Community-sharingThe connection we have to each other is what makes our world go around. We are social creatures who live in communities evolving collectively by organizing, communicating, competing and collaborating.

Our world though, wasn’t always this connected. Just a generation ago, people called each other on land lines and physically mailed documents to each other. Mobile phone were in suitcases and communication was slower unlike today’s’ social media. Mass communication is kind of a new concept. It’s barely been around for 10 years and we are now discovering new and unused applications for it. It can go far beyond keeping your friends in your life digitally. It can be used to express yourself creatively, educate or even market your business. It’s paradigm shifting in that it’s incredibly influential on the way people think and behave. People get their news from social media affecting their view of the world. The heard is less directed. Opinions on the state of the world are shaped by the social media feeds of people and their friends. That’s why the world is apparently getting so dangerous despite this being the safest time in history. News along with change to the global paradigm spreads like wildfire. Global consciousness has never been so frantic. This is just the first time in history that we can quantity it. 

Even yet, social media has evolved over the last 10 years. Gone are the primitive days of MySpace and poking your crush on Facebook. People skip the bar and get straight to business on apps like Tinder, Bumble or Grindr. There is no longer one genre of social media but an entire ecosystem that evolves along with your life. A 14 year old typically doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile but they may have a Facebook, a Twitter account and Tumblr blog. Later on in life, that same 14 year old may ditch that Tumblr blog, despite all the work in favor of a LinkedIn profile because they have now “joined the economy”. Times change and so do social media trends, though influence remains built within these digital networks and that has economic value. Without realizing it that 14 year old had been producing value on his Tumblr blog without exchanging it in our capitalistic system. Why would a 14 year old think of that? They would either have to be Scrooge Mcduck or growth up with an early understanding of our very adult system.

The game of capitalism is alive and well despite the ever increasing technological capacity. Because jobs are disappearing and with them, wealth, traditional work and systemic contribution has to change . The only way to capitalize or even to keep pace with the growing wealth gap is to leverage technology. We need to start better monetizing our voices through a directed web footprint. Brands and companies live and die by their reputation and that is intrinsically valuable. You control that. 

So what is all this worth?

I’m not sure what the economic value of any digital property is. It’s like evaluating the price of a stock; it’s subject to debate and opinion. My guess is as good as yours. There are models and metrics to help evaluate stocks but just like any other asset class, prices get set when two parties agree on a price however right or wrong. It can never be perfect. 

A common way to evaluate the price of an asset is to analyze the economic benefit of owning it. With stocks, you could use the dividend discount model (DDM) or even decide value using the price to earning ratio (PE). None of these models are 100% accurate but they are used to some degree or another in finance. A common factor of the models that they weigh in potential of economic payout due to ownership and because stocks are limited liability, the risk of loss is capped to the value of ownership.

dangerous-device-avatar-bazaarWe have now established that ownership is not automatically a benefit but can also represent a liability, risk or peril. Imagine accidentally marketing a defective machine that is dangerous enough to kill without any legal protection. Most would deem ownership of that operation or asset to be of negative economic impact due to the risk of being sued. This same concept applies to any asset whether tangible or intangible. Before evaluating the potential of an asset, you should always assess the risk of ownership. Forget even the economic impact, think of the moral implications. Think of whether you would press that button

We have now deemed that your asset is worthy of ownership and assuming that it produces no direct economic benefit, where does its value derive?

If while working with a pair, an asset can strengthen or reinforce the value of another existing asset that you own, then said property has increased value in your hands. It may only have value in your hands through its relationship to your existing portfolio of web assets. Value is relative to perception and use. Let’s think of a tangible example here;

Justin Biebers Twitter account is influential. We all know that it’s worth a shit load in any reasonably trained individuals care. Imagine if he (unbenounced to his following) sold his Twitter account (or even publishing rights) to Viacom to use for the promotion of their films. The entire Beleiber fanbase would be following Viacom’s commercial communication and Justin Beiber would make money passively. This is an extreme example but both products are complementary in the entertainment industry and thus mutual value is derived and financial value increased for both parties. It sucks but that’s the business world. Justin recommend entertainment because he is an entertainer. 

Don’t worry folks, not all art has to be diluted, just the mass marketed stuff.

You could even go as far as strategically using web properties to influence other parties share value with you. Create the hearing effect for your product or service. We’ll go back to the Justin Beiber example;

Assuming he just gave you his Twitter account because he’s a good guy and your local (or massive conglomerate) cell phone provider screwed you on billing but doesn’t want to take responsibility. You could tweet your complaints to them and have Justin Beiber retweet it or reply to it saying “ah, that sucks bro #screwabccompany” and I’m sure that your telecom company would be nicer to you in the future or may even change their tone. Your voice would have gone from a whisper to a megaphone affecting the bottom line and money talks.

Evaluating the price at which anyone should buy or sell any asset is tricky, especially with something as new as web property. A centralized auction marketplace offers the best solution to buy and sell because the hive mind is leveraged. Where all minds come together to decide the economic value of an asset is where markets are most efficient and  variations in market efficiency is where merchants make their money.