Saturday evening, the loudspeaker in my teenage daughter’s cell phone erupted into a perpetual buzz, as text messages streamed into it. Evidently, singers Justin Bieber and Selene Gomez were spotted in our little corner of the world, causing more chatter than a terrorist cell about to hit a soft target. Although my daughter isn’t a huge Bieber fan, many of her girlfriends are fanatics. Soon they had decided to go “Bieber Hunting.”
They collaboratively organized their search-grid, using all of the networks available to them. Through text messages and Facebook updates, they had triangulated on previously visited locations:
- lunch at a Chick-Fil-A in Laguna Niguel
- the movie theaters in Aliso Viejo
- and the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point
Since the “hunt” extended well beyond my daughter’s Bieber-crazy friends, security guards at these locations found themselves overwhelmed with squealing mini-flash-mobs hoping for a glimpse of two of their idols.
Stripping away the sensationalism of the moment, it’s important for executives to look at this spontaneous event from a different perspective: the powerful communications technologies that are now in the hands of everyday people. Consider for a moment that a growing segment of your customer-base has access to three different communications networks: private, semi-private, and public.
Private networks include those communications platforms that allow us to have private conversations. Private networks include cell-phone-text-messaging and private messages via a social network like Facebook. It is through these channels, that hormone-fueled thumbs raced across cell-phone keyboards last Saturday evening.
Semi-private networks consist of trusted participants. They are formed when you “Friend” someone on Facebook, limiting communications with only that select group of confidants.
Public Networks are open for all to see. It’s where obsessed fans used Twitter to tell everyone where their heart-throb was staying, where they wrote about meeting him on their blogs, and where they published their cell-phone captured images on Twitpic and their high-pitched stalking videos on YouTube. Works published on public networks are indexed forever by Google.
Putting aside the spectacle for a moment, consider the fact that people are beginning to figure out how to use their three networks. Private observations can grow to become semi-private conversations. Those semi-private conversations can then be combined with public conversations to create movements. Don’t think so? Forget about fans chasing celebrities and consider the three networks from the perspective of a protester in Egypt or an earthquake rescuer in New Zealand.
Do your corporate communications plans include your customers’ uses of all three of their networks?
Photo Credit: SunriseOn7