Archive for “December, 2006”

Social media is the new email

Everyone’s making predictions for 2007, but I’m going to go one step beyond and make a prediction for the remainder of this decade: social media is the new email.

Interestingly, I was very pleasantly beaten to the punch in posting about this by one Rod Boothby. The discussion started on the Social Media Collective Google group – I was making the point that a lot of us who are very active in the social media space seem to frequently forget that the enterprise decision makers (the ones who will entrench social media as the latest “version” or “layer” of the Internet – and that’s a when, not an if) really don’t have a good understanding of what social media is – sure, they’ve heard of blogs, MySpace and YouTube, but their kids are far more likely to really “get” it than they are. I will now quote myself:

When it comes to enterprise (and I am on the ground, doing this every day) a tiny fraction of those occupying the executive suite actually understand what a blog is, let alone how such a thing as social media could fit into their marketing and communications plans. Certainly they’ve heard of such things, but the detail? Not absorbed.

Why is this distinction (vs. the general public) important? Because the minute that business really starts to embrace social media it will be truly “mainstream” and not just some kooky hobby. The day you can interact with any of your favourite brands via a corporate blog (or whatever) – that will be the day that everyone acknowledges that “social media” is, like email before it, the latest version of human interaction as facilitated by the Internet (I view it as an evolutionary process – more on this later).

We haven’t hit critical mass yet – widespread adoption has not taken place, no matter how awesome and promising we think this new layer of Internet is. That’s to come – likely in 2007, and it will be entrenched by enterprise.

Individual communication will still be important, but “mass” communications to a narrowcasted segment of our social network will be the norm. That’s what organically happens with many blogs – instead of sending emails to my friends about a trip or something crazy that happened, I post pictures and words, and we all have a conversation about it (like the time my friend David said my Mom was “kinda hot”. My mom reads my blog, much hilarity ensued and David’s been avoiding her ever since. That interaction would not have been so “real” with simple email).

Other platforms and methods not yet imagined will streamline this process so that we no longer “push” messages to each other, but rather the messages will “pull”. Of course, if something is of immediate importance, we will send messages directly (just as now, if you really want to get ahold of someone, you often pick up the phone instead of sending an email). Wait – maybe I should say that social media is the new telephone?

Anyway – that’s my line in the sand. Social media is the new email – more to come on this later, I’m sure.

Now, I’m supposed to be on vacation this week – so that’s it until 2007. Happy New Year!

IBM says business must blog

According to this press release,

A stand-alone corporate web site is no longer sufficient to maintain a company’s relationship with its Internet-savvy audience, [says] IBM “Blogger-in-Chief” Christopher Barger

He’ll be delivering that message to a paying audience at a seminar titled “Using the New Web 2.0 for Corporate Communications”, which is scheduled for January 10th at Philadelphia University.

For more information, visit PR WebFire or Events at PhilaU.

I love when Santa co-opts new technology

First it was NORAD, now, according to Reuters, Santa has a blog. You may also notice that he refers to the area immediately south of the North Pole as “Norway” – we Canadians tend to disagree with that.

Can you make gift requests via the comments section, do you think?

And that’s it for us until the New Year…but if something big happens,
you know I’ll be back. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Gartner backpedals

In this article from Dow Jones MarketWatch, it would appear that Gartner is distancing themselves from the widely held understanding that their recent predictions for 2007 forecast the end of blogging as a powerful force. According to Daryl Plummer, what they really meant was:

The number of unique visitors [to social networking sites like MySpace] is declining. There is an explosion of interest when something is new, and then when it becomes the norm it settles down. The steady state is less than the peak.

Apparently next year will be the year of “blogging saturation”. Plummer also had some words of warning for businesses who are wiping their foreheads, happy not to have to learn about some new Internet thing when they just barely understand the need for their own website (beyond the fact that everyone else has one),

If you don’t pay attention to blogs and community contributions, down the road you’re going to be way behind the competition because you won’t understand how to reach the customer, and they won’t understand why you seem so out of touch.

And since it’s prediction time? I agree that 2007 will be the year of Enterprise 2.0 – companies are finally going to get with it this year, and once more people start to understand it, the stonewall of “What’s the ROI on a blog?” will probably crumble into something more suitably flexible.

Q&A with A.C. Riley

Long ago, when the Wondercafe.ca social networking space was launched, A.C. Riley and I had a good rant about the developer’s inexplicable use of frames, which meant individual pages did not have URLs, thus preventing users from bookmarking pages, posting them to sites like Digg, del.icio.us and sharing info virally. Which made no sense whatsoever.

A.C. (also known as Anne Charlotte, though she goes by Charlotte) also has a great blog (nominated for the Canadian Blog Awards). It seems she remembered me from our Frame-ranting days (if you hate frames too – please feel free to vent in the comments section), and therefore recently asked me to answer five questions about SMG – the results are posted here.

Thanks, A.C.!

Friday Social Media Roundup

Here’s all the news that’s fit to blog from last week and beyond…

Thursday
1. Perhaps the biggest news of all is the Gartner prediction that blog numbers will level out in 2007 at about 100 million (you can listen to the podcast here). Of course the blogosphere is all a-twitter, can’t say as I care one way or the other – if things level off, it’s still a massive number, and I’m a firm believer in quality rather than quantity. In the long term, a blogosphere comprised of 100 million engaged participants has great deal more influence than that of a billion dilettantes.

