By Sven Larsen (@zemoga)
I’m catching up on some reading thanks to a few business trips. One of the volumes I was most looking forward to consuming is Ken Auletta’s GOOGLED, a comprehensive history of the search giant. While I’m just a couple of pages in to it so far, I can tell the book is going to provide some unique insights.
A passage from the book that really caught my attention was a quote from Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian. “The internet makes information available,” opined Varian, “Google makes it accessible.” It’s a concise summary of Google’s business but it also captures the essential struggle for all of us in the digital communications business – how to take raw data and turn it in to something compelling for consumers.
It’s my strong belief that as social media becomes more and more integrated in to our lives, accessibility will become more and more of an issue. Already, we’ve seen celebrities (both real and web versions) deleting Facebook pages and declaring Twitter blackout periods. In almost all these cases, it’s not the constant demand for content that these services require that is cited as the problem. It’s keeping up with the massive flow of information the other way. With literally millions of tweets and Facebook postings what are we supposed to pay attention to?
I believe this a real area of opportunity both for digital developers and marketers as well. Filtering the raw data of the Internet can not only create value for consumers, it can also lead to the creation of innovative products that truly advance the medium.
Sometimes consumers may just be looking for a convenient place to find all the information they are looking for on a given topic. The marketer or communications specialist who responds to these needs can truly provide a service and through that assistance grab a thought leadership position in a given field. A terrific example of this is Ignite Health’s “#FDASM” website, which aggregates all the twitter posts that feature this hashtag that relates to the FDA hearings on social media in pharmaceutical marketing. Ignite cleverly supplemented this raw data with additional information on the hearings, making them the “go to destination” for this subject.
Other times, digital communicators can use existing data to create something new and compelling. WE FEEL FINE, a site we’ve written about before, provides beautiful data visualizations of moods and feelings across the Internet. It’s searchable by location, gender and a whole host of other criteria and provides a compelling look at the state of the Internet and life in general.
Even “Wordles” and “tag clouds” can provide insight in to conversations and postings, allowing us to clearly and compellingly see the topics that are of most importance to us and our users. And already Twitter’s trending topics have become another way of gauging the news that matters to us most.
Google may make the information on the Internet accessible. But the real value for consumers and communicators alike is making it understandable and usable.
Think about your company’s products and services. What can you provide your customers that will allow them to use the vast amount of information available to make their lives better?