Posts Tagged ‘social media’
3rd April 14
A repost of one of our monthly tech columns for Marketing Magazine, this one on the globalisation of social media and what it means for, well, all of us. This article first appeared on 04.03.14. It sets the scene for a regular round-up here on technology in China and Asia Pacific by Carol Ong (based on her own newsletter), the first one of which is here.
The comforting phrase “social is local” has echoed through marketing departments for a while now. Comforting because it suggests it’s enough to have experienced, tech-savvy people representing the brand on the ground who know their own community backyard. No question, local intelligence is vitally important. But as this year unfolds, I think we’re going to see some shifts in how social media marketing operates around the globe. Call it a new form of ‘social migration’ that global marketers in particular should pay attention to.
I say this for a few reasons:
1. The growth of the largest social networks now depends on new geographic territories
If you’re Facebook, what do you do once you have 1.23 billion monthly active users on your platform (813 million of which are on mobile, 60% of whom are returning daily)? You take your now mobile-first platform, commit to making it more efficient so that it uses less bandwidth in markets where that really matters and simultaneously set about putting the technological infrastructure on the ground to accelerate providing Internet connectivity “for the next 5 billion”; which is exactly what Zuckerberg is doing via Internet.org, announced last year. This is clearly a philanthropic and a commercial move: two thirds of the world without access to the Internet represents a giant growth opportunity. And Facebook aren’t alone in turning their attention to the rest of the world. Aside from Facebook’s partners in Internet.org (Samsung, MediaTek, Ericsson, Nokia, Opera and Qualcomm), Twitter’s IPO last year revealed it was targetting Argentina, France, Japan, Russia, Saudia Arabia and South Africa for faster growth than the United States.
2. Mobile powers the pace of the shift
New behaviours often make existing services redundant, but the explosion in mobile penetration and usage worldwide*, creating what the World Economic Forum describes as a “dramatically altered business environment” across Africa for example, has allowed the leading social platforms to continue to grow, despite newer players arriving and scaling at vertigo-inducing pace: China’s WeChat, plus WhatsApp, SnapChat and Instagram being amongst the most salient. With social media, if your service is mobile first, a rising tide really does float all boats.
3. Cultural importers can export too
This time last year I was sitting in Beijing, listening to the CMO of Alfred Dunhill, Jason Beckley, speak about bringing a luxury British brand to the world. His words were refreshingly open-minded:
“Our market is in migration,” he summised, “…and we’d be naive if we thought luxury will always be an imported idea.”
The same is true of technology. If you want to predict the future of social and mobile, you’d do worse than watch China. It’s not just about the giant data pool. Historically dismissed for copycat innovation, the market is now home to some trail-blazing companies like the mobile company XiaoMi, with their eyes set on a global marketplace. By way of another example, take WeChat’s early rebranding for global rollout and their omnivorous approach to development (originally a messaging service, they added photo sharing & filters, games and now taxi bookings, with deeper mcommerce on the near horizon). Burberry announced a ‘digital innovation partnership’ with WeChat in February.
In short, I’d suggest we get used to the idea of ‘guanxi’, a Chinese term meaning both personal and business networks or connections, extending into Europe and the US this year. Taobao, Jack Ma’s equivalent of eBay but several times’ the size, recently shared a list of the hottest shopping keywords used in 2013. You may think it’s too early to get excited about keeping up with the rise of tuhao, buying yellow ducks and avoiding peng ci, but as technology businesses go about smashing geographic barriers and consumption get more collaborative, I wouldn’t bet on it.
*According to the content marketing service, Percolate, ‘pull to refresh’ is the most used gesture in the world – for more stats and analysis, check out their excellent The State of Content Marketing piece last year and more recently ‘Weibo, WeChat and the Future of Chinese Social Media‘.
Update: check out more on XiaoMi’s international expansion roadmap here, (via Benedict Evans).
7th August 13
It was a great man, Ferris Bueller to be precise, who once uttered the immortal words “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So wise and so relevant it seemed to me, as I reflected upon the phenomenon that is Snapchat. Last month, less than 2 years after launch, Snapchat raised $60m in funding on the basis of a $800m valuation from prominent VC’s. Dennis Phelps of Institutional Venture Partners gushed emphatically “The funding round was “one of the most competitive financings we have been a part of in years”. Despite the fact that they are yet to make a single dollar from advertising or charging users.
