Happy new year to all our readers.
We kick this one off with a bit of a boast. Do you suffer from anxiety that you might miss the best content from your social feeds, but don’t have time to stare at it all day? Well, try Unmissab.ly a service we just built for The Mirror which solves just that very modern problem. How is it different from News.me or Perculate you may ask? We think the results are not only better, but you can also return to the site every two hours and it will give you the hottest news as it stands at that very moment.
The inexorable rise of Reddit
It might be the ugly duckling, but Reddit can be ignored no longer. In a good longer read Buzzfeed explains how by doing a Reddit AMA (Ask me anything) Obama created the site’s biggest traffic spike, including causing 30,000 voters to register via a link he posted. Also, Nate Silver, the data geek whose mathematical models correctly predicted the US election did a fascinating AMA this week, demonstrating how crowd questioning can produce good journalism. And now, news that Reddit is looking for funding, but again doing it in their own peculiar way. They are looking to raise only $1 million on a $400 million valuation! Weird.
Can social media sell soap?
There has been a number of surveys showing that marketing managers reckon social media is great for branding, but the question remains whether you can use it sell stuff? This was underscored when during this holiday season in the US, although ecommerce sales rocketed by 16%, an IBM study showed that barely 0.65% of sales came directly via ads on Facebook. Could it be that we’re not in a buying mood when we are hanging out with friends asks the New York Times? Do read it, because the answer is, it’s complex, we can’t be sure – yet.
Productivity is for robots. Humans excel at wasting time
Talking about tech and whether it is a good bed mate of money. Economists are relentlessly focussed on productivity. How we can make more stuff with the same amount of effort (called labour saving) has been seen as the only way for us to get richer. Obviously – we thought – productivity is closely tied to the use of new technologies. But for some time now economists have been puzzled. Why, in spite of the information technology revolution has the USA not become a lot more wealthy? – Like it did when the steam engine was invented? Tech guru Kevin Kelly, in a fascinating piece titled The Post-Productive economy says that on the one hand its too early to say, but more importantly, computers are not great at saving labour. They are great at giving us something to do.
“Make people want things”
“Instead of making people want.”
Agencies, like ourselves, are increasingly pondering developing products, rather than campaigns for clients. No disrespect, but you clients don’t always see the brilliance of our ideas and as soon as the concept is up and running, you bin it, moving on to the next big buzzy campaign idea, while a good concept is still only in prototype stage! Add to that consideration the fact that digital technology tends to cut out middlemen. What are agencies but middlemen? Most compellingly though is the argument of business model. Agencies sell time. Time is finite. Products scale much better than time. Especially digital products. This rather good post explores the trend of agencies doing product and why they might be very good at it.
Snapchat’s sweet nothings
If you pin for stuff more permanent than campaigns then stop reading now. If you have not heard of it yet, Snapchat is a new photo service (that’s growing like a weed) which allows you to send photos (big deal) to people but that self destruct within seconds ( ! ). That bit of ephemeral functionality has stoked adult fears of a new platform for young people sexting. Some say those sexting claims misses the point: Snapchat is a new form of communication. Facebook is a believer, and Poke is its own new app with copycat functionality. This Ad Age post takes a look at the first brands using Snapchat and Poke for promotion. Also check out this research that seems to indicate that amongst the 13 – 18 age bracket Snapchat rivals Instagram already.
Roaring to life
Back to products, and stuff that’s rather less fleeting. Kickstarter had a breakout year in 2012 with 2,241,475 people pledging a total of $319,786,629 and successfully funding 18,109 projects. Backers pledged an incredible $606.76 per minute. And a hard core of 50,047 people backed ten or more projects. 17 projects raised $1 million or more, while 10% of the films at the Sundance film festival were Kickstarter-funded. Not bad at all. For more amazing stats check out this site.
Twitter’s search – cooler than we thought
In a post on their engineering blog Twitter this week explained why real time search on a microblog is so difficult. By the time they have indexed tweets relating to an event, figured out what it’s all about (because tweets don’t have many keywords and because tweets’ content are often sarcastic and full of innuendo, it’s more important for it’s search engine needs “to know”), the spike in activity might blow over. So what does Twitter do? It sends spikes in search queries to Mechanical Turk. Mechanical Turk is an Amazon service where anybody can post or sign up to complete small tasks for payment. Says Twitter: “For example: as soon as we notice “Big Bird” spiking, we may ask judges on Mechanical Turk to categorize the query, or provide other information (e.g. whether there are likely to be interesting pictures of the query, or whether the query is about a person or an event) that helps us serve relevant Tweets and ads.” Our verdict? Very smart Twitter.