms, which is the ideal evolution of a software company. Platforms don’t become tools. If you find your platform going down the tool rabbit-hole, then odds are your going out of business. Start small, but think enormous! is the King of success when it comes to this approach. They essentially started off as a fairly simple sales automation tool, with a focus on sales teams. They soon grew their tool out to be an enterprise application, with multiple departments using their functionality. They realized that even the best enterprise apps become commoditized, so they built a platform. Welcome In their world it’s all about controlling the most desired location…..your desktop.

So yes, it is great to be King, but Kings always get replaced. What does not get replaced easily...are castles. Castles carry over to the next King. The castle in this horrible metaphor is the platform and that’s where I would focus my efforts and dreams. Tweet dreams!

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