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Archive for February, 2008

How important is uptime in Social networks?

Apparently not too important to the folks at Bebo According to Royal Pingdom (great name by the way) which measures downtime using Pingdom’s uptime monitoring service.

Bebo’s downtime has increased significantly lately and has had by far the most downtime of the 14 social networks monitored for the survey. More than 12 hours of downtime in less than two months is a lot, and it could possibly be caused by the new open application platform that Bebo launched in December, allowing third-party developers access to its platform, Facebook style. It could be putting more strain on Bebo’s systems than they anticipated.

The two giants in the field, MySpace (with 25 minutes of downtime) and Facebook (with one hour and 35 minutes of downtime), can both be considered to be within acceptable limits, especially MySpace.

Social networks, just like any other websites, will occasionally suffer from downtime, either planned or unplanned. However, social networks have a different type of usage than most websites, with frequent visits from the same user and many page views per visit. Therefore downtime can often be even more noticeable and frustrating to social network users.

Below are the results of the survey.

Social Network Home page (monitored) Downtime in 2008 (until Feb 25)
Bebo www.bebo.com 12h 28m
Windows Live Spaces spaces.live.com 7h 25m
Friendster www.friendster.com 6h 0m
hi5 www.hi5.com 5h 5m
Reunion.com www.reunion.com 2h 55m
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com 4h 0m
Classmates.com www.classmates.com 2h 5m
Facebook www.facebook.com 1h 35m
Orkut www.orkut.com 1h 10m
Last.fm www.last.fm 1h 10m
Xanga www.xanga.com 45m
MySpace www.myspace.com 25m
LiveJournal www.livejournal.com 10m
Yahoo! 360 360.yahoo.com 5m

* According to Royal Pingdom: If a web page is not reachable, returns an error, or takes longer than 30 seconds to load, it is considered as down. Downtime is always confirmed from two geographically separate locations.

Business Social networking experiment part 2.

Well ecademy was certainly interesting. Priding itself with the tag line; “Successful business people join ecademy to do more business”. After the relatively pain free login, I was taken to this page that had sooo much information for me to read and soo much information that they wanted, that I became somewhat discouraged and I’ve decided to move onto the next site on the list. Not a good start for a business social networking site. It shouldn’t be so hard! One note, I keep getting lots of unsolicted emails from users welcoming me etc etc.. The only difference is their names aren’t Mandy, Ashley, and Monique…

Next on the list entremate and I have just clicked on the darkest, most illegible eula/t&c I have ever encountered. God knows what I just agreed to. Time to edit the profile. Not much here to be honest, and it seems to be essentially a bbs. Now how far is that going to get me?

Next up was Friendly Favors, I’m going to give them a second chance on a first impression since I was getting database errors for the better part of yesterday.

Konnects, I liked, it was fairly intuitive and easy to set up and the influx of emails wasn’t too bad. That’s one bad aspect of Ecademy, they like to spam with people essentially “there” to help you. But we’ll see. Here is Konnects pitch: Do more with Konnects Get your own professional space online:

  • Grow your business
  • Find a Job
  • Access 1000’s of communities
  • Centralize your network
  • Join discussions
  • Let others find you
  • and much more.
  • Something to remember is that with all social networks, it doesnt happen overnight and with each network that you are in, you have to get your bearings and contribute and share and grow your page and your presence. With that being said, When I logged in to Networking for Pros, they essentially said, screw the advertiser model, we want your money to use our site. So I said to Networking for Pros. screw you, I want free. And Off I went.

    Real contacts touted itself as a social networking site but really its the old Monster jobs site model. Its employers connecting with job seekers and nothing more, so I was outta there. And on to Ryze I went. I signed up and was fully expecting quite the expereince given all of the back slapping it gave itself. But to be honest, I didn’t think there was much under the hood. You know one of the things that a lot of social networks assume is that you are able to or want to,”invite your friends”. Has it dawned on anyone that maybe you don’t have any friends or maybe you don’t wanna invite anyone within your circle? That might be why Facebook has a leg on all of these. They allow you to look for your group and just join. Then it’s up to you to connect within the group.

    So I came away from Ryze with a shrug of the shoulders and a “oh well” attitude with zero expectations. I liked Spoke, it had a nice interface and essentially asked for the same ole same ole in regards to the information it was looking for, but it might be worth going back and building on the intial info that I have provided them. The last one in the group is Teng which is is a professional community of selected Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officers, vice presidents and directors of technology with organizations ranging from startups to the global Fortune 100, from non-profits to government agencies. The interface sucked so I’m not sure if it’s just a source site for someone to collect names. I went through the initial steps, so I’ll let you know.

