Collaborative Consumerism

11 01 2013


Rachel Botsman is on to something. According to her website, she’s “a social innovator who writes, consults and speaks on the power of collaboration and sharing through network technologies.” Last June she did a TED talk that centers on the fact that our personal online presence can create a measurable trust coefficient and that “trust” will be, and is becoming, the new currency. Like how our credit score defines who we are in ways we might have ever imagined, our online reputation will become the filter that will be used to determine what jobs we will have, or how much money we can make; who we will marry and what town we will live in. Have you ever considered that your credit score had so much to do with those things? Our current economic structure is such a part of our DNA that it’s often dismissed as playing a role in our life choices at all.

What Botsman so clearly communicates is that in the new world where network technologies drives consumerism, those who can navigate to a point where their reputations are always trending up will always have the upper hand. In the very near future and in many marketplaces today, knowing and understanding how to manage your online reputation will become as important as knowing how to improve your credit score is to us today.

Those of you who have purchased products on Ebay or Etsy know that checking the sellers reviews is “Step 1” before you buy anything from them. I personally have been bitten by the shopping cart bug and upon reading the reviews AFTER the product I ordered didn’t show up for weeks, kicked myself for rushing past Step 1.

The advance of Social Media has so much to do with our online presence. There are even barometers like Klout that can tell us the depth of our influence within specific platforms. And while these “platforms” have been seen in the past as not much more that messaging centers or virtual chat rooms. The reality is that these systems are now already how people connect deeply with each other.

I’ve written before on how we all have a Trust Bank. I talk to my boys about it all the time. We deposit trust into our bank when we do things that are expected of us… When we tell the truth in a difficult peer pressure moment… When we go beyond what was expected. Trust is also withdrawn from our bank when we are caught in a lie, or when we don’t complete the task we were assigned or when we break a promise. Trust goes in and trust goes out. The more trust that sits in our bank, the more trust we are given. Interest is even earned on trust that stays in the bank.

Botsman’s point is no different than this. Though her’s goes beyond the simple analogy. As the world moves towards a more collaborative, Social Media enhanced, network technology fueled culture, our reputations will matter even more and be viewed by pretty much everyone that wants access to it.

Collaborative Consumerism is real. Trust is the currency. Your reputation is what will determine how well you are doing. Big businesses, organizations and even non-profits like churches should take heed because even though Botsman’s discussion involves mainly peer to peer markets, the implications are far reaching. As 2013 kicks off, learning how to manage your online presence should be high on the to do list… for each of us personally AND the organizations of which we are a part.

Watch Rachel Botsman’s TED Talk video here:

Additional resource: Unique by Phil Cooke

A Gift That’s Not Wanted

15 11 2010

I love playing 7 degrees of separation.  It’s how I came to find a point for this post.  It took less than 7 steps, but things are going my way today, so there!

I get the Daily Heller which is an email from Steve Heller (the co-founder and the co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts). It’s a message of consequence about art things. Today’s email was about a piece of modern art by Roy Lichtenstein that recently sold for $38 Million. The painting is called Ohhhh…Alright….and it’s basically a snapshot from the frame of an old comic book. The painting was owned by Steve Wynn (as in the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, and The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio and the Beau Rivage in Biloxi). He had it listed at an art dealer for $50 Million, so I’m sure he was pretty sad that he only got $38 Million for it.  The comic book sold for $0.10 in 1963 and the illustrators and colorist probably got pennies per frame for their work.

In the same article, Heller talks about another painting owned by Barney Ebsworth that sold for $23.8 Million. It was Warhol’s Big Campbell’s Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable). It had been estimated to bring between $30 and $50 million.  This economy is hurting everyone isn’t it? It turns out that Ebsworth was selling this Warhol to raise money to build a church!  That statement sent me on a path to learn more about this Ebsworth guy and this church.

