Archive for the ‘social’ Category

Wave’s social media & SEO implications

June 2nd, 2009 1 comment

I’m going to speculate here that Google Wave is going to make social media even more important in web site search engine rankings. Let’s assume Google implement Wave in more or less its current form. I see four SEO benefits for social media practitioners.

As you know, comments on your blog lead to traffic and in some cases back-links which pass PageRank. In other words, they help your Google ranking.

Sometimes people comment about my blog posts in Twitter or Facebook. Which is less useful from an SEO viewpoint than commenting directly on my blog. With Wave you’ll be able to re-direct comments made on your Facebook profile to your blog. You’ll probably be able to search for and drag in Twitter threads as well. So if you have a well developed social network and a web site you’ll see an increase in your comments. Where comments are relevant to what you’re writing about, all things equal, your search engine ranking should increase relative to people who don’t use those networks. That’s benefit #1: more commenting.

It’s also the case that the more often you post the more regularly you get indexed. Which leads to higher ranking.

Successfully implemented, (and I think that’s what’s going to happen) Wave will break down the barrier between email and web applications. Your emails will become more like threaded IM conversations and you’ll be able to suck them across to your web site as content. Conventional businesses will not allow instant publishing, but once again the social media junkies will ride the wild tiger. Their email/IM conversations and their conversations on social networking sites will become easily publishable content on their blogs. Benefit #2: more content.

The logical consequence of Wave technology is that social media networks will spawn web sites with multiple authors (multiblogs). In other words a new and very fast way of creating web content, which of course can link back to the site you’re promoting. Benefit #3: link-building.

The ‘federation’ aspect of Wave gives you the ability to aggregate contacts from your different social networks. This will lead to social network expansion and benefit #4: more followers.

If you’re a black hat SEO, you have already started working out how to manipulating Waves for Search Engine Optimisation purposes. If you’re a white hat, you’ve got six months to help your clients build the size and quality of their social networks.

Death of Meetup

May 5th, 2009 2 comments is/was a 2002 startup which was all about using the Internet to create community meetings of people with shared interests. It gave you a message board, allowed members to RSVP and sent out reminders about meetings. Its legacy is that of the software used in Howard Dean’s successful social media campaign in 2004; the first successful use of social media in politics.

Today both the Adelaide and Brisbane Bloggers’ Meetups closed. Sydney and Melbourne limp on, with about 10 attendees at each meeting. We closed the Perth Bloggers’ Meetup over a year ago.

Writers and geeks are not known for their social proclivity. So all these groups struggle to attract party numbers anyway, but it highlights a bigger picture. I can’t find any Meetup groups in Perth that regularly have 10 people attend.

Despite a capital infusion from high-flying good-guy Pierre Omidyar, Meetup has had it. They started charging people (ie the organiser) for using the service in 2005. At that time, numbers were growing but they’ve flattened out at 5 million subscribers. They’re a victim of Facebook. Meetup comprises small special-interest groups and the $100 to $150 a year is a significant cost. Facebook provides all the core functionality of Meetup, has a wider installed base and is free.

At one point Meetup was valued at US$40 million, but its current income stream looks to me like less than $2 million per annum. There are 50+ employees (~$2 million in salary alone) and without a growth factor, it’s Goodnight Nurse.

Interestingly, they’ve recently switched to an employee-driven model, much like Linden Lab – Omidyar invested in that business too. In this structure, if that’s the right word, employees create their own projects rather than inheriting them from all-knowing managers.

On paper Meetup are dead in the water. If they can manage to survive, it should be seen as an endorsement of this (sorry; here it comes) new management paradigm.

Fiestas for the plebs

April 23rd, 2009 8 comments

Ad Age reports on Ford lending 100 new Ford Fiestas to especially selected bloggers in exchange for their independence and a share of their souls. 4000 applied but only 100 were young, good-looking, could string two sentences together and had the sycophancy gene. I’m being harsh; the dozen or so bloggers I checked out were interesting enough. A couple of B-grade celebs snuck in there but they’ve chosen people from diverse backgrounds, skewed towards creative types. The totality of the their output – Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and blogs is aggregated on the Fiesta Movement site.