    Ok, so I have gone through all of the sites that were on the list and for now I’m going to focus on 3 of them for now. Those will be Spoke, Konnects and Ecademy. Those 3 seemed to be the best of the bunch and may have the most potential for something. I’ll try and go back and contribute and share and upload and do the things we do in social networks, but for now, you’ll just have to wait and see. One more thing, I did not include Linkedin and Plaxo, which were suggested, because one is clearly THE business social network at the moment and the other is more of a tool for sharing contacts.  So I wanted to look beyond those. especially the ones that I can get something from without shelling out any coin. Have I missed one, that we should evaluate?

    Customer Acquisition in Social Media Marketing

    After reading this entry in Top Rank Blog about tips for marketing with social media, something crossed my mind. Though there were some great tips on things that people can do to use the power of social meda to bolster marketing, I was not seeing THE sure fire way. It was gray. I think it’s still gray, and I’ll tell you why.

    Lets take for example Client A. Client A wants to use social media, has heard about social media or at least has heard about blogs for example, and wants to use it to drive traffic to his or her sites, increase sales and or use it for branding purposes. That seems to be a safe assumption for most companies.

    Well those are all well and good, but first things first. Where does the client go? You have consultants running around out there claiming to know how to do it, but by the looks of the tips. I saw nothing that was a “business process”. I saw a here try this, or this works, or a you might want to try this or I have seen that…..Get the point? A client needs to know what are you going to do, how are you going to do it, how long is it going to take, and what will I get from your efforts, amongst other things.

    The problem is, with social media, though you can measure traffic to a certain degree, the “process” or the initiation of a social media campaign is not an overnight phenomenon. there are some instances of it occurring from a viral marketing standpoint but It’s a process that needs to be cultivated. The issue that most clients have with this business model is that they don’t have time to nurture their presence in social networks. Their businesses require immmediate results and returns.

    Businesses know this and need to know this: 1) Here is my customer I know what it takes to acquire this customer via this form of advertising, sales and marketing and channel. 2) Here is my customer, what is it going to cost me to acquire that customer through social media? And what are the steps that you are going to take and what are they going to cost me for you to achieve that? After you first explain to me what social media is…

    After they ask you “Is it like Myspace”? 

    If you the social media marketer come to me and say, “We’re going to create a Facebook group for you, A couple of blogs, maybe a bbs, a couple of microsites, and we’re also going to Twitter and use Stumbleupon as well as a handful of others.” I’m first going to say, “Huh?  and then “ok, what is that going to do”? And you’ll say, “We’re branding you, and we’re driving traffic to these sites and pages and they’re finding out more about you”!.  To which I will say, “Thats great, how many sales can I expect? What kind of conversion rates can I expect from social media???” At that point I better get a really good answer or another plan that perhaps uses a widget or two that is placed in strategic social media sites that can drive traffic and convert sales.

     That’s the real question, or rather one of the many questions. Here they are and you might want to use them as you are approached by social media marketers or companies who will claim to know what they are doing.

    • What is your social media plan?
    • Do I need sales, leads or traffic
    • What types of social media do you plan to use and why those? and why not these?
    • What will be the upfront costs? What ongoing costs can I expect?
    • What will be the costs of customer acquisition? A cost per acquisition model certainly applies here!
    • How long will it take to roll this plan out
    • What kinds of deliverables can I expect and when
    • What is your track record
    • Have you ever worked with this type of product or my type of company before?
    • How successful have you been
    • What will it take to manage it on my own
    • Lets focus on some deliverables
    • Lets set some benchmarks with incentives
    • What is your plan to integrate this social media plan with our other marketing plans
    • What if you fail
    • What guarantees do I have
    • References

    The key here is alot of agencies are starting to add social media as it’s own division within their companies. Though there are very few companies and agencies who have done it right over a sustained period of time, because of the “new-ness” of it all. It’s up to you to figure out who can deliver what, and in what time frame. The last thing you need is for someone or some company to experiment with your brand as they muddle their way through figuring out just what works and what doesn’t work with social media marketing.