In many ways Snapchat embodies the very essence of the ephemeral but I couldn’t help wondering if it might be a signifier of a broader trend unfolding, something more fundamental and profound. As a generation of “digital natives” grow up and look to their future, and the whole world considers the repercussions of Edward Snowden’s revelations, it appears that we are collectively reappraising our engagement with the digital world. We grow increasingly aware of our ever deepening reliance on networked technologies, the blurring of public and private space, and the changing nature of our relationships with others, and we are beginning to explore new strategies to respond.
The Snapchat story
The genesis of Snapchat is shrouded in claim, counter-claim and litigation, and comes complete with its own Winklevoss Twin (singular sadly). In 2011 Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy took their Stamford University classmate Reggie Brown’s idea for a self-destructing messaging service and launched the app in September 2011 that year. Since launch the user base has grown at a staggering pace despite many detractors trying to write it off as a novelty app for creative sexters. Take one look at the numbers its obvious that there’s more to it than that. Snapchat users, particularly teenagers and college kids, now share over 150 million pictures every single day, more than four times Instagram’s daily shares.
Building the Ephemeranet
What’s particularly interesting is that Snapchat’s unique appeal comes from restricting, rather than enabling the intrinsic connectivity of the web. It lets people share experiences with friends, but it does so in a way that is time-bound and impermanent. Nothing you send is stored, and none is searchable. A generation of users who’ve grown up immersed in the social web are beginning to realise that their intimate experiences are not only available to their friends. They are also open to would-be employers, their parents, even that girl they may want to marry someday. According to Evan Spiegel the increasing pressure on them to manage their idealized online identity has “taken all of the fun out of communicating”. In glorious contrast, the transient and ephemeral nature of Snapchat provides a more spontaneous, less controlled or contrived way of communicating. By simplifying a security process enough to the point that anybody can use it Snapchat has created a market for privacy protecting ephemeral communication, an opportunity investment money will help them exploit further.
Potluck vs Performance anxiety
In July Josh Miller and the team behind Branch launched their new platform Potluck. Potluck, though very different to Snapchat, bears comparison because it also provides users with an interesting alternative to the performance anxiety of mass social interaction.
Potluck is essentially a link-sharing network built on top of a users’ social connections from Twitter, Facebook and Gmail. But unlike many of today’s social networks the focus is not on having users craft an online persona, but rather on the content being shared. Links shared on Potluck aren’t accompanied by people’s names or avatars, only the topic or name of the link, and the number of your friends who are talking about it. Instead of worrying about how popular your posts are, or how interesting you look because of what you share, you can focus on more genuine conversations around the subjects that really matter to you. The performance anxiety is gone, making it more accessible for everyone. As Miller explains “The whole reason we took the time to even focus on Potluck, is because we really do want to empower the people who are not having conversations to have conversations.”
Free to browse anonymously
If Edward Snowden and his revelations about the NSA’s PRISM programme have taught us anything (other than to beware of transit in Moscow airport) it is that our digital click-stream is an open book ready to be read by anyone with the computing power and inclination to sift through the meta-data.
The involvement of Microsoft, Yahoo and Google in the US spying programme has given an unexpected boost to lesser know search rival DuckDuckGo whose search requests have almost doubled to over 3million a day in the last month alone. DuckDuckGo provides ‘private’ internet searches which means that it does not track users in the same way that the big listed above do. It does serve Google-like ads, but without the customisation.
As founder Gabriel Weinberg explained, DuckDuckGo chose not to store search data because it reveals so much about us. Search data, he says, “is arguably the most personal data people are entering into anything. You’re typing in your problems, your desires. It’s not the same as things you post publicly on a social network.” Having decided that searching is intimately personal, he deduced, rather presciently that governments would want to get hold of search data. “I looked at the search fiascos such as the 2006 AOL data release, and decided that government requests were real and would be inevitable, and that search engines and content companies would be handing over that data [to government] in increasing amounts.”
