What brings you to your favorite social networks? Is it the people that you know you’ll find there or the topics and content that you know you’ll be able to discover? In this episode of Community Signal, we dive deep into what Chris Brogan, a digital marketing expert and New York Times bestselling author, thinks he wants from social networks and conversely, how he observes his children using Twitter, SoundCloud, and more.
The gaming industry is at the forefront of this conversation. Chris and Patrick discuss the unique social engineering behind the Nintendo Switch and how other hardware items, like digital photo frames, really need to catch up.
All this, plus:
- Teens forecasting the future of content and internet platforms
- Fortnite and the Queen’s gaming preferences
- The reckoning coming to the way we work
Our Podcast is Made Possible By…
“Kids are faster than we ever were. They’re using smaller bites. The right word might be a symbol or package or something where they’re making a reference to something where the word no longer actually is the direct literal translation, but now has a whole different set of meanings.” -@chrisbrogan
“We’re going to get down to Snapchat story-sized humanity. When a lot of people hear me say that, they scoff and go, ‘Kids these days.’ I’m thinking, ‘What if they’re right? What if stories are too bloated?’ The new Spider-Man Homecoming is the best Spider-Man movie ever made because they didn’t bother telling us the origin story because guess what? We’ve all known it since like 1964.” -@chrisbrogan
“I think that there is such an absolute disservice being done to educating entrepreneurship in this country right now for the digital space. We still have a tough time explaining to small towns that you actually don’t need jobs that reside in the town where your house is. That you could actually work on the internet anywhere on the earth and just happen to get your WiFi from that town. There’s a schism and I don’t know what’s going to really change it, but I know that there’s a huge reckoning coming where a lot of people are going to suddenly realize, ‘Oh I need a new way of doing work.'” -@chrisbrogan
About Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan is a digital marketing expert advisor and the CEO of Owner Media Group. He’s worked with brands like Google, Pepsi, Disney, Sony Electronics USA, Comcast, and Microsoft. He is a professional keynote speaker and the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, the latest of which is Find Your Writing Voice. He is engaged to Jacqueline Carly, and between the two of them, have three wonderful kids. Chris lives in northern Massachusetts.
- Sponsor: Higher Logic, the community platform for community managers
- Sponsor: Structure3C, expert community strategy for large organizations
- Chris’s website
- Zack Cooper, a previous guest of the show, discusses Ubisoft’s Community Content team
- Vlad Dusil, a previous guest of the show, shares that forums are still very much alive
- Bring the Edge to the Center and the Center to the Edge
- Jay Baer, who wrote Hug Your Haters
- Mastodon, a decentralized, open source social network
- The medium is the message, a phrase coined by professor and philosopher Marshall McLuhan
- Steve Kamb’s website, Nerd Fitness
- Queen Elizabeth loves the Nintendo Wii
- GamePuncher, where Chris initiates conversations about how teens are interacting on the web
- Crypto.Kred, founded by Jodee Rich, puts community on a coin (Chris advises this company)
- A smart fish tank left a casino vulnerable to hackers
- Mike Creuzer, a previous guest of the show, on Xenforo and Harry Potter
- Inside the Hollywood Home of Social Media’s Stars
- Owner Media Group
- Chris Brogan on Twitter
[00:00:04] Announcer: You’re listening to Community Signal, the podcast for online community professionals. Sponsored by Higher Logic, the community platform for community managers, and Structure3C, expert community strategy for large organizations. Tweet with @communitysignal as you listen. Here’s your host, Patrick O’Keefe.
[00:00:28] Patrick O’Keefe: Hello, and welcome to Community Signal. Thank you for making the show a part of your day. On this episode, we’re talking with Chris Brogan, a business advisor who has worked with a bunch of major brands. I’ve known Chris for many years and our conversation is far-reaching. The development of social networks on the edge as Chris calls them, what he has learned from watching his kids using the internet, the true potential of community that many online influencers have yet to tap into, the power of esports, and more.
But the applicability to community is definitely here and there’s a lot we can take away from Chris’s insights. We have a great group of supporters on Patreon and if you find value in the show, we’d love to have your support at communitysignal.com/innercircle. A big thanks to Dave Gertler, Luke Zimmer and Joseph Ranallo for being longterm supporters of our program.
Chris Brogan is a digital marketing expert advisor who has worked with brands like Google, Pepsi, Disney, Sony Electronics USA, Comcast, Microsoft, and many more. He is a professional keynote speaker as well as the New York Times bestselling author of nine books and counting. He is engaged to Jacqueline Carly and between the two of them has three wonderful kids. Chris lives in northern Massachusetts. Chris, welcome to the program.
[00:01:33] Chris Brogan: Hey, thank you so much for having me.
[00:01:35] Patrick: It is a pleasure to have you. I looked it up and last month, March, marked 10 years since we first spoke in March of ’08 when I sent you an email asking if you’d allow me to send you a review copy of my book. [laughs] What’s changed?
