Monday, June 29, 2009

The Social Media Incentive

Even infrequent visitors to this blog must recognize by now that I'm involved with, an online travel and social networking site. That's how I describe it, shorthand. Longhand, of course, the travel gets emphasized -- tell us about the places you've visited and show us your photos -- and the social media part (everybody here wil read your stuff and comment on it and share ideas, et cetera) gets backhanded.

I've got it backwards.

Uncharted's competition doesn't exist in similar websites, nor even with sites like National Geographic's Traveler. It exists with the ubiquity of the Internet, with blogs, with Flickr, and the other social media sites where there are already millions of people reading your stories and looking at your photos. We have met the enemy, and it is us.

So what do we do about it? I don't know. I'm just thinking aloud here.

I remain optimistic that Uncharted can deliver on what we promise. But we have to figure out how to make the social element primary and the sharing of photos and stories secondary, because it's the sociality of these sites -- Facebook, Flickr, blogs, et cetera -- that give people the incentive to publish. IF there's no crowd there, why bother -- especially when it's easier to put up your own stuff on your own blog or your Facebook page?

This is why I want to start an effort to reach out to the 100-odd people who've already signed upat Uncharted. They signed up for a reason, but for many other reasons, they're not really active in posting new material. Part of it is because it's time-consuming. To be good, we can't just expect people to wing in stuff off the cuff, like on this blog. But I'm not sure we, as a company, are reaching out to the people who've already expressed an interest. Got to figure out how to do that without sounding desperate. That's the thing.

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