Crowdfunding now center stage
Last night the US Senate approved legislation that will make it possible to give ownership in return for small amateur investments – equity for crowdfunding. Up to now that is the one thing platforms like Kickstarter could not offer. In the UK equity for amateur funding has had no such issues. And there's two kids quick out the blocks: Crowdcube and Seedr (who won the recent LWS start-up competition). This news, coupled with the just announced tax breaks for start-up investment (SEIS) means it's a great time to be looking for funding.
In unrelated news, we’re very excited by the Digital Bolex, a high sexy quality digital camera – funded by Kickstarter.
Only 9% of people get their news from social networks
…very often. While 36% go to news organisations very often for their news. That bit of news from US based Pew was much repeated this week. Excluding folks that don't get their news from digital sources, 52% of people got 'some' of their news from Facebook or Twitter. And although almost twice as many got news from Facebook than Twitter, those that did said they would probably have gotten the news they got from Facebook elsewhere anyway.
Twitter users thought their news experience was more unique and irreplaceable. Twitter users also said they were less inclided to get their news on Twitter from friends, but still more so than from journos. And what we find striking, they were more often unsure of the source. This chimes with what sociologists would say. Twitter is a weak tie network, and information travels better in weak tie networks.
Social media gets serious
Brian Solis has been one of the first marketers to call for a more social scientific approach to marketing. No wonder then that Solis, who joined the star studded Altimeter recently, would publish a report on the Rise of Influencers and uses sociology to try and see the wood from the trees. The report pours cold water on the claims of Peerindex and Klout that they measure influence, but adds – they do measure 'social capital' – the potential to influence. Now we have one or two bones to pick with how he uses that term (watch our blog for more soon). But broadly what he says is bang on: everybody can now be media, but some us are more media than others.
Is Pinterest the new Facebook?
Insurrectionary talk is in the air, as new figures show that Pinterest drove more traffic to websites than any other site bar Facebook. The answer however is no. Pinterest's strength is that its a weak tie network. Facebook's strength and size lies in the fact that it’s for your close friends (strong ties). And everybody has friends. That's not to say that Pinterest won’t be big. But it’s more likely that they will co-exist as they have quite different rolls. On a side note – Peugeot's Pinterest competition is worth checking out.
A match made in heaven
Champagne glasses pinged from Williamsburg to London Fields, as Hipstamatic – the advanced photo app – became the first service to deeply integrate with Instagram – everybody’s favourite photosharing network. It's never been a better time to be a Hipster.
Google Analytics goes social
For some time now, data geeks have been worried as an increasing number of traffic to websites returned no source – often because they were social shares. With a new update Google Analytics hopes to solve that problem. It includes reporting from niche sites such as Slideshare. For a good run-down as to what's incuded and what not, see this blog post. But as an Adobe report out this week makes clear, even then, the impact of social is bound to be under reported because of the problem of last click attribution.
Promoted Tweets go mobile
Yip, in the week that Twitter turned 6, Twitter now not only allows you to advertise to users on mobile, it even includes new targeting metrics. So now you can target users with an iPhone only.
We do like reports, three others that caught our eye this week: Google now rakes in more money in the US than all the US newspapers combined. Ad spend on mobile jumped by 157% in the UK in 2011. And the person destined to spend the most on tech inside companies in the future will be the CMO, not the CTO or CIO.
The Empire strikes back – for us
Hardly had reports appreared that companies are asking job seekers for their Facebook username and passwords, and Facebook threatened to fight our corner. Facebook will take action to "protect the privacy and security of its users". Ironic, but very welcome news.
Is the internet of things upon us?
First it was Raspberry Pi, and now Twine (a product funded by Kickstarter) that enables you to make your toilet tweet and your tumble-drier err… tumble. And all that power "without a nerd degree". The little box has Wifi, sensors, and there's no programming required.
No! An internet of…
Drones! There's been a few posts doing the round this week that illegal file sharers like Pirate Bay will load their servers onto drones and fly them around – to escape detection. We don't believe that will be very cost effective…
Creative of the week – Stamen
The San Francisco-based design studio Stamen have combined their love for maps and their technological know-how into a lovely Watercolor Map Project. They used vector map data from OpenStreetMap and layered them with scanned watercolor textures that render automatically. Truly beautiful.
