Let’s get over Social Media and go back to the internet

We had web 2.0, we now have Social Media. What happened to the internet / the web? Both of the mentioned are evolution of the internet, as a technology and as a communication channel. Think Hugh (Gapingvoid) make a good point “the main point of the internet is to remove “barriers to socializing. Everything else is secondary”.

Let’s go back to the internet and make it more social as intended.

Thanks Judith for the point.

Still Unsocial

Illustration by Andre Metzger
Illustration by Andre Metzger

The internet “the old Web 2.0” is all about communication and openness, right? Hrm, I wonder why it is so hard to communicate and be open using it’s tools? Another great post on FC form Robert Scoble sighting Kevin Lynch, Adobe‘s CTO, form the company’s annual developers event. I will just regurgitate it here:

“Please say who you are, what you do, and how the Web is screwed up.” How’s that for an icebreaker? That was the way Kevin Lynch, Adobe’s CTO, grabbed his audience at the company’s annual developers event this year, throwing open a discussion about what we don’t like about the Web and what we’d like to see fixed.

My biggest problem with the Web? For all the cool things we can do, Internet breakthroughs don’t play well together — or even talk to one another. Ironic, no? The Internet, which is shorthand for “interconnected network” and is one of the most significant achievements in the history of communication, is often broken because applications don’t interact. We spend all our time hopping from one island of information to another, repeating the same tasks, costing ourselves and our businesses time and money. The good news is that, even as I complain, there are efforts under way to make things better.

Think about passwords — for your bank and your blog, Facebook and photo sharing, and on and on. We all know they are a pain to keep track of. Microsoft tried to fix this problem years ago — remember Passport? (shudder) — but people freaked because it was big, bad Bill Gates trying to take your Web data.

What’s going to save us from user name and password fatigue? OpenID. An open-source technology that gives users a portable, secure account, OpenID is accepted so far by almost 10,000 sites, and a grassroots effort has bubbled up such that Google and, yes, Microsoft are among its supporters. Site operators who add OpenID will save users frustration — and save themselves money, because they won’t lose customers for no good reason.

Let’s go beyond passwords. Imagine having to create basic information — such as your contact particulars, calendar items, and so forth — only once, and then reusing these bits as needed around the Web. That’s the formatting promise behind the so-called semantic Web. It’s great to see this initiative being embraced by the likes of Amazon and Yahoo!. But it’s hardly ubiquitous — yet.

None of that will cure my headache with the Web 2.0 community. If you use more than one social tool and want to change some universal bit of personal data, you have to update over and over at each service. Want to change your email address or photo and then notify your friends about the update? Put on a pot of coffee and set aside an afternoon.

I get why fierce rivals like MySpace and Facebook don’t want to cooperate. But a number of the social tools Yahoo has under its own umbrella — Flickr‘s photo sharing, Upcoming’s events calendar, Del.icio.us‘s bookmarks, Bix‘s contests — don’t even communicate with one another.

Thankfully, the folks over at DataPortability.org are working with social-networking outfits to get them to adopt the existing technologies that will let users share data between sites. But it’s not going to be easy. I got into a bit of trouble with Facebook not too long ago when I experimented with an unreleased tool from Plaxo, a popular online address book and calendar. The app pulled names, email addresses, and birthdays from the profiles of my Facebook friends to see if they’re also Plaxo members. Facebook kicked me off (but later reactivated my account).

That kind of nonsense is wearying and expensive. The Internet has already exploded many notions about business. It’s time that we stop hoarding customers and their information in silos for fear of them straying. If you love them, set them free.

Spot on… All these social tools that supposedly are for communication fighting to be closed. Is there something wrong with this picture? Need to find a happy medium here, where the person (user) can move seamlessly between different niche social networks/apps. It will benefit all in the end. Will lead to more use and open for more communication. Seriously don’t hold on to a old business model while trying to push the envelope with new innovation. Don’t forget to support technology you feel will help solve this closed world. Talking will make a difference…

What are your thoughts on the subject?

