If you've ever been to SxSWi you know that by day one you get a sense that there's all this stuff coming at you and you won't be able to keep up with it all.
The event is organized more similarly to the way the world wide web works than you probably realize -- the information is there, you just need to find it.
Except for linking is not as easy in person as it is online. People don't scale. Even with the help of location-based technology and apps like Foursquare and Gowalla.
And when you're directly involved in something, you often don't realize that the folks not involved need a bit more information to become part of the conversation.
Participation is content
Let's assume that participation is content and you go ahead and build a whole site with the vision of making it highly participatory. Are more personalization and relevance the solution to getting higher participation?
Would you take care of the curating part? What is the role of presentation?To me curating and presentation are key to a learning experience. Bring everyone to the site, get everyone talking at the same time, and you will see and hear a lot of unstructured information, which may or may not be useful. Content needs to be relevant to the community.
Activity streams and purposeChris Messina asked in a session this week -- have you observed your activity role? He used Flickr as an example of a site that organizes the tension between individual and system best. You have the ability to create groups, favorite, curate, and comment, in addition to being able to upload your photos to the network.
On Flickr, the user has control over the stream. How can you organize rules on your site so your customers retain control over their own experience? Remember that live stream does not equal activity stream. A live stream organizes information in the same way the mind works.
Context is personal
Many businesses see the context as their own product or service. That is not the same point of view customers have. As customers we see ourselves as the context for information. People form emotional connections with content that resonates at a personal level.
The best way to organize that connection is through story.
Checklist for businesses:
- how can you organize the narrative of your activity stream so that customers can be attracted to your purpose?
- what set of rules would be helpful in your online presence that allow your customers to retain control over their own experience?
- is your content curated? Do you have mechanisms in place to listen to customer conversations and extrapolate trends from them?
- are you learning in real time?
Effective content creation needs take into consideration the context in which your customers operate.
Social media, activity streams, and user information can help you see and understand digital body language. It's easier than ever to base content on intelligence and insights gained through relationships.
What's your narrative? How do you learn about your customers narrative?
[image courtesy of Jim Storer]
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.