[00:01:52] Chris: Oh my gosh, what’s changed in 10 years? What’s interesting specifically about community is how it has been like an accordion, hasn’t it? It has gone big, and then it has gone small, and it’s gone very specific and back out into the comments. I find that it just seems like some of this is all everything old is new again. At the same time, because all these new tools exist, we have so many other ways to do things. I was really fascinated by your interview with the Ubisoft guy, Zack Cooper because I follow that company and some of their games.
It’s just interesting how much can still get done in this space and how in some ways I feel like it gets discarded and then found again. Whereas, you’ve been here the whole time like, “Nope, still here.”
[00:02:35] Patrick: [laughs] As have you and it’s what I refer to as the pendulum swing, things go to sort of a vague nature, Facebook, Twitter. People talk about the death of forum specifically, but any number of platforms, platform death; what I look at is like platform diversity and not death. Then people burn out of that. I forget who I was talking with just the other day about the idea that we all went to Facebook and Twitter, and that’s awesome and I still get value there, but oh yes, it was Vlad Dusil of PurseForum, purseblog.com’s online forum which is this massive community of purse collectors. Many people who spend just piles of cash on purses and who are really aficionados of purses.
He was saying that people are burnt out on the idea of, “I’m on Facebook. I share things there and that’s where my coworkers and my boyfriend, and my spouse, and my parents, and even my kids in some cases are.” People are going back to spaces where it’s less about connecting around the personality or the persons who are opting to follow you. They just want to be people who are interested in something [laughs] and are sharing that interest with other people who are interested in that something.
[00:03:38] Chris: Yes, and a lot of ways, I’m a big fan of the communications tool, Slack. I just wish that the whole community space would reorganize more around conversation the way it used to in good old-fashioned BBS forums and forum software since. I just wish it would be much more around the idea instead of the person. I feel like it’s heading that way again, but we’ll see where it lands.
[00:04:00] Patrick: Yes. You wrote a piece recently where you talked about social networks for the edge. Can you talk about that a little bit?
[00:04:05] Chris: Well, I think that where people or where just marketing, business, communication, conversation and everything’s happening. I think the marketplace is all around us now.
Billions and billions of years ago, not really, but a very long time ago, our version of a marketplace was at a crossroads, so wherever merchants might bump into other merchants and they’d be like, “I’ve got a lot of silk.” And the other ones like, “I have a lot of spices. Great, let’s trade.” Then it became castles and then it became bazaars.
The bazaar was like a very specific shopping region for marketplaces. From there, it went to downtown and from downtown, it went out to the mall and from the mall, it went to Big Box, and then online.
To me now, the conversation is and it always has been in a lot of ways where people are, where two or more are gathered, to sneak in a Biblical quote. I think that the new opportunity is to find people where they are and have that conversation where they are. Sometimes in the actual physical sense of we all happen to be at a corner in Skokie having this interesting conversation. The other side of that, we all want to talk about what it’s like having Internet of Things devices at are our construction site, “Now what?”
I think that both are such a beautiful use case and I feel that that’s where things are going. The tools are there but we just haven’t quite served up enough servings of it for people to catch on and make it that way for their own stuff.
[00:05:30] Patrick: You talk about going where people are, obviously as consumers are- just let’s use the term human beings [laughs]. You’ve got to go where people are. On the business side of things, it’s just such an opportunity there. It’s an opportunity that you’ve talked about for years. I think our mutual friend Jay Baer has talked about for years about. He wrote a book with some great customer service data. One of the things that came out for that me was the idea that Twitter, people expect a response now. When they complain, they expect it. If they don’t get it, it’s a disappointment. If then you give it, it’s expected. Whereas in some of these more focused communities or as these social networks for the edge develops, the expectation isn’t quite there and there is still that opportunity to delight in surprise.
[00:06:11] Chris: I agree with that. I think that related to that, there’s still always a chance that things like Twitter where we feel a little swallowed up in a storm, little forums and smaller private places have a better opportunity to connect in a deeper way. There’s also this sense on Twitter that you’re having this conversation in a hallway. For the very few people who know how to set up hashtag type software to match around the tag, everyone else is just having this out in the bloody wild.
It just has that weird feeling that we’re not really in a room, we’re at a hallway somewhere. There’s a plus to that because you get a lot more strange interesting connections that you might not normally have and there’s the negative that you feel like it’s just not as focused.
[00:06:52] Patrick: You tweeted something recently about what would Twitter have to do to, I think it was, to become the place where we all want to go to again because I feel this too. Maybe that’s just scaling and there’s just change and then things happen. I still love Twitter, but I know a lot of people who don’t and certainly, my use has changed a bit over time. I don’t know, my friends aren’t there as much, I think is one way to put it.
