Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 8, 200710:49 PM

Andy Nulman Asks If Folksonomy-Driven Online Tags Can Work In The Real World?

I just love the daily Blog blasts that Andy Nulman pops out over at Pow! Right Between The Eyes. You can tell that he's able to leverage his journalism background along with comedy (he ran the famed Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival) and his tech wisdom (he recently sold eighty-five percent of his mobile entertainment business, Airborne Entertainment, for over one hundred million dollars) into powerful prose about creating surprise in all of your marketing initiatives.

In today's post, Tag, You're Who?, Andy says that:

"... the next killer app is a way to 'tag' people live-and-in-person the way we do photos on flickr, websites on del.icio.us, videos on YouTube and...well, you get the idea... Look folks, I'm no tech wizard. I don't know how to do this unobtrusively so that your characteristics and our common history pops up on my cellphone, on my Blackberry or in the ether whenever you get within Bluetooth range of me. But someone smart out there oughta be able to figure this out and make it commercially viable...This could be bigger than email."

Where's the real opportunity? Is it in bringing over the power of Folksonomy and tagging into the real world, or is it more about making sure that every single interaction we have with people is not just a sales opportunity, but a compelling marketing play?

Social media is heating up the online channel and Marketers can't forget that creating a lasting impression in face-to-face situations (think about Norm from the old sitcom Cheers) is becoming more challenging (as Andy so illustratively demonstrates). I don't think it can be facilitated by simply "tagging" people in real life. I think the real opportunities lie in individuals developing their personal brands as strongly as they are in online environments, so the people they're meeting remember them.

Whether it's Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace or any other online social network of choice, it's the consumer's job to spin the idea of "it's all about who you know," into the more powerful concept of, "it's all about who knows you." As we race to build our online social networks, we're all too focused on quantity over quality (I know, this is a discussion point I've raised before here, but humor me). You see, we don't need live tagging. We need individuals to create compelling and memorable personal brands that are channel agnostic. Individuals working on their personal brand won't be able to create true equity if they're simply slaves to a numbers game. Randomly requesting friends on Facebook is quickly becoming the social equivalent of going to a Chamber of Commerce event and handing out business cards to anyone who will take one.

Tagging is not about simply tagging our own content (although we all should be doing that). The true power of a folksonomy-driven environment is how the masses tag one piece of content and how those tags look to the next person who comes in contact with that piece of content (and, how they subsequently tag it themselves). It's simply a better process than trying to develop and integrate a computer-generated algorithm to do the job.

Tagging people is a damn fine idea (it made me laugh, think and even write this post). My guess is that the big win (and Andy, your ability to remember more people) will come as personal brands really take shape. We've planted the seeds and individuals are succeeding in many online channels, but now the challenge will be taking it from online to offline and making it work.

The real Pow! Right Between The Eyes here would be being so memorable that people like Andy come up to you instead of the opposite.

We've spent the past ten years-plus trying to figure out how to bring marketing and branding concepts to the online world, now we're grappling with how to take online success and transfer those wins to the real world.

Marketing and personal branding is going to become very interesting in the next little while.

You can read Andy's full post here: Pow! Right Between The Eyes - Tag, You're Who?

By Mitch Joel

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