For Bitcoin to hit the mainstream, it needs to address its gender issue


image: freshphoto

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are finally becoming more well known with there being a Dragons Den Bitcoin episode, more investors are paying it attention and it is increasing in price every month. It seems like only a matter of time before it breaks through into the mainstream and everyone knows about it – but what could potentially stop it from reaching the success it is predicted to have?

Bitcoin has a woman problem that, unless solved, will keep it from hitting the mainstream as a medium of exchange, at least in the US. You can tell because there are useful websites similar to popping up providing useful information for those who are interested in getting into Bitcoin. The following conversation is primarily aimed at the particular challenge Bitcoin faces in getting to mainstream adoption, and is not focused on the speculative rises and falls that have dominated the news cycles for the past few weeks in particular. For those who are interested in trading and cryptocurrency investment, you can find more here, but for now, discussed here will be a social issue rather than an economical one.

Right now (Dec 2013), the overwhelming majority of activity in the Bitcoin space is dominated by males. In doing a review of the market for consumer activity, and then comparing it to the market at large, it is clear that there is a significant gender gap that will need to be filled before Bitcoin can hit the mainstream as a payment mechanism in any meaningful way. Although all web statistics of this type are prone to some margin of error, these are certainly directionally correct. Read more at Coindale.

Talking ’bout my motivation

By way of a path through this whitepaper from Limelight networks and Digital Clarity Group, found an interesting presentation from this month’s Inbound Marketing Summit (#IMS13) that was created by Allen Bonde from DCG. Not only does Bonde’s presentation echo research we are seeing from the likes of Forrester and others that points to the reality of video channels becoming an increasingly important asset in the portfolio of B2B marketers, it also brings up an interesting model on the steps from engagement to action in the medium. In particular, Bonde outlines three phases of note: Inform, Connect and Motivate.

  • Inform: Tailored, simple and relevant content results in initial attention and gives the organization the opportunity to develop a deeper relationship

  • Connect: If your prospects, customers and influencers are spending time on social channels, your stories need to be reachable from social networks as well

  • Motivate: Simple, smart, responsive offers result in action

These three phases are critical, in my opinion. The things that drive initial engagement are either things that are educational or entertaining. (They’re the types of things that get saved or passed around.) As such, for a B2B marketer seeing to become a trusted advisor to her customers, skewing content toward the informational is a sensible route to take. Similarly, one needs to fish where the fish are. With social networks dominating the usage landscape, an organization simply can’t ignore their potential customers.

Which brings us to “motivation.” (And a brief mini-rant.)

As anyone who has been within earshot of me in the past couple of years can attest, I think it’s critical that we all actively work to end the process of “engagement for engagement’s sake.” On that note, “engagement” is a weak metric. In and of itself, engagement is near-worthless. What matters is the action that’s taken as a result of the engagement. That action can be the “next step” in the buying cycle, or it can be a request for further information, or it can be a phone call. But it needs to be something. The “counting metrics” don’t count anymore.

Check out the rest of Allen’s presentation here:

How a meme spreads on LinkedIn

I always find it interesting when things get used in unexpected ways, like using a nutcracker as a bottle opener or using rice to dry out a smartphone that got soaked. So when I saw that Koka Sexton had run an experiment that sought to understand how a meme could travel on LinkedIn, I was intrigued.

What Koka did was share an on-brand and topical image into his LinkedIn network which, frankly, isn’t something one sees every day. In this case, the image was a riff on the Liam Neeson “Taken” character.


A couple of weeks ago, we linked to an article about how scientists had solved the fundamental problem in viral distribution of information. The research showed that seeding information into key groups in a network could significantly affect at what velocity and distance information spread throughout the network. Koka found that by sharing this type of content as a LinkedIn update, as opposed to the more typical link to external content, he was able to have an initial interaction with many more individuals than he typically would.

Perhaps even more interestingly, however, was Koka’s recognition that certain individuals in his network act as bridges between different parts of his overall network. (Social network analysis researchers measure this concept being a bridge or a broker as an individual’s “betweenness centrality.) In this case, he saw that many of the links to his third-degree network went through one of his colleagues and once the meme “jumped” into this other part of his network, it continued to propagate. This also showsthe strength of weak ties.

Once someone interacted with the meme, the most important thing was to take some form of action to take the first step in turning what could be a one-off engagement into the start of a business relationship. Four ways to do that included:

•   Liking their interaction

•   Thanking the individual for their interaction

•   Messaging the individual directly

•   Connecting with the individual on LinkedIn

“The idea isn’t to create the content, get engagement and then start pitching your product. The idea is that you share great things and then use the engagement to expand your network.” – Koka Sexton, LinkedIn

In reading the original post, it clearly cast the network that the meme traveled through into an explicit model of “1st, 2nd, 3rd degree connections.” While I know that’s how LinkedIn technically refers to individuals in the system, I don’t think I’d ever really used that frame as actively. When I look at the world, I typically didn’t go through the mental action of “do I know this person, or do I know someone who knows this person, or are they further away than that?”