Lets start with what they have managed to get right.
Altimeter, and specifically Brian Solis should be congratulated for being a marketer that has advocated the use of social science, when trying to make sense of social media.
When messages are dependent on their spread via social networks rather than through traditional means, social science indeed provides a more correct theoretical framework compared to what media buffs use now.
Altimeter is also right to point out that services like Klout and PeerIndex, although imperfect, will become increasingly important to understand how information flows through media.
Altimeter is correct about one other thing: They point out that Influence is a complicated terrain, and that services like Klout measure potential – rather than actual Influence – although Solis does not do the best job of unpacking why this is the case.
Klout scores show social capital & status?
“At a minimum, these scores indicate the stature someone possesses within social networks… This stature is referred to as social capital…” – Solis for Altimeter
Altimeter says that a person’s reach, relevance and resonance (see below) comes together and contributes to your “social capital”, which is the likelihood that you will influence behaviour. This is really what your Klout “score” is alluding to, they claim. As you can see, almost in the same breath, Altimeter says these scores indicate ‘stature’, but without elaborating much. Which is unfortunate, because status or stature might be closer to what PeerIndex et al shows us, rather than these scores being a proxy for ‘social capital’.
Now social capital is quite an old and much debated concept in social science, and there is not one accepted definition of it, but none of them is quite like the one implied by Altimeter. All the definitions generally refer to a concept where a social network has a value as a whole for those in it, although individuals can indeed access this value. But to over-simplify, it speaks of trust, cooperation, all things that make life inside the network easier for its members.
For sociologists and economists, a network where there’s trust and cooperation has major advantages over groups where such a network is absent. A case in point: It’s generally accepted that the existence of sufficient social capital is one of the prerequisites for democracies to function.
Like many other social-scientific concepts, it is thought to be quite useful, precisely because it looks at groups or networks of people and their relations with each other, but at scale. Social scientists tend to think that individuals are a bit like sub atomic particles are for natural scientists. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in quantum physics state that we can’t accurately measure the position and momentum of a particle at the same time. We can however predict that if we heat water to a certain temperature, it’s particles as a ‘group’ will vaporise.
Similarly, with a few exit polls we can predict the outcome of an election very accurately. At the same time we struggle to predict how individuals behave.
So you can predict people’s behaviour in groups quite accurately, but you can’t predict individual behaviour that neatly – which is kind of reassuring. And although Solis tips his hat to Heisenberg, he still insists on equating Klout scores – which are very individual, to social capital AND status.
Now, to illustrate why this might be problematic consider this – networks with high amounts of social capital often are quite flat or not very hierarchical (within the network). Large differentiators of status inside groups (hierarchies or inequality), often destroys social capital in that network.
Altimeter’s three pillars of influence
Altimeter claims that Influence rests on three pillars:
Your Reach – which is in turned comprised of three things. Popularity: Britney is very popular and has high reach; Goodwill: Do people think you are a good egg? It stands to reason that if you are liked people will be more receptive to your messages; Proximity: Do you have close ties with others that are influential?
Then there’s Relevance: Clay Shirkey might not have a massive following like Britney Spears, BUT he is followed by many academics and smart people in media and tech. He has subject and topical relevance. Relevance also has three components, says Altimeter, namely Authority: Are you an expert in your field?; Trust: Logical really, and I’d argue you can’t have authority without it; and lastly Affinity: A natural liking or sympathy for someone or something. This last element is not necessarily wrong (in fact I will argue that it’s often crucial) – but it’s not obvious that this is the place to put it.
And then there’s Resonance: Which is how frequent the subject make updates on social media and how this activity travels, and how long it stays around for. This sounds a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Resonance is really what impact we can measure a person is having in social media – after the fact. It fluctuates wildly from day to day (more on this in an upcoming blog post).
The three pillars point toward status
Now I think status is more accurate a description for what’s actually being measured here.
When an already famous person signs up to Twitter, their scores quickly jumps, as their followers (and reach) increase.
But what about the difference between a person famous for being famous (Britney), and a genuine authority on a topic (The so-called Relevance pillar)? Well, in social science there’s a differentiation between ascribed status (status you inherit) and achieved status (status that you earn), which can be used to make a differentiation here as well.