I tried to focus on those people through a list. I have a list of like 30, 40, people out that I want to read, you’re on it. People I want to see the stuff off that they’re sharing but it doesn’t feel the same and that seems like what you’re getting at. What’s your answer there? Is there something that you would like Twitter to do to make it that place again?
[00:07:31] Chris: I want a thousand little Twitters. I have asked for that since maybe 2007. I know it’s not coming anytime soon. Jack Dorsey doesn’t listen to me as it happens. I would say that I think we all want that. What’s weird though, and McDonald’s says this sort of thing all the time where someone will say, “We want a healthier food.” McDonald goes, “We have 26 items in the menu that are healthier. They are also the lowest 2% of all ordered anything in our stores.” People say, “We want a salad”, but they order fries. I say, “I want a really small social network.” Something like Mastodon comes along and I go, “Oh, like that.” And then no one uses it.
I don’t know what is going to take to make some velocity. I’m starting to feel like, for lack of a better term, branded conversations or maybe something like, is it called Amino? That’s sort of re-imagining of forums. I think there’s something like that that might happen but it’s hard to know. Reddit is poised to try to do that in a different way and I welcome their attempt but we’ll see which one wins.
[00:08:32] Patrick: It feels like what you’re going for wants to be topic first instead of person first, which I think is how these two separate, just at the start. Just at the gate when you sign up when you join, it’s, “Who do you want to follow?” Moreso than, “What are you passionate about?” I don’t know. Do you think that’s true?
[00:08:47] Chris: I do. In some ways, it’s like Marshall McLuhan’s the medium is the message, right? When I first saw Instagram I thought it was dumb. I always called it fake album covers for your crappy life. I’ve since really come to appreciate the basic simplicity of Instagram. Like and comment, like and comment, have a nice day. If you repost, that’s about the third most interesting thing you can do there. I think that with that, I started a second Instagram for this video game passion project that I have and I started following all these video game accounts and I’m really enjoying going in there and I said, “Like this. This is what I want.”
Obviously, that’s the same as Twitter. Who you follow fills what your tweets are. I guess we can still find our way to it and curate it but as you well know the discovery tool still aren’t quite there. Or it just doesn’t feel like a campfire burning anywhere right now that we can all gather around and I guess that’s the last thing that’s necessary.
[00:09:41] Patrick: Let’s take a moment to talk about our great sponsor, Higher Logic.
Higher Logic is the community platform for community managers with over 25 million engaged users in more than 200,000 communities. Organizations worldwide use Higher Logic to bring like-minded people together by giving their community a home where they can meet, share ideas and stay connected. The platform’s granular permissions and powerful tools, including automated workflows and consolidated email digests, empower users to create their own interest-based communities, schedule and manage events, and participate in volunteer and mentoring programs. Tap into the power your community can generate for you. Higher Logic, all together.
Are there any communities that you participate in where you are not Chris Brogan? What I mean is where you don’t use your real name but like a pseudonym, so you don’t have to deal with people, I don’t know looking you up or being nosy?
[00:10:27] Chris: Yes and no. It’s funny because you and I know each other from this particular space. I seem a little bit more internet famous for no great reason in this space. But a great massive amount of the world doesn’t really care who I am.
[00:10:41] Patrick: Right, but I’m sure you have people who search for your name and it might even have your own, as the kids would, say trolls. If you say, “Yes,” I’m not going to ask you what those communities are. I’m not throwing out at you. I’m just curious.
[00:10:52] Chris: No, I do but it’s funny because the way that I started dividing that, isn’t really like, “I don’t want to be me here.” But more like for instance when I talk about video game stuff, I don’t want it to come back to, “Oh, you’re that guy? That’s weird.” When I play video games it’s almost always a much younger crowd than me, too. I’m 48, some of these kids, I’m older than their dad.
That’s fine because it’s not like I’m there to interact with people, but at the same time, I really want to be just based on my gameplay. When I go to a community like Reddit to look at games stuff, I guess I don’t really want them to be like, “Oh you’re some weird author guy.” This isn’t what I want them to be thinking when they see me.
[00:11:30] Patrick: You just want to be someone who engages with them. What consoles are you on? What do you play?
[00:11:35] Chris: I’m an Xbox guy and I have been for a very long time because of Halo. Way back in the day Halo was, it’s an Xbox exclusive game and so I needed the Xbox to play, and there was no gaming console in my house for quite a while. Then my daughter one day accidentally locked her gaming console at her mom’s house and said to me, “Hey Dad, do you think you want to get another Xbox?” I was like, “Not if you want me to write another book.” And lo and behold there’s a new console in the house and there’s no new book, so I was right. So, I love Xbox.
The console that my kids have that I really want to steal for a little while, and I’ll try to probably do that this week is Nintendo Switch. I think it’s beautiful. I think that the fun and playability that they’ve built into their games and the social playability in their games matches what you and I like most about communities. It just feels like a space where you can interact and play with a lot of other people online without the overhead that happens on PlayStation and Xbox.
