Archive for “January, 2007”

So, who owns the content we're generating?

It’s the engine that drives Web 2.0, and yet 99% of us make no money directly from it (which isn’t a bad thing). However, the companies that have created the online tools and platforms that have facilitated the social media “revolution” want to leverage our content in order to pay the bills. That’s when things start to get interesting.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, reminded by something that no one but the most determined of fine-print readers knows: YouTube’s Terms of Use basically give them the right to use any and all uploaded content in whichever way they choose. Exhibit A:

By submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successor’s) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

They take great pains to emphasize that “For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions,” but let’s be honest, the above license grants YouTube equal ownership in everything but name.

Exhibit B: Blogger is out of Beta (terms below): But this isn’t a very good example. It’s been pointed out to me that these terms are necessary for the execution of the services provided, similar to MySpace’s terms, which are explained thusly:

Without this license, MySpace.com would be unable to provide the MySpace Services. For example, without the right to modify Member Content, MySpace.com would not be able to digitally compress music files that Members submit or otherwise format Content to satisfy technical requirements, and without the right to publicly perform Member Content, MySpace.com could not allow Users to listen to music posted by Members. The license you grant to MySpace.com is non-exclusive (meaning you are free to license your Content to anyone else in addition to MySpace.com), fully-paid and royalty-free (meaning that MySpace.com is not required to pay you for the use on the MySpace Services of the Content that you post), sublicensable (so that MySpace.com is able to use its affiliates and subcontractors such as Internet content delivery networks to provide the MySpace Services), and worldwide (because the Internet and the MySpace Services are global in reach). This license will terminate at the time you remove your Content from the MySpace Services. The license does not grant MySpace.com the right to sell your Content, nor does the license grant MySpace.com the right to distribute your Content outside of the MySpace Services

By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying and distributing Google services. The new Terms also state that if you have posted your material under, for example, a Creative Commons license, Google has the right to ignore that and exercise their rights as granted under the abovementioned Terms.

Exhibit C: Facebook’s Terms of Use are similarly all-encompassing:

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.

Thankfully, once you remove your content, Facebook can’t use it anymore.

The brand new model of social media and Web 2.0 is smashing up against the “old” model of business, and business has better lawyers. The front end is new, but the back end? Same as it ever was.

This also reminds me of something Misha Glouberman, an old friend of mine, wrote about how the digital age would affect copyright (incidentally, he also kind of came up with the idea of the wiki in 1996). Misha figured that copyright, or our existing notion of it, would cease to be enforceable with the advent of digital reproduction, so it would essentially no longer matter. However, I think Misha figured that would be a bottom-up thing, that individuals would no longer observe the copyrights held by companies, not that companies would use technology to lever copyrights out of the hands of individuals.

In the discussion that was the precursor to this post, David Tebbut suggested setting up a wiki to compile the best and the worst of the “Your Content” portion of the world’s online Terms of Use. To that end, I have purchased two domains, www.weownu.org and/or www.readingsucks.org. Thoughts on which would be better to use? If there are any interested parties out there who can do the heavy technical lifting to set up the wiki, email me at: maggie [at] social media group [dot] ca. I can take care of hosting.

Try the roast beef, you'll love it.

Curious about social media? I recommend attending a power breakfast I’ll be speaking at on January 31st in Toronto:

Maggie will discuss how everyone’s talking Web 2.0 – but what does it mean? In this session, she’ll go over the hard facts: what people are doing online, why you need to pay attention and how your business can reap the benefits. The best part? You’ll get the numbers to back it all up.

I get asked to come up with ridiculous angles on social media for conferences sometimes, and I just won’t. The majority of decision-makers in business have heard of Web 2.0, but they don’t necessarily know what it means. So I stick to the basics unless I know it’s a savvy audience (and then things can get really fun!).

This is a great introductory seminar to attend if you want to begin the process of understanding what social media and Web 2.0 will mean to your business now and into the future, and it’s all research-based! Here are the details:

Time:
Wednesday January 31st, 2007
8:00 am – 10:30 am

The Ontario Club
30 Wellington Street West
(Wellington & Bay Street)
Toronto, Ontario M5L 1A1

Hosted By Profectio
“Bringing together Canada’s connected community”

Details and Online Registration

See you there!

19% of fastest growing U.S. companies use blogs

This from a just-published report by Eric Mattson and blogstudy2.jpgProfessor Nora Barnes from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. They surveyed a representative (+/-3%) segment of the Inc. 500, a list of the U.S’s fastest growing private companies compiled by Inc. Magazine. 26% said that social media is (are?) “very important” to their business marketing strategy. Here are the rates of usage for various social media:

33% message or bulletin boards
27% social networking
24% online video
19% blogging
17% wikis
11% podcasting (which is the only figure that actually dovetails with use. A recent Pew American Life report showed 12% of U.S. Internet users have downloaded a podcast).

You can read the executive summary of the report here

You don't build communities – you join them.

That’s a quote from Jeremiah Owyang (also a fellow Social Media Collective member) on Sunday’s edition of the Marketing Voices podcast.

This quote hits home because it reminds me of waaay back when I worked as a website producer for another company. One of my bigger clients was ZoogDisney (we did a number of microsites and games for them – they were wonderful to work with). Whenever we would pitch a new project, Disney had specific elements they always wanted included, and one of them was “community”, i.e. polls, forums or other ways of getting users to interact with what were largely static sites. In those days, we had to build the community because nothing similar existed online. Of course, today things have changed, but the awareness of the importance of getting people to interact with your brand has not – which is what “putting the power of social media to work for business” is all about.

