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Archive for December, 2007

The top 15 overall searches for the week

A few things to note here with this top 10 list:  First, we are a nation obsessed with all things Britney and her clan. Second, we still cannot get enough of Jessica Simpson even when she is at a Dallas Cowboy football game. and Third, your typical search must be done by a 15 year old male.  Thanks to the Yahoo Buzz Index, Behold the list:

  1. Jessica Simpson
  2. Casey Aldridge-The father of Jamie Lynns baby
  3. I love New York- See Tiffany
  4. Jessica Alba-A staple in top internet searches
  5. Tiffany Pollard- See I love New York
  6. Angelina Jolie- no news here
  7. Claire Forlani
  8. Britney Spears
  9. NFL
  10. Jamie Lynn Spears
  11. Tony Romo-Gee, I wonder why?
  12. WWE
  13. Hi-5
  14. Christmas-Finally, something searched by more than 15-17 year old males.
  15. Leah Remini- She is so 5 minutes ago isn’t she?
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What is a social network? Really.

A new report by Strategy Analytics claims that roughly one out of every 6 people on the face of the earth will be using social media in 5 years. To what extent and for what purpose reamins to be seen but the report also adds that there are currently approximately 373 million people using social media. “It is clear that user generated media will increasingly compete with professional media when it comes to the attention and free time of users,” comments Martin Olausson, Director of Digital Media Research at Strategy Analytics. “However, if professional media companies choose to embrace social media applications it will enable a more direct and positive relationship with consumers, which will in turn drive increased engagement and loyalty.”

The rise of social media sites and applications can be attributed to the desire of web users to create and manage their own content. This desire has fueled a cottage industry of niche based sites that are geared towards like minded individuals cut from the same cloth. What was unexpected though was the evolution and sea change effect that this has had on computing as we know it in the 21st century.

If the report’s estimates are proven to be accurate, one can only assume that there will  be more social networks available, all with their own hook, niche and community. One can also expect that blogs will continue to grow at an exponential level as the ease in which someone can create “their” blog will continue to evolve into an even more intuitive interface.  What all this means is that the rules as we know it in regards to how content is produced and how it is deduced will no doubt change. Just as everyone is now an amateur videographer, now too will there will millions of social commentators who will develop loyal readership bases. This will change the way the public perceives what they read.

One of the more interesting aspects of all this of course, is how marketers and advertisers are salivating over the prospect of selling to these targeted customers. The only problem is that the last thing that these social netizens or users are interested in, is your product. They will and can smell a marketer a mile away and thus if they are “found” out, they can forget it.

Social network users don’t want to be sold to. That is, in part why they are here in the first place. They want a nirvana like environment in which they can do their own thing without having to deal with a marketer or an advertiser or a pitch.  They want to play and share their widgets and tools with others without having some ad streaming across the top of the page. They want to  post, comment, create and “maybe” make money as well but as discrete as discrete can get.

Because of the value of user generated content and the lack of desire to be approached by advertisers while those users are in their “world” something has to give. Either users accept it or..advertisers get smarter or more respectful. consider the former being the road of choice. but really what we’re talking about is a sea change in how individuals go about computing. The sea change being a) that we accept that search is an integral part of of how are day begins or rather our computing day is wrapped around search and is integrated with search and b) What do we do with the rest of our time online? Social computing is your answer.

Ok so now what do the rest of us who are not into blogging or social networks do? Ahhhh…  but wait, before we are too quick denounce this “social networking” thing that is too hard to learn, perhaps we might want to reconsider a social network. Think back to when you or all of us were in High School. How were you labeled? What defined you?  The answer was, we were all in a clique a group or on a team. If you think about it, it’s how we were identified when we were growing up. What “group” were you part of? It was what gave us our identity.  The band, the chess team, the football team, the student council, the yearbook staff. Those were all social networks. The only difference between then and now, is that we can now share and communicate with those people 24/7/365.

