By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)
We talked yesterday about hyper-communicators and we mentioned Guy Kawasaki as an example of this new breed of media personality. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Guy (somewhat controversially) uses ghostwriters for a lot of his tweets. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with that but one of the byproducts of this approach is Guy and his team produce a lot of tweets each day. After a while, they can feel like the digital version of Cliff Clavin from Cheers.
Of course, Guy is not alone. There are numerous uber-tweeters sharing their pearls of wisdom on a daily basis. And there are also lots of spammers out there. After a while, even using a tool like Tweetdeck to manage your Twitter consumption can become an arduous task.
Organizing the information you want into a manageable data flow isn’t just a challenge restricted to Twitter either. Popular blogs like Techcrunch and Mashable post literally hundreds of items each week. Sure, you can view these with an RSS reader but after a while the temptation to just hit that “Mark All As Read” button becomes overwhelming.
And this has been the argument used against the adoption of social media from numerous late adopters and road block executives. “I don’t need to know what my client just ate for lunch.” What change architect looking to get their company using these powerful digital tools hasn’t heard a retort like that?
That’s why we think aggregation is going to be one of the hottest trends in digital this year. As folks smarter than us have noted, data has become ubiquitous. Google indexes the entire web on a regular basis and wants to get the contents of every book ever written online (I wouldn’t bet against them on that one either). And it seems like every teenager in the world is blogging, posting videos and sharing the most intimate details of their life with a digital community.
The knock-on affect of this (as Seth Godin, David Meerman Scott and others have observed) is attention grows scarcer as data grows more abundant. Marketers are continually looking for new ways to capture that attention, whether it’s through innovative new digital tools like augmented reality, building communities or straight forward bribery (aka contests and sweepstakes). However, many of these techniques become the online equivalent of playing the lottery. Advertisers and marketers launch websites, Facebook pages, or digital videos and hope that they will go “viral”. Quality projects do stand out but it’s definitely a hit or miss approach.
With the baffling array of platforms to choose from, consumers are looking for easier ways to get their information. One consequence of this may be a return to trusted brands like the NEW YORK TIMES. Off line, people know that if news appears in the TIMES then it’s probably important enough for them to pay attention. The same thing may happen online.
Another trend is the proliferation of aggregators like our own Health Tweeder. These useful tools present a filtered version of the vast data stream that makes up the web and can provide some much needed relief from the overwhelming flow of information available.
We believe that the future lies with the next step beyond this approach, the creation of easy to use data monitoring tools. Instead of relying on other person’s choices regarding what’s relevant (be it an editor or an algorithm), consumers will be able to enter a series of preferences and find the material or information that’s directly relevant to them. These tools will be the next step forward from existing applications like Google alerts and will provide consumers with increasingly relevant information that is applicable to their daily lives. Adoption will begin with businesses who need to monitor mentions of their companies for regulatory reasons (think Finance or Pharmaceutical) but these tools will eventually find their way in to consumer, mainstream use.
If this does indeed happen, expect the next big digital revolution since the prevalent web model will become “push” rather than “pull” driven (and mobile platform growth will probably exacerbate this). When people stop using search engines as their initial point of online contact our digital world will shift once more.
The result may be reading only those Kawasaki tweets that are really relevant to you. Or a whole new way of designing for the web.
Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.
What do you guys think is coming next? How do you think consumers will handle the overwhelming amount of information available to them?