The podcast is absolutely worth a listen – Jeremiah knows his stuff! Here’s a summary:

Talking with Jennifer Jones about his strategies for media implementation, Owyang explains how listening to the blogosphere, participating in the conversations, and building a community are instrumental to success. Jones and Owyang also answer questions from bloggers on the importance of establishing credibility using social media, news aggregation sites and whether blogs will ever become as ubiquitous as Google.

Can we have convergence now, please?

And by convergence I mean the melding of all the little pieces of technology I find myself carrying around: cellphone, iPod, digital camera (yes, I know phones can take pictures – but they look like crap). It’s completely ridiculous when I haul all these items out and lay them on the table – over a thousand dollars’ worth of the latest technology in three separate and incompatible chunks (i.e. I can’t hook any of them into each other without an intermediate step – I’m not asking for convergence with my laptop quite yet, but when they start getting smaller, watch out).

I was recently asked to join the advisory board of a startup. The team was great – brilliant engineer behind the idea, determined CEO at the helm. I had absolute faith in them. However, their concept involved adding another piece of technology to my bag, and I just couldn’t back it. I declined because I think we’re already carrying around too much stuff, and I don’t think consumers would willingly add another item, even if it was dual-purpose and added some neat communication features. So I respectfully declined, though I wish them all the best.

Which brings me to some exciting news: according to this report, Apple may be planning to debut an Apple/iPod hybrid cellphone at the MacWorld conference on Tuesday.

It’s about time. My back is killing me.

Corporate Bloggering

A while ago I set up a blog ring, which is basically exactly like a web ring, only with blogs. That is,

A webring in general is a collection of websites from around the Internet joined together in a circular structure… To be a part of the webring, each site has a common navigation bar; it contains links to the previous and next site. By clicking next (or previous) repeatedly, the surfer will eventually reach the site they started at; this is the origin of the term webring… Webrings are usually organized around a specific theme, often educational or social.

I called it the Corporate Bloggering (catchy, no?) and thought that perhaps other people who blog about blogs, like me, might be interested in joining. The idea is you sign up to be included here and get to add the cute chicklet I designed to your site ( socialmediagroup.png ), which is then linked to mine, and so on and so on.

Anyway, I set everything up and then never did anything about it, so I thought it was about time.

Brand tutorial – with ZeFrank

On March 17th, 2006 Hosea Jan Frank launched a daily vlog called The Show, making the commitment to produce five episodes a week for one year. Hosea, better known as “ZeFrank” is perhaps one of the most entertaining and intelligent content-producers I have ever come across (his slogan is “Thinking – so you don’t have to”), combining puerile humour with incredibly astute analysis and a totally unique perspective… I can’t help but love his style. So much so, I actually bought the T-shirt.

Anyway, I’ve fallen off the ZeFrank wagon in the last few months, but recently jumped back on, reviewing some of his most popular shows from late last summer. That’s when I came across this brilliant dissection of “brand”. Warning: it’s not work safe, mostly because of the swearing. (click on the image to play).

What’s also interesting is Ze’s steadfast refusal to take advantage of the viral possibilities presented by YouTube. He’s always refused permission to have any of his episodes uploaded. If I recall correctly, I think it has something to do with YouTube’s Terms of Use, which basically say that even though you made the content, by uploading it you give YouTube permission to make money with it however they choose. Which is a perhaps little-known (or addressed) issue in this new universe of user-generated content. I quote:

By submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successor’s) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

Pretty stiff terms, huh?

Social Networks: 174 million mobile users by 2011

This according to a new study from ABI Research, mobile users of social networks like MySpace and FaceBook (and those yet to be invented) will reach 174 million by 2011. Clint Wheelock, ABI’s vice president of research says:

In a logical progression, many social communities are now based on the mobile phone and other portable wireless devices instead of (or as well as) the PC. Such mobile social communities extend the reach of electronic social interaction to millions of people who don’t have regular or easy access to computers.

The big stmbling block at the moment is the business model – the more time and use on the sites, the more money they cost the user, inhibiting growth. ABI suggests a re-think of where profits come from, and an exploration of monetizing the data and behavioural info gathered, rather than access alone. One of their suggestions is that firms sponsor appropriate communities of interest in order to improve access, reduce consumer costs, boost growth and connect with their target markets.

You can read the original research here (and thank you, Business Wire, for providing this link!)

Controversial declarations and smokescreens

So, unless you live under a rock, away from all the social media and web 2.0 buzz, you’ve probably heard that on December 22nd, MicroSoft gave a bunch of bloggers laptops. However, all did not go as planned – there was backlash and more backlash. Many bloggers and readers felt that this was a MicroSoft “bribe” (a few decided to auction or give the laptops away, though most kept them). THEN – apparently what started off as a “you can keep it if you want” ended up being “this is a review PC – please return it or give it away when you’re done” (along with some tips about disclosure). Which was even worse. The blogosphere got really mad!

Shortly afterwards, on December 28th, huge amounts of discussion and blog inches were redirected to the sudden (and one might say bizarre) declaration from famed blogger-turned-high-profile-Edelman-social-media-wizard (actually, he’s been in communications for 15 years), Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion. Steve announced that Social Media was No Mo. Naturally, the socialmedia-o-sphere erupted with thorough explanations of why this was absolutely untrue. Mostly because most of the population and much of industry still hasn’t grasped the concept. How can something be over before anyone knows about it? Doesn’t it have to be widely adopted first??

Needless to say, the laptop thing was a badly-handled PR mess, orchestrated by… Edelman. I have a question: does anyone see any coincidence with the timing of Steve’s declaration and all the obscuring fuss it caused? Anyone?

Hat tip to Brian Solis