So while the first two pillars – reach & relevance – of Altimeter actually measures status, the third – resonance – is a case by case proxy for actual influence on social media, but after the fact.
In a next blog post we will discuss if and why this case specific after-the-fact influence – is such a poor predictor of future performance.
Kony 2012: The greatest awareness campaign ever?
Pretty much. The Kony 30 minute doc has racked up well over 100 million views. Was it simply a finely crafted and expertly messaged piece of content that did it? Yes, but it needed to bust through the initial ceiling of obscurity to build a critical mass. An excellent post by Socialflow's Gilad Lotan explains how Invisible Children increased the video's chances of success by building networks of supporters that acted as a launchpad when mobilised. Furthermore, they designed mechanisms through which they could address celebrities – vast audiences with audiences. Another informative post gives further pointers as to what they did right, including: focusing on a single issue; ignoring policy wonks; and speaking the language of their intended audience.
This cat fight has served as a proxy for a wider debate on the efficacy of social media – two critiques often emerge:
Too powerful: But what if the over-simplication does more harm than good?
Many criticisms of over-simplication have been aimed at the Kony video. Arguably one of the best is by Mamood Mamdani, eminent Ugandan academic. Mamdani rejoined Twitter to join the debate. Meanwhile searches for the word "Uganda" is still double what they were before the Kony video. Our take? Awareness is better than obscurity as it allows for exactly that: an exchange of information.
Too weak: This is just slacktivism
Zeynep Tufekci argues (and warms many a social media marketer's heart) that liking, retweeting and sharing can lead to action:
"We are a highly-symbolic, group-oriented species and signaling our preferences to others is a key dimension of human action. 'Public' is a meta-concept; it's not just about what you know internally, but what you express and what others know that you believe and that you know that others know. Hence, the public sphere is formed not just through people's silently held beliefs, but through overt signaling of ideology and narratives – and this signalling increasingly takes place online… Further, all human societies operate in a world of socially-constructed norms and ideals. And the changes to those ideals are immensely important. If norms move, than often action also moves."
Changing of the Guard
The Encyclopaedia Britannica this week announced the end of their print version. Forbes – in a not entirely unrelated article – highlighted the meteorotic rise of powerful new mobile devices: it took 15 years for laptops to reach 50 million units sold yearly. It took smartphones 7 years. Tablets? Just two years.
Facebook Insights goes real-time
In a week where a study conluded that 82% of Business Facebook pages post a paltry 5 times a month, Facebook announced a big update to their analytics. The low activity by companies should perhaps not be so surprising, argues Econsultancy. Even when brands have thousands of Likes they struggle to get much engagement on their pages. However, reports now show that the new timeline feature for brands increases engagement, and the new real-time analytics will enable brands to highlight or remove content soon after they have published it, based on immediate feedback.
If RAAK was one person, we'd be a nerd. Proof? Two other studies this week (nearly) satiated our curiosity. Why do people use Instagram? An ethnographic study reveals a few interesting points: people want to find other people with whom they have common interests; people want to document the world around them and provide "visual status updates" to their friends. Another study confirmed the findings of a British one about the kinds of Tweets people like and dislike. Informational, funny and yes – self promotion – all score positively.
This summer in a park or party near you
Check out this Kickstarter project: set Instaprint to look out for specific locations or hashtags, and any Instagram picture tagged appropriately will automatically be printed out on inkless paper. Lovely.
Creative of the Week – Yvo Schaap
Here at RAAK HQ we like Reddit. A lot. So, naturally our interest is piqued to the max when someone does something interesting with Reddit data. Which is just what Yvo Schaap did, in the form of an exquisite Reddit Post Activity Visualisation. It shows, in realtime, upvotes, downvotes and comments on top posts as a waterfall of icons, filling up the bargraphs below. It's a thing of beauty – you just have to see it live …
Was simplification required to produce the greatest humanitarian viral video ever?
