They say the onset of Facebook has changed the rule from 6 degrees of separation to a norm of now 4.9 degrees of separation. I see this as a sign that the world is literally becoming more connected. That’s why we, as marketers, have moved away from mass advertising to micro-location-based targeting within communities of users. But it goes beyond that—this social shift has changed the very dynamics of commerce. We're living in a liquid economy where hundreds of users can become a relevant, targeted customer base. Hence, the rise of location-based, community-focused social groups—all geared toward making relevant human connections.
Think about how online communities and social networks have changed the game. To today's buyer, the connection matters more than the service or product—and therein lies the secret to the new business model. Like most consumers, I'm heavily influenced by a community of people I admire and respect—some of whom I know through personal relationships, some who are associates from work, others who are influencers in my industry and some who may even be celebrities. The point is, I care more about what these people have to say than what an advertiser might tell me about a product or service or lifestyle.
Contextual relevance matters so much today, communities are developing story-based engagement models. Because I want to engage, learn, and buy from others I trust in my circle, a story is formed around me and around those who 'like' me. They matter to me more than commerce, more than material things. Triberr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Uncram… they're all creating these storytelling tribes of connection. Business leaders, thought leaders, marketers, entertainers, technologists—you name it—they're all out there building influence.
The companies that still think social is just for fun are missing the point. The world has changed from a market driven e-commerce environment to a socially driven me-commerce era. The most sophisticated brands are building a community of influencers to co-create and reinforce their brand message.
So ask yourself, who is your tribe in the era of me-commerce, and what stories are they telling about your brand?