Whilst DuckDuckGo’s numbers are hardly going to keep Googlers up at night this trend is illustrative of the growing recognition of the need to take control of the public availability of our browsing histories. Whilst DuckDuckGo’s entire premise is predicated on anonymity, “Incognito browsing” is of course a standard feature in Chrome, and similar features have since been adopted by Firefox and IE. Providing anonymous browsing may seem like a counterintuitive move for Google given their business model, but by giving users control over their anonymity on the most sensitive sites these features are more likely to reduce cookie deletion rates, thereby increasing the ability to target ads, thereby increasing revenues.
Military grade encryption from the App store
For those wanting the next level of privacy look no further than Wickr, created by Nico Sell, security expert and long-time organiser of Hacker convention Defcon. Wickr is a serious security-focused app that uses “military-grade” encryption to send text, video, voice, and document files that can self-destruct after a given period of time.
Hospitals and law enforcement have expressed interest in a similarly functioning Android app, Gryphn. Encryption legend Phil Zimmerman, inventor of Pretty Good Privacy or PGP, an encryption system so powerful that its distribution was once classified as arms dealing by the US government, is also developing an exciting and powerful suite of communication apps through his company Silent Circle. They are not for “average” users, but they will provide massive improvements in security for business and serious individuals who are looking for it.
So what does it all mean?
“Life is once, forever and new all the time” ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson
The Web 2.0 evangelists proselytised the benefits of a new era where we are all publishers. The Social Web enabled us to harness not just the wisdom of the crowd but the wisdom of our friends. Every moment, every memory of our lives effortlessly shared through our ‘feeds’ creating a permanent, public, searchable and socially verified record of our lives. And why? Because we could. But sometimes “Because we could” isn’t reason enough. Without serendipity we grow stale and predictable. Without spontaneity we deny the authenticity of our human response. Without our privacy where is there space for intimacy or dissent?
Once opened this Pandora’s box cannot simply be closed, nor would we want it to be. But there is an alternative. Snapchat’s self-destructing pictures are fun, but they are more than that. They are fleeting glimpse of what we crave, the means to put us back in control. Providing us with a most important ability in this networked age, the means to disconnect.
28th February 12
Author: Sarah Watson, Chief Strategy Officer BBH NY @Sarahmwatson
We had lots of fun last week preparing for my NY Social Media Week panel ‘Who owns this sh#t anyway’. View the archived live-stream here.
The panel gathered individuals from digital, PR, creative and client organisations to discuss the inside scoop on how social media is actually being handled. For me, it was a great moment to take stock with BBH buddies old and new to think about how really, in our heart of hearts, our particular skills and values can help our clients’ brands in this area.
For starters, it was easy to observe how incredibly inefficient the whole system is at the moment. Clients routinely find themselves with 12 different Facebook/Twitter pages, run by different people, doing different things. Agencies which could be fruitfully collaborating are pitted against one another (by design or by default) in an exhausting land-grab. There are pockets of customer service, pockets of CRM, and pockets of brand engagement; often, each with a different client, budget and objectives.
The concerns of my co-panellists were those of industrial-strength Social Media; they had to listen like their lives depended on it – because they did. They had to be in constant command of everything going on out in the community and constantly responding proportionately.
We creative agencies have had our fingers burned in the past by vaingloriously striding out into this fray and getting it wrong. Others have too, for that matter, but our hubris (alas) probably marks us out. So, we have re-shaped ourselves incorporating brilliant people who will make sure we don’t do this again.
But, really, the big gaping hole which emerged is that no one is approaching this entire thing brand first. The ever changing list of new social channels that spring up and flourish, each with its own set of values, behaviors and tone must be understood and used appropriately – but these are simply new lenses through which to view a brand. The more lenses, the more rich and nuanced an understanding of the brand is required.
What makes us creative agencies different is that we look inside first (great phrase, Sam Jesse). We don’t work in red-hot real-time response mode; we might do sometimes, but its not our fundamental default mode. Our centre of gravity lies with caring neurotically about a brand’s mortal soul. Our units of measurement are ultimately the muscularity of the overall brand and how we can flex it to our clients’ advantage when required.
So – what did the panel conclude re: who, indeed ‘owns this sh#t’? My personal shot was that the role for creative agencies is as the ‘priest hood of the mortal soul of the brand’. In our rush to barricade the land-grab we mustn’t forget that we need to think even more deeply about the powerful, differentiated brand stuff which is going to be so much more exposed than ever before. We also need to take the total holistic view which helps shape the overall ‘flow’ (thank you Jason G) of a brand’s body language and what it means for our coms plan.
