The Liquid Network: What it is and why it matters

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on May 31, 2009

Water has amazing properties.  It is in continuous movement.  When it is “organized”, it can move together with tremendous force. But it can also evaporate, condense and fall down as precipitation.  If you try to pick it up, it simply slides out of your hand. In many respects, water decides what water wants to do.  It appears to be predictable in its patterns, but it can surprise you at anytime.

Same for customers online.

We are entering the age of the Liquid Network after wallowing through the age of the Illiquid Network….one filled with catalogs that you get whether you like it or not…emails that repeatedly show up in your inbox…ads that pop up in front of you…..all ways that companies decided to communicate to you…at you…..

In the world of Liquid Networks, the game is different.  We can access the world’s greatest operating system – the web – by ourselves.  We can access content of our choice wherever or whenever we want.  We are starting to decide more and more how we want to be reached by companies and each other.  Our loyalty to communities can last over time, but if there is a reason to move, we move.   We constantly evolve who is in our network.  Essentially, we are in control of our own liquid networks and we decide how they work best for us.    And we don’t hesitate to change them.

I believe there are five key principles of the Liquid Network.

#1 – Word of Mouth Drives Interest & Action – whether we know it or not, we generally like to see what is cool.  We may decide on our own which news is worth listening to, which communities are fun to join, which apps we talk about, but we also naturally gravitate to what is interesting, new and hot, according to our peers.  Word of mouth matters online.  If the content is interesting, we listen and learn.  We count on our friends to share what is important.  And we adjust our content flows as our needs change.  We’re not locked in to a pattern that we are aware of.   We’re fluid and we’re listening.

#2 – We Decide Who We Listen to at Work – we used to be limited to what our department manager told us in conference rooms or via memos or other closed systems.   Now, with Yammer and IM and internal blogs and forums, we decide who is relevant to our work.  We decide who we will listen to….and we don’t overtly tell anyone this is the case, since we don’t need to.  We morph our network based on our needs, not based on the mandate from headquarters.

#3 – Our Learning Habits Change with Technology – as video has matured, we have decided that YouTube is a great place to have fun, learn and share.  It’s why YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine.  We may not realize it consciously, but we can absorb content far quicker visually than we can via the written word.  We’ve decided that twitter is useful, so it takes off.  We decide what is successful and make it happen by our actions.

#4 – We Decide Which Communities Matter – not so long ago, many folks said Facebook would never attract people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  However, people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s never heard this and have flocked to Facebook.  The Liquid Network doesn’t listen to prognosticators, they listen to their friends.

#5 – We are Technology Agnostic, but Results Driven – we don’t care about the name of the software or platform.  We simply want our content in the device we want it in whenever we are ready for it.  We’re loyal to getting the right content and we’ll go wherever that is.  Results matter more than the name of the technology.

Liquid Networks will change based on personal desire, peer influence and technology.  They will change far faster than the average company can plan against.  Only folks who are actively involved online each and every day will see the subtle changes at work as the networks they are participating in change.

The reality is we’re all part of Liquid Networks and that’s the way we roll.

All the best, Bob

By: Bob Pearson

Bob is the President of W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies. He is an author, frequent speaker and instructor for Rutgers center for management development. After the success of his book Pre-Commerce, Bob is currently working on a new book on the future of media titled Storytizing that will be available in 2014. Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function -- an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. He also serves on a variety of Boards in health and technology. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board and being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as chair and vice chair of the emerging technology fund for the State of Texas.

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2 Responses

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  1. Good, thought-provoking post Bob – I saw the original comment over on Web Strategist.
    I have another thought to add: Liquid Network participants want to ‘own’ their profiles and data. New contracts need to be developed – the days of “by agreeing to the terms and conditions you confirm that any content published by you is the property of Evil Social Networking Co and will remain so forever and ever, and we will do with it what we like” are over.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Liquid Networks, XBox and the power of the “content highway” | Common Sense linked to this post on December 10, 2010

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