Archive for “November, 2006”

Anti Social Media

On Tuesday, Andy Rutledge, the creative director at a shop called netsuccess in Dallas, posted a wonderful anti social media rant.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s required reading for anyone in the field. Can you poke holes in his arguments? Can you see the game from his side? Can you effectively rebut with hard facts? If not – you have no business trying to sell the notion of social media to your clients.

Which brings me to something else – for a while now, I have been pondering a podcast series (maybe 6 episodes, blissfully under 10 minutes each) in which a colleague of mine and I debate the merits of social media (he thinks it’s a fad/not worthwhile for business). The outcome? Who could say – but if social media can’t stand a little heat, it’s not very worthwhile. And I also like the idea of undertaking the debate (much as Andy has) in the social media space, where we all tend to be, let’s say, a little self-congratulatory at times.

So I’m going to go out on a limb. Lurkers? And I know you’re out there – remember, I obsessively review my stats – would you be interested in such podcast? What do you think we should call it? And throw out some hard questions – what should we tackle?

Edelman – still in troub?

As you may recall, PR agency Edelman got into a whole whack of trouble for setting up (as it turns out) a number of flogs (aka “fake blogs”) for WalMart.

The furor that resulted severely damaged Edleman’s public image (and credibility) and also saw them placed on 90 days probation by the Word of Mouth Marketing Assocation (aka “WOMMA”).

According to this Media Post article, it looks like Edelman may have to completely revise their flog strategy for WalMart if they want to retain their membership in WOMMA (word on the street is that the revised disclosure of who’s authoring the blogs is still insufficient – not transparent enough).

What will they do?

Blogging the globe

According to some research released late yesterday by Windows Live Spaces, blogging is, indeed Big In Japan. Actually, it’s pretty much big everywhere in Asia among MSN portal users, being labelled as a “major social phenomenon”. To wit:

  • 46% of Asians MSN users have a blog (compared with 8% of all online Americans, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, whose numbers were released in July of this year – which isn’t really an accurate comparison, I know).
  • Young people and women are predominant (except in India, where blogging is mostly a guy thing, as it is in Canada, though not by a huge margin).
  • 50% believe that blog content is as trustworthy as MSM (aka “mainstream media”).
  • More than 40% have fewer than 10 visitors a day, bolstering the adage (is it a cliche already?), coined by Wired reporter Momus that in the blogosphere “Everyone will be famous for 15 people,” which I just love.
    1. Blogging for business still hasn’t really emerged as a trend anywhere except Korea, where apparently everyone blogs about everything all the time. In a fit of hyperbole, the report calls the country an “online powerhouse”.

    The numbers came from an online survey of more than 25,000 MSN portal visitors across seven markets – and while the press release tries to make it sound like all internet users in Asia are represented, it wasn’t based on a broad sample – just MSN users.

    Friday Social Media Roundup

    And a chilly one it is. Here’s all the news that’s fit to blog this week:

    1. According to European pollster Ipsos MORI, blogs are already having a big impact on business in Europe. 34% of Europeans say they have not purchased something after reading negative comments on a blog, while 52% said they were more likely to purchase after reading positive comments. Blogs are now also second only to newspapers as a trusted source of information. You can read the full article here.

    1. Tony Bradley, President of Europe-based Chartered Institute of Public Relations (“CIPR is the largest public relations institute in Europe…”) announced that they’re updating their code of conduct to include social media; a discussion paper has been released to facilitate this.

    1. Here’s some analysis of the YouTube/CBS stats I posted about this week. There’s a vague suggestion that something funny is going on, but not enough data to get a clear picture. Keep your eye on this one.

    1. GREAT article from Niall Kennedy about spam and social media – particularly instructive is his explanation of spam farms and how they work. It’s been widely publicized (because it’s a great piece) and I am sure that social networking sites are a-scramblin’.

    1. Perhaps you have heard of the “peanut butter memo” sent by Yahoo senior vice president Brad Garlinghouse and leaked to the media last weekend? The blogosphere is all a-twitter about it. You can read the full text here. It’s being labelled the PB memo because “Yahoo is spreading its resources too thinly, like peanut butter on a slice of bread.” As discussed last week, they’re certainly playing catch-up when it comes to social media.

