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Last week Gartner released five predictions for social software for 2010 and beyond. What is interesting for me is that the fast moving, consumer driven, internet always finds itself leading the technology shifts that are ultimately or stubbornly embraced by IT departments for the remodeling of enterprise communications, information exchange, information publishing and distribution. Enterprise 2.0 while in its nascent days has had a steady stream of adoption inside a large number of companies. They have adopted certain collaborative and social technologies into or in addition to their existing intranets, team rooms etc. The emulation of the consumer web inside companies allows the speed and ease of information distribution and social communication and work collaboration inside enterprises to increase significantly . These can be enterprise to employee or employee to employee communications or working groups spread across many locations.
Gartner predicts that :
1. By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.
“Greater availability of social networking services both inside and outside the firewall, coupled with changing demographics and work styles will lead 20 percent of users to make a social network the hub of their business communications. During the next several years, most companies will be building out internal social networks and/or allowing business use of personal social network accounts. Social networking will prove to be more effective than e-mail for certain business activities such as status updates and expertise location.”
Can Twitter & Social Media channels replace Mainstream Media ?
AKA. The day Michael Jackson killed Twitter -
The past two weeks has been a defining period for Twitter. #Iranelection and Micheal Jackson’s death are the most recent defining moments that have allowed the microblogging service and Social Media to show their impact on mainstream mass media and government affairs. Early morning Friday (Europe) Twitter’s servers collapsed under a tsunami of tweets in the public out pouring surrounding the king of pop’s death. Not only was Twitter buckling under the deluge of Tweets but Google also served an error page and News websites around the world slowed considerably. As the news of the king of pops death broke, Google feared it was under a denial of service attack and served its error page. As it calmed down the Michael Jackson search trend was substantiated and it was rated as “volcanic”.
Follow the trend on Nielsen’s Blog Pulse According to the BBC, initial data from Trendrr, a Web service that tracks activity on social media sites, the number of Twitter posts containing “Michael Jackson” totaled more than 100,000 per hour. That put the momentary news of Jackson’s death equal to the peak surrounding the Iran protests ten days before.
n. The Twitter social networking service and the people who use it. Also: twitterverse, Twitter-verse. [Blend of Twitter and universe.]
The word Twitterverse entered the lexicon of social media in a big way in the past few months. Its appeared on NPR ( National Public Radio ) in the Washington Post , spawned a blog by Emily Chang, of Ideacodes in SF and the 1st or beta edition of a Twitterverse map.
I think the map is the best and possibly the least abstract representation of a fast emerging world and was produced by Brian Solis , Principal of FutureWorks, PR and New Media agency in Silicon Valley . He released a beta version of what he calls the Twitterverse v 0.9 last week ( see Gazing into the Twitterverse). What he and partner Jess3 have produced is a spiral universe that begins to place an order to a complex set of relationships surrounding Twitter from search , communication, mobile, analytics, relationship management, advertising and events. The spiral representation seems to be like that of solar system revolving around a central star in long tendrils representing a map of tools and applications for conversation management and measurement emanating from the vortex of Twitter.
So what does the word Twitterverse mean and where does it originate from?
The Urban Dictionary provides a broad user friendly meaning online. “the cyberspace area of twitter. This naturally extends beyond twitter.com to anywhere you can twitter, which includes cell phones.” It appears that the cyberspace area is largely undefined.
Wordspy , a blog on the word lovers guide to new words, attributes the origins of the word to Twitterverse to Adam Pasick, “SXSW and the Twitterverse,” Monkey Daemon, March 12, 2007
Adam described Twitter as ” a sort of minute-by-minute blog that you send and receive from a computer or text message. All too often this takes the form of scintillating entries like “I’m eating breakfast,” and other stuff that you really don’t need to know about other people. But the allure at SXSW is that all the cool kids are doing it. So if you want to find the cool parties, you have to read Twitter. It’s geek clique chic.”
As Brian Solis’ graphic representation shows the Twitterverse has evolved since those early days, the public, companies, the press, have all run to get on board to explore and exploit the platform as a short form news , PR, promotion, and ideas to a range of tools that map the relationships between information sources , their conversations topics, circles of influence, and the broad sweep pf readers or “followers”.
To emphasize the size and significance of the microblogging platform Neilsen reports that time spent of time spent on Twitter has grown a phenomenal 3,712 % in the past year. Who ever coined the phrase Twitterverse is watching this new universe take shape and form as it expands.
