User Generated Content Sites surge…flight to virtual “burbs” good for Higher Ed sites…

November 10, 2006


Neilsen reported in August that 5 of the top 10 fastest growing web sites consisted of user generated content: ImageShack,, Flickr, MySpace and Wkipedia all ranked in the top 10 with increases in unique audiences from July 2005 to July 2006 ranging from 181% to 233%.  The folks @ Neilsen choose not to count Partypoker as a user generated content; I think one might argue that it is.  If so, then 6 out of the top 10 would be UGC sites.


Interestingly we’re also reading stories of wide spread flight from the giant sites.  Print and TV media (in case you’ve missed them) have been gleeful in reports of users who report being frustrated with the mass market sites such as MySpace. 


This comes as no surprise to Web 2.0 folks such as Ellyssa Kroski who blogged back in April her expectation that with time people would grow tired of the giant communities and look for small groups that offered some filter on the noise of “online friends.” When you consider it, this trend differs little from community life in the non-virtual world.  While some people are drawn to the whirl of the big city, others seek out the order of the suburbs or quiet of rural life—others choose to spend their weekdays in the city and then retreat to quieter realms on weekend. As social networking becoming a more ubiquitous part of online life, we can expect many users to seek communities of Goldilocks just right proportions—enough people I am interested in networking with and not too many. 


Higher Education web communities possess the potential of offering just the sort of place many people are likely to seek—large enough to provide variety for both personal and professional interests, while not encompassing the globe.  It’ll be interesting to see how things go.



Social Networking—what’s in it for us?

November 8, 2006

Social Networking makes alumni and development folks’ lives much easier in some basic ways.  We spend so much time, energy and resources—human and financial—on four areas for which Social Networking offers easy solutions:

Lost alumni.  Despite all the advances in automatic address correction etc, none of us likes to see those return to sender piles following a big mailing.  Not only does each represent a little bit of extra postage cost, each also represents lost opportunity to tell our story, as well as additional labor and cost as the each piece works its way into whatever lost alumni processing  your office might follow.

Identifying class influencers.  Who is the best person(s) to sign those invite letters to reunion or annual fund solicitation letters?  Sure the president of the graduating class of 1994 is still active on the alumni board, but how many people in her class still think of her as a friend 16 years out?

Solicitors Who would make best solicitors of whom in the Campaign?  Bob and Ted both offer to solicit
Alice.  Who’s the more appropriate, or might the best person be Betty?

Interests Just what sorts of things do our leading prospects care about—on campus or in the world?  Sure he was in a fraternity when an undergraduate, but how much time and money are you prepared to spend to figure out that this real love was, and continues to be the library?

Social Networking empowers our alumni to answer all four questions for us. When we provide them the place and the means to keep contact information up to date, list their friends and business contacts and indicate or discuss their areas of interest or concern,  we’re letting them do much of our grunt work…..and maybe, just maybe they’ll thank us for it!

Convergence: the march continues

November 5, 2006

Sprint has announced a new mobile gaming opportunity, NFL Airplay. This game lets participants call the next play for any NFL game in real time. You score every time you correctly guess the next play. You can then compare your score with a group of friends or any of the wider community of users. For now the only prize is bragging rights, but you can wager there’ll be more to follow. Speaking of which, imagine the first game played with real NFL players in which the Sprint Airplay community votes on the next play, with the play with the most votes actually being played out on the field….

Friday’s NYT Escapes section Nov 3,2006,  features a resort in the virtual world of Secondlife.  There’s a little humor/irony that this feature should hit the same week that the latest fall in print newspaper readership was announced.  Did I mention that Reuters has opened a bureau in SecondLife?


Which will happen first: Starbucks on the corner starts taking
Linden dollars for that latte or  we find a “Save the Pixel” movement in SecondLife?


Web2.0 business model and its meaning for NFPs

October 18, 2006

Twan Verdonck presents a new business model for the web2.0 age in his presentation @

Briefly, he proposes that the transactional model of business and consumer is being replaced with an interactive model of business and user in which business provides platform and tools so that user becomes a co-producer of value. 

Arguably, all the talk over the years of involving donors in the life of an NFP follows a similar sort of model, but I think it can be enormously helpful for us to step out of our own paradigm of charity/donor/gift transaction and think about what we do as providing a platform for partnering, whether online or in a soup kitchen.  Part of the usefulness of technology now available to us will be found in extending the “hands on” experiential nature of the soup kitchen to the wider world of charitable activity.

What community means for not-for-profits

October 18, 2006

I’m looking forward to my CASE presentation next month.  There’s so much going on online right now that it feels like 1996 all over again–when simply launching a web page felt momentous! Whether we look to Web 2.0 issues or secondlife, the opportunities to engage constituents through the web offers so much to those of us who are accustomed to the donor relations/fund-raising process that it seems a shame to let the for profits have all the fun!  In fact those of us in institutions of higher ed are especially well placed to offer our constituents platforms for community.  Specifics to come later, but there’s plenty to think about in my delicious account at this point.  If you’re looking for something to read,  I HIGHLY recommend Communities Dominate Brand.  More on that to follow.