    Last Thursday
    1. Great post reminding us that social media is not mass media and that the real challenge for advertisers in the next 5 years will be to develop new models that are scalable for both.

    Last Friday:
    1. Bluestreak released a study called Emerging Digital Channels: Consumer Adoption, Attitudes & Behavior. Respondents had to use email and at least one of the other technologies being tracked (it was a sort of “early adopter” group they’re getting insight into) and here’s the top-level graph, stolen from


    For marketers, the most important insight is probably the fact that users do not hate ads (except for text message ads, but this probably has more to do with the fact that users of that technology are essentially paying to have someone try and sell them stuff, which is understandably annoying).

    1. A discount airfare reseller called Farecast has a function whereby you can track fare prices by RSS. You simply select the trip(s) you’re interested in taking, create a feed and add it to your RSS reader and you’re ready to jump on that $49 flight to NYC the minute it becomes available – brilliant.

    Have a great weekend!

    The promise of social media

    Institutions are stupid – they can’t remember a thing. Most organizations, from Hewlett-Packard to your local TV newsroom, have no formalized method of collecting and collating important data about important stuff in a way that makes it accessible and relevant for future use.

    Of course every company has staffers who have been around forever and have a large amount of accrued knowledge, but that’s not very efficient, both because they don’t know who and when someone needs to know something unless they’re asked (and if you don’t know that they know… you get the idea), and ultimately they can just quit, taking all that info with them.

    Basically, humans are piss-poor methods of storage. We’re tempermental, buggy, and prone to crashing and losing the records forever.

    I’ve been really thinking about this topic – using social media to store institutional memory – since I read this article, which referenced this 2005 story from CIO Magazine. The latter dealt mostly with securities compliance, but made one claim that absolutely gobsmacked me:

    The average number of emails sent each day worldwide will hit 36.2 billion in 2006…The Enterprise Strategy Group reports that as much as 75 percent of most companies’ intellectual property is contained in the messages and attachments they send through their e-mail systems. [emphasis mine]

    And guess what, folks? For most organizations, the recall of that information is virtually impossible unless you choose to sift through the tens of thousands of emails sitting (hopefully) on your company server.

    So that’s scary.

    Institutional memory also came up, in a slightly different mode, in this post from Mathew Ingram’s work blog, in which he discussed a fake Digg post about Sony recalling 650,000 PlayStations. Once the ruse was discovered, Digg apparently removed the story from their site altogether – thus nullifying the promise of using social media to retain their (our) institutional memory.

    Because there’s no record, they (and we) can’t learn from our collective mistake. I’m sure Digg will try to change their algorythms to try and ensure something like this doesn’t happen again – but you can’t make a fake story unhappen. How about at least allowing it to exist (corrected, reviled and underscored) as a case study, thereby helping to ensure similar mistakes are not repeated ad infinitum? Is that not part of the promise of social media?

    Could the monetization of YouTube be at hand?

    According to this press release, one month after striking a deal with YouTube, clips from CBS are among the most-viewed on the video sharing site (nearly 30 million views since Oct 18).

    CBS has three of the top 25 most viewed videos this month (Nov.1–17), including clips from CBS’s Tuesday night hit drama NCIS, Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and The Early Show.

    Ratings for Letterman and Craig Ferguson are up 5% and 7% respectively during the same period.

    Now, I don’t want to upset any naysayers – but could the monetization of YouTube be at hand? Could we – gasp – be seeing the model emerge that’s going to pay for their massive delivery (bandwidth) costs?

    It’s funny, but the whole scenario reminds me of something called “TV”, where delivery and infrastructure costs are huge (all those brick & mortar TV stations, all those unionized cameramen) but very little is passed on to the consumer. Revenue is generated through partnerships with people who want to use the delivery method to communicate their message to the audience in the hopes that the audience will then consume their product (they’re called “advertisers”). Big ad dollars during popular shows help TV networks pay for programming that’s less popular, but watched by many (a la the Long Tail).

