See a Kindle in your city: curated “serendipity”

It’s quite difficult to fully describe the e-reading experience without letting someone hold the device, balance it their hands, turn pages and marvel at the type. With “See a Kindle in your Area”, Amazon is trying to source help from its community by asking existing Kindle owners to make them, and their Kindles, available for prosective buyers to roadtest.

This is an interesting way to tap consumer evangelists and let them do the sell job for you. Normally I’d expect this kind of tactic to work best when the experience actually becomes better when more people get into it (as in, i’ll recruit people because it’s good for me). But I suppose there are two things at play here. One, people who have bought Kindles want to believe that they’ve made the right choice and at the right time (ie post-purchase_rationalization) so it helps substantiate that by being provided an opportunity to convince other people of the Kindle’s merits. And two, I suppose there is actually an advantage for the Kindle-owning consumer in seeing Amazon succeed so that the book marketplace grows in content.

Either way, crowd-sourcing demonstrations of goods sold online is a neat strategy. It could be worthwhile Amazon exploring the formalisation of this member-get-member program by offering book credits if you bring someone into the fold. “Hey, wanna come over and touch my Kindle?” Mmm…

Go find a Kindle to poke: See a Kindle in Your Area

Viral node location, location, location

In a communications world where the viral imperative is assumed to significantly diminish a brand’s required media spend (media strategy = go viral), a lot of thought has gone into identifying the most influential spreaders. There are many different aspects that can contribute to an individual’s “likelihood to effectively spread”. In specific industries or on certain subject matters these might include the degree to which an individual perceives himself/herself as a voice of authority on the subject (or, hey, even actual authority). Or it might be more about degree of visibility of the spreader’s online voice (Pagerank, Twitterank etc).

But of course one long-time prevailing assumption has been that an individual’s level of connectedness¬† (friends, followers, inbound links etc) is the strongest determinant of influence. A new piece of research, largely based around looking at the 5.5 million members of Livejournal.com, has added a very interesting twist to this. As discussed on Technologyreview.com, Maksim Kitsak at Boston University has revealed that his research showed that “the most influential spreaders in a social network do not correspond to the best connected people or to the most central people”. Rather than showing that people of the centre of a network with the most connections are the most influential, his research demonstrated that:

“… if a hub exists at the end of a branch at the periphery of a network, it will have a minimal impact in the spreading process through the core of the network. By contrast, “a less connected person who is strategically placed in the core of the network will have a significant effect that leads to dissemination through a large fraction of the population.”

It does kind of seem obvious when you read it like that but if you have a methodology to visualise influence in a given network, this new emphasis on location should affect where you concentrate your communication and reach out effort (read: tactical insertions.

Go read more: http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/24748/?ref=rss&a=f

And the complete research piece: http://arxiv.org/abs/1001.5285.