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Hi5- the other social network to watch

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 6, 2009 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

Click for full-size image.

You may not know it but Hi5 is the third largest social network in the world  polling into position behind Facebook and MySpace.  What make its different from the other two is clearly its audience. It has around 60 million  unique visitors  per month , 40% of whom come from Spanish speaking countries. This makes it the largest Latin American or Hispanic social network . While virtually unheard of in the United States the UK or some of Europe  there are reasons to believe that this could change.  The key information to be aware of  is that more and more people in the U.S. are discovering the site, a trend line that will likely keep bending upward in the next 12 months. What would be interesting to track is whether this  new US  based  audience is  ethnically and demographically  the young Hispanic and creates a parallel spanish speaking social network the covers the Americas and Spain . As of mid-2007 the Hispanic community  in the US, the largest  minority group , accounted for 15.1% of the total U.S. population and also since 2000  have accounted for more than half (50.5%) of the overall population growth in the United States 

Hi5′ s music and video applications rival those of other, more popular social networks, and Hi5′s mobile app is first rate.

Hi5 won’t be bigger than Facebook  by the end of the year, but it will have grown significantly, and it will have given many people  an attractive alternative to try out

What will be interesting to observe in the near future is whether the identities of one social network can or will be able cross register with the other using the concept of Open ID.

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Branded Content – Social Marketing deal : Groove Armada and Barcardi Rum

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 22, 2009 in Branded content, Social Media Marketing, User experience, Viral Marketing

Groove Armada and Barcardi Rum deal

groove-armada1

There are “No Rules”  anymore when it comes to the music industry and how band or musical acts market themselves in the digital age. To underscore the changing ways of doing business and the ability of an act taking control of its music and image outside of the “record deal”  -  traditionally label based system, Groove Armada’s deal with Barcardi Rum is unprecedented. Its a pure play “Branded Content”  deal.  The UK based , world renowned DJ  and dance music act Groove Armada, has signed an exclusive one year  recording, DJing and promotional deal with Barcardi.  And it  has the music industry pundits questioning whether its a  ”Sell Out” or another wake call in the ever evolving era of media portability and its impact on all traditional  entertainment media. 

In the 21st Century music scene, with music sales down and the internet transferring power to the artists, their options are wide open. In what could be called a symbiotic exchange or  promotional deal, Groove Armada gets to be promoted and play to new audiences worldwide under the marketing flagship of Barcardi. It is what could be called a branded content  viral or social marketing deal too.  Bacardi is  the facilitator of content or  music sharing, is  associated to a “hip act ” and right in touch with core audience and their media and social habits.  A  four-track EP – the only music to be released under the contract  -  was launched by Tom and Andy Cato at the Midem international music convention in Cannes yesterday.  

The Branded Content – Social marketing deal 

The EP will be delivered through an innovative sharing mechanic called Bacardi B-LIVE Share; a pioneering online application encouraging and rewarding consumers who share Groove Armada’s music from the EP with their own online communities.  Andy Cato says of the model -
“Sharing music has always gone on. It’s giving music away that’s the problem. We wanted to come up with a 21st century version of what we used to do with cassette tapes. When you give music away for free it’s disposable. When you share it, it’s done with love.” 

The first track  has just been released  as a free  download for free from http://www.bliveshare.com , Baracardi’s brand spanking  new music / promotional sharing platform. 

In what is surely  an experiment in Social Media and Viral marketing , to get the other three tunes, fans must share the first with their friends, who share it with their friends, who share it with their friends.

To get the second track, the fans and their network of friends must spread the first 20 times through the website. To get the third, the network must share it 200 times. And for the fourth, the first MP3 must be shared 2,000 times in total.  The originator or ancestor  being able track their spread of music through their social network with a window of six weeks to spread it, after which time all four songs will go on sale through normal digital stores.

The site includes social sharing applications with Facebook , MySpace , blogs , websites , and a call to social  email campaigning.  

 So download your  exclusive Groove Armada track “Go” from me :)  

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Web 2.0 : The basics of the Open and social web

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 14, 2009 in General, User experience

“An emerging network- centric platform to support distributed,  collaborative and cumulative creation by its users.” 

- John Hagel 

Web 2.0  is such an amorphous terms that defies a hard definition. In the many years that  have been talking about and working in in web development and interactive marketing I would often describe the evolution of the web as  generational,  heralding each leap in concept  from media, content,  browsers, systems and platforms  as contributing generational stepping stones to where we are today. The hyperbolic change that occurred in the early internet years seemed to have generational change each successive year with competing technologies, media companies and battling it out for a controlling position. When the dot com bubble finally burt in 2001  there was a  turning point in the web. The point where after a shakeout the ascendent technologies began to differentiate themselves from the raft of “frothy flotsam ” washed up in wake of the the crash. Perhaps the corporate agendas of owning  or controlling the web , the antithesis of its organic and free form, had failed. What was apparent at this time was that new sites and technologies kept on revitalizing the digital space in an open and collaborative way. 