    And the biggest YouTube liability everyone’s chattering about – those pending lawsuits with all the big content companies? In light of these numbers I feel comfortable saying they’re primarily leverage to negotiate better distribution deals.

    (And now I must go watch the Letterman interview with Borat – 1,424,701 views and counting…)

    Thanks to Delaney at Two Point Touch for the heads up about the CBS press release.

    How to Spam a Social Media Community

    Well, if it’s YouTube you’re after, you set up 7000+ accounts within a short period of time, let’s say a week. Then you set up the account you want to promote, in this case Superman Returns. Then you get all the dummy accounts you set up to subscribe to the one you want to promote – thereby boosting its ratings within the YouTube community and increasing views from real people.

    Oh – and when you’re discovered and outed by this guy? Get the YouTube administrators to remove the ability for users to see how many subscribers you have – just to cover your trail.

    Spam Poison Pill

    I found this on Ian Irving’s blog, False Positives, and it’s such a great idea, I need to share it with you immediately!

    It’s called Spam Poison, and here’s why you should think about incorporating it into your blog/site:

    WWW Robots (also called wanderers, spiders, crawlers, or bots) are programs that crawl the Web continually retrieving linked pages. When a spammer’s bot visits your website, blog, forum, etc, all pages and sites linked to it will be searched looking for email addresses.

    A lot of us use the xxx [at] xxxx [dot] ca format when listing email addresses as a work-around, but if you’d like to get a little more proactive, you can include the icon on your page, which will

    redirect email harvesting bots to trap sites that will feed it with an almost infinite loop of dynamically generated fake email addresses, mostly on known spammer owned domains! This will render their harvested lists pratically useless and of no commercial value.


    Java goes open source

    Seeking to leverage the power of social media and online collaboration, on Nov 13th Sun Microsystems announced that Java is going open source (here’s the Wikipedia definition of open source, FYI). They’ve created an online collaboration space for developers and bought ads all over the Internet trumpeting the move (that’s how I finally clued in). And why not? Instead of having a development community of a few dozen engineers, why not make it a few thousand, or a million? As discussed previously, Firefox did it with marketing… and it works.

    Friday Social Media Roundup

    I apologise for my lacklustre output this week, Dear Readers! Nevertheless, I want to make sure you get your full weekly dose of all things social media, therefore I present this week’s Roundup (a touch late):

    1. Who’s watching YouTube? Probably not who you’d expect. 54% are 35 to 64.

    2. Concerned about being left behind in the social media space, Yahoo bought, an online contest site.

    1. Charlene Li of Forrester Research and her work to quantify the ROI of blogs were featured in an article on

    2. Two big blogging conferences were announced south of the border (full disclosure: I have sent in proposals to speak at both) – Social Media 2007 and BlogWorld.

    3. Has social media reached the tipping point in the U.S.?

    1. The winners of the BOB Awards (Best of all Blogs – shouldn’t that be “BOABs”?) were announced.

    1. Scott Monty of the Social Media Marketing Blog has created what may very well be the first pitch blog. Client-directed, it summarized what they thought about between hearing about the opportunity and presentation, research, and general thoughts on strategy – along with plenty of humour. They got the account.

    Last Friday:
    1. Everyone’s scrambling to keep up with Google’s foray into social media. It looks like Yahoo’s 360 blog hosting service is due for a makeover, according to Bradley Horowitz, Yahoo’s VP of Product Strategy. 360 is currently in 6th place, behind Blogger (21 million unique users in September), MySpace blogs (16 million), MS Windows Live Spaces (9.8 million), Six Apart (9.3 million) Xanga (7 million).

    Last Wednesday
    1. A small independent band called Bones had a MySpace page. Fox Television (owned by NewsCorp, which also owns MySpace) created a show with the same name. They requisitioned the band’s page without warning and started using it to promote the show. But the Internet didn’t like it and Fox gave the page back. A very efficient combination of looking like a jerk/alienating your users, which is bad.

    Have a great weekend!