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The RAAKonteur #40 – Tweet with wings, why teens don't care about location & more

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16 May 2011

A Tweet with wings

Keith Urbahn wasn't the first person to speculate about Osama Bin Laden's death last week. Neither did he have a particularly big Twitter following (1000). Yet his Tweet spread across Twitter like wildfire. In a fantastic analysis, SocialFlow looks at millions of Tweets and shows how an idea spreads. 


They say that even though Urbahn is not considered influential by typical Twitter metrics (he had a Klout Score of 37):

"…the right network effects came into play, and enabled his post to generate enough trust amongst his followers, their followers, and so on. (…) Authority, trust and persuasiveness play an important role in influencing others, but are only part of a complex set of dynamics that affect people’s perception. Connections are another important factor, along with timing and a dash of pure luck."

Urbahn's Klout score now stands at 71 (see graph below).


Much ado about nothing?

Reading the above you might think that Twitter is a major driver of traffic to news sites. Apparently not so. The PEW Research Center conducted a study that shows that Twitter is a relatively small contributor of traffic to news sites.

The New York Times gets around 25% of its visitors via Google Search, while it gets just over 6% from Facebook and just over 1% from Twitter. Equally interesting is that generic news sites such as Yahoo News and AOL News get even less traffic from social media referrers, supporting our view that people tend to share quality content.

So why the buzz amongst journalist about the power of Twitter? There's no denying news breaks first on Twitter. But it's becoming apparent that it's harder to drive traffic via it.

One other comment: this study showed overall traffic, including long tail traffic. If one were to make an analyis of breaking news, these numbers would look somewhat different.


Last week we talked about Heineken's Star Player, this week it's Lynx that launches their own branded mobile app. Quite timely, given the announcement that Social Media usage on the mobile is up a staggering 80%.

The Lynx Stream allows friends to create a shared timeline of a night out, gathering everyone's Tweets, check-ins, videos,… It's a lovely idea and taps into people's social behaviour. Still, because all the content has to be generated in-app (rather than pull in content from people's existing accounts on FB, Twitter, Instagram,…), we're curious to see how big the take-up will be.

Nevertheless, why is this important? Because here's another brand that realises the potential of a good branded product over advertising. As this Contagious article describes:

"The experience had to keep a rough-and-ready, functional style of design, and feel like a web service created by a startup rather than a piece of advertising."


Location, whatevah!

This week Groupon announced that they are entering the location market with Groupon Now; a major move to react to Facebook Places, which they see as a major threat. 

But this useful bit of research from Dubit in the UK puts a reality check on the issue of location. They found that teens find most location-based check-in services a turn off. The reason? Teens are more concerned about privacy than adults. Neither is game elements drawing them in, with many saying they can't see the point of location services. The teens that do see value consider the status of associating yourself with being at a certain venue as the main reason to share your location.

Facebook Places was recognised more than any other service, with 44 per cent being aware of it, compared to 27 per cent who had heard of Foursquare. Gowalla recognition was less than 1%.


GigaOm reported this week that the Summer of 2011 may finally be the breakthrough moment for the QR code. And if it doesn't happen now, it may well be RIP QR. And hello there NFC!

As the article points out, Google dropped their QR activity in 2009 to focus more on Near-Field-Communication technology. Point in case: this week they collaborated with Foursquare on integrating NFC technology into the act of checking in at their annual Google I/O developer conference.

What's NFC all about and how does it work? We'll dig a little deeper in next week's Tech Insight.


UK retailers that thrive on Social Media

If you pay attention to your Social Media theory, you know that Forrester Research recommends Facebook as thé place for sexy brands, like fashion. This week eDigital published a report on the Social Media success of UK retailers. Two main take-aways: fashion brands dominate the market. And only 9 out of 20 give their visitors the opportunity to shop in or from the Facebook Page.

But we think the interesting question gets asked at the end of the article. With mobile usage of Social Media expanding rapidly, how will brands translate their fancy Facebook activity and landing pages onto the small screen? At the moment neither the mobile site nor the Facebook iPhone app gives you easy access to the apps.

BMW opens up Ebay shop

It doesn't always have to Facebook or Twitter. Car manufacturer BMW has chosen Ebay as the platform of choice for its first venture into e-commerce. Not for cars, mind you, but for spare parts. As  eConsultancy points out:

"The fact that there are 600,000 searches a month on eBay UK for BMW shows the size of the potential customer base for the car maker."


Get Bits or Die Trying

The banks, we can agree, are not in vogue. So how about this: Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer currency that bypasses the banks, even the central bank. No central authority issues money.

Users can mine Bitcoins by installing software on their machines that crunch difficult encryption algorithms. The more coins in circulation the harder to mine more – thus solving inflation. They have a list of participating retailers and services excepting Bitcoins as well as a currency exchange. An interesting experiment? For sure. Will it take off? Facebook Credits are a better bet.


Creative of the week – Clement Valla

In his own words, Clement Valla is an artist and programmer interested in processes that produce unfamiliar artifacts and skew reality. In other words: he's an interesting chap that explores technology to do interesting things.

For example: he's used the labour market platform Mechanical Turk to co-create drawings (old followers may remember we did the same with our first RAAK logo experiment). And what caught our attention this week were his Postcards from Google Earth, a series of images where Valla alters and manipulates Google Earth screengrabs of bridges to create surreal and intriguing images.

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