In my last essay about this subject I've introduced the possibility of the User Prerogative Factor, or UPF, as an important constraint to take in account when trying to monetize an existing online business or social media.

As a reminder, the UPF (high or low) is the notion that a user's web usage habits always override the value of a website's contents. Hence a previously free, high-UPF site before will be very hard to monetize, while a previously free, low-UPF site stands better chances.

Now, we're going to look at solutions towards keeping a low UPF, or in other words, we'll try to discover what could possibly get users to adopt your service without being able to own it -- the key to any successful online venture.

First, let's look at some of the motivations to use an online service:

- Self-improvement (possibilities of)
- Proximity (or convenience)
- Anonymity
- Connection (to communities)
- Entertainment
- Control (of actions, of information)

Now, once users have benefitted from any of these advantages for free on your website, the High UPF factor brought therein means it'll be quite hard to bring anything new on the site that would be offered in payable form, because you're already fulfilling the basic usage motivations of users with your service.

Now, two important steps towards a solution. First, you must:

- Examine current usage of your services by users, and extract some insights. For example (something that's close to me, in this case): Employers currently examine a job candidate's Facebook profile before hiring. That's a usage insight. How could Facebook take this insight, and monetize it?

- Turn to your userbase, and ask them what they think, what they do. Most online businesses spend tremendous amounts of money in research to come up with the next great idea to raise the value of their online service. Why do so, when they could just ask users what they want instead? If you have a community, use it. Chances are all your answers could be there.

Once you have two or three basic usage insights in hand, you have real precious info. You now have to find out how to convert these insights into products or services that raise web usage habits one notch up. Sounds hard? Nope. The thing is, you don't necessarily have to twist your brains to find innovation on the web: thousands of brilliant and revolutionary 2.0 startups abound.

The idea is to learn how you can integrate these ideas with your own, creating a whole new service. That's called a mashup, and it's the future of the web as we know it.

I strongly believe that, once we're passed the "scattering of innovations" that's standard currency on the web nowadays, we will witness the regrouping of these innovations inside broader integrated services. Facebook is free. Yellow-pages are free. Should an application that mashes Facebook and Yellow-Pages together be free? Would people pay for that? What's an acceptable value for such a service?

What's for sure, your new mashed-up service could certainly bring user interaction on your site to a whole new level. But still the question remains: will people pay for it? Which form should my new offer take? Should it be a freemium? Should it be subscription-based? Paid by advertising?

To be continued.

In the next article, we'll look at options to integrate payment into your new service. In the meanwhile, please comment on my essay at will, add your ideas, and don't hesitate to criticize!

Summing things up, we've seen:

- Gathering insights from site usage;
- Gathering information from your community;
- Convert these insights into tools, products of services by blending in other 2.0 services: Mashing Up.

Links to this post | edit post

Honda: The Power of Dreams (4)

Friday, February 20, 2009 by , under , , , is to my knowledge, the only place where you'll find animated shorts *entirely made in flash*, and of *very high quality* while you're at it. Boy will you see talent in there, trust me.

Now, about the "entirely made in flash" and "you will see talent in there" parts of my sentence: Yesterday evening I was struck by flash genius, while at the same time, being struck by animation genius. And while getting maimed by all that striking, I was also struck by storytelling genius, and music genius. Now either that's real bad weather, or I have fantastic genius conductivity.

The source of all that thunderous striking? A short movie titled Honda, The Power of Dreams, by Michele d'Auria Animation Studio. Basically, the story of Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motor Company. Told for the first time. And entirely made in Flash only.

Watch it now. And wear some protection.

Links to this post | edit post

15 Conceptual Designs You Wish Existed (0)

Friday, February 20, 2009 by , under , , ,

An awesome post by blog Creative Closeup, a place I love to visit when I feel like getting schooled in innovation and creativity. Your reactions will be (in sequence):

1) Man, that's just awesome! I want this!
2) How come this has never been made? How can a manufacturer not see the genius behind this?
3) Makeitmakeitmakeitmakeitmakeit. Now.

You can't say I haven't warned you. Now go check it out.

Links to this post | edit post