The Kony 2012 campaign might have been slammed by the chattering classes, but it undoubtedly succeeded if you look at it through the marketeer's prism of awareness creation. Millions who never knew who Joseph Kony was before, now do – thanks to #stopkony trending for more than a day on Twitter. Incredibly, a 30 minute (you heard that right) documentary was the catalyst of it all. Content marketing on steroids! It is as Ethan Zuckerman notes, a finely crafted "story of self", tugging at the right emotional heart strings. However, it was also a massive over simplification of the situation in central Africa. Zuckerman asks:
"As someone who believes that the ability to create and share media is an important form of power, the Invisible Children story presents a difficult paradox. If we want people to pay attention to the issues we care about, do we need to oversimplify them? And if we do, do our simplistic framings do more unintentional harm than intentional good?"
The power of the new networked Feminism
An interesting counterpoint to Kony was the grassroots, seemingly leaderless but massive media attack on US shock jock, Rush Limbaugh, leaving him minus 12 advertisers and two radio stations. This was authentic, spontaneous, and the second such example after Komen earlier this year. Prominent feminist organizers told Forbes that the mob justice was led once again by Twitter- and Facebook-savvy women, and it dealt Limbaugh the worst humiliation of his controversial career.
How to bribe your AmEx customers to Tweet
Twitter is launching its second initiative with AmEx. You'll remember that AmEx merchants are the first customers able to use Twitter's self service advertising. Now AmEx is letting its members link a merchant coupon to their cards by tweeting out a hashtag from a retailer. In other words, retailers can offer their customers discounts if their customers are their advertisers. In other news, Twitter is rumoured to be on the cusp of ramping up their brand pages dramatically. Twitter plans to add experiences (a page based app platform), including e-commerce, contests and sweepstakes.
Brands punch through the noise on Pinterest
We've seen Pinterest grow from strength to strength over the past few weeks, and inevitably brands are picking up on the fact. This week two exciting pinterest-based campaigns saw the light. The first, by fashion brand Calypso, sees the brand flying a Pinterest superuser, Christine Martinez, to the Carribean Island of St. Barth, to "live pin" a photo shoot for their 2012 summer look. In the second, Airline BMI has created the world's first "Pinterest lottery". People are challenged to repin up to 6 of 45 images of BMI destinations. Whoever gets the secret combination and order right, wins a pair of return flights to any BMI destination. Simple, but effective. And fresh, because it's Pinterest.
Tweet every Tweet as if it's your last
When über-journalist Andrew Breitbart upped and died in the middle of a very public Twitter Spat last week, everyone was left in awe of what the effect could be of a random tweet suddenly turning into your "Famous last Tweet". Then we discovered this gem of different people's last tweets:
"Elizabeth Taylor's last tweet was almost "Every breath you take today should be with someone else in mind. I love you." But then she tweeted, "My interview in Bazaar with Kim Kardashian came out!!!" before dying."
So – do think of this every time you tweet, and you should be fine!
Social media is rather compelling
According to a Cisco report, 40 percent of college students and 45 percent of young professionals said they would accept lower paying jobs in exchange for the ability to use social media, mobile devices, and the Internet more freely in the workplace. 'Nuff said.
As we fast approach a time where nearly half the world's population has a powerful computer in their pockets (500 million smartphones were shipped last year), it's worth taking a look at these maps that show the spread of the moveable type printing press in Europe. Note: it took 30 years for the printing press to find its way from Germany to England!
Creative of the Week – Nathalie Miebach
We like a bit of data visualisation here at RAAK HQ, but Nathalie Miebach takes things a step further. Try and follow this: first she collects weather and climate data and turns that into a musical score. That in itself is pretty impressive. But then she uses that data and visualises it into 3D-sculptures or, as she calls it herself, "devices that map meteorological conditions of a specific time and place". Highly conceptual, but some of the results are stunning. BrainPickings has more info.
A tax on mediocrity as Facebook looks to increase revenue
Facebook has announced a slew of new ad formats that will sit inside the newsfeed, and especially the mobile feed. Already some are proclaiming that this makes Facebook the world's biggest mobile marketing platform. Until now brands posting status updates via their pages had their work cut out for their posts to be visible to fans. Figures suggested that as little as 5% to 16% of these posts were shown, depending on how good a brand was at getting people to interact with it. But another new tool for advertisers, called Reach Generator, "allows brands to focus on users more aggressively. If a brand meets the Facebook criteria of having a minimum number of fans (the company didn't reveal the number) and posts more than a few times a week, the company will guarantee they reach 75 percent of their fans with ads each month, "a privilege they will have to pay for". This of course changes Facebook from an earned media to a paid media platform. The old adage, advertising is a tax on the unremarkable, is back.
