You've watched the television show "Survivor" right? Even if you haven't—here's a theme you will be intimately familiar with. If you pay attention to human behavior that is. In every single episode, alliances are made between participants. Sometimes these alliances are formal—sometimes informal. Sometimes they are public. Sometimes private. Sometimes they are genuine and last well after the show is over. Other times they are contrived—designed for mutual benefit. In every single show, there is some type form of alliance at play. Sometimes they work—other times they backfire.
Here's the thing you need to know about alliances. It's a tricky game, but one you sometimes have to play. The best way to play it in my opinion—looks something like a friendship. Which means, it's messy imperfect and flawed. But it also means that it might be there at the exact time you need it. Alliances formed around a friendship often means "I've got your back".
And let me tell you, this is one of the most valuable forms of currency on the social Web today. A Web where word of mouth travels at light speed—where reputation means everything. A Web woven of individuals, by individuals which often times results in a collective movement for better and for worse. I stress the word AND, because there is no OR. We've gone past the point of no return and the power enabled by people and technology will be both wonderful and terrible in the same breath.
Alliances are critical. Or you could call it having "friends". But alliances can go both deep and broad. There are people who I've met on the Web and in real life who I've formed alliances with. Mostly organic. Many are friends. But it's a different kind of friendship when I think of the people who I grew up with and still stay close to. Not better or worse—but different.
I'm not sure what the impact for business and brands are regarding alliances. If a brand is a promise as some have said, then it's related to the idea of an alliance. An alliance is like a pact—and if a pact is broken, so goes the alliance. Timely thoughts as our core conversation for SXSW approaches "Friendship is Dead". Maybe friendship these days looks more like an alliance and vice-versa. Either way, in order to to survive in this rough and tumble digital jungle, you'll need both.