A few key takeaways for me:

•   I’m definitely going to start to look for more instances where LinkedIn has worked as a medium through which information can travel, and not solely a place to build connections.

•   Need to do some more thinking on this “1st, 2nd and 3rd degree” framing of the world

•   Liam Neeson still kinda spooks me out a little bit with his intensity

What do you think? Have you seen other examples where this type of content achieved significant distribution through LinkedIn, as opposed to the more obvious venues such as Facebook or Twitter?

Bonus link: The voiceover is pretty funny

Mac Lethal fast-raps the news

(I also wanted to try out the Facebook embed post thing, just to check it out.)

This Week’s Social Business Jam

DocsearlsA number of luminaries participated on this week’s W3C Social Business Jam, including Doc Searls (pictured), Alex “Sandy” Pentland and the inventor of the web itself, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. A jam is “an online conversation among leaders in business, government and technology about the current state of social business, the future role that social technologies can play in improving the bottom line, and how social technology should evolve in order to support business objectives.”

There were a number of deep conversations, which generated over 1,100 posts on the topic of social business. The key issues explored were:

  • Mobile And Social
  • Business Process Meets Social
  • Identity Management for Social
  • Information Management
  • Seamless Integration of Social
  • Metrics For Social Business

Of the topics covered, a few rich seams emerged. Doc noted that “way back in 1995 we got hooked on the cookie as a way for sites to keep track of our relationships with them. This, along with the login/password ceremony, cemented client-server in place as the default for e-commerce (and everything else) on the Web. This not only legitimized dependent submissive-dominant relationships, but made every site into a silo, and contained our imagination about What Could Be Done as well. This is why every ‘solution,’ it seems, is yet another site/service, each of which is its own silo, even if it has open APIs, uses open standards and the rest of it.”

This is a notable point. If you contrast the key pieces of social media infrastructure today, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, or internal collaboration tools like Yammer and’s Chatter, all are their own proprietary systems. Contrast this approach to the approach of the most social of all online tools, email, or even the web and the internet itself. In all of the latter cases, a handful of fundamental, interoperable standards have enabled a thousand flowers to bloom. Can you imagine Facebook and Twitter and Google working together to insure that their systems interoperate? Fat chance. (In fact, Facebook just killed one more bit of openness, by deprecating the ability to import RSS feeds from one’s own blog into Facebook Notes.)

In the same thread as Doc’s thinking above, Charles Oppenheimer, the CEO of Prizzm (and a great, great dude who is working on “Reverse CRM” which dovetails nicely with ProjectVRM), noted that “through the history of markets, which I suppose is a lot briefer than human history, markets were the place to be social on a daily basis, and defined our interactions with the community. Especially in rural places, that is the hub. But if we work in the ‘enterprise,’ we are in the business of taking something straightforward, exchange of goods and services – into something that scales, massive, and abstract. Goodbye social, and community — and I guess that is why the web/social technology seems to be a big deal. Bringing the old stuff back.”

This is an important point, in my opinion. Social business, when done right, enables us to play both sides of the fence. We, wearing our “customer” hats, can engage with each other at a human level and, when done right, enterprises can also organize their people and processes in such a way that enables connection with customers at this same human level. It’s not an either-or any more, where interactions with enterprises need to be filled with jargon and a deflection of the “human” in order to operate at scale. Instead, smart businesses are re-tooling their processes in such a way that they can both interact at a human level and do it at scale.

You can check out everything from the Social Business Jam until December 31, 2011, at which time the online archive will no longer be available. (You’ll need to register for the site, which is free.) And of course, if we’re talking about jamming, there is only one sound track that matters…

Google+ Launches Brand Pages

GoogleplusThe big news today is that Google+ has finally announced their long-awaited brand pages with a blog post here. The top line, from Google:

For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you. Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face. All you need to do is start sharing, and you'll soon find the super fans and loyal customers that want to say hello.

A number of pages are already available (see below), but any organization will soon be able to join the community.

A few good examples of brand pages can be found here: Examples of Google+ brand pages

While the overall brand page implementation is new, it is still imperative to secure your organization's presence on the Google+ platform, if nothing else to prevent others from infringing on your organization's brand. The brand signup page is located here: (Do note that Google is incrementally letting new brands onto the system, so it may take a short time before your'e able to successfully log in and secure your organization's name.)

For a deeper dive, here are the differences between individual profiles on Google+ and Google + brand pages:

Steve Jobs Tribute in Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine

Normally, Businessweek comes on Friday. For some reason this week, the magazine showed up today instead. I didn’t think much of it when I walked out to the driveway, actually. There it was, folded up in its weatherproof bag, just like usual.

