New research out of Yahoo shows that the top 20,000 Twitter users get 50% of the tweet impressions (the number of people who see each individual tweet). Since Twitter has about 200 million users, that means 0.01% of Twitter users have 50% of the tweet wealth (yes, I just made up that term).
Now compare this to income inequality in the U.S. where the top 1% control 42.7% of the financial wealth.
That means that Tweet wealth is over 100x more concentrated than financial wealth. That is staggering.
I don't know exactly what this means yet, but in a world where attention increasingly matters more than money, we've got a very big problem.
I tweeted about an idea I've been thinking about for awhile last night and got a lot of interest, so I'm going to outline how a Groupon for volunteering could work. The four key pieces are a really great organizer, a metro area to focus your efforts around, an email/twitter/facebook list, and a local charity.
As the organizer, you find a local charity and work with them to develop a "deal," which is a project that could be completed in a weekend if they just had enough volunteers to help out. Like renovating a community center, or making a newly disabled person's house handicap accessible. Be really creative, the more interesting and compelling the story and project, the better the "deal."
An email goes out on Tuesday laying out the deal, and if enough people sign up, the project is on for Saturday (or Sunday). The email could include a link for folks to donate to cover food or other incidental costs associated with the event in case they can't actually come themselves.
A second email goes out on Thursday with more specific details on logistics, tells everyone about all the people coming (we're on!), and encourages more people to signup (don't miss out!), tell their friends, and/or donate to defray expenses. You can even be a little fun with it and gently poke at people that helping someone else might be a great thing to do before they cash in their latest 50% off spa treatment deal from Groupon.
The project happens on Saturday. People are taking pictures, tweeting about it, meeting new people, having fun, and doing something awesome and amazing too. All the people seeing that activity will want to get in on the action next week. You send out an email on Monday with pictures and highlights from Saturday. Then when the next deal hits on Tuesday, people will be less afraid to go. So three emails a week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday.
Once you get some traction, people will start bringing their ideas for deals directly to you. They wouldn't even necessarily have to be based around local charities, it might end up just being a family who needs help. Obviously, you can tweak this flow and make it your own. The days are somewhat arbitrary, etc.
Here's why I think this will be successful.
It's interesting how the New York Times is portraying the charity social networks like Jumo and Causes as the new United Way. This concept of the new gatekeepers occurs across all industries. For filmmakers and authors, Amazon will offer to manufacture and sell your product for you and give you some percentage of the proceeds. Apple has a similar deal with iTunes and iBooks.
The problem with all these types of services is that you don't know who your customer/donor is. You don't get their email address, the gatekeeper does. So the next time you have a fundraising drive or release a book, you can't go back to those people again -- the people most likely to buy your book. That is, unless you pay the gatekeeper. Amazon actually has a paid service where you can promote your book to all the people who have bought some other book.
You need to be able to process your own donations on your own website. You need to be able to sell your books, DVDs, CDs, and whatever else all on your own site. That's the only way you can truly be independent and build for the long-term.
I dealt with this problem at Brave New Films by building out a whole distribution infrastructure with fulfillment, shipping, an online store, and connected it all with our supporter database and website. But who wants to do all that? This is one of the core problems NationBuilder is looking to solve for independent leaders and creators.
With act.ly, we set out to prove Twitter could be used for activism if a tool was designed specifically for it. 100k tweets and 78 million impressions later, the highlights:
There's a lot of misunderstanding over Facebook's strategy, I have no insider information, but it seems pretty clear to me what's going on.
There are two dominant advertising players online, Google & Facebook. Google is great at ads based on what you already know you want, Facebook is great at ads to convince you to want something. It's pretty obvious that the latter is what a lot of advertisers want, and it is 100% Facebook's strategy to own that.
Many people see Facebook as the new AOL, a walled garden, but the companies that do well on the Internet are the ones that make the Internet better, not the ones that try to control it. With the Open Graph, it's clear Facebook understands this, and is looking to integrate into the web as much as possible. It's all setting up the day when Facebook lets every website put their ads on it, just like Google AdSense.
But first, Facebook needs the whole web to organize itself socially, then they can take that information and serve really good social ads all over the web. As a website owner, you'll soon be able to do the calculation over whether Facebook or Google ads generate more revenue for your site. That's the big battle to come, and is the biggest threat to Google.
It's unlikely one will be clearly dominant over the other, because different sites have different purposes. Most likely, Facebook ads will do well on a lot of the sites where Google ads don't -- the more social, "hang out" places like College Humor, Reddit, internet forums, and lifestyle oriented blogs. There are quite a lot of sites like that, so Facebook's advertising business has the potential to be much bigger than Google's -- and more importantly, it can provide much-needed revenue for sites innovating socially on the web.