Liquid Networks, XBox and the power of the “content highway”

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on December 10, 2010

I was recently listening to my teenage daughters talk about how they access content (not their words) and I realized that two important concepts are colliding, leading to new opportunities for today’s company. 

The first is the concept of “liquid networks“, which I’ve written about before.  A liquid network refers to how consumers gravitate towards the content they desire.  Water will move towards areas of convenience.  Open a hole in a dam and watch what happens.  Consumers are no different.  Create a new way to access your content and watch what happens.  Said another way, consumers are “loyal” to places online where they can access what they want in the most convenient manner…you change, they change.  The river continually learns how to bend in new ways.  

The second concept is about knowing your “content highway”.  If we think about the country we are in today, there are many roads, highways and dirt paths.  Online, it’s increasingly complicated.  Consumers want us to make it easy for them to “travel’ through this content highway.  Companies that limit the number of roads will simply have less traffic.  Companies that seem to have a store at every exit and help you navigate your favorite roads will be your relevant partner.  Pretty simple concept.

Here’s an example of how it plays out. 

As I was watching a group of teenage girls play on X-Box (Call of Duty, Black Ops, believe it or not), they did the following in the course of an hour.  Communicated with friends on Facebook, did a few texts, talked about which movie they were going to watch next, downloaded a few songs and played one of the hotter video games on the market today.  All on X-Box. 

I asked why they do this all on X-Box and they looked at me sort of strange.  My youngest daughter said “Dad, we just use TV when we need to”.  Her version of a “duh” moment.  They do like TV, by the way and watch alot of it, but it’s not where they experience life with their friends.  TV is  about sitting still.  X-Box is for the friends to talk, learn, laugh and use all forms of communication they care about (texting, talking, viewing, listening, playing). 

Google TV is about to join X-Box and help expand what can be done, but let me get to the key point.

I believe the lesson here for companies is very clear.  Content is super important and the leading content producing companies are going to be experts in determining how their consumers are consuming content, so they can be there every time.  Companies that don’t take the time to understand this consumption fragmentation network or “content highway” will lose share.   They will be the equivalent of the company that puts up lots of billboards on the highway, but never really engages with us.   And for those companies who are making really cool TVs or phones or other devices, just remember that it ultimately comes down to the right content and the ability for the consumer to do everything they believe is important in one place (text, check social media sites, consume any type of content).   “Everything” means everything the consumer wants to do, not what you want them to do.  Key point. 

You limit, you lose. 

Here are the big questions.

Do you study your consumers well enough to understand their liquid networks? 

Do you know the favorite ways that your consumers access your content (or want to) and are you there today as a major player?

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. I enjoy the art of observing my kids in action too. Recently my son was watching a football game, one of the only things he watches on TV, and he used his laptop to keep up with the stats, his phone to text message and take photos of friends that were watching the game with him. Then he uploaded the pics to his Facebook page for other friends who weren’t in the room for them to be part of the experience.

    My take away – the media has changed and our kids are totally leading the way. You don’t have to “be” at the event to “be” part of it, the experience can be shared regardless of your geographic location.

    Thanks for another fun post.


  2. Great insights !
    My question is what device or website are the 20-30 somethings using,the 40-50 year olds ,or the 60-70 yearolds?
    How much content do they want? Should it always be entertaining or just facts?

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