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Last night’s “disaster” for the Democrats should have been easy to predict without any polling at all.

A simple look at the Alexa numbers tells the story:

Scott Brown: 72,289
Martha Coakley: 255,865

The difference? About 100,000 votes.

Now let’s look at social media.

Twitter >> 

@ScottBrownMA 16187 followers, 728 lists, 732 tweets

@MarthaCoakley 4347 followers, 355 lists, 599 tweets

Facebook >>

Brown 128,950 fans

Coakley 18,588 fans

And when I look at the online ecosystem, it’s dominated by Brown:


So is online engagement everything? 

Maybe not, but this has to be a wake up call for the snoozing Dems.

The Republicans have learned their lesson after Obama, and won’t cede the online space again.

Who is

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I have been rather quiet on this blog for several reasons, chief among them a series of projects which required my full time attention.  But now it's time to break my blog-silence. 

The catalyst? - a group whose central premise is basically: "human beings breathe out carbon dioxide, so it must be good to produce even more of it!"

Disgusted by what I saw, I decided to run a quick analysis on and their sister site  The "right-wing conspiracy" appeared instantly:


[click to enlarge]

The Nation
digs into the story here, even as the Billings Gazette and Cody Enterprise spew out misinformation.

The online ecosystem includes the following cast of characters and sites, led by one H. Leighton Steward (who almost seems like a decent guy if you read his bio).  The network includes the Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and reality-denying sites like,, Inhofe's blog (we're paying for it),,, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Science and Public Policy Institute, FOX News, Michelle Malkin,, and all the usual attack dogs of the corporate-run media.

What's even more interesting is that this week, a group of large corporations -- including New Mexico utility PNM Resources, California utility PG&E, power generator Exelon and Nike -- denounced the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's opposition to climate legislation.

More on this particular circus here, and if you want to make a difference >>

BTW, this technique of business-funded propaganda is not new. And it does claim real casualties...

The traditional meaning of the term "business ecosystem" was developed in "Strategy as Ecology" an insightful article by Marco Iansiti and Roy Levien (March 2004, Harvard Business Review). In it, they defined business ecosystems as the "loose networks- of suppliers, distributors, outsourcing firms, makers of related products and services, technology providers, and a host of other organizations."

Let's define an online ecosystem as the network of sites which create a neighborhood around an industry, website, brand, product, people, or topic - it includes all your stakeholders and more - partners, suppliers, competitors, customers, analysts, commentators, journalists, bloggers, prospects, and citizens.

Whether you like it or not, your company's website sits in a neighborhood, surrounded by other sites which make up your online ecosystem.

In effect, this is your digital footprint.
Companies with large active ecosystems have large footprints. Companies with weak ecosystems, understandably, don't. Of course, the idea is to position your company in the right place - so that it will be found by your customers - past, present, and future.

How are you going to do that?  By becoming a hub in your industry's ecosystem.  And how are you going to do that?  Stay tuned.
There are many ways to understand online ecosystems.  The simplest way to think about them is to think of a virtual neighborhood, with virtual traffic driving up and down the streets, stopping at virtual stores and virtual houses to find something of value or interest.  If we could map this neighborhood, and the traffic patterns, you'd have a map of the online ecosystem.

In one sense it is a map of the attention paid to ecosystem participants - a visual representation of the attention economy in real-time.

That said, there are various ways to classify an online ecosystem. In our work, we find the following types of ecosystems.

Industry Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) of a specific industry showing the relative rankings of the industry leaders and their relationships to one another and their value-chain participants. We are able to identify weakness and strengths in the strategies of the companies identified in our maps as they are reflected in their online positioning.

Brand Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) of a specific brand and its online positioning against its competitors. We measure the daily ups and downs in brand vitality and plot trends over time.

Advertising Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) of the marketspace most related to a specific advertising campaign. A good ecosystem map will help you identify the optimal points of entry for a campaign based on relevance, reach, and effectiveness. This will stop wasting your advertising spend because now you can actually see which sites are true hubs and stop spending money on sites which don't perform.

Process Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) of a value-chain in your industry - either yours or your competitors. We can reveal the nature of competition in product design networks, supply chains, and distribution networks. A critical component in competitor analysis, our process ecosystem maps can also be used to identify opportunities for partnerships and alliances with the right set of vendors.

Practice Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) of collaborators and idea generators in a given marketspace. These include companies, organizations, collaboratives, and often individuals -- the thought-leaders who drive emerging practices in our rapidly changing world.

News & Media Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) of how news and ideas are disseminated in specific areas - from sports to politics to business. We can show you the news and buzz in your industry or topic.

Visualizing the news/media ecosystem is a critical intelligence gathering tool for PR and news executives and journalists as well. Observe how a "PR" campaign is propagated through the web. Identify sites bashing your client. Determine if the sites are worth worrying about or not.

Competitor Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) of your competitors and their partners. Find out their strengths and weaknesses and take advantage of this knowledge. You can actually build a firewall to protect you from the competition.

Customer Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) of your most important customers and prospects. A critical component for B2B strategy and tactics. By understanding your customers' ecosystems you'll be in a position to hold your own.

Demographic Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) for your targeted consumer demographics, from the boomers to kids, from tech-nerds to bankers, and most importantly, the women's marketspace. Catch the right fish.

Product Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) for your new product. You may spot critical weaknesses in your strategy before you burn your "launch-money."

Political Ecosystems
The ecosystem map(s) of our political machinery - Democrats, Republicans, and special interest groups. Blogosphere included.

Innovation Ecosystems
A way to look at the edge of your industry to keep track of the innovators and disruptors.  Also a great way to identify latent needs of customers (Kano model, etc.)

Social Ecosystems
Ecosystems which may not always deliver tangible business value, but they serve an important function:  building relationships and communities of like-minded or purpose-driven  participants.

We're still coming up with ways to define online ecosystems. Got any suggestions?

Virtually all executives now buy into the wisdom of Bill Joy's observation that "there are always more smart people outside your company than within." Almost everyone pay lip service to the idea of open-innovation -- that coming up with new value in the marketplace often depends upon connecting effectively with other companies and individuals.

For the past eight years, I have been studying online ecosystems, learning to discern patterns of traffic, relationships between sites, and the relative positioning of competitors in a crowded (or not so crowded) marketspace.

In this blog I look forward to sharing my insights and discoveries as we learn about different types of online ecosystems.  Join me as we discover, analyze, measure, and  learn to leverage online ecosystems

Feel free to contact me >>

March 2010

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