Top 10 Social Networking and Blog Sites Ranked by Total Minutes for April 2009 and Their Year-over-Year Percent Growth (U.S., Home and Work)
Apr-08 Total Minutes (000)
Apr-09 Total Minutes (000)
source: The Nielsen Company
This blog is published and maintained by John Horniblow AKA BladeDigital ™ : On the Cutting Edge
P & G hosted an EMEA Digital Night at in Geneva bringing together its marketing , ecommerce , digital communications people and their agencies to participate in a digital and social media experiment on a real live campaign. At its outset it appeared to be a daunting proposal , to spearhead a full blown digital media campaign in two hours with the ultimate idea being to maximize the groups reach , push their influence, and market and sell the idea of donating for a Pampers & UNICEF program to eliminate Tetanus aiming to raise 100, 000 GBP in 18 hours.
Pampers Save a Baby. One pack , one baby.
“A baby dies every three minutes somewhere in the world from tetanus. It is completely avoidable and Pampers is sponsoring and raising money for a UNICEF vaccination program worldwide.”
The ensuing two hours was bold and adventurous as assigned groups armed with a few basic executional assets and a donation landing page split off to devise and execute a fund raising campaign utilizing only digital channels. There were no set rules in what the approach needed to be other than it needed to be “executed with integrity”.
The groups immediately raced to begin and obvious point to turn to were their friends and associates linked in the various social networks. Facebook groups emerged , links appears, a donate widget application got added to personal pages and the conversation began in earnest. The emergence of strategy then began to permeate the groups as each devised campaign message and a reach strategy in how to maximize audience across a multiple touch points making the approach more sophisticated, pointed and less haphazard.
Blogs , YouTube videos, an influencer campaign on Tweeter and through Facebook , chasing and contacting high value donors , negotiations for impressions across online publishing networks linking multiple contact channels and coming together at a rapid pace. In a jaw dropping moment a little while latter a one million impression banner campaign appeared across one of Germany’s major newspaper sites. The buzz and influencer phenomena then took over with global reach. As the intensity of the push to raise money took hold , groups began to monitor their competitors actions and tactics, calling for quick decisions on how best to out wit the competition and move to next channel almost in a race to be first. Viral campaigns riding on the back of Selma Hayak’s ambassadorship sprung up, well designed internal direct email campaigns raced through the P & G network , tell to friends campaigns in the social sites. A directed and awe inspiring frenzy of digital buzz. The results .. they are a secret .. but it worked.
Who owns the social web isn’t really a big question. In the many communities the ownership or even the behaviors in that social community are often dictated by the community itself. The community owns the community , the community polices itself and protects itself, and everybody in the community shares a democratic principle of ownership and inclusion. My observation of inter-communications on many fan and strong communities is that there can be a point of self regulation , where the community members dictate what sorts of behaviour are acceptable , what tone of discussion is acceptable and will pull other members in the community into line or reject them if they feel they are being antisocial or unfair in the context of that community’s voice. In the community or social media world its the community that has the power or the onwership by virtue of being involved and sharing their voice and ideas. What it does is really raise the question “who owns the community’s brand”? In the Social media world its definatly the consumer who owns the brand. Even real world (non virtual brands) are often owned in the mind of the consumer, despite what their manufacturers, FMCG brand managers might mistakenly believe, and the consumers non acceptance of product changes or variations often causes dramatic failures for brands. A brand is more than just a product. Coca Cola’s release of New Coke in 1985 floundered as a failure as Coca Cola forgot what its core brand stood for and thought that taste was the was only factor consumers cared about. Its research failed to highlight that Coke consumers had a deep and abiding emotional bond to the “Real Thing” and launched a new formulated Coke. The public basically boycotted the new product and the company had ceased production of the old product causing a huge and costly problem for the company. The company had to revert back to the old formula.
Facebook has become the greatest facilitators of human conversations, its building itself as a brand based on emotional bonds and trust in a shell of social , web 2.0 services. Friday’s announcement that Facebook users have voted to back changes which give them control over data and content they post on the site dosen’t surprise me. The community has spoken , the company had actually listened or risked failure. Following Facebook’s meteoric rise to its recent press announcements that it has reached a point of 200 million users I stopped to think about that number and a pending crisis on the ownership of personal data that had emerged in recent months. I for one and many of my friends expressed great concern and a potential swap of services at Facebook’s assertion that they owned the rights to any and everything published in their services, from photos, to widgets , videos , comments and conversations. It even went to the point where they could exploit any IP or copyright of anything posted on the site. Where it almost went wrong was to not listen to the true voice of its consumer base and continue to pursue a path of proprietary ownership of all and everybody’s personal content, thoughts and conversations when many complained or threatened to leave the service. In this case Facebook the brand, not the service, is wholly owned by the consumer base it serves.
