The World’s First Social Media Expert

Before I tell you about the world’s first social media expert, consider this: Alan Mutter has a nice review of possible pay models for news, and here is how he sums things up (Free Advice on How to Charge for Content):

Pick a system, any system. Or make up your own. It won’t matter what pay model publishers choose, unless they produce unique and compelling content, tools or applications that readers can’t find anywhere else.

This is an absolutely critical point. Just changing the way you charge makes no difference at all – it is only part of the business model. If you are going to innovate your business model, you need to come up with something that is integrated.

A new method of charging requires a new method of creating and delivering content. It’s that simple. You can’t just take what you’re currently doing and hide it behind a paywall, or port it directly over to the iPad. You have to change the way you deliver value.

That is the benefit of thinking about business models – if you do it correctly, you’ll realise that all of the components have to work together. It’s not enough to just change one thing.

ok, now I can tell you about the world’s first social media expert. I’m pretty sure it was Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything:

I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or … processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.

There are 15,740 social media experts on twitter. Well, there were as of four months ago – I’m sure the number is higher now. 79 of them are ‘social media ninjas’.

I wonder how many of them have a sound business model, and how many of them are like Lloyd? One thing that I’ve learned over time is that you can’t define yourself by what you’re not. That was Lloyd’s mistake. But you also need to deliver tangible value within an integrated business model. So you can’t just call yourself anything.

The thing that brings these two observations together is this: to succeed in innovation, you need a strong business model to support your great idea. A business model is an integrated system for delivering differentiated value, for generating revenue and profits, for fitting within a value network and for meeting your customers’ needs. You need to have all the parts of a business model, and they need to work together.

The news organisations that Alan Mutter is talking about, Lloyd Dobler, and I suspect most of the 16,000 social media experts on twitter all have partial business models. This won’t work. You need to think through your entire business model to innovate successfully.

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.