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Why Ashton Kutcher Doesn't Signal The End of Days & Rocks
Forbes is funny. I love their coverage of the digital revolution, but journalists are all about the zero sum. You would think with the tanning most print media are taking that the new "AND instead of OR" journalism may have taken hold. Not so much as it turns out. 

This article is about how on of my favorite tools,, has half a chance to create a "smarter web". Forbes draws the inevitable "end of days" comparison to how celebrity obsessed our culture has become. Surely that petty obsession is BAD. 

Not so much. Yes Asthon Kutcher has millions of followers and why not. Kutcher only seems stupid. Any way you cut it he made more money than I did last year (not that money is necessarily a sign of grace). Kutcher embraced social media from the start and so "stupid is as stupid does" :). 

Forbes is asking the wrong question in the wrong (i.e. old) way. Forbes assumes that NUMBERS matter. I sold my house on Friday in order to put that cash into my Story of Cancer Foundation (501c3 nonprofit created to help create innovative tech to #CureCancer  ). 

I had ONE person look at my house and he paid within 10% of my asking price despite the bank not valuing my property nearly as much as he or I do (banks are playing both sides dumping property that lowers the "selling" price for everyone and then valuing our properties below market). 

The fact that Ashton Kutcher has millions of followers in no way stops me from finding my tribe or my tribe finding me. The web and #InterentMarketing  are NOT zero sum. The web is artistic and it changes all the time.

When I was learning to paint, something I never learned nearly well enough, my professor taught me to hold ideas in my mind that would seem to contradict, to suspend judgement. The Forbes article linked here draws an artificial line in the web's evolving sand. All hope is lost, the article proclaims, because Kutcher has millions of followers. 

Wrong question asked in the wrong way. The right question, especially in the context of evaluating a cool tool such as, is are tribes forming, are we finding each other with increasing ease and speed. The answer to the right question must be a firm YES!

So NO Ashton Kutcher's millions of followers don't signal the end of days and a need to have lots of bottled water and soup in the basement :). 
Phil Buckley's profile photoMartin W. Smith's profile photoMark Traphagen's profile photoPaul Chaney's profile photo
Only tangentially related, but this is why the initial dependence of Google's new "in-depth articles" search results feature on only big name publishers like Forbes is such fail for me. On many topics the "in-depth" article from those publishers is not really the best authoritative source. But we're hearing from Googlers that eventually they will bring other sources into the feature, so there's hope...
+Mark Traphagen Here is why I am not worried. The book Linked by Barabasi says the mathematical destiny of any content network is to HUB UP, to allocate increasing value in those areas of influence that create efficiency (as you are becoming for #googleplus  my friend :). 

We see this tendency in life too and it explains why there are more boring big box retailers than little cool ones. We want the security of a "guaranteed experience". As we both know Mark little in life is ever "guaranteed". 

Despite the mathematical destiny and the capital efficiency of BIG little still maintains an undeniable presence. I remember hearing's research explain that no matter how they cut their #bigdata  there was always 5% of traffic dedicated to weather. 

That 5% signals our human desire to gather around a common hearth and share an experience. If all experience is the same either because Walmart is the only store that exists and HUBS are the only websites that can thrive then something CORE is lost. 

I'm willing to bet on a "smarter" web that creates connection and unique experience at an ever increasing rate. In a way YOU demonstrate the concept well. Your expertise in G+ is being found and shared at an ever increasing rate. The same activity you did a year ago is becoming 10X more efficient now thanks to the mechanics of the web. 

This is why I believe in a web of AND and not either or. Ashton Kutcher added several million followers as you've added 100K (or will). His followers want the content he shares yours want to learn from you. His existence in no way limits your ability to become a hub when your army forms. 

Will BIG have a head start in a world of virtuous cycles that, much like compound interest, reward the rich by helping them get richer? Yes, does that mean we can't get "richer" (by whatever means we define that) too? NO. It does mean we have to be MORE creative, lucky and mentally TOUGH (to keep going, keep creating and turn the crank one more time even when all seems lost and at an end). 

I've made that ride once and stand ready to make it again and again. Feel free to remind me of THIS post when I cry into my beer for any reason ever (lol). M 
Couldn't agree with you more +Martin W. Smith. This really boils down to a change in thinking from the industrial economy to the connected economy, from scarcity to abundance, from finite games to infinite games.

