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Frequency Hop: The Social Conversation Fragments

Frequency Hop The Social Conversation Fragments

A secure radio transmission broadcasts a signal in tiny fragments on more than 100 different frequencies per second.  To understand the message, a receiving radio must be scanning those channels in exactly the precise sequence as the transmitting radio.

The concept is called “frequency hop” and it is another layer of security in the radios the Army fields to ground troops.  Of course, the messages are also encoded and without the key, the communications are unintelligible. The keys are changed frequently.

An advantage of frequency hopping is that it’s virtually impossible to jam a signal since it broadcasts in a choreographed sequence. Outside of a physical security lapse, I’ve never heard of a secure frequency being comprised.

While I suppose anything is possible, my point is to say it would require a high degree of sophistication and a level of effort liable to return convoy banter of little strategic importance. More importantly, it’s a good analogy for what’s happening to the conversation online today from a marketing perspective.

Social Media Frequency Hopping

A marketing trade publication published an article on its site and subsequently posted the article to its Facebook page. That status update in turn appeared in the news stream of a friend, who then tagged me and two other people in the comments of the Facebook post.

It wasn’t the beginning of the conversation – and it wasn’t the end.  It was the continuation of a conversation that had started on a Google Hangout, looped on Facebook for a fleeting moment, and will likely wind up ensuing once again somewhere else.

In responding to that Facebook tag, another notification of sorts lit up red – this one was in my head – and an epiphany of sorts. The social conversation was hopping frequencies — and it’s fairly common when we consider our engagements across the web. While much has been written about the disintermediation of the media, I’ve seen far less, aside from the occasional blogger bemoaning the decline of blog comments, about the fragmentation of the conversation.

The conversation on social media is on “frequency hop” and  complete conversations are occurring in fragments on multiple channels over moments in time.

Frequency Hopping as a Central Theme in Marketing

In many ways, it’s this concept of a frequency-hopping-problem for which analytics and marketing automation platforms are trying to solve.  Marketers are hoping to piece together the buyer’s journey in an effort to understand the touch points along the sales cycle in order to a) understand the return on dollars invested and b) improve the overall marketing process.

Marketing automation can demonstrate where prospective buyers are engaging content – but the social conversation – that’s way out of reach at the present time.  Certainly someone could piece together the fragments of a frequency hopping social conversation – but the time and effort involved isn’t scalable – and the result may well be a red herring.

The conversation on social media is on “frequency hop” and  complete conversations are occurring in fragments on multiple channels over moments in time.

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  • Been thinking a lot about this Frank. Writing something and will cc you when I finish it, but basic idea deals with the fact that social networks use words like “discovery” and “connection” and then ask “what do you want to see / engage with” but don’t truly let us answer the question. 
    Instead, we are ID’d by who we follow and what we look at (instead of being asked “what matters to you”), shown a bunch of junk, and then (poorly) targeted across the web. It’s very, very far from the complete human experience and until we are shaping products instead of them shaping us it’ll remain a problem. That means taking the hard route, e.g. building things like Wolfram Alpha. I think it’s doable and we’re seeing glimmers of that kind of web. But marketing and social networks are largely self-referential echo chambers where people don’t want to hear things like this or take the risks necessary to build a world that’s truly about inspiring and reaching other humans.

  • JoeCardillo Interesting perspective Joe.  I think that’s the flip side of what I’m trying articulate.  You are looking at it from a social network product perspective (and I completely agree with that viewpoint) — I’m viewing from a marketer’s perspective trying to understand the conversation and by extension the persona. I didn’t do a great job conveying what I mean here — half the rationale for writing it — was to work it out in print, which is something I do a lot.  I might come back later with a stronger argument.  Look forward to your email.

  • Frank_Strong JoeCardillo Interesting – I actually think you define the problem well, what I’m grappling with is the fact that the conversation is shaped by the structure of the web, and social networks. I guess part of my point is that the content + conversation is still very limited, and frequency hopping won’t be understandable or addressable until marketers and content creators get the structure that they’re being forced to work within. There are ways for marketers to hack that process, but they have to first unattach from some of the common and short sighted perspectives that social networks, marketing technology, and “Big Data Gurus” are positing as revolutionary.

  • JoeCardillo Yeah, see, I don’t think the web has shaped conversation.  I think it has enabled new flow charts mapping conversations.  We frequency hopped before the web too — just on fewer platforms, more slowly and certainly with less mass. For us as consumers, the conversation is seamless.  Sure it’s happening in different places at different times, but it’s the same conversation — like picking up with an old friend IRL after 10 years. It’s not a matter of marketers being forced — it’s a matter of marketers opening up — and recognizing the difference in nuance. Anyways, fascinating discussion.

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