Still there are inherent problems. The biggest one being a barrier of entry. Computing though accessible by all, is not affordable by all. Computers though accepted by all, are not understood by all and lastly computers, though they can close the gap between countries and people who wish to communicate, they cannot solve the issues of war, famine, and natural disasters. So yes social networks are a wonderous thing but truly, the only way they work is if people are willing to communicate, exchange ideas,  respect one another, and share in common goals and beliefs. Hmmm. there’s a novel idea. Is there a place for social networks? Absolutely. It’s just up to us to redefine them, because right now they are all cut from the same virtual cloth.

Google Mobile- The Android Demo

I’m back on the mobile kick as of late and thought everyone would like to see this video demo, for those who have not seen it. It is very very cool. Watch out iphone is all I can say! The maps feature is extraordinary.


Social Networks cutting deals left and right with mobile carriers

As was previously stated in earlier entries, something had to give in the wonderfully bloated world of social networks. It actually has been in play for awhile but, lo and behold, mobile carriers are realizing that the next big thing for their continued world dominance will be the melding of social networks with mobile carriers. Thus the following news doesn’t really surprise me:

 MySpace Mobile to be Packaged with Sprint

Fox Interactive Media and Sprint have hooked up to offer MySpace and other FIM properties to mobile customers. Under the deal, MySpace will come as a default option on Sprint’s mobile portal, meaning that the site can be accessed directly as opposed to typing in a URL (in this case, mobile.myspace.com).

sprintCurrently in beta, MySpace Mobile will launch officially early next year. Other FIM properties included in the deal are IGN, FOXSports, Photobucket, Rotten Tomattoes, and AskMen.

Why is this important? Because the users of social networks use something even more frequently than their respective social network. Namely, their cell phone.  So the thinking is; If you can pair the 2 digital beasts, then you have a match made in marketing heaven. A captive audience 24/7/365. Now this comes on the heels of the announcement in October that:

O2 Partners with MySpace and Facebook for Mobile access in the UK

o2_logo.gif

O2, the UK mobile operator,  announced partnerships with MySpace and Facebook, giving its users access to these social networks from their mobile devices.

This partnership provides  MySpace and Facebook users, access to their profiles pages for viewing and editing via their cell phone or hand held device. Granting mobile access to the major social networks is another way in which consumers, especially in the teen and college demographic can stay engaged with not only their social groups but also with advertisers and marketers. Virgin, Nokia and Sprint have all gone this route as well.  O2 already has a deal with Apple for exclusive sales of the iPhone in the UK.

And this comes in from the vapor trail of a July announcement in which:

Sprint Nextel had announced two new services  which enabled users to access social networking sites, and let customers locate each other using GPS technology.

Providing better browsing options for access to social networking sites such as Xanga, Rabble and LiveJournal meant that users would now have more reason to use mobile browsing and stay better connected with friends.  Partnering with Loopt, Sprint Nextel is also allowing users to geo-locate one another via GPS, within another private network of friends.

The only sticking point with all of these announcements is that there is still the speed issue that all of the carriers and the respective social networks seem to be ignoring. Granted the iphone seems to have all the speed you need with their Safari browser, but not everyone can go out and afford an iphone. Having said that, what is the 15-18 year old supposed to do with the free phone their parents got them that can only text 50 times a month, supposed to do?

It’s too soon to tell, but don’t think that we’re the only ones who have mentioned it, or have thought about it. The bottom line is this: That the social networks know that a key to their survival will be extending the social network beyond the confines of the home/bedroom. Until they do that, like I said, They’ll all eventually end up standing around staring at each other saying, “Now what?”

Do Boomers know the power of a social network?

I just had read where uboomerutv.com was reinventing itself and making the leap, or so they say, from a second tier social network to a premier social network. My first thought was that a used car company could start selling caddies and a Lexus here and there, but at the end of the day, they are still a used car company.

Thats not to say uboomerutv.com is not goint to make the leap but it does beg 2 questions: 1) what is up with that name? and 2) If Boomers comprise the largest demographic in the world then theoretically your numbers for u-b-o-o-m-e-r-u-t-v.com should rival that right? So 20 million users should not be out of the question.

