Archive for “December, 2009”

Social Media Roundup, December 24, 2009

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker

Shine up your crystal ball and air out the wizard hat, because this is the time of year when everyone is making predictions. So this week on the Social Media Roundup we have a collection of predictions on what 2010 will bring us.

Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell) thinks that this is the year that Twitter has to get serious or get bought.

Trendspotting solicited a series of social media pundits to offer their 2010 predictions in 140 characters or less.

Debra Aho Williamson and Paul Verna of eMarketer are predicting the growth of earned media and that online news will shift back to a paid model.

David Armano offers his Six Social Media Trends on the Harvard Business Blog including that social media is becoming more exclusive and that corporations will look to scale their social media efforts.

Jackie Huba of the Church of the Customer Blog has a nice graphical series of Out and In predictions focusing around businesses taking social media a little more seriously and making it a little more boring.

Dan Zarella predicts the increased use of social media in small business and that 2010 will be the year of the Real Time Web.

Finally, Vadim Lavrusik on Mashable predicts that the news media will dive far deeper into social media, real-time web and mobile applications.

The Evolution of Comments

I had a fascinating conversation with Khris Loux of Echo yesterday about the state of commenting in social media. We discussed how there is a lot less commenting on original blog posts these days and that much of the conversation around blog posts and other social objects is happening on various social networks. There may be a general tendency to respond via the medium you received the information rather than commenting on the original post. For example, if Dave sends out a tweet about a post and I have something to say about it, I find myself more likely to respond to Dave on Twitter then to the author on the original post.

To call Echo a comment platform is an oversimplification. It has the features one would expect from an outsourced comment service, like threading, spam-protection, moderation, content filters, etc.). However, the really interesting part is the social networking integration. Before speaking with Khrys, I  might have dismissed this integration as a “share this” button and not thought about it more. Echo captures and aggregates the publicly available conversation that occurs in response to the sharing means that content producers can easily collect the conversation about their work that happens elsewhere. It also collects ratings, diggs, trackbacks and likes, as well. The syndication of comments over social networks also has the benefit of distributing the link to the content via commenters friends/followers and thereby increasing the exposure with each comment or rating.

There is actually a social behaviour story here as well. When TechCrunchIT piloted the service they found that when they forced authentication via a social network before commenting was allowed, the quality of the comments increased considerably. This makes sense, since if my comment is going to be posted to my Facebook or Twitter stream for all my friends and colleagues to see, I will definitely craft my thoughts more carefully. This is a much better way of dissuading trolls as well.

I really like that Echo is tying these many distributed conversations back to the orignal content, which makes one aspect of monitoring social media a little more integrated and easier to manage.  The fact that it also helps to reduce comments from trolls and further distribute the content also makes it an important component of a social media syndication strategy.

Social Media Roundup for December 18, 2009

Contributor Tweet

Twitter is making tweeting for business a little more manageable by testing a new feature called Contributors that will allow multiple users to contribute to a central account. The service is still in beta and thus not available to everyone yet, but Contributors is apparently among several new business features that will be rolled out. The new feature will support the business users of CoTweet and HootSuite.

In other Twitter news, Mashable reports that Twitter is getting a lot more open with its API and as of 2010 application developers will be able to get the “full firehose” of data which has not been accessible to date.

YouTube released its top videos of 2009 and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone with an internet connection that dowdy Susan Boyle and her 120 million+ views of I Dreamed a Dream came in first with almost three times the views of runner up David After Dentist.

Google Labs unleashes Browser Size a very handy tool for reviewing your web site layout by visually representing the percentage of visistors that are able to see your site based on the size of user’s browser windows.

SMG's Website as seen by Google Browser Size

SMG's Website as seen by Google Browser Size

TechCrunch has a great think piece on “fast food content” and how original content is being aggregated, processed and  dumbed-down by bloggers and old-media alike in a race to the bottom in journalism. Fascinating to see how the quickly the new kid on the block becomes the old guard descrying where the young ‘uns are taking the industry.

Xmas Bonus: RockBand and Guitar Hero are pretty popular pastimes whenever the SMG crew gets together. So with holidays coming up we have to shout out to the Geektastic achievement of Ric Turner and his mind-blowing Christmas Light Hero (instructions on how to do it yourself courtesy of Make).

Social Media Today Webinar: Adding Value with Online Community; How to Leverage Community for Fun & Profit

Social Media Today

Do you like Fun? Silly question. Ok, well how about a little profit? Yep?

Maggie is moderating another webinar at Social Media Today on December 18th at 1pm EST. The topic is Adding Value with Online Community: How to Leverage Community for Fun & Profit. Guest speakers are  Rachel Happe, Co-Founder and Principal at The Community Roundtable, Neil Beam, Sr. Manager of Channel Strategy at AT&T and  Francois Gossieaux, partner and co-founder at Beeline Labs.

