Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Cosset Your Geek

Here's a fun three hundred words I was asked to write for Pixel-live magazine:

I envy the opportunities of camera manufacturers as they of all people, have the chance to harness the terrifying power of the geek.

The geek is an avid collector, an expert in their field and a font of knowledge. They’re the person one goes to when faced with a buying quandary. They’re the trusted source who will actively search out the very best answer and probably come back with options for various hitherto unconsidered scenarios. In so doing the geek will probably turn your initial quandary into a multiplicity of micro dilemmas which, once navigated, will lead you into the dangerous realm of justified expenditure and easy credit.

What geeks have in specialist authority theytend to lack in social skills. Conversely the socially prominent individual must be many things to many different people and so (unless polymathic) will defer to the trusted source that is: the geek. They, in turn will broadcast this reliably informed advice to their broad social circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances so sowing a crop of potentially active customers.

Or not.

The immediacy and global reach of social media has enabled geeks to find each other and bloom like algae. It’s architecture has enabled them to find and be found by their symbiotic socially influential partners, who, in turn are able to reach the sorts of specialist audiences that would have been unimaginable five years ago, let alone fifty (Twitter is only three years old, Facebook is only six).

The best bit of all is that they do it (the geeks) because they have to, they are genetically programmed to geekiness, just as the socialiser can’t stop talking, geeks love shiny stuff with buttons. The challenge for all of us is to work out who and where our geeks are. They’re preferred habitats are the shady areas around bulletin boards, news groups and blog comment sections but they do venture out occasionally into the open on Twitter.

They can be encouraged to flock when coveted product information is laid out and some can be tamed this way - unlike their socialiser brethren. Do not be tempted to tame or buy a socialiser, it doesn’t work, spend the money on another customer service agent instead and think of it as the organic alternative.

So there we have it: behold the power of the geek and woe betide whomsoever chooses not to.

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