James Governor's Monkchips

Wake Up To The Long Tail of Passion and Plug-Ins

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More great stuff from Kathy Sierra over at Creating Passionate Users. The notion is that a product creates a “wake”, like a boat. This wake is a wave in its own right, which can be enhanced, you can speed up the boat, swing from side to side, give the waterskier a more interesting ride.

Does your product or service support plug-ins and add-ons? Does it lend itself to follow-on products, accessories, support and training, etc.? Does it inspire others to be part of your wake?

Whoever competes with the iPod has to compete with a lot more than Apple’s device–it has to compete with this great wall of stuff riding in the iPod wake. And these things all make the iPod a lot more appealing and flexible.

Inspiring a wake–where passionate people add value to your product or service with new things–is one of the fabulous side-effects of having passionate users. And your chances of creating passionate users just keeps going up the larger the wake gets. So it’s a great big happy reinforcing feedback loop

As we have also seen recently from Firefox, a wake can pay for ads, lead to a plug-in ecosystem and so on. It is important to encourage the wake though. That is one reason i think Apple can succeed this time around in a way it hasn’t before; by that i mean dominating a mass market rather than creating a market and watching another vendor take advantage. Let other people sell monitors, hard-drives or whatever for the Mac mini; that’s wakeful behaviour. Meanwhile just check out all iPod accessories out there.

I don’t know if the rhyme of metaphor was intended, but a Long Wake is a lot like a Long Tail. An ecosystem is not just a product launch, its a long standing conversation, and users can become more passionate about the boat, not less, over time. There are some important lessons for producers in these memes.

Apple sometimes tries to kill the passion and yet still succeeds so there don’t seem to be hard and fast rules, but I would certainly argue thinking about wake effects is a good way to think about ecosystems rather than just products. If you want to create passionate users give them a wake to surf. Somewhere to plug in and or sound off.

So what about different meanings of “wake”, and their relevance to the meme?


n 1: the consequences of an event (especially a catastrophic event); “the aftermath of war”; “in the wake of the accident no one knew how many had been injured” [syn: aftermath, backwash] 2: an island in the western Pacific between Guam and Hawaii [syn: Wake Island, Wake] 3: the wave that spreads behind a boat as it moves forward; “the motorboat’s wake capsized the canoe” [syn: backwash] 4: a vigil held over a corpse the night before burial; “there’s no weeping at an Irish wake” [syn: viewing] v 1: be awake, be alert, be there [ant: sleep] 2: stop sleeping; “She woke up to the sound of the alarm clock” [syn: wake up, awake, arouse, awaken, come alive, waken] [ant: fall asleep] 3: arouse or excite feelings and passions; “The ostentatious way of living of the rich ignites the hatred of the poor”; “The refugees’ fate stirred up compassion around the world”; “Wake old feelings of hatred” [syn: inflame, stir up, ignite, heat, fire up] 4: make aware of; “His words woke us to terrible facts of the situation” 5: cause to become awake or conscious; “He was roused by the drunken men in the street”; “Please wake me at 6 AM.” [syn: awaken, waken, rouse, wake up, arouse] [ant: cause to sleep]

Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

So how about wakeful as a word like clueful. Get a clue. Get Awake!

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