Facebook's brand pages get rid of tabs, make stats public & more
Mashable has a good list of the things you need to pay attention to on the new Facebook pages. Thankfully the annoying landing pages is a thing of the past. Check-in Deals have been scrapped while Offers makes its debut. And more of the Insight Analytics are visible to anybody that cares to visit a page.
Social media is not killing the advertising star
It's being funded by it. Besides Facebook (who gets the majority of its money via advertising), Twitter is introducing its own ads (Promoted Tweets) into the iPhone and Android clients. Global ad spend is set to increase by 4.9% in 2012 to over $465bn – mostly driven by online. Global agency giant WPP's annual pre-tax profits have grown 18.5% to a record £1.01bn while revenues climbed 7.4% to a record £10.02bn.
A golden age for people powered funding
In a week where it was announced that Kickstarter will channel more funds to the arts than the US Federal Endowment for the Arts, everybody has been very excited at the prospect of new US legislation. The Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act will enable platforms like Kickstarter to offer shares in projects for the first time. Up to now you had to be an accredited investor to buy shares (while you were free to blow the same amount of money at Las Vegas). This week, £275 000 was raised for billboards protesting the NHS reforms in mere hours, completely independent of any service like Kickstarter. The demand is clear. Also read this blog post about this kind of open access to funding in other countries.
Tweets like Candyfloss no more
Ever since we saw Nick Halstead – CEO of Datasift – demonstrate the power of his powerful platform (Datasift) for sifting Tweets, we have been super excited. However, there's always been a problem with Twitter, even with the help of DataSift. If you did not anticipate Mubarak's resignation or any other event for that matter, you miss the content you were looking for before you started. With their new service, that is now no longer a problem. Datasift is surely one of the most exciting startups to come out of the UK in quite some time.
Should you do content marketing and social media marketing?
The most wanted digital talent for 2012 is "Blogging, Editing, Copywriting". To underline the importance of content marketing, General Motor's beautiful animated Gif's were widely shared accross the web this week. So exactly what is content marketing and does it necessitate a different approach to social marketing? Oh yes.
The highly successful launch of the Raspberry Pi
This week's news was dominated by the highly successful launch of the Raspberry Pi mini-platform, which instantaneously crashed their website, and has their main supplier scrambling to meet demands. In a nutshell, Raspberry Pi is a computer motherboard the size of a credit card. The technology is not exactly new (remember pico-ITX?), but the price is … well … $25. That is very impressive. This brings the cost of a fully fledged computer platform within component range, which means we are likely to see many creative uses of these platforms included into all kinds of mainstream electronics. Think wireless speakers, a kettle that tweets … you get the idea.
It's cobwebs and tumbleweeds over on Google+
Google+ had everything going for it. When it launched, it already had almost 200 million Gmail users, who didn't need to sign up, but only enable. It had access to a rough social graph on these users, based on their contact lists. It reached the 10 million user mark in two weeks. Now, 90 million users strong, it has surfaced that the average user spends 3 minutes on Google+ each month. Which is, well … way below average. Is Google+ trying to be too much like Facebook? Is Google too confused, readjusting its core services in a brave new world? We think that, for the masses, Google+ gives too little, and asks too much. It is too creator friendly and consumer unfriendly.
Creative of the week – Sean Hill
Forget Tolstoy-esque long novels, forget short stories even: we now have a new literary genre called Very Short Stories. Sean Hill is a writer who's gotten himself almost 100,000 followers on Twitter by writing stories that fit into 1 Tweet. There are quite a few writers who experiment with Twitter; but what makes Hill's approach particularly interesting is that he also asks people to send him words – nouns more specifically – to inspire him, a trick he learned while he was doing improvisation comedy.
The term content marketing has cropped up ever more frequently this last year. But what exactly is it, and how is it different from social media? Is the term of any use at all?