[00:12:30] Patrick: Yes, it’s interesting. My brother Trent got a Nintendo Switch first, I’m the oldest of three, he’s the youngest. Then my middle brother just got one the other day. We were playing last night, it was a remake of an NES game and it’s almost like a western shooting game. It’s like a third-person shooting game, and it’s arcade and so you die fast, but we do play a lot. Golf was another fun game that we played a bunch on Switch. I don’t know, the controllers and the way they designed it, it’s interesting how they built that social element into the design of the console.
[00:13:01] Chris: Steve Kamb who does Nerd Fitness is a really big Switch guy and he really loves it. Then I just read an article three days ago that Queen Elizabeth herself, Her Royal Highness, loves the Wii because her grandson was playing it one day, and she looked over the shoulder and said, “Oh, that looks like it could be fun.” Next thing you know she’s a big aficionado in Wii bowling. I guess still plays the Nintendo Wii in her 90’s over in her castle.
[00:13:24] Patrick: You mentioned GamePuncher, you didn’t mention the name but I will, is that just you being a parent and wanting to share with the community of parents who have children who are gaming and may not have time to fully grasp the tools and the pros and cons of them.
[00:13:38] Chris: That explains it probably better than I do. The idea had was that there’s a lot of times where I’m involved in stuff where mostly kids are, and on the other side of that, I’m often the one that parents and grown-ups ask, “Hey, my kid really wants to try this thing out. Do you know anything about it?” I almost always can answer, “Yes.”
What I thought would be interesting is there’s a lot of sites out there that do reviews and ratings and all those kind of a thing for games, but there was one that was just built on opening up a starting point to a conversation.
As we record this one of the most popular games out there right now is called Fortnite, and a very specific version of it called Battle Royale, which is 100 people fight down until there’s only one left. Kids are getting in trouble in school about this game, our relationships are having problems like we haven’t heard of it for a while, so it’s like EverQuest and World of Warcraft, it’s pretty intense.
I wanted to do something about it because it ultimately it’s a game, I think, kids should be okay playing. I walk through my case on behalf of kids for it, but I also explain where parents might be able to step in and help kids, who might get stuck along the way. That’s the model not just for games but also YouTube stuff, some memes, some teen dating apps that I found a little troubling having teenage kids of my own, and that sort of thing.
[00:14:50] Patrick: You have a son and a daughter and I don’t have any kids, but I do have a brother, that I just mentioned, who’s a teenager. I pick up and have picked up for a while, just small things from how he uses the web, the platforms he uses, how he uses them because it can be quite a bit different from how I use it. I was just curious, what have you picked up from your kids that helped you in your work?
[00:15:11] Chris: I love these questions, I love these questions, Patrick.
[00:15:14] Patrick: Thanks, Chris.
[00:15:15] Chris: The way kids are using all of these platforms is so remarkable. I have had this burning itchy, strange mental thing for the last year or two, like there’s something here and I can’t explain it. It’s like there’s something happening here, that old song. The feeling I have is kids are faster than we ever were, they’re using smaller bites. The right word might be symbol or like package or something where they’re making a reference to something where the word no longer actually is the direct literal translation, but now has a whole different set of meanings.
It’s not like that’s never happened in the world before. In curse words, for instance, the very famous ‘f’ word really has nothing to do with how that word is used anymore. It’s just a word that gets thrown out about five different contexts that the least of which is the one that was actually invented to create. For instance, there’s new harshness to language in teenagers that didn’t exist in our generation or other generations before, that people have to understand doesn’t mean what we are taking it into our heads and hearts when we hear it.
Someone will say, “That kid is cancer.” What they’re saying is, the way he plays this game really frustrates other kids around him. We grew up with the ‘r’ word, retarded, being what you say if your friend was doing something kind of dumb. Then of course, we were thought that sensitivity-wise that might not so good.
What teens ended up replacing it with is autistic which is in no way better. In this culture, someone says to someone else, “Stop being autistic.” It’s really just a fill in for dumb. The thing is, a lot of these things are offensive to us, probably just offensive to the mainstream, but are being used in a way that isn’t that intent with teens.
I’m also tracking that because I think with community in that, at the same time we’re looking for a lot more openness. A lot more inclusiveness and whatnot. We’re also shifting some of the language and visuals and imagery we’re using so fast that people of a certain age if they’re not even trying to stay caught up, are going to lose chunks of the way humans communicate at least in English speaking world.
[00:17:26] Patrick: I’ve got to get that offensive slang taken care off i.e. my life for the last 20 years. I think that’s an interesting point. When I look at how for example, my brother he doesn’t have a Facebook account, no shock there. He uses Twitter, he has 10 followers, he follows 450 people. He’s into anime, he’s into pixel art, he’s into EDM, and electronic music.