In short, look to your mortal (brand) souls; there are nasty algorithms out there, bored consumers and social media overload; if you don’t know truly who you are and why you’re relevant – you’re going straight to social media hell.
26th April 11
Author: Simon Kemp (@eskimon), Engagement Planner, BBH Asia Pacific & BBH Labs
The digital landscape across Asia-Pacific has seen significant change in recent months, with enthusiasm for social media driving the broader adoption of a wide range of connected services and tools.
Although Internet penetration levels remain low in many Asian countries, the sheer size of those countries’ populations means that the numbers must be seen in context; for example, internet penetration in China stands at just 34%, but the number of social media users in that country exceeds the total population of Russia.
It’s also critical to understand how people in the East access and use the web. Read full post
24th January 11
We recently posted a rant about Quora that generated a lot of conversation. One of the comments was by Leslie Barry, the founder of Iphso. Leslie made the intriguing argument that Quora actually gets closer to question-and-answer nirvana than any other service: identifying intent. Here’s his explanation of what we’re just not getting. We couldn’t be happier to hear his perspective and would like to thank him for generously agreeing to guest post.
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Author: Leslie Barry (@LeslieCBarry), Founder of Iphso
What is intent?
According to The Search by John Battelle, the holy grail of search is to interpret the user’s intent and direct them seamlessly to the content, or ideally, provide the answer directly.
If we assume that intent is not WHAT I’m asking, but WHY I’m asking it, then I believe that Quora is closer to solving the intent of search.
So how does Quora get us closer to it?
Quora’s approach is to get the best qualified people (through credentials or experience) to create some rules (boring to some, but necessary to prevent chaos – even Wikileaks has rules), then leverages the serendipity effect to overcome the constraints of similar services, like LinkedIn, to refine the best questions to elicit the best answer.
What makes Quora unique is that it uses serendipity more effectively than other services.
What is the ‘serendipity effect’?
Wikipedia defines serendipity as ‘a propensity for making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated.’
An example is the real-world benefit I’ve experienced from social media, specifically Twitter, where I meet useful people that I would never know existed without a serendipitous network – i.e., people that I didn’t know I needed to know.
Quora is leveraging this extremely well: connecting the right ‘people I didn’t know I needed to know’ to clarify intent of the question, and as a result, shortening the path to the answer.
Intent is only relevant past a certain threshold of question. Something as simple as ‘What is the capital of Maine?’ is clearly better answered via Google. No rocket-science behind the intent there, but asking something slightly more complex and ambiguous like ‘How do you consume news? Has this changed in recent years?’ presents a greater challenge. When you Google it, Google assumes:
- The question is correct
- Keyword/location/context matching is adequate
So here is what Google thinks the answer is:
…and then Bing:
They both completely missed the point without the Quora results!
Conversely, this is what Quora’s users think the answer is:
Clearly, Quora is more efficient at interpreting intent.
This is because Quora doesn’t assume the question is correct. Instead it provides the ability to ask a question and have it clarified and modified wiki-style to help shape and tease out my intent. Often as a user, I’m clear on my intent, but am not the subject matter expert and therefore unclear on how to frame the question. The iterative, near-time editing of the question helps solve this issue. Also, Quora doesn’t focus on keyword/location/context matching like a mind-less search engine. Quora’s process of refining the question by subject matter experts eliminates the extra steps of sifting through multiple, non contextual answers.
And yes, there are many planted questions (Google Link-bait pages, anyone?, LinkedIn self-promotion?, mindless waffle on Yahoo Answers?), and self-promotion, but so what?
All I care about is the quicker path from question to most valuable answer that addresses ‘what I meant’, not necessarily what I asked. My intent.
Why can’t Google or Bing use other people’s answers to opinion-type questions to decide the most relevant options to serve you? I think this is because of their strong focus on the search algorithm, which values content over context and popularity over intent. Also, Google is one-way traffic, without an iterative, refining feedback loop; we have to stumble blindly along hoping for one or two interesting search results out of ten or twenty.
As a result, it’s Quora, not a traditionally defined search engine, that’s helping us take a step towards the holy grail of intent.