Well it turns out that it’s not a church.  It a public meditative chapel, designed by a famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando.  It’s going to be built on Capital Hill in Seattle, WA. It will only seat 140 and have 75 parking spaces.  It will have a pipe organ and a 7 voice choir available… yes 7 voices.  Mr. Ebsworth is a very wealthy man.  According to Danny Westneat, Seattle Times staff columnist, “His dream, friends say, is to leave an artistic legacy in the form of a chapel to honor his family and be used by the public.” Image that. Image that you could sell a 48 year old painting of a can of soup and BAM!… an artistic legacy can be had.

Westnest goes on to report that Ebsworth (who doesn’t trust the press) has a friend who is a retired reverend named Gerry Porter. Porter says that the chapel is to be “an artistic gift to his adopted city.” A gift. Interesting.

The problem is that Ebsworth already tried to build the chapel in Bellevue, WA, but got turned away by the neighbors. It seems there is a storm brewing in the new neighborhood selection as well.

I feel for the guy.  I really do.  Have you ever tried to give someone a gift and had the Ohhhh…Alright…. reaction? It’s an okay idea, but it’s not really something that was on the wish list. Like when you were little and got socks for Christmas from your grandparents or crazy aunt (no Aunt Pasty, I’m not talking about you!).

I have to think that the gift to the city might have been packaged a bit wrong.  Oh… Did I tell you that the chapel design would include 6 burial sites and a memorial garden for Ebworth’s family? Oooohhh… now you understand why it’s not really something for the city.

How often do we do that? How often do we portray something as a gift or a favor in order to make it palatable for the public (or singular recipient)? I’m raising my hand here… because I’m selfish. I want to give my sons whatever I can for them to become rock stars and famous baseball players… So I can live vicariously through them and they can buy me a new house and a cool car. Or here’s a better one:  I want to give my wife a trip to the day spa and a quiet night out with just the two of us… so I can (use your imagination here).

You do it too. And so does the church at large.  This time of year it gets bad.  We’ll see signs saying “The 100th Annual Singing Christmas Tree, Our gift to the Metrocosium” Heck! I’ve written and designed ads like that! What it really means is that we want everyone to come see this show we’ve been working on since July that somehow will end with equating our work with the gift God has given us through His Son, Jesus.

That’s not the goal or the desire, but it’s how the neighbors see it.

The Bottom Line:  I think Mr. Ebsworth should have just bought the property and said it would be his family plot. Period.  After it was built, polished and shined up, he should search the obituaries and engagement announcements and quietly, anonymously and freely offer other families the use of the chapel in their time of sorrow and time of joy. Now THAT would be a gift to the neighbors!

Great churches put it in writing

26 10 2010

I’m blessed to be a part of a great organization made up of people that work for churches (specifically Southern Baptist Churches, but don’t let that turn you off) that have progressive media and communications outlets.  Most of these churches broadcast their services either by television or web streaming. Some even have national broadcast coverage.  Being a part of the Metro Media Ministers Association has afforded me a ton of resources, not to mention a wonderful, lifelong connection with guys who do what I do and understand what it’s like.

Recently I’ve seen a shift, or at the very least an increase, in the tasking of our members towards the true area of “Communications”.  While the group was founded 25 years ago by folks doing mainly “Broadcast Ministry,” today the group discussions are broad and cover all areas communications.

This morning one of the members asked the association, via it’s Google Group, to talk about Branding Guidelines.  I love the give and take of these online discussions, as many end up chasing rabbits of all kinds.  Today though, 3 files were shared that show just how serious churches are when it comes to protecting the brand. See the .pdf files here:

Champion Forest
Touching Lives

As detailed as these are, church people (be it staff, volunteers and even lay leaders)  will do whatever they want when given access to brand components. Putting concepts, structure and guidelines in writing makes it MUCH easier to protect the identity and, more importantly shows just how important the brand is to an organization.  I’d love to see your style guides, handbooks and general brand policies! I know I will borrow a ton of ideas from these 3 to use in ours.