In a way, his Twitter is you’ve always told people to be, to curate and be like 12 to 1 of like 12 great things and here’s my thing. He’s like 12 in 0 because he doesn’t have anything to promote. He’s totally like curating this. If I look at his pages he’s thought about the typography, he’s thought about the color, he has a very artistic avatar that he made himself, that’s pixel art. His header is an artist on Twitter that he likes, that I think he might have asked to do an art piece for him or something. It’s all tweets of digital art and this very curated experience. He’s only tweeted 206 times but has 8,000 likes.
[00:18:26] Chris: And that experience, there was much more intimate interactions, my daughter and my soon to be stepdaughter are both in that same space and they love anime. They draw with each other, they do art trades and the kinds of people that they connect with all get this references. There’s all these Japanese slang especially for white and American type people who love anime that is now a language onto itself really. I would say in that space there’s all these other stuff that you and I kind of been aware of for many decades, but we used to talk it in presentations where we are like, “Whoa, this thing could happen.”
It happens all the time meaning, appropriation of other people’s content without attribution, remix culture. My son is a musical guy and he’s a remixer like bar none and he tears apart other people songs and re-edits them in his own ways all the time, like FL Studio that sort of a thing. He works on compilation albums with people that don’t know that he’s 12.
I would say that’s really fascinating to me, but all this is what they’re least interested is mainstream media and entertainment. I have to beg them to go see superhero movies with me or Star Wars or whatever because to them, “Two hours, what are you doing?” [laughs]. It’s just the unit of measurement anymore for them.
As I say to people, “Who in the world wants to read Moby Dick, whatever it is, 1,200 pages.” “They’re like who wants to watch a two-hour movie, dad?” It really starts to feel like we’re going to get down to Snapchats story-sized humanity. When a lot of people hear me say that, they scoff and go, “Kids these days.” I’m thinking, “What if they’re right? What if stories are too bloated?” The new Spider-Man Homecoming is the best Spider-Man movie ever made because they didn’t bother telling us the origin story because guess what? We’ve all known it since like 1964.
[00:20:14] Patrick: Another platform that my brother has used for a long time is SoundCloud which is super popular with people his age, like your son. I bought it from Amazon because I have the Amazon card. It was actually 10% off. A keyboard, that’s really cool. He has a keyboard and he has different musical tools, and he has FL Studio. On the SoundCloud, there is this big culture of reposting, sort of like Tumblr, I guess, but just Tumblr for music more or less.
He’s really big on SoundCloud and SoundCloud as a platform has really endured for him. I think that those things and the things we’re talking about are both very relevant to both Twitter and SoundCloud in a way that they’re not as relevant to, say Facebook. [laughs]
[00:20:54] Chris: Yes. None of this ties to Facebook in so many ways. What’s interesting about it is that you would hear people argue on behalf of your brother and my son. Well, that’s because they’re not a commercial culture. My son likes to buy everything. 80+% of my arguments with my son are, “You’re just going to buy it, but you don’t actually want it. You just want the experience of having bought it.” He’s a marketer’s dream except that he does his own research. He goes and finds his own thing. He wants news to find what he’s looking for, or tweets, or in posts from the companies themselves and not, some like goofy banner ad.
He loves SoundCloud for that reason. It’s a very crisp experience. He loves Twitter. It’s very brief, that sort of thing. He uses Discord, which again is one of those platforms that very few people know about unless they’re there. If you’re there, you go, “Wow. Why there aren’t more people using this thing?” I would say that that’s where that’s going to happen.
The presumption that the two billion and growing number on Facebook is going to stay there forever, all empires fall, all of them. We lived through AOL, we lived through copy server prodigy and all those, that are felt pretty solid at the time. I just don’t think we should presume that even Facebook will live forever.
[00:22:12] Patrick: I’d like to take a moment to recognize our wonderful sponsor, Structure3C.
Structure3C helps large organizations unlock the full value of community. Founded by Bill Johnston and staffed by a network of experienced community builders from the public and private sectors, Structure3C helps clients transform existing programs, launch new communities, and develop forward-looking strategies for community-based growth and innovation.
Schedule a free initial conversation at structure3c.com.
Back in ’08, you started talking about outposts and your outpost strategy, social media profiles as outposts and your well-maintained updated website with great content [laughs] as your home base. Relevant to community, in that, if you host your own community, you can either ignore social, which some communities have done, or you can use it to your advantage and showcase that community and drive people back to that main site. Is there any nuance there in 2018 or is it largely the same?
[00:23:09] Chris: Another great question. In a lot of ways, it’s oddly what you make of it. Meaning, you could say, “Let’s just totally forgo the mainstream social networks and call it a day.” If people know how to find you, if you’ve got some other bat signal that you can put up in the sky, and say, “Hey, we’re over here.” That’s great.