I brought it inside and opened it up, and saw that they featured a tribute to Steve Jobs on the cover. It was spare and gorgeously typeset, with nothing but the title of the magazine, the iconic photo of the salt-and-pepper Jobs, and “Steve Jobs 1955-2011.” (link)

Photo 5

I opened up the magazine and started to flip through it, and was immediately engrossed. The first sixteen pages were a slideshow of moments from Jobs’ life juxtaposed with individuals engaging with Apple products, and engaging in life. All of these were overlaid with quotes of his, some familar, some new.

Photo 4

As I went through the issue, I honestly was pulled further and further into the stories and the images, and was completely enthralled. I shared it with Lisa, who was similarly taken in. Other than the photos and stories of Jobs’ life, there was nothing else between the covers.

Photo 6

I can’t clearly articulate how well done, how beautiful, the work is that was done in this magazine. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. Yes, it says it’s the “October 10 – October 16” edition of a weekly magazine, but it feels much more like coffee table book, a biography, a memorial. A tribute.

Then I realized something…Jobs passed away on Wednesday, and this issue showed up overnight between Friday and Saturday, meaning that they must have scrambled mightily, stopped the presses on the issue they had planned, and delivered it within 48 hours.

There was one more thing.

I flipped back through the magazine, going from cover to cover to make sure I hadn’t missed something. I went back and looked at every page, and my suspicion was confirmed.

There was not a single ad in the issue. Not on a cover, not on a flap, not on a page, not even a classified. Not only did they scrap (or at least defer) everything in the issue they were planning on running, but they did it in the classiest way possible.

Phenomenal job, Businessweek team. Really, really well done.



Google+ for Customer and Brands: Scenario Planning Summary [video]

On August 18, 2011, a group including Tom Guarriello, Matthew Mahoney, Tim Bursch, Sean Bohan, Jeris JC Miller, Nancy White and Christopher Carfi held a Google+ Hangout to discuss different scenarios that were enabled by Google+’s announcement that it was working on capabilities for brands within G+, from both customer and brand points-of-view. The setup for the conversation is here:

The overall conversation was 60min in length, and this video is the summary and wrapup of the conversation, about four minutes in total.


Interesting note: With Google+ Hangouts, while images look “correct” to others on the hangout, local video is mirrored. That is, left is right and right is left. As such, the whiteboard in this video is flip-flopped. If you go to, you can see the layout of the grid in a non-flipped manner.

Google+ Scenario Planning for Customers and Brands

What: Google+ Scenario Planning for Customers and Brands
When: Thursday, August 18th, 10am PDT / 1pm EDT
Where: Via Google+ Hangout (
Who: Anyone interested in actively participating
How: Just show up at the URL noted above with your strategy cap on
Host: +Christopher Carfi, VP Social Business Strategy, Ant's Eye View
Cost: Your engaged participation*

(If you're interested in participating, please leave a comment at

Google+ is adding users at a remarkable rate. A recent estimate from Cnet pegged the Google+ population at over 25 million and growing at an estimated 1 million users a day. And where there are users, there will be brands that want to connect with them.

Some brands such as Mashable and Ford jumped on the service almost immediately, leading to a confusing period where Google asked brands not to participate yet, as it was "designed for people, not for brands." Google has now stated that they are working on offerings for brands, but neither an official launch date nor details of what these brand-friendly aspects of the service will be have been made public. (Some brands, such as +Ford Motor Company, now have "test accounts," however.)

This leaves both customers and brands in a quandary. Especially on the brand side, the reward for smart decision-making and first-mover advantage can be huge. But what to do? And when?

Strategic thinking in environments containing a high degree of uncertainty can be done; there are tools in the toolbox for exactly this type of situation. One particular tactic I've found useful when dealing with uncertainty of this sort is scenario planning. There are many different implementations of scenario planning; the one I use is a modified version of the one described here and originally pioneered by Peter Schwartz at GBN. Here's one that I did for the Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) space in 2006-07; it seems to be holding up pretty well:

On Thursday, August 18th, let's have a Google+ Hangout in order to do "Google+ Scenario Planning for Customers and Brands." 

So, I think the two big questions for this scenario are the following:

Q1: Will the tools that Google provides be more aligned with customers, or with brands?
Q2: Will Google be mainly trying to enable interactions with billion dollar brands or SMBs?

This gives us a landscape that looks like the framework below.


What we'll do during the conversation is attempt to paint a picture of what the world would look like if we pulled the scenario out to each of the corners of this model, and create a template that can help to guide our decision-making.

It's important to note that we are explicitly NOT trying to "predict the future" using this technique. Instead, what we are trying to do is understand the forces that are at work in this scenario, and create a set of guidelines that can aid in our decision making if and when we see any one, or more, of these scenarios coming to fruition.

I hope you'll join me in this experiment. See you on Thursday right here.

UPDATE 8/24/11: Thanks to everyone who participated in this conversation! Summary video of the session is now live here: Google+ for Customers and Brands: Scenario Planning Summary