Social networks a complex competitive advantage?
here. You’ve probably been noticing that social networks are springing
up in every nook and cranny all around the net. Fast Company is starting one (which I joined, just for fun), Anthony Robins is starting one, even food-companies are starting them (check my post on the somewhat unsexy Milner-cheese on my blog). The question of why is relatively simple to answer.
Social networks are relatively cheap to operate (for certain types
of companies), they do not require significant shifts of resources (for
certain types of companies), and derive the majority of their content
from user-generated content.
The types of companies that benefit most from them
are two-fold. For one, those that already produce content for a living
will find it easy to add in social features. Those that do not, will
likely be more suited for a partnership with a content-company, as that
will not distract from their core-focus. Another, perhaps less apparent
benefit is competitive advantage.
Relational competitive advantage
With the internet there has been a growing shift of power towards customers. Customers are more informed, they are wealthier, and they are more selective. Competition in the global market-space is fierce and you’ll be hard-pressed to find companies that truly offer unsubstitutable products.
Even Apple, to get back to tech for a second, which has some fairly
unique attributes as opposed to its major competitors—Microsoft and
Dell—is losing its uniqueness, more and more everyday, ever since
shifting to the Intel-platform.
The problem is that, nowadays, features are no longer enough.
It’s no longer sufficient to have a better design, a better tasting
product, a lighter or faster machine, etc. Because these are factors
that companies from cheaper regions on this planet can easily emulate
and for a lower price. To briefly bring it back to food—my
core-competency—you’ll be hard-pressed not to find a private label not able to offer the same level of quality that an independent manufacturer can.
What matters more and more—and this is the point I’m making in my
Milner-post—is the relationship that companies are nurturing with their
customers and vice versa. And that is where social networks come in.
Tech IT Easy