The benefit of these bigger platforms, Twitters, and Facebook and all that, is if you’re in recruiting mode and you’re really trying to earn the attention or earn the right to sell and serve more people. Being on an outpost like that and say, “Hey, our stuff’s over here”, is a good way to do it because people are already there looking for their Candy Crush invites or whatever they do. They might be swayed to take a look at something.
I’ve maintained for a very long time that the best way to do that is with really compelling content so that even if you want something on the outpost, it’s “Come look at the story. I think you might find it very interesting.” And try to explain why it’s interesting. I think that you can earn people’s transition across another bow to somewhere else.
It gets a little more strange when you start thinking about what blockchain is going to do and how blockchain is this on so many levels just a really boring technology because it’s just like a leverage of information, kind of a thing where it passes value across this digital ledger. But there are Blockchain communities already getting built.
Crypto.Kred which I’m an advisor for which is Jodee Rich who did PeopleBrowsr and Empire Avenue and .Kred, and all that, he’s launching this thing where you could actually have a social network on a coin. If I make commemorative coins for the Patrick and Chris reunion 2019 and we hand out 250 of these, there’s an actual hidden secret social network inside of the coins. Wherever the coin goes, you have access to this community. I think that that might be something where there’s a crisscross of the tangible real world in the digital world that allows us to actually port our community to wherever we are.
[00:25:03] Patrick: Are there any platforms that and maybe that’s the answer there, maybe blockchain is not a platform but technology, digital ledger system. Are there any platforms that are outside of the mainstream that you’re paying attention to. Obviously, outside the mainstream would mean not Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, anything we’ve mentioned so far. Is there anything else that’s interesting to you right now platform wise?
[00:25:25] Chris: Everything old is new again and there have been so many companies that have tried so hard and failed to do short video or short audio interaction communities.
[00:25:36] Patrick: What was that one? 12 seconds or 8seconds.me was it or something like that?
[00:25:40] Chris: Something like that and Seismic and Loic Lemar Seismic and a few others. I think that with things like the Amazon Echo and Google Home and flash briefings and all that sort of thing and the fact that these devices actually have call technology built into them now. I could say that thing A-L-E-X-A call grandma and she knows what to do with that.
[00:26:04] Patrick: I like how you spelled it. I’ve got one behind me as well.
[00:26:06] Chris: Because if not we’re going to have some trouble you and me. As are your listeners. Voldemort as I like to call her, she who shall not be named, this opens our mind back to that idea that, “Gee, maybe it would be cool to have a really fast audio back and forth platform.” I don’t know that it ever sticks because audio is so linear, you have to really consume it and then dump it and then consume it and dump it. We scan so much faster with our eyes. I don’t think we’ll ever get back to that speed but I’m paying attention to A-L-E-X-A, as a platform that we may be are going to hear about as a community platform sooner than not. It’s not there yet, I just think it could be.
[00:26:45] Patrick: It’s interesting to think of how voice and the whole digital assistant space, whether your Google Home or your A-L-E-X-A or whatever it is has an impact in that. It’s funny though because I even see sometimes, and like you said, everything old is new, but there are people, even modern platforms are platforms that are currently being launched in there.
Enterprise platforms for community that are if you go to them, you’re paying $40,000, $50,000 $60,000, $100,000. A lot of the customers using that, because it’s more of a business audience, are responding to posts via email, almost like a listserv but it goes into a hosted community. Could be a B2B could be something like a Jive or whatever. They’re literally posting through email and that’s what they like to do because they’re at work, they can easily access their email and respond. It’s interesting because it’s always about more options for the most part and not less.
[00:27:38] Chris: The thing with email as an interfacing tool is it’s fast, it’s responsive, it’s non-obtrusive. It is very often a lot more discreet seeming than some of these things. If you open the new Skype it looks a crazy Candy Crush game or something. There’s all these colors. These blues and pinks and stuff that are like, “We’re hip.” It sure doesn’t look what it used to look like, like you were using a Microsoft product. That’s one reason.
I think we are really digging in as humans, especially once you’re hitting a certain age. We’re just like, “Forget it. I’m done with these platforms.” Which is so strange to me because right after that even much older people are embracing these platforms for the first time. My parents are both the highest level you can be in Pokemon Go. There’s people of a certain age who are out there most definitely thrilled that they have tablets to talk to their grandkids and whatnot but senior leadership at a lot of companies is still really stuck in 1990s tech and doesn’t seem to want to leave.
[00:28:39] Patrick: It’s funny I was looking for a service where I could just send my grandmother something to plug in. She could turn it on and I could send things to it that would appear without her engaging with it at all because it’s just not going to happen. I couldn’t find anything like that. But even the idea of a digital picture frame which is certainly old hat for most of us and those of us talking and listening on this show. I was like, you know what? This is part of just me as an adult and maturing in my life.