What is interesting, and if not co incidental , is that it was the same day that Yahoo announced that Geo Cities was being closed down. Yahoo paid $3.5 bn for the free hosting service back in the early days of the dotcom boom. Where it failed to compete with the likes of Facebook and MySpace is that while they offered a similar concept of hosting free personal pages on the web there was no evolution in providing services that allowed a community to grow or for people to communicate or commune with one another or share it with other friends ubiquitously. Yahoo failed to wrap all it social and communication technologies that it had at its disposal in different business units( IM , email , even content ) into one set of social communications services and make the transition to a more Open Web. The brand never really made a leap to having an real emotional attachment to the consumer by failing to provide the emotional conduits or communications channels. Was this because Yahoo saw Geo Cities only as a media advertising opportunity? Another missed opportunity.
The concept of digital or online engagement has always been an integral part of the interactive vernacular from its very nascent days . In the early days at the run of the last century the people in the interactive business coined the phrase “stickiness” as a way describing a site or service where a consumer ( or the sites audience) would spend more time , continually revisit a site, play with more things , discover new features or actively converse with their friends. The social communications technologies were all well alive in the early adopter phase , bulletin boards, chat room , and IM. In the heady dotcom days the concept of developing media properties was all about stickiness. How else could you realistically place a value on your property and it potential for media placement if its audience didn’t return to site , stay longer , use its features , play games, watch or listen to media and go deeper than the 1st page ?
The real opener for Engagement or the liberator, so too speak, has been the uptake in the broadband connection at home , rather than having it relegated to the work place . The “always on” connection at home changed the descriptive concept of Stickiness to Engagement. The simple fact that there was a general mass market adoption of high speed internet predicated a change in the vernacular as the real marketing potential of the medium opened up. The availability of more connected , richer experience from the consumption of media ( video, audio , and animations ) and a greater depth in connectivity to services( e-commerce, search) and information opened up the medium and metaphoric description of Stickiness had to evolve to more active verb of Engagement.
The Age of the True Consumer’s Voice and Consumer Generated Content
Engagement never remains static( not that stickiness did either). The recent mass market adoption of social communication technologies, as in the last 3- 4 years, has led to today when we talk about the social media revolution, and Engagement has taken on a new face . Todays social media technologies are facilitators of conversations and dialogues not just confined to one site or group but open to any and everybody, almost anywhere, instantly. Everybody has a voice, a digital persona, a digital footprint and a devise for communicating digitally. It is the age of the “True Consumer’s Voice” . Digital Engagement is now the social communications evolution , encompassing social media, digital media and interactive services. Its not surprising that the UK government recently advertised to appoint a Director of Digital Engagement to help direct its efforts in “overseeing a move to engage more with citizens through social media and other digital technology.”
So how do we measure Engagement ? The debate is relatively new . In Eric T Peterson’s , web analytics demystified , he describes Engagement as ”an estimate of the degree and depth of visitor interaction on the site against a clearly defined set of goals.” I think there’s room to expand upon this. Webanalytics is one sided and there are two sides to the equation.
To me a website is essentially a closed environment , although blogs and RSS has opened up content distribution. The measurement of the closed environment is Quantitative and measurable, which is the web analytics view point; the end to which we can determine the quality of a website visit . The engagement metric comes down to , the depth to which a consumer will go into your site and propensity to interact with or view “critical content” , their ” length of visit”, whether or not they come back e.g. ” frequency of return visit”.
If we were to add the consumer’s perspective and become more subjective in the classical marketer’s view, using the analogy of the “path to purchase”, we could add the propensity to which a consumer would recommend or talk about the site, its content or its services to a friend using something like the net promoters score. ( you can’t find that in the web analytics) . This, when coupled with the web analytics , gives a good view of a loyalty or advocacy co-efficient for the site.
In the Open Web or social media context its about all about Consumer Generated Media ( CGM ) and there’s another dimension which is purely Qualitative. Its the understanding of the voice and tonality of Engagement or behaviourial responses a consumer has . You can measure and analyse Buzz, Tonality and Sentiment, with the real appreciation of the true consumer’s voice. When you add your closed systems reporting , e.g. the web analytics to your Open or social measurement of consumer’s voice then you really see the whole picture.