Monthly Archive for July, 2007

Ambient Intimacy

Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy Creative Director, has written an article on Brand Republic’s website about Facebook and brands.

Rory describes Facebook’s newsfeed and status Twitter-like functionality as ‘semi-addressable’, where ‘the message is not addressed to specifically named individuals.’

I prefer to describe this form of communication as Ambient Intimacy, as coined by Leisa Reichelt on her blog back in March.

In and of itself, a single Twitter feed is meaningless and mundane, but as a continuous ambient trickle of statements about a person’s daily life it can be initimate, personal and insightful. It’s one of the main reasons everyone had such an affinity to Princess Diana. So many column inches were filled with her daily life that we all felt we knew her and had an affinity towards her despite never having physically met her.

This level of communication will become very important, but only as part of a larger set of social communication tools. Were you to have an important sporting event such as a tennis Grand Slam, and have a selection of athletes taking part in the event utilizing Ambient Intimacy in the run up to it, you’d get a very personal view of those people’s fears and hopes which would generate interest into the lead up to that bigger event and an affinity with those athletes.

Mesuring your Social Media Footprint

Footprint
There have been a number of conversations concerning Attention, Engagement, Influence and Social Media measurement in general. I wrote about one here.

Sixty Second View has attempted to measure your social media footprint via the Social Media Index and it’s another good effort with some reasonable assumptions. Whilst there’s no golden bullet at present – much like search – there’s a set of criteria of sorts to measure against and then the 5% that’s human perception.

social networks are walled gardens

The continuing success of Facebook cannot be ignored and it will continue to have mass user adoption at a consumer level for many months, even years, to come. As I mentioned in another post, BooksOnCampus is a website that requires you to login before being able to access the site.
walled garden
When Facebook starts using this identity system as a widget the potential will be for it to become what Microsoft Passport never was. For further insights into Facebook be sure to check out the Inside Facebook blog.

The implication is that Facebook could eclipse OpenID adoption and become the online identity solution. There’s just one problem…currently Google can’t search inside Facebook.

Facebook = Blackhole, Whirlpool, Vortex.

Facebook is a closed garden with one way doors. Data in, but no data out. It’s true that Facebook have opened up their API to developers, but none of the content produced within Facebook’s pages can get out and be indexed or referenced by another company or social network. With so many companies, startups, ecommerce companies building widgets for this platform did anyone stop to consider that they’re not letting data flow out? Matt Dickman agrees, watch his video. Here’s what we should be concerned about:

1) My non-Facebook friends can’t see what I’m doing. If I link to Facebook, you have to register and sign up. That sucks.

2) After I’ve setup my profile, I should have the ability to make my profile public and let folks see the elements I want.

3) What about my network? data? Profile? I want to export those. (Same thing to LinkedIn). The rolodex of today has an important field “friends”. I want to be able to export my network to other systems and applications.

4) As far as I know Facebook doesn’t have RSS…

Facebook (and whichever network follows suit) has a huge opportunity to not just be an application platform, but to be a true identity system for the entire network. Before we start jumping up and down, giving Facebook all of our data, and building our company widgets in Facebook should we first think about whether this is a black hole?

The smaller, more niche social networks or services such as Plaxo and others are building as open a platform as possible, enabling import, export and inter-change across the entire internet and enabling any search engine to find the content you’ve chosen to make public…will the long tail of competitors to Facebook eventually provide a better system to Facebook’s?

trust, word of mouth and the conversation

As Jeremiah Owyang notes:
“Facebook is a closed garden with one-way doors.
This means that data comes in, but it’s not coming out – yet.”

The Inside Facebook blog suggests that Google is not relevant to Facebook since it has it’s own news and feed ranking indexes and systems, its own search tool and its own social network to find information:

“Future information finding systems will evolve to use data from your social network, yielding results based upon your trusted peers” – Inside Facebook, NFO (News Feed Optimization) is the new SEO.

This concept of ‘trust’ is tied to identity and also to the belief that word of mouth advice between friends, families and colleagues is by far the strongest form of marketing around – crucially, it also flies in the face of Google’s current search algorithm which is based on popularity, not accuracy or trust.

If search evolves, will we rely on personal social network features (what do my friends think and recommend) over search? Will we evolve to smaller network based searches?

In many ways, this is what Mahalo was trying to overcome, the problem with that is that I don’t know (and therefore don’t trust) the editors creating the Mahalo data. This is why so many thought leaders are already thinking about their Facebook strategy.

Although Google continues to evolve it’s AI to build better search tools, trust continues to be the leading factor in finding information. Google’s search results have much to be desired: popular is not the same as correct.

The future of search will contain human elements in addition to algorithms.

social media strategy: starting the conversation

Capture the Conversation
Capture the Conversation is a great dource of information and tutorials on setting up and maintaining various Internet social media and search visibility tools such as Digg, NewsGator, Google Reader. The copany won a Gold Peak award in the Social Media category in this year’s American Marketing Awards.

Have a dig around, there’s an enormous amount of info…I found loads of it really useful, particularly in terms of getting started, subscribing to feeds and joining the conversations that are being started.

New Uniqlo website

This widget can be added to your own blog by visiting Uniqlo’s website. The concept behind the site is simple: Enter your blog page details to be added to a global map of blogs and copy a snippet of code to add this widget to your blog.