While the boom was definitively over the web just kept evolving in open way and the  transition to  Web 2.0 was enabled by the emergence of platforms such as blogging, social networks, and free image and video uploading, that collectively  allowed extremely easy content creation, access and sharing by anyone who had a computer and a connection. The barrier to entry of web publishing or content creation was over and the social voice of the digital consumer  had begun its transformative ride over traditional media. 

 If you think Web 2.0  as simply social networking or just about the technical or geek jargon…. you really need to think again. Every aspect of Web 2.0 is driven by consumer participation, from content, its voice, browser development, technology platforms, and an ever evolving digital life.  The most definitive trend and primary direction of Web 2.0 is for users to control  the content they create, the data captured about their web activities and their identity and their willingness to participate and socialize collectively. The gradual opening or advances in  digital standards  have allowed for a common interfaces and integration across content and applications allowing a less constrained environment then had previously existed before.  Decentralized in its architecture, participation, and usage, Web 2.0′s  real  power and flexibility emerges  from distributing applications and content over many points rather than having them locked down on centralized or controlled systems. Its is truly becoming a  plugin and play open environment for digital interplay between content and devices where the consumer experience  of  media or content mobility is quintessential. 

What is very clear is that the Web 2.0  is not a trend or fad, it is not going way or will disappear, its here to stay. What is even more interesting is that the internet development chatter is about the next evolution , Web 3.0 or the semantic web, an intelligent web based on  behavioural understanding of the consumers digital actions.  What’s going to be  interesting about Web 3.0  and will define just how far it can go will be the consumer privacy laws. There’s potentially an imminent consumer back lash looming in the near future concerning the use of known and personal data points surrounding behaviours.  web-20-framework

There are a small number main characteristics that help define web 2. 0 In the marketers world there are a few we should be aware of as these have become  part of the mainstream  marketing language: 

New Media Marketing: a term to describe the building and managing of social networks and online or virtual communities, and extend the reach of marketing to the low-frequency, low-intensity consumer in a cost effective way.

Buzz Marketing: The strategic use of word of mouth, the transmission of commercial information from person to person in an online or real-world environment.

Viral Marketing: The intentional spreading of marketing messages using social networks, with an emphasis of the casual, non-intentional and low cost.

Collective Intelligence or Collaborative Filtering : Essentially what this means is that “users” contributions greatly help build and make the foundation stronger and more popular by adding their content, such as links, comments, forum posts, reviews, rating others, an aggregation of the best work of thousands, then millions of web users (example: YouTube – more comments, more “thumbs-up” the more popularity), and any content contribution really. Without the end “user” the sites popularity goes down – if there is no interactivity for the end user, it’s not collective “anything.” So in short – the site grows organically in response to user activity.

Users Add Value: The architecture of your software development relies on “public” users to add their own data thus adding more value to your application. FireFox, Mozilla , Red Hat Linux WordPress ,(possibly the most used blogging software in the world ) grow in functionality through a network of contributing developers.  

“Some” Rights Reserved: Expanding the range of creative works accessible for others to legally build upon and share. The Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to just that. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses, depending on the one selected, restrict only particular rights (or none) of the work instead of customary copyright, which is more restraining.

The constant Beta: Sites like, Frappr, CafePress, Flickr, FeedBurner…etc. rely on a services evolution or constant improvements and enhancements , New features  are  packaged up into massive releases, but instead added them on a regular basis as part of the normal user experience. 

Rich User Experience:  Web 2.0 applications are built of a network of cooperating data services. 

web-apps

When it comes to the driving  Web 2.0  technologies  we should also aware of: 

Aggregation: Bringing multiple content sources together into one interface or application. 

AJAX : (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) A combination of technologies that  enables highly interactive web applications. 

API : (Application Programming Interface) A defined interface to a computer  application or database that allows access by other applications. 

Embedding: Integrating content or an application into a web page, while the original format is maintained. 

Folksonomy: Rich categorization of information that is collectively created  by users, through tagging and other actions. (cf. taxonomy) 

Mashups: Combination of different types of content or data, usually  from different sources, to create something new.

Remixing: Extracting and combining samples of content to create a  new output. The term was originally used in music but is  now also applied to video and other content. 

RSS : (Really Simple Syndication) A group of formats to publish  (syndicate) content on the internet so that users or  applications automatically receive any updates.

Ruby on Rails: An open source web application framework that  is frequently used in Web 2.0 website development. 

Tag cloud: A visual depiction of tags that have been used to describe a  piece of content, with higher frequency tags emphasized to assist  content comprehension and navigation. 

Tagging: Attaching descriptions to information or content. 

Virtual architecture :The creation of avatars (alternative representations of people), buildings, objects, and other artefacts inside virtual spaces. 

Widget: Small, portable web application that can be embedded into any web page. 

XML : (eXtensible Markup Language) An open standard for describing data, which  enables easy exchange of information between applications and organizations. 

Open web: The entire space of the World Wide Web open to anyone to access and participate. This has been the initial domain in which Web 2.0 technologies, applications, and attitudes have developed. 

 

 

  Suggested reading Future Exploration network

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