Somehow I missed the one year anniversary of my Experience Map. Why is this even worth celebrating? The Experience Map was only my second visual posted to this site (here is my first). The story behind the map is pretty simple. I was working closely with a traditional account planner at the time. A really nice guy. But we came from different worlds. My background was primarily interactive, combining lots of site work and some interactive marketing initiatives. His background was from a big traditional agency—lots of experience working on Ads of all kinds. We spoke different professional languages—so in an effort to bridge some of the gaps, I put my thinking into a visual format which I then called the Experience Map here.
Did it work? Well sort of. If definitely made the thinking more concrete and generated further discussions between both ourselves and our group. I used this in addition to work samples that were in progress to illustrate ideas. But then we both got busy and moved on to other work.
But that's not the end of the story. The real story began when I uploaded it here. You see, this site went pretty much unnoticed before the Experience Map came to town. Before this, I was pointing to things I thought were cool, and talking about general stuff related to my field. But uploading this image started a ripple effect which to this day hasn't stopped. And it's changed how I view my profession. Here are a few lessons from the Experience Map:
1. Social Media is a Free Marketplace of Ideas
If you put something out in the social media space which has a high level of perceived value—it's likely it will be distributed. The Experience Map was picked up on several key sites and downloaded hundreds of times. It didn't matter that I was a "nobody". The only thing that mattered was the content. Create something of value—and it will be distributed. Create something of no value—and you'll be talking to yourself.
2. Google Can Help You Own Your Ideas
If you work in search engine optimization and you haven't investigated how text-rich blogs, wiki's etc. can influence major search engines like Google, then you need to take your head out of the sand. Type "Experience Map" in Google and my original post will come up as #1 in the search results. This was a valuable lesson for me—maybe it's a new way of coining phrases and putting digital fingerprints to an idea. The more popular a blog or site—the higher the placement in organic search.
3. Giving = Getting
On the link of the original post you can download a full sized version of the PDF. This means that theoretically, someone could download the PDF, print it out and hang it on their wall. If someone passing by asked where they got it from—they could be dishonest. Maybe this even happened. I don't know. But what I do know is that by giving something away—I got something back. What I got back was links, feedback, name recognition and even some new relationships. Some call this social currency. I didn't know what that was before my lesson with the Experience Map. But once I understood the value of this currency and the influence that comes with it—I felt my eyes had been opened. In fact, it was this visual that helped me find my voice and personal brand.
I gave something away. What I got back was worth so much more.
I could probably go on—but you get the idea. This is the stuff that the democratization of the internet is made from. Despite all of the buzzwords it can be boiled down to simple benefits. Sure you can read about it in books like the Long Tail. But experiencing it first hand is something else all together. Ironic that one of my first teachers in this space was both the Experience Map—and experience itself.
Oh—wait. Before I hit publish can you do me favor? I literally just got an e-mail from Mat Giordano, who is 24 and fresh out of design school. Can you check out his blog? Thanks.