The Value Exchange

We are now knee deep in and learning to approach, interact and profit from the new social/2.0(5) web. Starting in 07 there was many predictions made on where we are headed and how we will arrive (at the end of this post there are some links). Ad-age has an interesting continuation to the story from bloggers on the Power150 blog-ranking index. They were asked to elaborate on what technology marketers should be paying most attention to in 2008. I think a clear picture emerges – apparent in this article and thought other conversations on the future (08). Here is my take on this cake… My list of kit (in no particular order)…

Micro-content
As Tom Martin (Positive Disruption) “With the cost of production and distribution of digital content rapidly approaching zero… the opportunity to create branded micro-content that consumers will invite into their lives becomes a financial reality with a huge ROI upside…” a.k.a widgets etc.. This I think is one of the strongest channels out there right know, at least when it comes to actual advertising to the consumer. Here we have a way of providing relevant, targeted, interactive, inviting and social (if applicable) branded stuff that the consumer can actually use. You know not jam down the trough just a gentle whisper… this is already taking of (been for a while now) and seem to be working. Now we just need be clever.

Mobile – the natural extension and Holy Grail of relevant and useful.
Take this micro-content/widgest/apps and make them work on mobile platforms as well and we are now adding an limitless dimension. Marie Lena Tupot (BrandNoise) “Mobile apps. But not in a whiz-bang, over-the-top manner; the sort of incremental mobile apps that make ordinary things even easier, like let you pay back friends on the fly, split the check at restaurants, pre-order your coffee so you can bypass the line at a local café, pay your belated phone bill, donate to your political candidate …” It is just logical right? I would love to have all my coffee related expense (here in Sweden there is a lot of “fika” going on or hanging at the local Starbucks for you Americans) taken care of by my phone, that would be great. And while one is at it just add a café rating (maye even Twitter) to this and one can be social as well. Further support to this is recent study by eMarketer on mobil ads.

Mico-blogging – or shall we call it Twittering?
While on the topic of Twitter and mobile integration… Peter Imbres (Point Oh!) – “The most important technology for marketers to understand right now is Twitter and some of the other micro-blogging platforms. It’s less a question of how they can directly apply this technology than how they need to understand collective conversations. Some of the most influential people in several different verticals are engaged in a dialogue at any given time on these platforms, and it provides a unique opportunity for brands to reach stakeholders when they’re actually listening, which is rare in many of these emerging media categories. The media outlets and politicians are starting to get it, hopefully other marketers won’t be too far behind.”
Clearly a great opportunity here, now how harness? I am not yet an active user of this medium so limited understanding, but it seem to be contagious if one has a large following… Very cool with the built in mobile support.

The Blog – the organic SEO
The (traditional?) blog must be one of the greatest things to have taken foothold in the last years. It is just great for all. Consumers benefit for the information and the multitude and companies benefit from information, advertising (it is like free adds space and it builds rep and cred) and the feedback (if dare). And it is all very social as well… and best of all for web sites; relevant streaming content.
Kevin Tomczak (PowerUp) – “Blogging continues to be one of the most influential communications channels for B2B marketers in 2008. This channel is a precursor to a true social network, and allows companies to continue the conversation beyond our traditional touch points. Yesterday’s mass marketing strategies don’t work — we’re on the customer’s time, and by keeping conversations going through blogging, we’re increasing the chance that we’ll be present when the customer needs our product or service.
We’ve also just begun to scratch the surface of the SEO benefits of blogging. In the US, roughly 80% of internet use (excluding e-mail) begins with a search. And a majority of business purchasers use the internet for research before a purchase is made. Blogging gives a company a lot of content containing a lot of keywords, and, with a lot of incoming and outbound links, that’s SEO gold.”