Nice piece of online marketing – It’s desireable and well executed. Go get it!

TV 2.0 mashup* event, London

I’m going along to the mashup* event this evening where the conversation will centre around the Future of Television. Should be an interesting discussion.

I’ve been helping work on some research for Sky surrounding the next generation of TV content and it will be interesting to see how in tune our thoughts have been compared with those in the room.

On another note, as well as content the strategies media companies make interests me. In such a changing market, I think the concept of doing deals with the same old companies is crazy. There’s a whole new niche of production companies springing up with ideas based around doing things differently. These companies need to have solutions for paying for their programs as well as great ideas and stories…I know I do.

What’s interesting to me is realising that it’s the production companies which are forging these alliances and partnerships and not the distribution channels. Companies such as Baby Cow, run by Steve Coogan (who created Meet the Joneses – a video blog partnership with Ford) and Endemol (who created Big Brother and have formed a partnership with Electric Arts for a Second Life-type program) are moving in the right direction.

In my experience, a large percentage of people in TV don’t get the Internet and don’t want to believe the change it’s creating.

When I read articles about ratings amongst all the channels dropping it makes me laugh. Barb ratings have been flawed for years and it’s about time they were changed to reflect the times.

The quality and content of the programs that are made are what’s important. I’d argue that the BBC’s crown jewels, content-wise, are the David Attenborough wildlife documentaries. They’re just going to run and run. The same could be true, when cut into digestable chunks for stuff like Newsnight, Watchdog, Holiday. The problem is the quality of the recording. They’ve been created on the cheap, as throw away TV, and that’s how it’s treated by the viewer.

If more emphasis had been placed on the journalism rather than the gimmicks, these programs would have been lapped up by online viewers in their millions by now – far more than their usual weekly audience – and once they’re online they should be accessible by everyone…

Ironically, the greatest single stumbling block to the kind of audiences the internet offers are the rights issues – an entire industry that’s been created to stifle distribution is being made a mockery of by the internet, and it’s that more than anything else which gets illegal episodes of cable and tv programs on to youtube.

web video’s ‘Long tail’ is optimistic

According to an analyst report released by Bear Stearns, which takes a look at online video trends, the idea of the ‘long tail’ holds for web video.

This makes all the more sense when you look at Adobe’s soon-to-be-launched video player which creates placeholders embedded within the content to serve up fresh advertising. An episode of Faulty Towers could be free but have a target geo-tagged or profile-driven advert playing half way through, based on a logged-in profile. Offering such targetted advertising creates a much stronger argument to purchase conversion.

niche sport content heading online

An interesting article over at NewTeeVee.com.

Grassroots buzz and genuinely interesting sports are perfect for internet consumption. Think about televised Ultimate Frisbee tournaments or Roller Hockey…These are the types of programmes that have niche audiences and offer the ability to be experimented with.

I see huge potential in this space…

where next for Social Networking?

A new report by Research & Markets called ‘The Rise of Social Networking: Trends, Challenges and Strategies’ has been published.

One of the most interesting aspects concerning the current attention Facebook has received is the difference in take up of social networking sites on a country by country basis – particularly in Europe.

Whilst the UK leads the field with more than 1 in 3 internet users registering with Facebook, Germany and Italy are far behind. This makes blanket-wide social networking solutions for EMEA less useful than targeted national digital solutions.

On the back of this, Jeremiah Owyang has an interesting post in which he predicts what he believes is going to be happening in the social networking space soon:

  1. Facebook will launch an Identity widget that can be embeded on to any blog or webpage. This will allow only those who have registered on Facebook to leave a comment. Many high profile blogs will do this to avoid nasty anonymous comments. Here’s an example of a website that requires a Facebook login. It also highlights how Facebook Applications don’t need to sit inside Facebook – Thanks to Jay for the link.
  2. The data collected from these widgets enables Facebook to erode the small marketshare that Attention trackers and MyBlogLog are creating.
  3. Facebook will have faster adoption that Open ID, as the consumer users will drive it.
  4. MySpace will open their platform and enable development with their APIs, all in response to Facebook. Developers will have instances in both networks, and there will be many logins; Myspace, Facebook, and the applications themselves.
  5. White Label social networks will start to offer ability to share data with other networks. Some will never adopt this as their corporate clients want walled gardens around their brand. Additional thoughts by Marc Canter.
  6. Google Groups (SocialStream – demo & specific details – Just check out the makeup of the team!!) and others will launch next generation community sites. These won’t be the generic bulletin boards that we’re accustomed to, but will take shape as widgetized and customized communities, using APIs. More importantly, they will bring new ways to interact across networks. Google studied over 39 social networks and funded Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute research in this area.
  7. Christopher, at Slate magazine, thinks Facebook IS the platform. I happen to concur with Jeremiah Owyang that other platforms will evolve – as he comments, there’s too much at stake.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Brands work with Facebook. I haven’t seen all that much activity as yet. Apart from Redbull which was pointless marketing hype, there isn’t any advertiser which has truly tapped into the potential Facebook offers. MySpace seems to have been crawling with advertising and branded site pages for sometime now – to the detriment of its success.

    One social network cannot and will not be all things to all people, just as MySpace was and then wasn’t THE place to virtually hang out.




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