Tag Archives: facebook

Facebook video: Can it compete with YouTube?

According to blogmeister Robert Scoble, Facebook is now getting 100,000 video uploads per day, or enough to keep you busy 24/7 for 100 days. That raises the question as to whether a) Facebook has the capacity to handle the YouTube-like service levels and b) whether it’s going to compete with YouTube’s advertising and analytics programs for video.  Given its rather sketchy support for its PPC and pay per impression ad programs, I’d argue that b) is pretty unlikely right now. But hey, it’s way too early to write Facebook off in this market–and here’s why.

Sure, right now Google (including YouTube), has a 55.4 percent of video viewing visits to online video site properties.  Meanwhile, Facebook has a comparatively tiny 1.5 percent of video viewing visits, according to eMarketer. But bear in mind that that 1.5 percent (up from 0.8 last year) puts it on par with content behemoth Viacom and just below CBS Interactive. Actually, it’s in a pretty impressive position.

True, Facebook moves pretty slowly and hasn’t much aggressiveness in the ad space, but that can’t last forever if it’s going to keep growing.  Monetizing video, even by aping YouTube, is just something it has to do.

I’m also pretty sure that Facebook’s rate of video content accumulation will climb rapidly, giving it increasing leverage. After all, while YouTube tries to be friendly–and can feature some intriguing comments on hot content–it just isn’t the kind of community space Facebook is and doesn’t offer anywhere near the tools.  That gives Facebook a big advantage in building video visitor rates and putting the squeeze to YouTube.

Facebook, all told, has a real opportunity here, though it hasn’t yet shown signs that it cares. Let’s see if it wakes up and makes some tough moves to capture more video viewer market share.

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Will your brand be Twit-jacked?

twitter

Beware: a painful phenomenon from the Web 1.0 world is creeping into Twitter and other social media platforms. Opportunists of the same stripe that reserved Coke.com for themselves in the cowboy days of 1993 (hoping to make millions, of course) are beginning to try similar tricks with Twitter, Facebook and other Web 2.0 identities.

The twit-jacking phenomenon hasn’t moved as quickly as most people feared. Sure, there have been some incidents–about a year ago, for example, one questionable fellow tied up the Twitter versions of CNBC, MSNBC, Newsweek and Business Week–but I haven’t heard anything about a large-scale attack. I think you can be pretty sure it’s coming, though. Domain squatters may not be geniuses, but they’ll catch on soon enough.

Why? Publicity is peaking. Twitter (and fellow social media platforms) are reaching the critical mass of mainstream media coverage which attracts the predators in every business community. Once the coverage reaches them, they’ll be registering social media IDs like mad.

In the mean time, I’m recommending to my clients that they to a social media naming audit (write to me if you’d like our form for doing this) to make sure their core brand is protected on all of the major platforms. It’s worth probably analyzing and leveraging a few of the lesser ones, as well, as you want to hedge your bets.

I also suggest that clients do what they’re probably already doing in the Web 1.0 space, which is to reserve multiple spellings of their corporate name, keywords they consider important to their mission and personal names of their corporate executives. Be thorough, and be thoughtful; and remember that nobody though something crazy like an “URL” would make much of a difference in 1994. We’re at that point again.

Besides, it never hurts to think how your brand is positioned today’s hottest emerging media, and if you’re lucky, you may develop new ideas to reach these audiences as you dig through their layers of social participation. If nothing else, though, you’ll have protected yourself against Twit-jacking for the near future. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

Anne

P.S. This Network World editor has his own interesting take on the subject, including some interesting details on the extent to which Twit-jacking is already picking up steam

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Measuring social media value — more how-to ideas

As many of you know, a few days ago I posted an entry listing ways to begin measuring the impact of social media. Since then, I asked the same question–“How would you measure social media marketing?”–of some hard-core marketers on LinkedIn. I got some great answers, including some obvious ones I should definitely have considered myself <hand slapping forehead> including:

* Monitoring the e-mail signups and RSS signups you get, and look at trends in signups.

While small rises and falls don’t mean much, big shifts are obviously worth watching. Maybe you’ll want to do a retention campaign with your existing registrants if you’re losing ground. If you’re doing really well, meanwhile, it might point you towards a source of profitable relationships in the social media world.

* Tracking the prospects that come in through social channels all the way through to whether they convert into sales.

Given the diversity of assets circulating on social media these days, it’s important to track this in fine detail, down to whether a video, article, podcast or link took the reader to your site.

* Looking specifically at number of new registered users and pageviews generated by social media-generated visitors to your site.

Of course, we all know that page views and registered users are important. Still, not everyone is looking carefully at how standard measures like pageview generation and user registration rates differ between social media and other sources. It’d also be good to discriminate what results can be generated by specific social media sites (e.g. Facebook vs. MySpace).

By the way, a few LinkedIn-ers seemed convinced that social media was best thought of as a PR medium, which is a defensible position. As for me, though,I think we can go a tremendous way toward turning social networks and sites into direct response vehicles.