It shows again the progressive credentials of large American companies. They leap into new media because they are hungry for first mover advantage and the publicity that results. The combination of new media and big business is newsworthy (don’t ask me why) and the Fiesta Movement will generate millions of dollars in PR.

I saw a Forrester report that said Japanese consumers were more engaged with social media than Americans but Japanese businesses were slower to develop social media applications than Americans. I’m guessing this is because their media are less willing to give free publicity just because business has discovered a new marketing tool.

Of course, the potential of this promotion is not just what the bloggers say about the Ford Fiesta on their blog but the effect that 100 different streams of writing/video blogging have on the web more broadly; the conversations about the conversations.

It’s risky for the brand because bad things can happen when you surrender control of the message to people who don’t have a stake in your brand. They might be just a little too honest, though from what I’ve seen so far, they’re all too excited to be critical.

But there is a risk too for the bloggers, whose readers may find the car references spurious and commercial. Could damage their franchise but I think 95/100 will finish well in front. In all, I believe this is the biggest and boldest social media experiment in the world today. My hunch is that it’s going to work extremely well. And if it does, the new media dollar has just been revalued.

Here’s Judson Laipply’s fairly compelling video application to be included in the 100:

The marketing term for this is a No-Brainer.

On passion and influence

July 28th, 2008 No comments

twitterific logoI have a relation who’s a famous retired sportsman; a household name. He returned to his home town and wanted to join the local golf club, which had a waiting list. The membership officer explained to my famous relative that no, he couldn’t get an accelerated membership. He would be positioned at the bottom of the waiting list. When he recounted this to his 90 year old mother, she said, ‘well; looks like you’re not as important as you thought you were’. Which brings me to social media, in particular blogging and micro-blogging – tools like Twitter.

Reading through Rob Antulov’s summary points of the Future of Media session on Media and Social Networks; wanted to discuss this one: ‘many companies about which conversation occurs online are NOT tracking this conversation, so are missing out on a unique opportunity to listen and engage with some of their passionate consumers’.

Are those consumers who use social media any more passionate than other consumers? I don’t think so. How are they different to other consumers? They use technology more so they might be more passionate about technology but I think the passion ends there. As technology early-adopters they are more likely to be educated and affluent but from a market research viewpoint, this renders them uninteresting. They are not a representative sample. If I’m selling a mainstream product I’m interested in the opinions of a cross-section of consumers, not an elite niche. So much for the Passion Argument.

There are two other arguments often advanced for companies expending effort on social media. One is the Influence Argument, the notion that social media early adopters are more influential in the public realm than Joe Dokes, Couch Potato, passive media consumer.

At risk of heresy, Matt Cutts and Robert Scoble are no more influential on mainstream consumer opinion than Joe Dokes. In their own limited areas they exert influence; no argument. If you don’t know their names, I’ve made my point. Broader society is unaffected by blogging, micro-conversations and micro-blogging. The capacity of social media to influence mainstream media, and hence the mainstream, is pathetically small.

Then there is the PR Argument; that a company can use social media to initiate positive conversations on the Internet and beyond (cue Buzz Lightyear) or respond to an adverse story before it gets a head of steam. Poster child for this is Southwest Airlines, which responds in near real time to Twitter users who mention the airline when they Tweet (blog).

I’m afraid this is influence at the margins. If Qantas had been using SouthWest Airlines’ approach would it have stopped or influenced the mainstream media blitz that followed their recent in-flight explosion? Not a skerrick.

I don’t think social media is an advertising medium or even a PR medium. It is a new kind of word-of-mouth and word-of-mouth derives from your staff and your policies (in that order). The capacity of your marketing department to drive it is negligible.

Well what is social software good for? Access to the knowledge of informed people is a biggie. And you would have to say it has great potential as a tool for personal branding and personal promotion. If you own a business (particularly a tech start-up) and you want to raise your profile, invest hundreds of hours in blogging and micro-blogging – you might very well build a following.

But it’s not probably not going to make you more passionate or influential than Joe Dokes.

From a conversation with Myles Eftos