I’ve had a girlfriend for a couple years now. I actually take these pictures and I send pictures to my parents and they love these pictures. I was thinking, “It’d be nice if I could send that to my grandmother.” But I can only print it and send it to her.
I went out looking for what can I get that literally just works out of the box already connects to Whispernet or something. She can’t even do WiFi, she has no WiFi at her place. Give me something like that because that technology to her would be like, “Holy mackerel, how can I see? This just happened?” I can call her and here’s a picture on that screen.
I couldn’t find anything like that. I don’t know, maybe the market is not big enough, that sort of thing, so old hat would be game-changing for her. It doesn’t exist yet, so there you go.
[00:29:43] Chris: It’s close though, Patrick. It’s close because of things like really smart mesh networks and all that. The whole thing with the Internet of Things, there’s a big giant problem with it. I’ll say that up front which is that the joke in the community of the Internet of Things is that the S in IoT stands for security; which of course there’s no “S”.
There’s a big news story right now this week that you and I are recording this. It says that a big huge Las Vegas very important database was stolen because hackers broke into a fish tank IoT device, and broke into the network and stole a big important list from a big casino. Like fishtank 11 instead of Ocean’s Eleven, I guess. This is real life but the thing is that if you borrow the fact that security is a big major problem and no one should really panic about it just yet. There is soon to be an Internet that’s so easy, like a Wi-Fi that’s so easy that has just come out of the box and know what it needs to do for your grandmother. Devices that will say, “Oh I know this mesh network because it’s got the one-word secret things she has to type.” The only thing she used has to type is “froggy” and it worked.
That’s coming very soon; that really super easy to use kind of network. People, for instance, Stanley Black and Decker DeWalt, they’re using this on job sites where people can’t sit around and type in Wi-Fi passwords all day, but they might need some really high-end devices and this kind of mesh network setting. Some of this is out there but not really quite distributed, and some of this is just so soon that we’ll have. If you remember WebTV and what they promised a bunch of years ago, it’s going to be close to that but a little more tablet-shaped.
[00:31:27] Patrick: Yes, I had a guest on the show a while back, Mike Creuzer, who leads a development company that does a lot of work with Xenforo, which is a firm software app. Funny thing was he got started managing communities on a WebTV.
[00:31:38] Chris: Wow.
[00:31:39] Patrick: It was like he was literally moderating communities through the Web TV, and boy you know you have to be dedicated to even then to want to do that through a WebTV.
Speaking about outposts and tying it into what we discussed this far is like people, your kids age, my brother’s age and how they’re influenced right now. Obviously social media influencers are a big topic. The apartment building I’m moving into in Hollywood is famous or infamous depending on your perspective, for the fact that it has a bunch of social media influencers who live there. The New York Times did a story about it even.
A lot of young adults with substantial YouTube, Twitter, Instagram followers. I’m old in that building, I’ll just say I’m old. I see people older than me, but I’m old in that building. It’s a lot of the people who are big on Vine and then went to YouTube. Because of that New York Times article, they had this conversation in the building hosted by Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts, about net neutrality. I went to that conversation and I basically explained net neutrality to a lot of people there, but I met some of them. Some of the influencers, these social media influencers, I took a look at their social media profiles, and these kids they really are all in on not owning any of their data. They are literally only on gatekeeper-ish platforms where their subscribers, their followers, their likes are 100% in someone else’s basket. Their websites don’t have anything.
They sell merch, and usually, that’s with someone else too. It’s like they don’t have anything that really ties those billions of subscribers across these platforms, to them in any way. They have a community but they’re totally ignoring that side of it. They are not taking out that insurance policy.
[00:33:22] Chris: This to me is such a crazy opportunity and by the way when you describe where you moved to, I was thinking, “Wow, that could possibly be my own version of Help.”
[00:33:30] Patrick: [laughs] Don’t think I didn’t think about it.
[00:33:34] Chris: I probably watched a bunch of these people down, because I am fairly calm when somebody’s newer YouTube vine tapes, but to me, the plus is that you, of course, you are on a bunch of creatives and that’s fun. The thing is, for so long and continuing to be true, no one thinks of this as a real business. I think of the really old song Money for Nothing by Dire Straits, where basically what Mark Knopfler said, “I was at this client store buying something.”He goes,” Watching this pedestrian and it was,” But he goes, “I was just listening to these people while they’re watching MTV, and they’re like, “That ain’t working, that’s nothing, you just played the guitar and you get some money.”
That whole song is based on that conversation, and of course, it’s ridiculously famous in the 80’s. That’s what grownups think when they think about YouTube stars, and that’s what they think of when they think of esports professionals. The average starting esports professional makes around 68k a year in America.
To me, there’s a massive amount of people I know personally who don’t make 68k a year. In my town, a good majority of these people, the average medium family income in my town is like $46,000, and so they don’t understand that that’s a real job. If you said to someone playing Overwatch was a job, I don’t know that they would know how to make a facial expression to match their incredulity.
