Widgetcon - the emphasis is on the Con

The basic premise of Widgetcon can come to this - it's the very basic difference between New York City and San Francisco: monetization versus community.

NYC is about monetization. San Francisco is about community. Or, NY is about style and SF is about substance - either would work. And, at this conference, no one seems to care about the community. I came to this on my vacation, so just stayed for the two key panels - and walked away with the realization that while advertising and marketing (the majority of the people at the conference) are in deep in widgets, they are the last people that should be touching this space. Why? They don't communicate - they push content, and don't seem to care about community.

Consumers suck - that was the comment that was made to me when I noted that the panel was all about monetization and marketing, but not about the consumer. Yes, I hate the term consumer, but it fits best for now.

Think about it: you are a blogger (or a vidcaster or podcaster), and you are being pitched a widget. Just like any outreach, though, there needs to be a reason I should care. There needs to be a message there that makes me want to put the widget on my desktop or on my blog - but this is the missing idea at the conference. Right now, it's about marketing, monetization and measurement.

While that is important - and I know that I can be Pollyanna-ish about social media - and it is not black and white, there needs to be some concern for the audience (or users, or whatever term you want to use). These are the people that are going to use your widgets - desktop or deskbar or web-based - and there needs to be a reason why they should care. Right now, there was barely anything said about that audience, and when they were brought up, it was in the context of "measurement" and how to be "monetize".

Um, I ain't your tool to be monetized and I ain't your tool to be measured. I ain't no tool - and, well, as a PR/marketing professional, I do understand the client needs for measurement, but there is still a chance to be part of the community and work within the community to value the community.

And, that's the key - here, there seemed to be no value of the community. It's something to be monetized and used for your end-goals. Let's not forget Kantian principles - people are an end to themselves, and not a means to something else - and that is a good point to remember when working in social media. It is about community, and working with the community. Yes, the CMOs want measurement, but does social media need to change, or does marketing need to change its thinking process?

But, people keep talking about pushing out content - pushing out messages. Not about listening, but how to push out messages with widgets. What about developing widgets that people would want? In recommendations, I have suggested widgets that would be viral and people would want - and they are not necessarily client-based, but rather client-branded that ties into a message that would resonate, and is not just marketing.

Because, even if a consumer does it - works with widgets - it does not mean that it is authentic marketing or messaging. It's about that consumer and audience, because it IS about what matters for the consumers. Right now, advertising has its hold on widgets and you can tell, because it is only about pushing messages. It makes more sense for PR to push forward, as it would be about communications and two-way dialogue. And, well, I don't hear anyone talking about listening to consumers and widget users ... like me, who does use desktop and deskbar widgets, yet I can't imagine any of these people asking me what I would like to see. But maybe it is because "consumers suck" as one person joked at the conference.

And ... still waiting to hear someone talk about Facebook applications ... and waiting, and waiting. Maybe I'll just bring up the name Dave McClure, and say to read his post today. Okay, I brought up Facebook applications and waited for their answers ... and interrupted the answer to bring up the community aspect.

Update: Okay, I left the conference right before lunch, because there was no reason to stay, and I knew I would learn nothing at this keynote. But, on the way out, I was talking to a reporter and talked about the NY vs SF vibe. He then got all NY media elite on me ... which I have never had happen in all the years in PR.

He went off on NY is real money, SF has none. NY controls the world, and SF just talks about community, but had to learn community from LA and MySpace and look at that failure that was Friendster. I guess failure means outside US success means nothing ... sorry Orkut and Bebo. That community does not matter in NY - that it is all about money.

Well, that's just great. And, you know, for a long time I never bought the battle of old media versus old media - to me, it's just media. Well, this was the first time I ever saw the fear and/or jealousy of new media ... as it doesn't matter because it's not New York.

But, this is just from a kid from the middle of the country - the part that doesn't matter to NY media elite.

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  1. Um, all those hedge funders in New York seem happy to invest their private equity in Sand Hill venture capital and public money in tech IPOs -- but that must be fake money that they don't mind wasting or something.

    New York media conglomerates also seem to have lost a lot of real money thanks to Craigslist -- while the SF Chronicle is the loudest when it comes to bitching and moaning, New York-based Hearst better realize that it's their canary in the online coal mine.

    Our evil 'community' is coming for you next!

  2. west SIDE!

    yeah, we have piddly-ass l0serz out here like GOOG, CSCO, INTC etc.. those guys hardly make any money.

    seriously, tell that east coast media bitch we have all the nouveau riche out our way.

    - dave

    (ps - thx for the link love. some of us out here actually care both about community AND making money ;)

  3. Just browsing the internet, very interesting blog.

  4. Did you happen to stay for the panel just before lunch with us agency guys on it?

    If you missed it, you missed out on everything you criticized the other panels about.

  5. What does this NY vs. SF stuff have to do with anything?

  6. Is it ok to hate NY and SF? Throw Chicago in there too, nasty little bunch of buggers.

  7. @Ian - yes, I stayed for two panels, and then left when lunch was served. And, yes, I heard the panels and only one person brought up community ... and that was the PR person.

    @Neil - it's a contrast of the philosophies of the two cities, and how they are different.


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