They are in fact flip sides of the same coin – the ever democratisation of media. Both speaks of media, that can be produced by everyone, and is distributed by everyone. These two terms can however also capture a distinction in approach to democratised media. How so?
Let me explain. Please note that for the sake of clarity, I am going to generalise. The distinction between different forms of media has never been absolutely clear cut. (Some forms of social media are over a century old.) And the distinctions are even less so now. But here goes my little polemic.
But they differ in important respects:
How to make sense of all this?
Here at RAAK we like to think before we do. If you are a regular reader of our newsletter you’d have noticed that we are rather skeptical of some of the central tenets of the social media dogma. Like the ridiculous one that was so big until quite recently amongst the likes of gurus like Chris Brogan: Following somebody back when they follow you as a matter of course.
Don’t get me wrong. We do think its pretty obvious that the continuous drop in the cost of publishing – the democratisation of media, is revolutionary. But we don’t think that the basic rules of media or how people behave have changed. It’s just that the rules now apply to everybody – because we all can be media.
That means, for example, that attention remains finite. And it is silly to pretend you can meaningfully follow 20,000 people. That means Stephen Frye might be a person, but he is also a broadcaster.
So what does all this mean for organisations in practise?
In most instances, what companies and organisations should do when using media for getting their message out (note – a very specific part of marketing), is ‘content’ and not ‘social’. It fits their goals much better. Most companies want to achieve some kind of scale – an audience and not a community.
You often hear social media consultants say to companies, just join this or that service – it’s not rocket science. Yeah, that might be fine for Joe Blogs who has 130 friends and no need to communicate at scale.
Companies and organisations tend to want to excel and stand out. Create a brand. The only way to do this (besides the obvious one of having a great product) is to produce quality content that’s remarkable. And that is freaking hard. It requires a combination of talent and graft. You often need to throw money at the problem – At companies like RAAK 😉 They need to hire journalists, creative programmers, film makers – not marketeers or community managers.
Unfortunately doing things at scale cause more noise (See Gina’s post above). Many blogs have started to switch off their comnents. (I’m not necessarily suggesting you do that). But look at hyper successful Burberry and what they do on their Facebook page. They never reply to customers. They are broadcasting.
To reiterate – I am not saying that relationships and two way interaction with your audience is of no import when getting your message out. It has always been. Just look at how much radio has made use of the phone-ins over the years. And now this interaction is even easier.
So depending of the company, the brand they are trying to project (aloof, part of the crowd), and their size, the answer to how one-to-one a company should be, will vary.
And social media still has a direct roll in other sphere’s of the company operations. For market research social media is gold dust. It has a massive roll to play in informing product development. Creating forums where customers can help themselves is yet another example where social is king.
It’s earned media, that’s earned through blood sweat and tears
AND it’s hard to do content marketing itself well, without listening what’s going on at the coal face of social media – because that’s where it will be distributed. AND even when creating content, you can harness the power of the crowd. (See our logo and logo crowd sourcing experiment). So this is not an argument against social media per se. But it is an argument for a shift in emphasis to take it far more seriously. A few Tweets, and a few replies won’t cut it.
Bottom-line: There are many more media channels today (we all are), and they vary tremendously in size. And so the scope of these media channels for behaving as broadcasters (Stephen Frye) or conversationalists (The Hackney Gazette) vary greatly too.
But really, if your serious about communicating far and wide, you know which one you want to be.
Aided by modern technologies, all organisations can now become media entities, allowing them to bypass gatekeepers and reach directly to their customers. Content marketing, however, requires a shift in company culture, resources, budgets, partners and strategy.
One of the methods we at RAAK use to come up with strategies for clients is predicated on Forrester’s Groundswell book, published a few years ago. For some time it has been the best attempt to systemise thinking on which social media and social media tools to use for organisations. One of the authors of Groundswell – Charlene Li – has since then moved to Altimeter, headed up by ace Strategist Jeremiah Owyang and Brian Solis. Needless to say we have monitored Altimeter’s output closely.
We have been consulting extensively and training a number of large companies in the use of social media. So when Altimeter published a report two weeks ago on the changes that companies have to go through to be able to do content marketing, we were eager to hear what they have to say.