Yep, so true for both B2B and B2C. Be visible through content. More visitors and more time spent with brand

SEO
Joost de Valk (Joost de Valk’s SEO Blog) – “The technique/technology most worthy of any marketer’s attention is SEO. It’s the cheapest and best way of getting quality traffic to your domains. Especially due to the emergence of so-called universal search, ie. the integration of the results from vertical search engines like images, books and local into the “main” search results, more chances of driving cheap, high-quality traffic have come up.”
With the right (relevant to your target) content, linking and media one can go far… Throw in some local targeting and we are even better. Andy Wibbels (AndyWibbels.com) – “Local search. Consumers are learning they can find resources not just across the globe, but down the street. “Findability” is crucial, whether you are a global organization or local mom-and-pop. “
Nutshell – worth time and money invested.

Video – the face to face web revolution
Well no surprises here. It is now very quick and cheap to produce, it gives great effect and it is more fun. (or is it just that it is like TV and we are all used to and liking that?). I also believe it brings a more human aspect to content and to the web – you know, face to face, it is always more powerful. And yes very social web friendly.
Paul Chaney (Conversational Media Marketing) – “Online video/TV is the technology to watch in ’08. There seems to be a seismic shift toward digital distribution of video content, more and more video sites are being created, and there is a small camera revolution going on (which includes webcams) that portends a continued rise in user-generated video content. YouTube was just the beginning. Now, there’s ooVoo
, seesmic, Revver Jumpcut … the list goes on and on. Oh, and FastCompany.TV that Scoble just inaugurated. Add to that the fact that people are scurrying to their computers in droves to watch television programs which, themselves. More than any other technology, including social networks, online video is it.”

Niche
It is all about the niche. You can find or distribute anything you want, on any topic… and people will find it… Start/join groups on social networks, start blog, even start a social network. I mean it is natural conversation on topics you are passionate about. Now for the marketers there is a need for some thinking to get into this kind of conversation with some relevance.John Ebbert (ContextWeb Internet Advertising Blog) – “…Marketers need to understand the impact of the media fragmentation now occurring as users migrate await from portals and large sites to smaller, niche content sites, and how one of the key technological beneficiaries of this trend — online advertising exchanges — will create new opportunities for marketers seeking to improve ROI.”

In-game advertising
Believe that this is the next channel for large scale branding and advertising… Kinda like product placement in TV that is so blissfully annoying , but with relevance. Like this – walking around a beautifully rendered true-to-life city scape (…maybe hunting aliens or under attack from the enemy, but anyway;) and seeing all these signs, posters, products, details that are most of the time very badly executed or just a brand ripoff… it is a shame to ignore details like this and undermine the surrounding work. To the point, these spaces are being opened up to advertisers and brands. This is great, we get detailed product in its relevant environment to complete the picture and cheaper/free/better games because of revenue. Big opportunity for advertiser of course.

The content marketing movement
Kinda sums it up…
Joe Pulizzi (Junta 42) – “The single biggest issue/technology that deserves the most attention is not a site or an application, but more an organizational philosophy. It’s the content marketing movement — which is the philosophy of marketing services not by traditional methods, but by delivering valuable, relevant and compelling content to customers and prospects on a consistent basis. This is being done through all media platforms, and we are seeing companies like P&G and Nike put a large amount of money and resources into these efforts.”

Give, give and give and when you’re done give some more.

One of most talked about people during the SXSW 08 was winelibrary.com/WineLibrary.tv‘s own Gary Vaynerchuk. Seriously this guy rocks. Passion for what he dose and one of the guys that have really understood and harnessed the power of the social web. And changed the preservation of wine to thousands of non wine lovers. Found this video interview form Tara Hunt, on the topic how and what (Loving the name of Tara’s blog though – horsepigcow).

And here is an SXSW 08 spot with Kathy Sierra (invites Gary Vaynerchuk up during her presentation).

Some good inspiring stuff, enjoy.

