As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, one of the concepts that most intrigues me about the new world of social media is the idea of socially driven decision support. I’ve covered the topic in at least one, two, three posts. To this point though, I’ve mostly covered the future of socially driven decision support. I’ve talked about the day when socially driven decision support will be right so often that we’ll begin to trust it. The day when Amazon knows what kind of suit I want because of the suits my colleagues, my friends and myself have purchased or “liked” in the past. What I haven’t spent much time on is current methods of socially driven decision support; today, that means the leaderboard.
It’s a primitive, but surprisingly effective form of decision support. Think of the number of places that you have seen the “most downloaded apps of the day/week/month”, “most watched videos of the day/week/month”, “most popular dresses of the season”, “The trending topics are”, etc… the thing that needs to be grappled with is how you attack this particular phenomenon as a a marketer. I think it is a simple (though not particularly easy) process. First, you must identify the leaderboard you want to top. Then you must figure out the way to the top.
One of the few case studies I’m aware of is Twitter. About a week ago Fred Wilson suggested on his blog that one of the reasons Twitter has attempted to consolidate the number of clients in the world is so that it can ascend the “Top Downloads” list on iPhone. This is a strategy that makes sense. I recently pointed out on the blog that while 87% of the nation is aware of Twitter, only 7% are using it. In that post, one of the reasons I speculated this was true was because of confusion around what client to load. Twitter has solved that, by purchasing Tweetie. The result is the number one spot on Apple’s “Popular iPhone Downloads” list. This will doubtlessly result in more then a few people saying, “oh look, it’s that Twitter thing, I guess I’ll give it a try.”
While not everyone can pull off a move like Twitter’s to try to top such a critical leaderboard, it’s an important technique for many of the big boys to at least consider. It’s also something worth considering when you look at the value of a tech startup. What leaderboards is it on? How could it help a suitor get an enviable position?