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What We Can Learn About Social Networking From Nike+

By Anthony J. Bradley | November 18, 2008 | 0 Comments

social applications

I ran across an interesting BusinessWeek article/video “How Nike’s Social Network Sells to Runners” that talks about the Nike+ program and lessons on building brand on the Web. There are also some good lessons on building community. Nike+ is basically a program where Nike installs sensors in their running shoes that can give runners real time information on their runs such as pace and distance. I talked a little about this Nike+ program during my keynote address at Gartner’s Spring Symposium in Las Vegas (about 26:30 into the keynote). So here are some interesting lessons from Nike+.

1. They have a clearly defined community-driven purpose with restricted scope and almost unlimited scale. You know I had to start with purpose 🙂

2. Their community building concentrates on community value and taps into a participant’s passion where participants can quickly and clearly see what’s in it for them.

3. They are collecting sensor information from participants in the community and providing aggregation value back to the community. Runners can not only see how they compare to others but can actually compete with one another. In a previous post I talked about social technologies and the emergence of globally scalable sense and respond systems. This is more evidence of its burgeoning. Just like the Army adopting the mantra of “Every soldier a sensor” enterprises should adopt the mantra “every customer a sensor.”

4. They have taken what once was a synchronous sport (same time, same place) and have “asynchronized” it. In August 800,000 people completed in a 10k. Sounds like no big deal. They were in 25 different cities (same time, different place). And with Nike+ people can also compete on overall stats or on “bests” such as fastest time this week, longest run, most time logged (different time, different place). The more notable aspect is that this is accomplished in near real-time at massive scale.

5. For Nike this is about leverage. Nike is leveraging this community by delegating sales and marketing efforts to the community. The community itself is a sales asset. If you want to participate in this community you must buy a Nike running shoe. Participants psyched about this new way to feed their passion spread the word to others in their circle of friends who are avid runners. The community is their sales force.

What social computing lessons do you see here?

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