The Semantic Web Emerging

The semantic web is finally emerging out of the shadows of the nerds. Yahoo has just made the move to start indexing Semantic Web and Microformats markup from around the web and will use the information to improve search results and make them more structured. Excellent, this is a god start and will defiantly push the standard forward.
Defiantly one of the more interesting things that I think will push us out of 2.0 and move froward. And allow for some smart, powerful applications. With support from big players, Yahoo, Google (will probably jump on the train very soon) etc it will quickly become more relevant.
Some very interesting info on this was posted on TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb. Semantic Web, W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee discuss in a interview on topic with Paul Miller – great summary here or listen to the whole thing here. Don’t know what this is start the read here.

So what does this all mean and how will its effects be? Thought the RRW gave quite a nice overview: “today, a web service might work very hard to scour the internet to discover all the book reviews written on various sites, by friends of mine, who live in Europe. That would be so hard that no one would probably try it. The suite of technologies Yahoo! is moving to support will make such searches trivial. Once publishers start including things like hReview, FOAF and geoRSS in their content then Yahoo!, and other sites leveraging Yahoo! search results, will be able to ask easily what it is we want to do with those book reviews. Say hello to a new level of innovation.

The basic idea behind Semantic Web technology is that by signaling what kind of content you are publishing on an item-by-item or field-by-field basis, publishers can help make the meaning of their text readable by machines. If machines are able to determine the meaning of the content on a page, then our human brains don’t have to waste time determining, for example, which search results go beyond containing our keywords and actually mean what we are looking for.
Publishers will now be able to clearly designate content on a page as related to other particular content, as business card type information, as a calendar event, a review or as many other types of content. It will make Yahoo! a lot smarter and should shake up the world of Search Engine Optimization and web publishing, a lot.”

In a nutshell – a more structured web of information that allows for smart applications to evolve. In the end benefiting the end user with relevant info at their fingertips. And yes, marketers and publisher to.

To Be Seen

What should always be included in an online strategy? SEO/SEM, right. Now, this is defiantly not true for all and probably, truth be told, nor is the online strategy bit. But, cannot stress enough the importance of the search and the need to be appearing near or on top. Everyone who is online will (more accurately are) search for something at some point. There is a reason why people say “Google that”. So, if one wants to sell/promote a service/product/business/etc one should(must?) be seen in these searches. Yes, question is then how? Many ways and methods to do this.. One thing is for sure, need to be active (update and react to trends) and focused (many words to choose form). Good thing is, much can be done for free(ish) – many services from ex. Google are free, SEO is free, but one have to spend time doing this actively to see results and that time is most likely not free… Either way for free(ish) one can dramatically improve the chance to be seen. Or for even a small budget one can be victorious. Well, if making a suggestion – I would hire a specialist to make this happen, in the long run this will prover more lucrative and quicker…
Found an interesting article on just this subject from iMedia Connection (geared towards local but applies to all) .

Some key points:
Explosive growth in local search and the increased visibility potential due to universal search and personalization.

  • Explosive local search growth: Local search queries increased 24 percent in 2007, faster than general searches
  • Increased visibility potential: Google and some major search engines introduced personalized search and universal search, greatly impacting the search results landscape. This is both a blessing and a dilemma because it requires different optimization strategies, but it also offers multiple opportunities to be found in the SERPs

The importance of local listings
Every company needs a local listing, regardless of whether it sells locally, nationally or internationally.

  • Free Google maps listings: List your business in Google Maps by going to Google’s Local Business Center, where you’ll find information for creating your free listing.

Google maps advertising
Google Maps displays local business ads, integrating the local match options from Google AdWords into Google Maps.
Through Google enhanced listings, Local business ads, Logo image and Coupons.

Yahoo local listing
Your free local listing is called Yahoo Local Basic.

Yahoo provides sponsored search and local listings as local advertising options.

  • Sponsored search: These pay-per-click ads on Yahoo can be geo-targeted by user location or user interest (keyword). Geo-targeted sponsored search ads can also be inserted into the Yahoo Local results.
  • Local listings: These listings appear on Yahoo Local and have two flat-rate fee levels.