To me, to your point about the fact that they’re not using the best possible tools for this, it’s because no one’s teaching them. The best they’re getting is that they’re learning from each other. They are like, “I saw my friend that I like using Patreon and I guess I’ll use that.” That’s the best they have.
I think that there is such an absolute disservice being done to educating entrepreneurship in this country right now for the digital space. We still have a tough time explaining to small towns that you actually don’t need jobs that actually reside in the town where your house is. That you could actually work on the internet anywhere on the earth and just happened to get your WiFi from that town. There’s a schism and I don’t know what’s going to really change it, but I know that there’s a huge reckoning coming where a lot of people are going to suddenly realize, “Oh I need a new way of doing work.”
[00:35:43] Patrick: That’s super true and on the brand side when you talk about that thing, I think about Facebook and how Facebook cuts reach and cuts reach and things happen. Then they take this out of the news feed more and then people go back and want to find a new way to use Facebook. Facebook is a good tool for the XY&Z and maximize it, make it the best you can. But on some level, I also wonder how many times someone has to punch you in the face before you start to look at other alternatives or a little bit deeper data ownership.
With these kids, influencers, whatever, especially at that meeting, we talked about random things. Two things stand out that relate to what you just said. First of all was that they, complain might be an unkind word, but they complain about YouTube the adpocalypse. How YouTube had cut their revenue, how YouTube separates them from their subscribers and the algorithms, et cetera, et cetera and yet none of them talked about leaving YouTube.
People who were at the meeting, other people were like, “Well, you could do this or that.” They are like, “We can’t nothing else has that scale, nothing else works that well blah, blah, blah, blah.” They almost feel even though they were unhappy they didn’t want to go anywhere else.
The second point is just that one of the people there was like, “People don’t get it– To your point about e-Sports and these consequences, “Kids these days they want to be us, they want to grow up and be YouTube stars. They want to have a blog, that’s what they want to do for their living. It’s not it once was where maybe they wanted to be something else.” I think he might have said athletes and of course, kids still want to be athletes. “They see us on YouTube and on Instagram and that’s what they want to be when they grow up.”
[00:37:11] Chris: Absolutely, beyond that to the point about the adpocalypse and all that, with their lack of education what they don’t realize is the YouTube creators are saying they when they’re the one fueling it. They have the vote on this, they just haven’t quite turned hard enough in that direction. It’s a really interesting time. Like I said a little bit earlier when we’re talking about differences of language and inclusiveness and that thing.
For instance, totally randomly, the UK has like more than doubled its vegan population in the last year and it continues to scale and grow so much so that like, Great Britain and the United Kingdom area, farmers and dairy people are really starting to complain. They’re saying, “You can’t call that almond milk anymore because we’re having trouble selling real milk, we just have an over surplus of everything.”
I point to that and I’ll be bringing it back to what we’re just talking about. Voting power, buying power, it’s all changing and people are able to vote with their intent and there’s a lot more social conscience put into this thing now.
There are some companies trying to work to this. There’s some companies trying to say, “I want you to be able to connect with your community in a way that you could serve them better, et cetera.” I never call it, “Your community”, I always say, “The community you have the pleasure to serve,” which I stole from a guy from Red Hat years ago.
The idea being that, if you don’t build your own, put your arms around and embrace these opportunities to connect and all that sort of a thing. Build a brand such that you could bring them to some other platforms, should that happen and then realize that you have the collective voting power to get a big brand and make a change, it’s crazy.
We’re seeing a lot of consumer experiences like that. Arby’s, I just talked about veganism, Arby’s is like, “We love meat.” Wendy’s discovered itself, at least in social networks, as being very snarky and it’s really pushing this huge positive brand impression on a burger place that is forever struggled to be number three out of the burger joints. There’s still a dark age right now where these up and comers are not really aware. This goes back to my outpost thing.
I think you should have your own say with your own content but it would be crazy to bet against YouTube right now. Pushing more often to have someone land on your home base to then find your YouTube content would be the smart move but we’ll see how long it takes for people to get to there.
[00:39:39] Patrick: Well, Chris it has been so much fun to chat with you and catch up a little bit. Thank you so much for making time for us.
[00:39:45] Chris: Patrick, my pleasure. Thanks for having me by.
[00:39:47] Patrick: We have been talking with Chris Brogan, CEO of Owner Media Group. Find him at chrisbrogan.com and check out Game Puncher, where Chris provides guidance for adults and teens about digital culture at gamepuncher.com. For the transcript of this episode plus highlights and links that we mentioned, please visit communitysignal.com.
Community Signal is produced by Karn Broad and I’m happy to say that we have a new addition to our team Carol Benovic-Bradley, who is our editorial lead. Welcome to the team Carol, we’re so glad to have you. With that, I’ll say goodbye for now.
If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.