The Counterintuitive CEO

Davos 2008 Part Five: Social Sigma

January 31, 2008

I was involved in a session on social computing — Facebook, MySpace, etc. I always bring Forrester data to Davos — in an attempt to cut through the slugs of opinion/speculation emanating from all concerned. For U.S. people on-line, here’s what percentage go to each of the following sites at least once a month: 31% YouTube, 29% MySpace, 22% Wikipedia, 8% Facebook, 3% Friendster, 3% LinkedIn, 1% Second Life. In every major country in Europe, MySpace is in the top three most popular social sites — Facebook is only in the top three in the U.K. The social computing elite who populated my session beat me up about the data — they all think Facebook is much bigger than the data suggests. My theory is that Facebook is the white collar place to be, and MySpace is too blue collar for the elite…

Loic Le Meur, the Olympian blogger/socialista, was our moderator. I asked him why he was so social (by 8:30 P.M. he had already sent 12 short messages to his on-line friends — via a technology called Twitter). He had a good answer: he uses his social networks to hone his ideas — the smart ones get perfected, the bad ones get shot down. The next day I asked Vinod Khosla, the venture capitalist, what he gets from blogging. Same answer — its a way to get instant feedback on his ideas.

I call this phenomenon Social Sigma. You’ve heard of Six Sigma. That’s the discipline that companies use to perfect products through process improvement. Social Sigma is using the continual feedback from your customers to perfect your products. More on this in an upcoming post.

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