Making + Breaking Connections + Relationships

Experts in online marketing are fond of saying that „you need to fish where the fish are“ – in other words: you need to communicate your messages on so-called „online platforms“ that (the most) people are also using. This lines up perfectly with the notion of „network effects“ mentioned in my previous post (see „The Millennial Media Landscape“).

One thing that might seem odd about that post is that the skeptical perspective on consumerism might seem anti-business. In my opinion, this is mainly due to an old-fashioned view of business activity. I have written about this off an on over the years – the main issue being the old-fashioned focus on transactions (which lead to revenues, profits, etc) versus a newer focus on connections, relationships, … ultimately, more focused on business activity being a shared „ongoing concern“, one with a community of stakeholders which is more omnipresent than merely momentary, passing, seasonal, coming and going, etc.

In the „consumerist“ view (basically equivalent to the old-fashioned focus on transactions), the goal is to get a „sucker“ to buy a product or service, thereby making a profit. In the community view, transactions are not as unidirectional. All stakeholders engage in their communities of interests, and whether someone is buying or selling something is a matter more open to interpretation. Sometimes people speak of „double-sided markets“ (but in fact there are usually more than merely two sides).

There is at least one very significant difference in the „social“ behavior of participants between the old-fashioned consumerist view versus the new-world community view. In the consumerist approach, participation is not at all topically oriented. In the community approach, it is completely topically focused. In communities, individuals take on a variety of roles, in part based on characteristics of the community in question. For example: in the „Uber“ (app) community, two roles participants can take on are „driver“ and „rider“ (but of course there are also others – such as that of the „service provider“).

Since the new-world community approach is still very new, the types of roles and relationships participants engage in are still by and large rather simple. To get an impression of how complex such roles and relationships might become, imagine, just as an example, how widely varied the connections among participants might be in a hyperlocal community (e.g. one for different kinds of engagement in different neighborhoods of New York City) or a community more generally oriented towards various aspects of transportation (e.g. considering weather, street traffic, privacy, etc.).

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