Ok so there is something wrong here. The first thing is and I’m not underestimating the tech knowledge of the Boomer but all I keep thinking is Homer Simpson reading aloud, “press any key to begin” and then stating, “where is the any key”?.

Boomers do adapt quickly I will give them that, but will they adapt to the previously named website above that I refuse to type any longer? I’m not so sure. They will however go to Facebook and even MySpace, to check out what they have read and heard from just about every major news source on the planet as of late. The problem is and maybe this is where the previously named website that I refuse to type any more comes into play. If they really like 10-30% for instance, of what they saw on Myspace and Facebook, but felt the demo was not just right for them, maybe they will embrace the other boomer sites.

The other question is, what are they doing on these networks. Are they exchanging their favorite music? Looking for “cool widgets”? Looking for Love? Are they into creating their “pages”? There’s where the disconnect is. Facebook and Myspace thrive because of the content managed aspect of their sites and the ownership and freedom that teens and college students take in “their pages”. That aspect does not have the same sex appeal to Boomers.

Boomers want info and want to share info that is relavant to their lives at that moment and beyond. But they also want to be able to share and learn without a huge learning curve. Hey it’s great to have all sorts of cool tools and widgets, but if you’re building it because it worked on MySpace and Facebook, then you have totally missed the boat. So do Boomers know the power of a social network? Yes and No. They know the power of Myspace and Facebook because they heard it so. They don’t know the power of a social network thats geared towards them because of a perceived learning curve and a lack of knowledge and understanding of what it can do for them.

The “real” Cyber Monday…was December 10th.

According to the Atlas Institute, which has analyzed online transaction data over the past 7 years, the “real” cyber Monday , or busiest online shopping day of the year would have been December 10th. For the past 7 years the Atlas Institute has observed a number of online shopping patterns with the most obvious being that online shopping peaks in the weeks leading up to Christmas, there is a period of depressed sales immediately before Christmas, and most online shopping occurs on Mondays and Tuesdays during business hours.

For instance in 2006, the busiest online shopping day was Monday December 11th, which recorded activity 89% above average. The following Monday, December 18th, recorded the second highest online shopping volume during the season; and the last Monday before Christmas, with adequate shipping time, had also established itself as a strong day for online sales. This would make sense, as this is the last day that online shoppers feel they can order and expect their purchases to arrive on time.

Interestingly enough, after the second monday in December, online shopping starts to dramatically decline until Christmas day. Which begs the question, the Atlas Institute says; What are online marketers doing after this date? and what should they be doing differently to counteract this?

The bottom line is that retailers, advertisers and online marketers need to essentially gear the months of November and December towards Christmas. They need to concentrate their efforts on Mondays and Tuesdays and from the hours of 8am to 4pm. And They also need to make sure that their sites, are intuitive, easy to understand, easy to shop, easy to checkout and they damn well better deliver those packages before December 25th!

Google stats for November, no surprise here.

Google accounted for 65.1% of all US searches in the four weeks ending Dec. 1, while Yahoo Search, MSN Search and Ask.com received 21.2%, 7.1% and 4.6%, respectively, reported Hitwise. The remaining 46 search engines it tracks accounted for less than 2.0%. Thus if you’re an internet SEO/marketer and you’re strategy is to concentrate on the second tier SE’s, you might want to rethink that strategy. Furthermore, if you are tempted to pay money to be registered in “thousands” of search engines, our question to you would be, why?

Further enhancing marketers claims that niche based selling is the way to go, Google is also growing as a source of traffic to key industries, Hitwise said. Search engines remain the primary way internet users navigate to key industry categories, with Google leading the way.

Three categories – Travel, Entertainment, and Business and Finance – had double-digit increases (Nov. ‘06 to Nov. ‘07) in the share of traffic coming directly from search engines. These three categories revert back to a comment I made in an earlier post about the top 15 web searches: We as a society only care about being entertained and making money.


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The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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