If you have time, tune in! The webinar will cover the following issues and will finish up with a live Q&A:

  • What are the various types of community and what are some of their reasons for being?
  • What makes an online community work?
  • How do you measure success? Operationally? Bottom-line?
  • What are the ways that communities fail?
  • What are the best platforms and technologies available?
  • How should you budget for costs?

Tune in to what promises to be a lively conversation!

Social Media Roundup for December 11, 2009

To kick things off this week, our very own Norval Wilson suggests you check out the demo of Sixth Sense, a project from MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interface Group for a taste of how awesome “personal computing” is going to be in the not too distant future. If you’ve got a short attention span, you can jump right to the demo at 6’24”. (via brandflakesforbreakfast, via AdLab)

Reading on Signal vs. Noise this week lead me to Jason Cohen’s post Sacrifice your health for your startup“. It is an interesting treatise on success, passion and how much of yourself you put into your work. Applicable to so many of us working in the incredibly engrossing areas of social media and digital communications.

Google Real Time Search went live this week. According to Read Write Web:

The new type of results are well-integrated, unobtrusive, diverse in contents and formatted simply. It appears to be a job very well done.

The new Google Real-Time Search includes far more than just Twitter results. In addition to newly updated web pages, it will also include updates from users of MySpace, Facebook, open-source Twitter alternative and more.

Facebook made news this week with the release of its modified privacy options. Some folks aren’t thrilled, natch. This means much more FB user content will be public. Which Google will now index Real Time. John Batelle likens it to a game of chess between the Internet giants.

In other Facebook this news week, the NYT reports that a recent opinion by the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee means that Lawyers and Judges can no longer be Facebook friends.  From the article: “When judges “friend” lawyers who may appear before them, the committee said, it creates the appearance of a conflict of interest…”  Perhaps the entire Floridian legal community on Facebook should make a pact to commit Facebook Seppukoo in protest?

Toronto Girl Geek Dinner #17: The Semantic Web and Artifical Intelligence

Tonight is the final Toronto Girl Geek Dinner of 2009. There are still a few spots left if you’d like to join us.

Since launching in 2007, hundreds women in the Toronto technology community have participated in our events. We always have a quality time networking and stretching our brains to think about technology in new ways.

We are really fortunate to welcome Dr. Sheila McIlraith, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, as our featured speaker.

As our guest speaker, Sheila will touch upon the following topics:

  • cognitive robotics — creating thinking robots
  • what cognitive robotics has to do with the semantic web
  • some of the long-term societal influences of Artificial Intelligence research

Sheila McIlraith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto. Prior to joining U of T, Prof. McIlraith spent six years as a Research Scientist at Stanford University, and one year at Xerox PARC. McIlraith’s research is in the area of knowledge representation and reasoning. She has 10 years of industrial R&D experience developing artificial intelligence applications. McIlraith is the author of over 50 scholarly publications. She is an associate editor of the journal Artificial Intelligence and past program co-chair of the International Semantic Web Conference. McIlraith’s early work on Semantic Web Services has had notable impact. Her research has also made practical contributions to the development of next-generation NASA space systems and to emerging Web standards.

Special thanks to Hover for their sponsorship of our fall 2009 events. Check them out at for your Domain and Email needs.

Social Media Roundup for December 4, 2009

The Social Media Roundup: It’s like a gang of ninjas attacking you with awesomeness.  Be sure to get a good seat, and keep your eyes peeled.

Our Shuriken are Shaped Like Maple Leaves
An article in the Vancouver Sun citing a recent Forrester Research analysis claims that Canadians are the social networking ninjas of the world. While I appreciate the sentiment, if they were able to measure us then we’re clearly the worst ninjas ever.  Forrester merely claims Canadians are the most active social networkers in any of their surveyed markets, which is still pretty cool.

Extreme Makeover: Friendster Edition
In the ‘Whatever happened to…” category, we have news from Friendster this week that there’s a makeover being rolled out.  In a video where they call out Facebook and MySpace as being plain and boring, they trot out a new interface that looks like a direct mashup of the two juggernauts. So boring + plain = awesome?  Seems that somebody thinks so, as the site is rumoured to be sold by month’s end.

Top Ten List of Top Ten Lists of the Year
It’s December, the time of eggnog, yule logs, and year-in-review features.  So what was the buzz this year?  What were we all talking about? Well, according to the top 3 search engines, it seems some guy died, a movie about emo vampires was released, and it all happened in 140 characters or less.

Es Una Gran Fiesta!
Ford’s groundbreaking Fiesta Movement went out with a bang this week, clocking the Guinness World Record for largest tweetup at the conclusion of the Movement and the unveil of the 2011 Fiesta.   Can’t wait to see what’s coming next with Fiesta Movement Chapter 2.  [Disclosure: Yes, Ford’s a client, but the Movement’s not our baby.]

Would You Like Some Cheese With That?
A new study has apparently proven the Greater Internet F***wad Theory [language NSFW], concluding that otherwise pleasant people can be whiny jerks online.  Up next, proof that trolls don’t just reside under bridges.

