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The RAAKonteur #69 – Apple out to smash textbook publishing & SEO by Celebrity

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24 January 2012

The bots are taking our jobs – with our help

It’s an age-old sci-fi prediction: robots will take our jobs. Well, it has not quite worked out that way. Instead of losing manual labour to machines, we are meeting them half way, consuming virtual goods that are easy for machines to produce. Not only that. We are increasingly consuming what we ourselves produce (using machines, of course) – like social media. But we do that – for free. The result? The middle classes are getting poorer.

Apple out to smash textbook publishing


Yesterday Apple announced two new services that are going to have a massive impact. First, there’s iTunes U, which will help teachers create full online courses. But what excites us in particular is iBooks Author, a tool that’s going to give the book publishing industry another reason to be very worried. It allows you to easily publish to existing templates and drag and drop images, video, audio and other content like 3-D models to your book. And yes, it can contain links, HTML5 and javascript, so it will be interactivity-ready. And here is the kicker: It’s free.

In a truly eye opening post, Trey Ratcliff gives a fascinating account into the life of an ebook-publisher. Two things stand out in particular. First: he reckons the consumption and market size of ebooks will be much bigger than books. Secondly: social media is a marketing multiplier.

“The best way to successfully market something is to have true believers with big followings talk about it on the Internet. Since we have many authors who are socially popular, a multiplier effect begins to take place.”

A thought experiment for you

A blog post about new considerations in SEO (after Google Plus) shines light on a can of worms. Should you hire a person that’s absolutely clueless about SEO, but in hundreds of people’s Circles – maybe a celebrity, like Russell Brand? Celebrity or SEO expert? Remember that if the celebrity Plus One‘s a page it will jump in Search Engine Rankings for anybody that has them in their Circles.

A big Audience is cool, until you have one

All prolific Twitter users seem to want to grow their audiences as large as possible, right? But do we ever think what life will be like when it happens? What made Ashton Kutcher want to stop using Twitter? And Stephen Fry? Gina Trapani shares her experience of passing 200,000 followers on Twitter, and what it does to the way you use Social Media. Hair-raising stuff!

The strength of weak ties

It’s uncanny how social networking theory, a sub discipline of sociology, has found validation in modern day social networking services. This week another example surfaced when Facebook published research. It showed that although we are more prone to share content from close friends (strong ties), we are more likely to find new content from people we only know tangentially (weak ties). Facebook’s whole user experience is designed for strong ties. No wonder they have introduced new features to make it more Twitter like – a network around interests rather than relations. This will make it better as a source of useful new information.

Facebook quietly incentivises linking back to Facebook

In recent research by TBG, they have found that linking Facebook ads back to Facebook costs 45% less than linking the same ad to a page outside of Facebook. To be clear, this is not an organic cost variation – this is a decision by Facebook. It makes sense, in a way. Facebook hasn’t quite convinced people that Facebook pages are a good place to send people to. We have yet to see FB-commerce kicking off properly, and there is no way to monetise content on Facebook through ads. So, maybe a little bribery will work for them?

On that note – Facebook is about to launch actions. Once it’s launched, we’ll check it out in detail, so you don’t have to – watch this space!

Twitter, now an early indicator for Scientific progress

Previously we’ve pointed to articles on Twitter’s correlation to the stock markets, and Twitter’s ability to predict epidemics. Add to that, the ability to predict the citation of scientific articles. In a study done by the Journal of Medical Internet Research on three years’ worth of articles, it was found that highly tweeted articles were 11 times more likely to be cited than others. This phenomenon even has a name now – The Twimpact Factor

Now Twimpact this: Twitter is currently adding 11 accounts per second, and will likely pass the 500 million user mark in February. Staggering!

Instagram: the Masses start flocking in

Instagram hit 16 million users at the end of last year, making it one of the best success stories of 2011. Since then, top brands seem to be flocking to it like … well, like brands to a hot new social network. Two things make Instagram especially interesting:

  • It still only runs on Apple mobile devices. No desktop, no Android, no Windows phones. This makes their growth so much more remarkable.
  • Instagram’s consistent photo aspect ratios and photo filters makes it a very interesting platform for visual campaigns. Have a look, for instance, at this campaign we built, with the Guided Collective, for Ted Baker last year. The visual consistency of the Instagram content made this kind of thing possible.

For the sociological viewpoint, The Wall blog has a very interesting post by Dirk Singer, analysing the subcultures on Instagram.

Creative of the Week – Andrew Emond


Oh yes, we do love Instagram here at RAAK HQ. And all of its offshoots. Take Mastergram for instance. Photographer and multimedia designer Andrew Emond has created a Tumblr where he ‘re-mixes’ classic photographs from the likes of Diane Arbus, Cartier-Bresson and Andreas Gursky by running them through an Instagram filter. Simple and beautiful, but as Emond says, it’s interesting to see how these amendments alter our perception.

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