    Lastly what companies and businesses and people need to realize is that social media marketing is a moving target. It’s changing and morphing into something different every day. The reason is, marketers are figuring out new and unique ways to leverage the media to the advantage of the client. Some are proven, some are loopholes, some are brainstorms and some are just plain strokes of genius. Though you still need a concrete strategy as you go forward. It doesn’t hurt to have someone who is willing to take a chance or try something different on your behalf. Keep that in mind as you work your way down the bulleted list. The first of many steps will be finding someone who knows social media marketing and actually has a business model wrapped around social media marketing. As it is a moving target, I’m sure that there are some differring opinons on this. What do you think?

    Mobile, Social, and Search. Quick hits.

    In a quest to pare down my already slim posts, I’m going to fire off a couple of quick blurbs for everyone to chew on until the next post:

    • Aside from Microsoft not backing down in it’s quest to buy Yahoo, AT&T and Yahoo have entered in a multiyear deal to share revenue from advertising on Mobile phones. Yahoo will provide search and display advertising for AT&T customers. I’m shocked that Google did not get there first.
    • Speaking of Microsoft, the Wall Street Journal just cut a deal with them in which the WSJ’s paid search and contextual advertising services will be provided by Microsoft. Not to sound redundant but, I’m shocked that Google did not get there first…
    • Social media giants Facebook and Myspace will become application hubs and launch pads for niche based “smaller” social networks. Alot of this is the residual effect of Facebook opening its platform last fall.
    • Word of Mouth marketing is the new mode of marketing on the cheap. It’s also just as effective as traditional forms of marketing and has much more of a “buzz” factor.
    • Magazines drive more than 50% of online searches, followed by reading an article in a magazine and lastly by seeing something on TV.
    • According to Anderson Analytics, 32% of  the 1700 marketing executives polled cited “Green Marketing” as an important emerging concept along with it being considered the trendiest marketing buzzword.
    • The hottest demographic that you need to be marketing too, but are probably ignoring are the hispanic and baby boomers.
    • According to Informa’s latest report entitled “Mobile Social Networking: Communities and Content on the Move,” the number of mobile social networking users exceeded 50 million, approximately 2.3% of the global mobile user population on December 31st, 2007

    Mobile Marketers can fail and still succeed.

    Mobile advertising is projected to generate revenue somewhere between $1 billion and $24 billion within four years. However, at the moment they(analysts) still do not know which business model or marketing approach will be successful in tapping into that money.

    So you’re saying,”Well how can they come up with those projections then?”  They can come up with those lofty projections the same way analysts said that one day the internet would be really really big. The upside and the potential are so great, that even those numbers are skewed on the side of conservatism.

    To put it in perspective you have to understand that nearly everyone including your average 10 year old and up is now carrying a cell phone. If you want a hard number, think north of 2 billion users worldwide. With that device is the real estate to market and advertise to a captive audience. With that device and it’s associated burgeoning high speed browser comes the ability to search, use the internet or access email. Currently in the US, there are almost 35 million users of the mobile “net”. So what comes with search? contextual advertising. What comes with surfing the net? Advertising. Or using email? Get the idea?

    But see that’s the easy side to marketing on a mobile device. The challenge for marketers and advertisers will be how to create stickiness not only for search results for instance but also to geotargeted results via a mobile device. In other words, how are you/they going to create the mobile call to action?

    Some of the other questions will also be; How intrusive can you as a marketer be on a mobile device? Do the devices need to also have micro-java apps for pop-ups for instance? Can a marketer hone in on perhaps using SMS alternatives or opportunities until a more solid marketing platform is developed? When you think about it, it really is wide open.

    The answer is yes to all of those questions, and the best part about it is the result can be a complete and utter failure and thats ok. So now you’re saying, “what do you mean it’s ok to fail?” Well it’s ok to fail because the user has no preconceived notion or expectation as to how it’s supposed to be. And because they don’t know what to expect, they will be willing to accept, for now, whatever comes down the pipe.

    But marketers and their brethren will only be allowed to fail x amount of times before the user a) finds another solution that best meets and exceeds their intial expectation or b) becomes completely frustrated by the lack of performance. And trust us, they will find it. Either through another marketer letting them know that their is a better solution out there, or they will find it virally.

    Until the bar is set, mobile marketers will have a grace period to get it right. The unknown is how long the grace period will be. The unknown is who will set the tone? Who will establish the way things are done in the mobile world? Because at the moment the canvass is blank and anything can be tried and ANYTHING can be successful. In the end the ultimate judge will be your average consumer, or your average 10 year old!


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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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