How does Google work?
Essentially, Google counts the number and quality of links pointing to each website as a measure of its popularity and credibility. In this way, the “crowd” — that is, webmasters — vote on what content is important by linking to it and Google tallies those votes to determine who gets the top rankings.
However, Google has strict checks and balances to make sure its algorithm can’t be gamed.
For marketers, turning to “crowds” can be an effective means of marketing and product development but only if the brand maintains a leadership role and doesn’t let the crowd run wild.
Seth Godin refers to crowds as Tribes in search of leaders.
In What Would Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis talks about the importance of Google being a platform.
Marketers must create platforms for their customers and prospects to engage with the brand and drive word-of-mouth.
Threadless does this by fulfilling the fundamental need for self-expression by democratizing the process of apparel creation and sales. The “crowd” contributes the designs and votes on which ones get produced.
“Build a great product and focus on the product and users first, not your corporate ambitions.”
“Brands have a new responsibility to be ‘open 24/7’ and available.”
“In most cases, crowd-sourcing is the equivalent of a suggestion box on steroids.”
Remember, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand in it.
May 14, 2010: The Google Nexus One phone is cited in this chapter as an example of how Google creates platforms rather than products. Well, this one appears to have failed. Today, Google announced that it would “stop selling handsets via the web store” and instead offer the product through the carriers’ retail channels. In the book I wrote, “The Nexus One wasn’t a new phone; It was a new way to buy phones.” Now, it’s just a phone again.