It’s not perfect, but it’s challenging our approaches and thinking about teasing out intent from users. Maybe Google indexes them and learns from them? Once again, it doesn’t matter – we will have taken a huge leap from accepting that indexing and search is better than curated, considered, intelligent answers.
24th December 10
It seems every food brand on the planet wants to be “100% natural” these days. In the face of rising ethical consumption, even the unlikeliest of brands – McDonald’s, Muller and Walkers crisps to name a few – are responding and staking a claim. Always outspent in marketing terms, organic food producers – just at the point they should be claiming their day in the sun – face being outpositioned too. If you care about it enough, you only have to Google the term to find out that there are real and significant benefits to sustainably produced organic food, but why bother when even a celebrity chef tells us conventional foods are good enough?
Ask a mainstream UK audience in a recession-hit early 2010 what they had to say about organic food and the impact of all this showed: top responses included increased scores against “expensive”, “worthy” and “a bit dull”.
By contrast, when a team of us met Tim Mead (whose family started making dairy products under the Yeo Valley name in 1974) in March this year, two things were striking:
1. His approach: an unapologetic marriage of entrepreneurialism and down-to-earth common sense. An organic farmer for the 21st century if there ever was one.
2. Their vision: Tim and his mother, Mary Mead, believe organic, sustainably produced food should be accessible to everyone. Philosophically and practically it’s a virtuous circle: the more people eat sustainably produced food, the better it is for all of us and the planet. But “accessible to everyone” demands prices that are competitive to conventional products and that in turn makes a volume-based strategy for Yeo Valley both an economic possibility AND an absolute necessity, if the company is to prosper.
Which was where they saw a role for marketing: to drive demand amongst a necessarily broader, more mainstream audience, along the way helping people to remember Yeo Valley’s name and what it stands for – not least the fact it’s a real place in the West Country.
Our strategy was simple: tackle the perception issue head-on by reversing the expectations of how an organic brand should behave amongst a mainstream UK audience. Goodbye: worthy and earnest. Hello: open and social, populist and proud.
For more on the anatomy of our approach take a look below. First up, some results and what we’ve learned so far. It’s still very early days and we’ve resisted writing about this until we had some (hot off the press) commercial data. We’ll have more substantive conclusions once we’re further in, but here’s what we know for now:
- Furthermore, Yeo Valley spontaneous awareness as a dairy brand had more than doubled just 2 weekends in to the campaign (7% to 15%). Source: Nursery brand tracker
- Of the online mentions since launch in October an average week records a 94.9% favourable sentiment score – fuelled no doubt by over 550 blogposts and the odd celebrity tweet. Source: Sysomos sentiment analysis
10 THINGS WE’VE LEARNT
Perhaps few surprises here, but at the very least a strong reinforcement of some evolutionary truths about modern fmcg marketing:
- Be true to the people who live the brand, not the perception. In this case, organic brands don’t have to wear sandals.
- Broadcast can still play a crucial role. If you want to reach a discrete audience (cf Marmarati or Stella Artois Black’s Night Chauffeur) it may be far from necessary, however if your task is mass appeal and you deliberately want to make a public statement about your brand, then broadcast is hard to beat. The trick for Yeo Valley in this respect was three-fold (points 3, 4 and 5 below):
- Strategy is the art of sacrifice. There wasn’t a huge marketing budget to blow. In terms of bought media, instead of attempting to be everywhere, we brokered an exclusive deal with ITV and Fremantle around X Factor and went big with it. One 2 minute spot, first ad in the first break of the UK’s TV biggest show would, we hoped, act as a rocket launcher for the brand. Subsequently, an on-pack promotion and a mix of shorter time length ads appeared, only ever in X Factor on ITV1, ITV2 and itv.com.
- Super bowl, super social: we began the process believing the answer did not lie in choosing between social and broadcast, but in committing to both wholeheartedly. To borrow @willsh’s analogy, ‘fireworks bring you to the brand, you stay for the warming fire’. In Yeo Valley’s case, this meant live event TV every weekend, with an ongoing bedrock of conversation and additional content on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube which extends, deepens and personalizes the brand’s relationship with new customers.
- As we’ve said before, it’s not about now, it’s about the trajectory. The basics of the brand’s behaviour and presence online were laid down months before the TV ad launch and will continue long after; amongst other things getting to know like-minded bloggers, who came to Yeo Valley over the summer to see for themselves how a sustainable dairy farm is run.