Right +David Amerland +John Kellden ?
Wow, rare that you now when a great conversation is ABOUT to happen, but thanks to +Mark Traphagen baiting the hook with several of my favorite gurus we are about to have a pretty amazing riff. Feel free to jump in and add your thoughts on why +Ashton Kutcher's 15M Twitter followers does or does not signal the end of days :).  
I have no idea why that article even mentions +Ashton Kutcher at all, it doesn't really make it a stronger article. Real celebrities will always have mass appeal because, well, they're celebrities. The nut of the article should be on when players like you (+Martin W. Smith) use a tool like Scoopit to become a celebrity beyond your circle of influence
+Mark Traphagen I couldn't agree more. The traditional model of scarcity to control access and price is now so far behind that it barely exists. And +Martin W. Smith great resonance on the inanity of numbers. It reminded me the early days of marketing on the web when the slogan "sell to 250 million people" was everywhere trying to sell anything from websites to payment systems - like, there was ever such a market of such a size of buyers simply clamouring to buy whatever. Numbers awe us and make us go giddy and then reason flees. Marketing is personal. It succeeds when it's contextual and relevant, just like search :) 
+David Amerland is right and his comment reminds me of being a young aspiring marketer at M&M/Mars. We were so good at creating plans we believed those plans were our marketing.

Some years later I would read #TippingPoint by Gladwell and realize NO marketing wasn't a series of tasks one leading to the next in a neat daisy chain: product concept, to brand, to distribution, to introduction and awareness followed by brand love and an immense following.

M&M's, a beloved brand, believed that is how they became M&M's. Nonsense. M&M's became the candy that melted in your mouth not your hand because a crazy man was beyond passionate about creating candy.

People could literally taste the Mars family passion. When I worked in Hackettstown, NJ I could SEE the passion in the hospital-clean pant and white clad workers (the elves) making M&M's.

Gladwell taught me we aren't playing a board game we ARE playing for hearts and minds and our hearts and minds must be at risk or we have little chance to win others. This idea that distribution is what matters is a left over from times when SPACE mattered.

When I began my journey as a #ConsumerProductsGoods marketer we saw the battle as one that was controlled by grocery stores. If we could get another product facing here or there we could beat our sales goals.

Then the Internet changed everything. SPACE didn't matter. If your candy, beer or song was being talked up and advocated by fans and brand advocates it became possible to leap right over the distribution limitations an army of salespeople from Hershey, Nestle and M&M used to fight over.

I think about this experience in the context of  +David Amerland "New Value System". The system I began working in was unbalanced. That system rewarded people who HAPPENED to own grocery stores. It made grocery clerks something they are ill suited to do - become the gatekeepers of TASTE.

Grocery stores are the least innovative business model on the planet. The ONLY way they could hold such gatekeeper power is to have happened upon it by virtue of their ownership of the bricks, mortar and distribution system for our food.

I actually learned #CPG sales in Wegmans in upstate New York, perhaps the best grocery chain in the world and I STILL don't want them determining the next cool foodie trend or cool cookie idea. Grocery stories are really efficient food delivery systems NOT stores built to thrill shoppers (with Wegmans the exception proving the rule).

The web, btw note how little impact the web has made on our grocery shopping if you doubt my "least innovative" label, removes the power from inappropriate gatekeepers. Grocers aren't stupid.

Grocers make money with average margins in the 3% range, so they are the accountants of the brick and mortar chain stores. Accountants who specialize in backend efficiency isn't who we would choose to be the gatekeepers of our taste, culture and art. And now grocers have been all but fired from such a job.

The web is a battle for hearts & minds. We may have little choice in WHERE we can shop for food (with most grocery stores being clustered around a low average), but we can influence what is on their shelves by where we allocate our attention online.

Every slot in a grocery store is paid for and they are expensive. Since we can form a relationship with that new energy bar or drink long before it arrives in Food Lion or Harris Teeter we can exert influence on the "accountants of retail" (i.e. grocers).

Accountants are nothing if not Darwinian. When a trend is clear they buy since to do anything else is to seed a potential advantage to a competitor. Sorry to say, again with Wegman's the exception, that this kind of mutually assured destruction merchandising is common among the accountants of retail shops (grocery stories).

We will figure out how to move the most creative and fun things about going to market online someday.

Until that day we can begin to create David's new "value system" by allocating our most valuable thing (Time and Attention) to those products we love and demanding (with that huge vote) a better experience from the accountants of retailing :).
Trader Joes would be an example of a grocery store that wins hearts and minds. I travel to another town to shop there partly because I love their products and food but I'll admit, it's mostly because of their experience.
I feel the same way as +Mark Traphagen about The Pit Authentic BBQ (no Google+ page??) in Raleigh. Their BBQ is very good, but the real pull are the great people there who make me feel like part of the family - both +Martin W. Smith and +Mark Traphagen have witnessed this first hand. There is nothing in the world better than feeling like your special, and that's true of any relationship you have in any aspect of your life.
Yes +Mark Traphagen agree Trader Joes wins hearts and minds by putting theirs fully in their business. They DON'T approach what we eat as accountants but as passionate people who want to help. Also agree with +Phil Buckley that The Pit's food isn't what makes it special. The food PLUS the "Friends" feel is why we go there, compete to become Mayor and find excuses to have a meal together there.
Another local example: Fullsteam Brewery here in Durham. +Sean Wilson had a vision for a community gathering place that happened to be a brew pub. He "gets" Durham, so he put his brewery in an old garage and opens it up to invite people to wander in and out with their kids and dogs. The fun always spills out onto the street, with food trucks nearby.
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