Monday, March 09, 2015

Valuing good referral

Emails received by me earlier today were typical, mostly promotional things from various companies, including some suggestions. Seems social media companies today, like Twitter or Pinterest--both BMSA winners I should note--feel it important to constantly suggest you things. But something was a bit different this morning, as I raced to click on the suggestion, and gleefully added something that interested me! I had received a good referral.

But here's the thing, I find myself reflecting on all the not so good ones, and while it's great to get a good referral once in a while, it's not good enough. It's not human. As human beings I think we tend to value great referral for lots of reasons, like it helps us know when our friends are listening.

Ever have that "friend" who for the umpteenth time is suggesting something you've repeatedly told you don't like, can't stand, refuse to do, or really, really...why are you still having this conversation? Especially when said person just grins and races off to do whatever they want anyway, as yup, not really listening to you! They don't care what you think or want.

Todays social media companies are often like that supposed "friend" in my opinion, except for Netflix--which I'll note is a BMSA BEST nominee.

What follows will seem like a non sequitur but I'm a huge fan of Edward Snowden, think he's an American hero who should come back here as a hero, as defense of the nation is more important than following rules that hide violations of the US Constitution, but I think he gets it wrong when he thinks hearing the NSA can predict what we want is scary.

Anyone else who heard such news kind of secretly feel good that at least maybe SOMEBODY understands them? Hey, if the NSA can refer me to some good content...

And you know, I'm serious in the above! And I think it may be why that particular argument by Snowden doesn't resonate. We DO need to be understood and in the real world being understood takes work, which very few people or organizations will do.

Most of us have to just take what we can get.

So I went political in this post when that was not necessary but it is related. If you stopped reading in disgust that I would dare drag politics into this discussion out of the blue then you're not reading this part anyway, so for the rest of you....

Valuing good referral I think will drive the next phase of the social web.

Social media companies are still novel, so we're giving them a LOT of leeway as they're just so gosh-darned exciting! But soon as the novelty wears off, if a social media company sends a hum-drum referral, like through email, like I often get, then they will be dropped.

Oh yeah, so have a business idea to give away! What about a video referral company that suggests videos for you on the web, like ones on YouTube, which charges you after 30 days. Like say $5.95 US per month. So if you liked the videos, you pay. If you didn't, you don't. And they just bill you every 30 days for services provided. Or maybe for the year, but if you drop them at any time they refund you the money for months where you were dissatisfied.

Can you imagine?

Of course such a company would live or die on the value of its referrals.

As someone who never thought he'd suggest anything that looked like a subscription, I'll note I've learned from Netflix, and also, what I'm suggesting is still consistent with what I call Pay Back Value, as it's pay after you've received a service, not before.

So it just so happens that PBV idea has room for what you could call a subscription model, for what people have received which they value.

And yeah notice, what a burden on the company! If a business were to actually implement they would be getting paid for what value they've given, not what value they're expected to give, which is a flaw in my opinion in the subscription model used traditionally.

They must consistently give good referral or fail as a business.

Where I have speculations on how you might pick content to refer to people, which I can't justify with research sources--that focusing first on what people do NOT want to see, is the first step.

If I were more enterprising I'd put my social theories to the test, and start up such a company. But instead I'll just throw out ideas on my blog.

Which I just did. Done.

James Harris
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