Now, here’s a question for all of you. Other than folks using PPC ads on social media sites (which almost always calls for a landing page) are you bothering to build landing pages to track social media clicks and visits?

Anne

Measuring social media value–it IS possible

Make no mistake, we’re well past the point where social media marketing is optional–despite what some of our clients and bosses say.

The most recent evidence for this comes from The Society for New Communications Research, whose recent report notes that fifty-seven percent of this group of early social media adopters reported that social media tools are becoming more valuable to their activities. (The report is definitely worth a read.)

One major problem, however, is that the Internet marketing business hasn’t developed a standard way of measuring social media marketing performance which is accepted by its own top honchos (much less clients). So it’s time to pick some standards of our own.

The following is my attempt to come up with some principles, and specific metrics, we can use to decide whether our social media efforts are working to promote. I look forward to your suggestions! – Anne

Social media measurement standards

* Length of stay for visitors referred by social media

Visitors who come to your site through social media promotions may have a different profile than those who arrive through other means. I believe it’s important to find out how they differ from site averages, particularly in terms of length of stay (as a proxy for their level of interest).

* Number of followers/fans on various networks

I sort of dislike this one, as you can have tons of lurkers clicking through on your Facebook fan page or Ning group, while not having too many who agree to sign up. Still, it’s worth taking into account, not as a sign of whether you’re successful but a sense of how given community’s reacting to your message.

* Number of comments/questions made directly to the company rep doing the social media marketing

OK, if social media marketing involves talking with, not at, the audiences you’re hoping to reach, that involves joining a community. One very crude way of looking whether people see you as a member is how many comments and questions they’ve made addressing you.

* Extent to which your social media efforts have brought new assets into your business

If social media marketing is more joining a community (e.g. networking) than making a pitch, then such networking should bear fruit. In one project, for example, I found several potential business partners and a freelance contributor within a couple of weeks of putting it out there.

* Extent to which you’ve concretely raised awareness of your service/product within the community

If you’re on a social networking site, and you see someone say “I know about X because the company’s rep told me so directly on Twitter,” you’re definitely on the right track. You can be pretty confident that someone will visit your site and, if it’s otherwise in good shape, convert into a dedicated customer.

* Frequency with which your brand is mentioned on key sites

As with the number of followers/fans you attract, this is a very tricky way to measure the effectiveness as your marketing, as there’s a million offline methods by which people can discuss your site. Still, keeping track of comments (using, say, TweetScan for Twitter or general search for MySpace and Facebook) certainly offers useful context.

Next: Get more simple, powerful approaches to measuring social media here.

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iGoogle, not Yahoo, is the portal to watch

Folks, I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about the collapse of Microsoft’s grand plan to buy into Yahoo’s cutting-edge 1998-era business model. As for me, I’ve been puzzled throughout the whole MicroHoo spectacle. After all, who gives a damn about traditionally-structured content portals these days?

Rather than watch MS and YHOO duke it out, I’m paying very close attention to the evolution of iGoogle. Probably because it’s not being promoted vigorously, iGoogle has gotten comparatively little attention from the IT and search pundits of the world. But I believe that could change quickly. In truth, Google is building a new, vibrant business model in plain sight, quietly perfecting its approach gadget by gadget and application by application while downplaying this effort’s strategic importance.

Is iGoogle revolutionary in and of itself? Not at all. The widgets and content the service offers aren’t miracles of technical sophistication, and for any one of the functions it offers (say, Calendar) there’s lots of competition available elsewhere on the Web. Besides, the other search majors offer customization, too. It’s just that they don’t do it as well.

What makes Google special is the simple, clean execution it brings to user-driven content display–which includes an amazingly flexible drag-and-drop feature for arranging widgets on the page, countless options for enhancing the content and a range of useful features which can easily be lumped together.

Taken together, these interface design options are far more powerful than they sound. For example, I’ve found that having the freedom to put Google mail and the Google calendar smack dab on top of one another, as I do, is the perfect way for me to stay on top of my life. It’s not rocket science, but it gets the job done better than just about any other approach I’ve tried.

Of course, if I didn’t already use a bunch of Google apps, having access to them through iGoogle wouldn’t be much of a benefit. But like most Web workers, I use lots of Google services already, so Google’s got me where they want me. Ultimately, iGoogle gives the search giant complete ownership of my workflow. (Whoops — did I just say that? iGoogle is scarier than I thought!)

The endgame, ultimately, will come when iGoogle begins to offer you access to proprietary features, such as Google-hosted personal health records. (Trust me, they’re already working on the latter–I saw a demo at a recent trade show, in fact.) When you begin to rely on iGoogle to control your personal health data, read your e-mail, get directions and maps, display your carefully chosen list of news, recipes and gossip and keep you abreast of your local weather, all ordered on the page in a way that you like best, Google now has you body and soul.

So, go ahead, Microsoft, and pursue portals or even a Facebook or MySpace buyout. That’s all well and good. But if you guys are the insanely brilliant people they say you are, you might want to think about Google’s strategy for completely seducing users–and what your role should be in a world where all content is widgetized and used on demand.