- Reward the fans – by recognising the very best remixes and spotting what they like and giving them more (in our case, letting Ted the owl take over @yeovalley for a day on Twitter and produce his own edit).
- If you can, change the rules of a category. Quite simply, the conversation around Yeo Valley was fuelled by content and behaviour that caught people’s imagination in a surprising way. A brand trending on Twitter a few days in a row may not be a result in itself, but since the sentiment stayed largely favourable, it gave us a useful indicator of early impact and most importantly where earned media could come from.
- Haters gonna hate? Maybe, maybe not. Sure, some criticism should be ignored, but we’ve gained a lot more by listening, taking a deep breath and responding.
- Have an organising thought that can cross platforms and time. “Live in Harmony” sums up Yeo Valley’s world view and also gives the brand and its audience the licence to have some fun with music over time, even playing with the sounds of the farm itself:
- Brands that get better under scrutiny, not worse, will win in social environments online. With Yeo Valley this was never a problem. But it’s worth thinking beyond your carefully planned editorial calendar: what are the issues and opportunities that just *might* arise?
THE ANATOMY OF ‘LIVE IN HARMONY’ TO DATE
The engagement plan set out to splice bought, earned and owned media. It was necessarily quite complex – this is the simple version:
If you’d like to find out more drop us a comment here, check out the brand’s website or YeoTube for more Yeo Valley videos. These include a Making Of together with a series of films featuring Tim & Mary Mead, each offering a window on Yeo Valley as a real place in the West Country (one example below):
Finally, look out for “Farmony“, our Yeo Valley online game teaching kids how to run a sustainable farm, launching in early 2011.
Tim Mead, Managing Director
Adrian Carne, Commercial Director
Ben Cull, Head of Brands
Alison Sudbury, Marketing Manager
Niki Martini, Assistant Brand Manager
Sally Laurie, Customer Services Manager
Rosie Arnold, Deputy Exec Creative Director
Kevin Brown, Director of Engagement Planning
Mel Exon, Strategic Business Lead
Simon Pearse and Emmanuel Saint M’Leux, creative team
Eric Chia, Digital Creative Lead
Glenn Paton, Producer
Mark Whiteside, Team Director
Simeon Adams, Strategist
Lawrence Kao, Strategist
Jim Hunt, Head of Technology
Craig Dodd, Tech Lead
Ebla Salvi, Digital Team Manager
Josie Robinson, Team Manager
Sarah Barclay, Digital Project Manager
Daniele Orner-Ginor, Digital Intelligence
Emile Doxey, Data Analyst
David Pandit, Head of Data
Richard Helyar, Knowledge & Insight
Rebecca Levy, Team Assistant
PR: Bell Pottinger
Richard Moss, Director (PR Planning)
Kate Griffiths, Account Director
Jacquelyn Redpath, Account Manager
Brand identity redesign: Pearl Fisher
Tess Wickstead, Planning Director
Natalie Chung, Creative Director
Matt Small, Client Services Director
Michael Dye, Senior Account Manager
Henry Leeson, Head of Realisation
TV Production Company: Flynn
Julien Lutz, Director
Emma Butterworth, Producer
Alex Barber, DoP
Post Production: Framestore
Editing: Steve Ackroyd at Final Cut
Exposure: TV, UK
19th February 10
Here at BBH Labs we’re big fans of all things social. We’ve spent time evangelising about the power of the social web and speculating about a future dominated by social businesses. We’re inspired and excited by a future where we can take our social graph with us anywhere we go on the web-a future beautifully articulated by Undercurrent’s Mike Arauz.
”There is no longer any interaction that an individual may have with a brand, company, product, or service that disconnected from all the people they know, and the people that share their interest in that experience.”
So we were more than a little taken aback by the findings of the latest Edelman Trust Barometer that shows we trust our friends and peers as a source of information considerably less than we did two years ago. The decline is particularly marked in the US where just 25% of respondents view friends and peers as very/extremely credible-a decline of 20 percentage points on 2008-but is also reflected in the global data.
It’s an extraordinary finding which calls many of our assumptions into question. The trust consumers place in peer to peer recommendations versus corporations has been one of the primary drivers of the social web, the excitement we feel about the potential for social business and the shift of marketing dollars from above the line to social media.
