Social Networks Vs Content Distribution Networks: Using Ideas and Content As Currency

October 21, 2007

(Note this post was formed from an initial response to Pat Kitano to his comment in my previous blog post)  

I’ve never really gotten my head around the idea that the content distribution network that we are building is “just another form of Web 2.0 social networking”. Recent articles by Pat Kitano and Lola Andu have really helped me to get a conceptual handle around my feeling that, while there are similarities…there are indeed differences as well.

Thinking About Ideas As A Conceptual Currency For Lead Generating Transactions

I am in full agreement with Pat and Lola Andu that leads would form the mirror or return process of a social or content distribution network – ideas or content go out into the network, users are attracted to that content or idea at a hub, and those sufficiently acted upon then respond in the form of a lead.  Pat and Lola use the concept of an idea as a currency to drive that “transaction”.

But, a bit more thinking is likely required, because in some ways, the currencies in which Pat, Lola and I use seem to have some differences. I like the concept of the “Idea Bank”.  I’ll agree that content in many forms can contribute to the Bank of Ideas. For instance, a real estate video interview that fleshes out positions, adds valuable insights, or provides training value certainly adds to the bank of ideas. However, is a property video really an addition to the greater bank of ideas? Should it be treated as such?  I’m not 100% sure and a a big part of me initially says, “no”.  (More thought required here).

All Conceptual Currencies May Not Be Created Equal

My thinking is that if we can acknowledge that content in the form of rich media and ideas in the form of text based content are indeed different currencies, then each currency can be viewed as differing in its affinity to 1) be retransmitted and 2) provide a return to the original hub in the form of a lead.

For instance, ideas have a high natural affinity for retransmission and a lower affinity for return as a concrete lead. Why a lower affinity for return as a lead? Because my life experience to this point has not convinced me that real estate buyers are necesarily shopping for ideas in their purest form…however, many members of the real estate community are.  This could be easily be extended in a rationale why social networking platforms focused a vertical (such as Active Rain) are far more effective and popular with industry professionals than with consumers.  The conceptual currency used (“ideas”) may not be the best for completing consumer oriented transactions (return as measured in leads).  More thought required here too.

Using Rich Media Content As Currency

If ideas in the form of text based content can be used be used as currency, why cant rich media content as well? The above concepts of retransmission and return as measured in leads to rich media such as video seem to fit in the model as well. Certain types of the more traditionally viral real estate videos such as the redfin video, conference videos, or the famous real estate roller coaster video appear to have a high affinity for retransmission but almost no return lead value.  People far beyond the origianl hub are generally willing to “consent” to post these viral videos but anecdotal evidence tells me that the number of solid leads generated to the original hub are minimal. 

Real estate video interviews on the other hand would seem to have an arguably lower affinity for retransmission far beyond the original hub but a much higher return value to the subject in the form of a lead. Viewers consume the content and if the content matches their need, they act. There are certain exceptional interview videos that people will “consent” to repost but, in general, most people go someplace else to consume them and take no further tangible action (although any ideas generated and any reputations made remain in the “idea bank”)

Property Videos As Currency

This brings us to property videos as a specialized form of content currency. Why are we treating property video differently? Our data and anecdotal evidence shows that property videos have almost no natural affinity to be retransmitted very far beyond the original hub (even when the capability exists to easily do so).  However, they do generally have a very high affinity to generate leads when the content matches the criteria and expectations of an audience-based hub.

How Some Types of Content Distribution Networks Might Differ From Social Networks

 Now, we are finally starting to flesh out some of the issues that have I just have not been able to wrap my head around previously. Content distribution networks seem to require and share various aspects of social networks (the concepts of consent and likelihood, as explained in the previous blog post) but differ in the intent

Effective Social Networks: The intent of an effective social network seems to be to have many hubs retransmit across the maximum number of their spokes. This retransmission uses ideas as the currency for consent. It is the repeated retransmission over time that establishes reputation which positively affects likelihood. In this model, hubs and spokes have essentially the same value though very different roles. The return value is in the quality and quantity of secondary levels of retransmission or spokes to generate new hubs.

Effective Specialized Content Distribution Networks: The intent of an effective property video network is different since there is a low affinity for retransmission away from the original hub.  Since the hubs are therefore more “valuable” than the spokes, the intent of an effective property video network seems to be to grow a large number of high quality first level hubs. Criteria based content serves as the currency for consent. Reputation would seem to be formed in this case around the quality of hubs (more thinking required here – perhaps it’s a Web 3.0 problem). The return value is in the affinity of property video content to generate leads especially when spread across high quality first level hubs. 

The end result in both cases is the generation of leads (though by conceptually different approaches). At first glance, the above conceptual construct matches what we know from data on our website, anecdotal evidence, and what common sense would tell. However, far more thinking is required to fully flesh out the differences (if there is sufficient consensus that differences actually exist) and work each one’s strengths in implementation.  Hopefully the idea is clear enough to continue the interesting conversation.



One comment

  1. […] We have previously written about return value with social networks being measured in terms of lead generation and […]

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