Social Media Success: Framework for Experimentation

Social media moves faaast. So fast that I’m often asked by panicked clients if I think “things will slow down” and allow them to “catch up”.

mission-accomplishedUm, no. No one will ever hang a “Mission Accomplished” sign on the Internet. It’s a dynamic platform, and your company is going to have to map to that innovation and dynamism. Innovation certainly dips and swoops, but new platforms will continue to emerge, and you will have to come to understand how the most important of them work and what they mean to your business and constituents.

Now that I’ve frightened and upset you, I’d also like to let you in on a really simple process to help you both keep pace with new social media stuff you’re planning and also (even more importantly) generate value and insight into the social media stuff you’ve already done. We call it the SMG Framework for Experimentation.

<i>Social Media Group Framework For Experimentation</i>

Social Media Group Framework For Experimentation

It is intended to provide:

  • A healthy mix of accountability and experimentation
  • The right environment for programs to mature to a point where informed go/no go decisions become possible
  • Senior management visibility/input into activities
  • The ability to constantly learn and course correct
  • Institutionalizing programs with demonstrated value
  • Looking ahead: focused innovation

It seems simple – and it is. It’s also a key success factor in both being able to demonstrate and generate value from your social media efforts, no matter where you sit in the org. So while you’re laying out your social media plans for 2010, repeat after me, “Framework for Experimentation. Framework for Experimentation…”

New FTC Guides: disclosure comes to the social media masses

Today is a new day. The FTC’s recent updates to its guides (“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”) for advertisers are now in affect. These new guides impact both users of social media and Brands.

To comply with the guides, individuals (bloggers, users of social media)  must disclose every “material connection” or relationship they have with an advertiser. A material connection is one where the individual receives payment, product, demo units, goods, services, etc. from an advertiser. However, professional journalists do not disclose the free product, junkets, travel, meals, tickets, accommodations, etc. that they receive from advertisers. This double standard makes my head spin.

So, the rather loosely-defined guides are now in effect. The fine for failure to comply (up to $11,000 per infraction) can be applied to both advertisers and individuals.

Here is a quick overview of how to comply with the changes:

For individuals participating online:

  • Disclose whenever you have a relationship with an advertiser, brand or company. This has specific implications for employees. You must make a disclosure if you work for Acme Widgets and you mention your employer, competitors, or the widgets industry in a blog post, tweet or elsewhere online.
  • You must also disclose the name of your employer if you are commenting on a forum thread or in a group about Acme Widgets, the widget industry or about a competitor.
  • Disclose when you have received any kind of product or anything of value from a Brand. You can be a fan but as soon as you’ve received something of value because you’re fan, a customer, or because of your social networks and activity online, you need to disclose the nature of what you’ve received.

So, how do you make a disclosure? It is very simple and need not take up much space.

  • “I work for Acme Widgets.”
  • If Acme Widgets flew you to South Carolina to participate in a customer golf tournament you might write: “I’m an Acme Widgets customer. Acme Widgets has paid for my travel to attend this conference and golf tournament.”

This disclosure is not much of a change for people accustomed to being transparent when using social media. It will require a bit more work and thoughtfulness on the part of social media users to make their disclosures.  And of course, the ins-and-outs of how to do disclosure using short message services like Twitter are yet to be defined. Certainly for those of us who participate online, the effort is worthwhile to stay ahead of any fines or action from the FTC. Here at SMG, we fully expect the applications and methods used to manage personal disclosure to evolve as the Guides are applied to real-word situations. We also expect norms and best practices to emerge as the Guides are tested.

For Brands engaging fans and customers online, these Guides mean that the best practices for social media marketing advocated by organizations like WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) are now policy. These Guides mean more work, discipline and process around social media operations. The FTC places equal onus on advertisers and individuals for compliance and fines can be issued to both parties.

If you’re an advertiser, a roadmap for your brand might look like this:

  1. Refesh your guidelines for employees participating online to include specifics about disclosure. Provide some concrete examples and make sure they know where to turn with questions.
  2. Review your blogger relations/digital influencer/fan engagement approach with your internal teams and agencies. Make certain that language with details about the requirement to disclose and where they can find factual information about your product is included in communication with these bloggers.
  3. The next step is to watch and ensure disclosure is being made by your campaign participants and that they aren’t make any false claims. You can accomplish this by monitoring, keeping an eye on and following up about disclosure for the participants in your campaign.

If you’d like to read further, I suggest you check out Andy Sernovitz’s thoughtful post, What do the “FTC Guides re: The Use of Endorsements and Testimonials Mean for Social Media Markters?.

WOMMA is currently requesting feedback on its proposed Guide to Social Media Disclosure. That guide is shaping up to provide “explicit best practices for social media disclosure”.

So far the reaction to these new Guides seems to be the online equivalent of a shrug. Advertisers and brands are certainly not shrinking away from social media campaigns in light of the new FTC Guides. So what do you think? Will these new FTC Guides really change anything?