The Audience Is Dead But The Show Must Go On

Iain at Morrison Macmillan just picked up on a previous post of mine that was, tongue in cheek, titled YouTube Bigger Than Jesus. What Iain comments is how Revver has a long way to go before it becomes as successful as youtube, mtv etc. In fact, this is what he says:

Their case for the creative merits of Revver over YouTube is a persuasive one, and one that would financially favor the creators of popular content. However, it’s hard to estimate how long it might take audiences to change their viewing habits in big enough numbers to make properties like Revver more successful than YouTube, MTV or anyone else.

And thats a fair point if the measure of success is sheer volume of audience (eyeballs), which i’m sure youtube, myspace and photobucket would like everyone to believe is the pinnacle of success. IMHO the concept of the audience is dead. As the social customer manifesto says

There are no spectators anymore. Participate

So what does this mean for measuring success if it’s not just about the size of the audience? How about “revenue per customer” “revenue per registered user” how about “value creating activity per user”. Think about the value that is created through the active participation of your customers? People are down on flickr because they don’t have so many users as photobucket, but have you seen the value in collections, clusters, how much richer the experience of navigating that folksonomy is? What % of flickr users are pro users? And how many of those pro users are stewards of beauty and art? Hey, I’m not saying flickr is going to be bigger than photobucket, and wouldn’t want it to, just how do you measure success. As Caterina says in Metrics, registered users and social ecosystems:

They have different social structures and value propositions.

In the end most customers in the social media space are co-creators of value and IMHO many companies need to be looking at how they steward those value creation activities. In the end co-creative customers are making meaning for themselves, in conjunction with your brand, your role is to help them become more. The audience may be dead but the show must go on.

Update: I’m finding a rich conversation is going on aroudn the ‘death of the audience’

Inside the Cubical: Moving away from audiences and embracing communities

Tip of the hat to Doc Searls

PressThink: the people formerly known as the Audience

Tim Porter argues the audience is still alive, it just needs resuscitating

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 22, 2009 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    You’re right, this does have one of the best titles I’ve ever seen, so I just have to jump in because of that. Even if I’m almost *3 years* late. Imagine that! Words and ideas can get people to take action *years after they are written.* Hmmm… : ) So here’s my take on what you said: Audiences mean nothing if you can’t get people to act. Dead, zombified, unengaged people do you no good whatsoever. 2.) The *way* that people take action will change dramatically in the coming years. The “cycle to buy” may well always include participation and conversation, rather than just being able to tell someone “buy this.” Think about that in light of the current recession, and it’s an even more powerful statement. 3.) I believe social media can solve almost any problem a business has. Figuring out what the exact problem is will lead to the right way to measure ROI. If it’s always about sheer audience numbers, you will *never* get the ROI correct.

    Thanks Karl! You always get me to think!.

  2. Posted March 24, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    The audience may not be dead for many people (at least at conferences) – yet more interactive tools that engage them/us may bring out the best in both leader/speakers and “audiences” so learning and co-creating can both happen.

    We are not yet near the tipping point where a majority of meetings become more meaningful and memorable, using the right social media tools, meeting formats
    - and even storyboarding the possible moment-by-moment experiences that attendees might enjoy….
    yet I trust you will be a part of the vanguard that inspire more people to move in that direction – am right with you there.
    – another avid fan of experience curve, Kare, Moving From Me to We

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