Sure, iGoogle’s still young now, but it’s going to kick butt when it grows up. How will you respond? — Anne

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Do you deserve to be called a social media marketing pro?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a growing number of marketing pros tag themselves as “social media marketers,” but few stop and define what they mean by that. The question is, what defines a social media marketer, anyway?

Here’s my take on the ideal social media marketer:

* They’re people who are intimately familiar key social media communities (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter), with lots of real connections there and experience with a given service’s back channels.

* They’re knowledgeable about social network advertising options, including Facebook pages, apps and PPC-style ads, MySpace pages, video advertising on YouTube and PPC ad integration on B2C services like Flickr and Squidoo.

* They’re experienced at (or at least familiar with) Internet marketing in other contexts, including banner placement, e-mail, SEO, PPC campaigns, copywriting for the Web and affiliate marketing.

* They’re extremely current with Web 2.0 news, both traditional and bloggish, and can shift strategies on a dime based on what they learn.

The big question I haven’t addressed here is whether one can call themselves a social media marketer if they’ve never run a major campaign on these networks. (People who specialize in B2B, like myself, are particularly unlikely to have run such campaigns–our clients are not usually the early adopter type.)

Should we stay out of the fray until we’ve spent real money on this medium? Sounds good in theory, but that would pretty much shrink the profession down to a few fortunate folks whose clients/employers are way ahead of the curve.

OK, now it’s your turn. What core skills do you think marketers should have before they hang out the “social media marketer” shingle? Why? And do you think the social media marketing profession needs an association of its own?

Please feel free to comment or write to me at annezieger at gmail.com…I definitely don’t want the last word here!

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LifeAt takes social networking to housing communities

At first blush, I liked the idea a lot. Brooklyn-based start-up LifeAt has built a social networking platform apartment communities and other housing developments can use to connect residents with each other, the management and the neighborhood. With the help of some persistent PR reps, the idea has gotten some attention, including a feature in The New York Times.

Conceptually, the model makes a great deal of sense–and I’m guessing that the real estate investors behind the venture can keep it afloat for quite some time–but as I looked things over, I realized that I have some problems with LifeAt’s execution.

First, the basics. LifeAt, which developed all of its technology in-house, charges building managers a flat $6,000 to get access to the platform, which includes templates for personal profiles and “friend” connections, a community discussion forum, profiles of local stores, restaurants and services and a “marketplace” where residents can post free classifieds. To make sure only residents access the sites, no one can enter unless they get a username and password from the property manager.

As of late 2007, when the Times wrote its profile, almost 1,000 communities were live or scheduled to go live within a few months.  (Note: While CEO Matthew Goldstein didn’t say how many, at least some of the buildings are those already owned by the investors behind the project.) More interestingly, at that point more than half of residents in the already-launched properties had created personal profiles. In other words, yes, people do use the service.

So, other than the one-time $6,000 fee–a pittance as software development licenses go–how does LifeAt plan to support itself? Well, there’s the rub. Goldstein told me that the company plans to sell local advertising on the sites, something I very much doubt will work over the long term.

I’m skeptical of the local ad sales model for a few reasons. First, there’s already a huge array of local advertising options available to national companies who might want to go local, so the competition will be stiff there. Second, the local businesses immediately adjacent to the building are not exactly lacking in local channels either. Among other plays, there’s local newspapers, big city newspapers like the Times, Yellow Pages (both online and offline), ValPak and its ilk, plus local Web advertising plays by radio and TV stations. And unlike these local players, LifeAt’s sales folks aren’t going to be intimately woven into the life of that community (unless they have plans to hire thousands of local salespeople).

Sure, they’ll sell the “our people are more engaged” concept, but I don’t think merchants will be that impressed. After all, unlike the Facebook communities they imitate, as far as I know they’re not selling advertisers in-depth demographic and behavioral info on their users. So it’s just plain-vanilla advertising, even if sold by nifty partners (and it does have more than a dozen of those).

Meanwhile, another big issue is that LifeAt is relying on residents to create the local business content which plays a key role in its model.  As local search gurus know, it can be fatal to wait for people to create good content–especially business content. Instead, I think LifeAt’s going to have to eventually break down and license Internet Yellow Pages or other neighborhood business listings content from somewhere else. Then, they’re still providing a nice variety of local business content even if residents aren’t review-happy.

Ultimately, I think LifeAt will end up having to raise its initial charge significantly and make all of its money there as a white-label social media network technology player (albeit a rather specialized one).

But we’ll see…I’ve been wrong a gazillion times. Hey, I though Yahoo was a big waste of time in 1995, and look, it’s still alive!

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Like what you see in What Matters Online? Want to stay up to date on the latest in Web 2.0, social media and old-school interactive marketing? Get notified of our latest updates by e-mail or RSS. I will never sell or exchange your information, and I won’t deluge your inbox — I promise!