So has all our excitement been founded on a false set of assumptions? Is this simply an anomaly in the data? Or is social media sowing the seeds of its own demise? Read full post
28th January 10
Now social media has made it possible for everyone to become a broadcaster, is it inevitable that everyone becomes an advertiser?
In the early weeks of 2010, there’s already been considerable debate (and indignation) around brands, businesses and even bands incentivising users for Tweets. Twincentivisng, if you like (and I must admit I can’t resist a pun).
Should brands pay for tweets? Should twitterers take the cash or resist? Is there a sustainable paid for media model here or a fundamentally misguided reaction to the rise of social media? Is pay-per-tweet the end of the Twitterverse as we know it?
In many ways this is an inevitable response to a number of factors:
- The extraordinary rise and equally extraordinary media profile of Twitter
- The increased premium placed on peer to peer recommendations
- The collapse of on-line display advertising and the rise of SEO
- The socialisation of search
Any and all of these factors suggest a pressing need for brands to find a way to harness the power of social media and for media agencies to find a way to monetise it. Viewed from one perspective, the asymmetric nature of Twitter relationships make it particularly ripe for the adoption of a “broadcast” model. 1 in 5 tweets already mentions a brand so monetisation of these mentions seems, from that perspective, to make eminent sense.
29th May 09
Social networking, social media, the social web-some of the most frequently used phrases of the moment but how often do we stop and think about what “social” really means?
One of the easiest (and laziest) answers seems to be that it’s about making friends-being sociable. But it’s interesting to note that while “social” does derive from the Latin “socius” (meaning friend) it does so via “socialis” meaning allied. Somehow enabling allies and allegiances seems like a much bigger and more transformative idea than simply socialising.
Some of the most interesting social sites at the moment actually seem to me to have very little to do with friending people, or poking people, or checking out their holiday pictures. The most interesting initiatives seem to be those that bring individuals together around a common purpose, enabling them to achieve things together previously only possible for major corporations. Ideas that allow individuals not simply to friend one another but to be useful to one another-that cut out the corporate world or conventional distribution mechanics and create a consumer to consumer value exchange.
As Jyri Engestrom puts it in his excellent post on “object-centred sociality”: “The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people. They’re not; social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object. That’s why many sociologists, especially activity theorists, actor-network theorists and post-ANT people prefer to talk about ‘socio-material networks’, or just ‘activities’ or ‘practices’ (as I do) instead of social networks”
I recently attended the inaugural IPA “Game Changers” event where among other great speakers Giles Andrews from Zopa inspired the crowd by explaining the genuinely radical thinking behind “the social lending company”. For those who aren’t familiar with the proposition, Zopa is a service that puts individual borrowers directly in touch with individual lenders. It not only offers a welcome stream of credit in these increasingly crunched times, it also offers a win-win by offering compelling rates for both parties.
This is a genuinely transformative piece of thinking that uses the fundamental characteristics of the social web-the ability to bring individuals together for their common good, the ability to start conversations-but has relatively limited interest in the sociable web. Concepts like Freecycle, couchsurfing or quirky work along similar lines: I don’t need to be intimate with other users to be of use to them, collaborate with them, fund them, enable them.
Perhaps the most interesting point this raises is that the future of the social web may be driven not so much by friendship but by a new kind of trust. Trust in individuals versus institutions. Trust in people I don’t know (that I’m not friends with) but who I instinctively prefer to the plc and who are brought to me by editor and enabler brands I believe in. As crumbling faith in institutions meets technologies that can genuinely empower both the individual and the crowd, the possibilities are endless (and a little scary). The future of the social web may in fact be less sociable, more (dare I say it) socialist….
So what does this mean for the corporate world? Well, the end probably isn’t nigh just yet. Deriving real utility from social media requires an investment from the individual-in terms of time and in terms of reciprocity. So it will probably remain for a while the preserve of the digitally savvy and time rich. But it may be time to start thinking now about which other services that could previously only be delivered by the might of the corporates that may be socialised next. If lending can be socialised, what’s next? Venture capital? Real estate? What are we already doing on a micro-social scale that could go macro? What else can we congregate around to our mutual benefit? Would be fascinated to know your thoughts….