Optimization tips for local listings
To rank well in local search, it goes without saying that your site should be optimized for organic listings. Optimize all on-page and off-page factors, and get your site listed in important directories for your niche.

Other local search opportunities
Note: many are US only but I am sure may are likely to expand…

Live Search – player number 3. In maps etc
AskCity – name says it all
CitySearch – Provides local information for sites such as MSN Live, Ask, Expedia, Ticketmaster and more.
Google Product Search – Local merchants can get free listings on Google’s free product search engine (formerly Froogle)
Insider Pages – This site features local listings and user-generated reviews.
Local.com: Your business should take advantage of the free basic listing.
ReachLocal: This site provides services for setting up, maintaining and tracking local search advertising campaigns on sites like Google, Yahoo, MSN Live and AOL for a fee.

The local search advantage
Local search research by Kelsey Group shows that 70 percent of online searchers will use local search to find offline businesses. The TMPDM-comScore study shows 86 percent of online users will be searching for a local business at some point in time. So it’s important to be visible for local search queries by getting listed in Google Maps, Yahoo Local and all other local search engines and directories. It can also be advantageous for branding to buy sponsored local search listings for a good balance of natural and paid search listings.

For more information about the local search industry, you can download “Unlocking the Potential of the Local Internet” by Marchex, Inc. This 12-page white paper gives a detailed overview of the local search market and major players.

Quickly, go do it!

EIAA Mediascope 07

Some interesting figures and key findings from Meidascope 2007 release…

Who? – Mediascope Europe 2007 – Mediascope Europe provides a unique insight into the evolution of TV, Internet, Radio, Newspaper and Magazine consumption across Europe, and the role the Internet plays in people’s lives.

Some interesting points

  • 169 million people now online across 10 European markets
  • Internet users on average spending nearly 12 hours per week online
  • For the first time ever, 16-24 year olds across Europe are now accessing the internet more frequently than they are watching TV
  • 8 out of 10 (81%) of all internet users now use a broadband connection
  • 42% of internet users now communicate via social networking sites at least once a month, putting it in third place (behind only search and email) in terms of most popular online activities
  • The number of people watching TV, film or video clips online at least once a month has grown a massive 150% since 2006
  • The number of people contributing to rating and review sites has seen a growth of 42% since 2006. Over a quarter (26%) now share their thoughts on forums.

Top 5 growth areas (in internet activities)–

+150% Watching Film, TV or Video Clips

+42% Ratings & Reviews

+18% TV & Film Downloads

+17% Podcasting

+15% P2P File Sharing

In short

There is huge potential to engage and interact with a rapidly growing online audience if marketers can fully understand how consumers are spending their time online. For example, internet users are spending much more time interacting with content and new online tools and services: 42% of internet users regularly communicate via social networking sites and 30% of people watching TV, film or video clips online.

16-24 year olds are living the digital world of the future; they spend more time online than they do watching TV and are in complete control of their media consumption. Marketers need to focus on finding the right balance of display advertising, word of mouth and viral marketing in order to effectively engage and communicate with this key target audience.

Marketers need to be aware of how powerful social recommendation on the internet can be. As a result of the increased levels of online interaction, Europeans continue to embrace new online ‘social media’ applications and technologies. 42% of internet users now regularly communicate via social networking sites and the number of people contributing to rating and review sites has seen a growth of 42% since 2006 and over a quarter (26%) now share their thoughts on forums, highlighting the potential power of word of mouth marketing.

Opportunities to create rich media TV and video-style adverts are increasing as
European broadband penetration grows. 81% of European internet users now connect to the internet via a broadband connection and as a result, internet users are able to enjoy a more interactive and engaging online experience.

Marketers need to understand that in order to engage and interact with consumers online, the environment, consumer proposition and advertising need to be relevant and effectively planned in order to reach and resonate with their key audience.

Get the full documentations from EIAA here