Wednesday
1. Yahoo! and comScore Networks released a study* called, Engaging Advocates through Search and Social Media. In a nutshell,

  • The Internet has significantly impacted how consumers talk about and recommend brands [I hate this use of the word "impacted"]
  • Word of mouth – a trusted source of information – is amplified online to reach significantly larger audiences
  • “Brand Advocates” have emerged online as primary influencers, with at least a two to one rate of converting an actual friend or family member to buy the same product or brand.
  • Brand Advocates are incredibly valuable to marketers because they are better connected consumers with a larger sphere of influence.
  • In identifying these Brand Advocates, the researchers found that post-purchase, fully half of them “talked” about their purchases online, and they tend to be positive more often than they’re negative (which makes sense, no one wants to talk about how dumb they were to buy something unless there’s something seriously wrong with it – and we all know what happens then).

    Monday
    1. The New York Times has decided to add tagging tools to online articles. I would like to point out that Canada’s own Globe and Mail has been doing this for some time (just click on the “share this article” link).

    2. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced that Wikia, his for-profit company, will be giving users free software, computing, storage and network access PLUS 100% of advertising revenues generated by their sites. I call this the “Google/Crack Dealer Model” – give it to them for free, gobble up marketshare, obliterate the competition and then start charging (or placing revenue-generating ads) in barely noticeable dribs and drabs and make your billions.

    Sunday
    1. Again with the New York Times: the paper has dubbed 2006 “The Year of Everybody” (or, “Brought to You by You”) which I think might possibly be the best headline ever (the story also reminded me of this great video which I’d almost forgotten about). A excellent analysis of the notion “user generated content”, and a reminder that really, nothing’s new that’s under the sun.

    Last Friday
    1. After taking forever to comprehend the value of The Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments (and FYI it really does work – explosively) Coke has decided to feature YouTube stars in a holiday campaign and encourage a little user-generated content with a side of viral. Unfortunately, there’s also a dreadful holiday greeting from Tim Kopp, VP Interactive Marketing viewable here. Cringe with me as he repeatedly and unconvincingly uses the word “cool”.

    Last Thursday
    1. This MediaPost article explains that:

    Social networking sites including MySpace and Facebook are driving a bigger portion of traffic to retail sites than a year ago, according to new research by Hitwise. Social sites are driving more than 6% of retail traffic, up from 2.9% in 2005. MySpace alone accounted for about one-third of that traffic.

    *Which brings us to a special pet peeve of mine. I like original research – I do not like quoting third-party accounts of research or press releases. I want to read the info for myself and provide my own take (i.e. the recent MSN blogging numbers from Asia). But it is often incredibly difficult to find the original data, and when I do (in the case of your typical press release) the damn thing doesn’t even have links to the companies it’s promoting (which is totally nuts). Why must you all make it so difficult? Do you not want me to cover your news? Please, please: toddle on over to Social Media Release and find out how to package your product for optimum consumer use and enjoyment – mmmkay?

    Have a great weekend!

    Flog Apology Service

    In hot water because someone convinced you it would be a good idea to “juice” up your blog via a little astroturfing? Thought it would be “no big deal” to hire some writers to create a flog? Did the blogosphere catch on?

    Worry no more – simply employ the Adrants Fake Blog Apology Service. From what I understand, they basically throw a virgin or two (depending on severity of transgression) into the Blogosphere volcano, and you’re cool.

    Hat tip to Tamera Kremer.

    The Social Media Collective

    I’ve just received an invitation to join a new think group called the Social Media Collective, which is:

    An invitation-only group of bloggers, thinkers, executives and entrepreneurs who are interested in social media and Web 2.0 and its impact on marketing, advertising, PR, and old media.

    The invite came from Jerry Bowles of Enterprise Web 2.0 via Susan Scrupski of IT Services Advisory (she also authors a blog on ZDNet; we became aware of one another through a mutual business acquaintance – I’m honoured that she would recommend me).

    At the moment group members are mostly introducing themselves, but I’m really hoping for some great discussions once we all settle in. The Collective is comprised of top-notch thinkers and executives and bloggers – I’m going to have to bring my best game to this one. I do promise posts about our most provocative discussions…

    Fortune 500 Business Blogging Project

    fortune-500-blog-project-thumb.gif

    First there was the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki, now there’s the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Project, which sounds rather methodical. To quote the organizers:

    So far [as of Dec 8th] 39 registered volunteers have published research on 40 Fortune 500 companies. 42 companies have been identified as having at least one public-facing corporate blog. Volunteers have either researched or signed up to research 95 companies.

    All of the blogs (and reviews of those blogs) are listed here. It would appear that the project was initiated by Easton Ellsworth, who writes for Business Blog Wire and is apparently (!!) only 25 years old.

    If you would like to join in this noble effort, you can sign up here.

    The race to build a YouTube killer

    I hate to say I told you so, but, well, I did.

    So sayeth this article in the Wall Street Journal,

    Four major media companies, including News Corp.’s Fox, Viacom Inc., CBS Corp. and General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal, are in talks about creating a video Web site to compete with Google Inc.’s YouTube, according to people close to the situation.

    And who could blame them? The notion may seem insurmountable to all of us here in the echo chamber but Internet video is in its infancy – why on earth would any right-minded network hand it all over to Google without at least giving a competitive strategy a good ol’ college try?

    Somebody’s going to lose a whole lot of money over this one.