Sunday, March 1, 2009


An incredible phenomenon has emerged and is evolving thanks in large part to folks like HP, Dell, Starbucks, Oracle, Apple & Network Solutions. It's called "Suggestioneering" (registered trademark).

Suggestioneering is product development in which communities of people, or key influencers, gather to share ideas around a product and make recommendations relating to its scalability, promotion and/or utility. In a nutshell, you make suggestions to your peers, or people you don't necessarily know but have something in common with, about the products you use, would like to use, or know about. These could be mash-up concepts, or quite simply basic product ideas. You become the point of primary influence based on your behavioral traits and your content preferences. 

This is already happening within social media. These communities are rapidly taking shape, and suggestioneering merely formalizes and aggregates this community activation to the extent that the information you seek, and the products you endorse, are tied directly to quantifiable experiences you've had, or indirectly been a part of. Essentially, you ascribe an experience around or tied to a product that gives it the ultimate contextual relevance and utility. That experiential data is then indexed and organized in such a way that enables the search process to deliver suggestions to you and your peer group instantaneously.

Here's where things get really interesting. Technographic analysis is bringing us to a new level of targeting. Peer to peer relationships are forming between people who have profiles that were previously considered to be unlikely or unmatchable, and are now driven by common interest variables that not only activate the intent to act (such as making a purchase), but demonstrate actions that supercede age or economics. This means we have opportunities to mine powerful data without having to violate individual privacy. All we have to do is ask for information, and do so in an intelligent and aspirational way. Social media, in combination with other forms of innovative media, communications methods and technologies, allow us to have this access.

One such combination of social media and digital communication sharing is, and will continue to take shape in the form of, the semantic web (artificial intelligence). This is where language or rhetoric, and its choices in use, will create and determine new variables for suggestioneering. The remarkable thing is that these variables will constantly change...because they have to. And want to. This means that your words and subsequent actions are indexed and reconfigured to that you not only build your own sphere of influence, but that this sphere will mash up and cross over into other spheres of influence, providing the most qualitative, as well as quantifiable, information sharing experience imaginable. Just imagine if ex-New York Times columnist and linguistics philosopher William Safire had this kind of information to analyze, tell stories and create dialogues with.

Stay tuned as I expand on this topic with friend and colleague Jon Samsel, SVP of Online Marketing at Bank of America...

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