The Takeaway from Social Media in 2010

 

Online privacy means a lot to us, but for a majority of us, it’s only important when we know our privacy has been invaded. In social networks and social media, every time we join a new shiny network, or register for something online, we give up a little piece of our privacy, like a sculptor chipping away at a piece of marble. Sometimes knowingly, sometimes not, we’re giving up who we are to marketers and brands.

You see, every time we create a profile we are allowing someone to glimpse a little bit more about us than most might really be comfortable with; but we do it because that’s what’s asked or required of us in order to “play”; and like I said, some of you might not even know it. Some of you might not care, because hey, “we’re living in the age of uber transparency”!

Yes we have a right to know what information is being gathered about us, how it is used and whether it is gathered at all, yet most of us are too busy trying to get on the other side of an app to be bothered with reading a EULA or a TOS agreement. Why is that?

I have a feeling  that the reason is similar to when you are hearing a radio spot and at the very end of the spot you’ll hear a guy talking so fast, you have no idea what he just said, so you ignore it, Because all you really care about is the deal that was mentioned in front of the fast talking man-The carrot, the offer, the opportunity. Privacy be damned. Most marketers and companies assume correctly that making the TOS’s and EULA’s so ridiculously convoluted, that we as consumers will just get tired of reading and will click the agree button. And the devil…is buried in the details.

Facebook did the same thing when it came to compromising our privacy the first time. How many times has it changed it’s privacy policy? Most of  the 500 million users probably don’t care what is happening to their data-and that’s a scary thought; but enough of them care to call Facebook out for assuming that we are ready to alter our perception of what is acceptable in data mining- and thus we’ve able to somewhat keep them in check.  I am still not comfortable about the purported data leaks, or satisfied that Facebook is doing all it can to value my privacy, but then again it’s a 1000 times better than it initially was.

So let me ask you something. As we head into 2011, are you cool with giving up snippets of your personal data for the sake of playing Farmville? Or being part of Groupon? or Foursquare?Are you comfortable with that? Are you truly prepared for radical transparency? I’m not sure I am just yet.

5 Reasons Why Social Media is so Explosive

Given that we have been punked by the dry erase girl it has become apparent to me a few things about our new social transparent world and why marketers want to tap it.

  1. We love to share stories where good triumphs over evil
  2. We love to talk and tell others about train wrecks for companies and people
  3. We can be easily punked
  4. We love watching video-and then sharing it-it takes no effort, none. zip. zilch.zero.
  5. We are suckers for top ten lists

I know there are more, but these were the first 5 that came to mind..

When influence is confused with popularity

I guess this is the week of Influence. Or is it popularity? It’s funny how trends, momentum and failures will shape and dictate what we talk about and write about from week to week isn’t it? Take the Fast Company Influence Project-talk about a sh@#! storm! Why? Well let’s look at what has been said about this “project” up to this point.

For the moment, brands like Fast Company need to think long and hard before redefining what influence means. Influence is based on trust and targeted connections, not ego and self-adulation. Just writing about Fast Company’s Influence Project will contribute to its going viral, but hopefully it will influence a few “social media gurus” from wasting the time of their friends and followers-Courtney Boyd Myers

The biggest problem here is that this is a Fast Company editorial project which provides no service or experience to a reader besides that of clicking on rather confusing links in order to be confronted with bullshit “influence” metrics, which inevitably leaves people feeling empty and used-SF Weekly

This isn’t influence. This is an ego trap and a popularity contest, pure and simple. There’s no goal other than click pandering. Already, Twitter is full of people shouting “click on my junk!” and flooding my stream and countless others with nothing more than clamoring for…well…validation.-Amber Naslund

Editorial integrity.

In my mind those two words are inextricably linked and have been since long before my days at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. So when I saw the first Tweets pass by about something called The Influence Project by Fast Company Magazine, I clicked immediately. The person from whom the Tweet came was someone I respected and of all the business rags I read, Fast Company has always held a top spot for great reporting/writing and rock solid editorial integrity. I was wrong.-Cathy Brooks

The Fast Company Influence Project gimmick is exactly that – a gimmick and a disappointing one. It seems to be a way to build a database of people and participate in link baiting more than a meaningful approach to identifying who’s influential online.-Shiv Singh

For anyone following this meme on Twitter, Fast Company recently launched a site called “Influence Project”, where they’re essentially pitting online “influencers” against one another to vote for their influencer ranking. The Project is being pushed left and right on Twitter and Facebook and I’m sure elsewhere, but at this point I’ve tuned out from it, not because I don’t want to vote for my friends but because it’s like watching cattle being lined up onto a conveyor belt only to be lead to slaughter.-David Binkowski

Fast Company started this campaign with a simple question – who are the most influential people online right now?  But, online influencers and interested bystanders alike are asking, who cares?  Would you tweet your followers, email your friends and update your facebook status in order to be considered an influencer?  What could Fast Company do to turn this into less of a gimmick and more about why influence matters? Does online influence really matter?-Social Citizens

So what is the takeaway from this? Well sadly, Fast Company probably got out of it, exactly what they wanted to get out of it. Traffic,  eyeballs and a database.  All at the expense of a bait and switch ruse initiated by Mekanism (FYI, their website might be one of the most annoying and narcissistic sites I’ve been on in awhile, but maybe that works?)

Lessons learned? Plenty, it reminds me of the Skittles web campaign about a year and a half ago. Lots was written about how short sighted it was, but me thinks Skittles got out of it, exactly what they wanted to get out of it. The only difference was that Fast Company used it’s most precious asset, it’s users/readers to carry it out. They violated a trust for something that really returned nothing on the back end for it’s users.

So could the value of influence be  equivalent to the price of social popularity? You betcha! If we continue to embrace and allow companies to endorse and roll out projects like this, then influence will continue to be watered down into a useless metric based on a hollow number…The irony of it all though is that 6,000 plus egos took the bait. Maybe we all are fueled by ego after all? Sad when you think about it.

The Depth of Your Social Media Growth

If you were to look at the following image, what would you say the expanse of your social media exposure, involvement or engagement would be?

smpresence

Let’s assume that  we all start off as seedlings in social media, and as we learn more, we grow. As the tree grows, so does our comfort level. Eventually we branch out and we all go in different directions, yet we all come from the same seed. We all have the same background and the same foundation.

It should all start with listening, learning, lurking and laboring. Lurking? Yes, lurking. Call it passive participation, but we all have done it. We watch the conversations, wondering where we can insert ourselves into them. If we don’t we lurk, we hover if you will.

Laboring? Even passive participation takes work. It takes effort and you have to put forth effort.

As we progress and grow, we become more comfortable in our need and desire and ability to contribute to the conversations around us. It’s a natural progression. But to make the leap to creating content is a bit more longer and takes a little bit more growth.

On the surface and by the looks of the tree, it almost seems that we all should or could be part of the yellow on this tree. However even those that are most comfortable with social media right now are not part of the yellow.Yet the desired or expected outcome from participation and creation lies in the blue areas of the tree.

Yett if we look at Forrester’s Social Technographics results, surveys show that when it comes to social content 21% of online US consumers are Creators, 37% are Critics (those who react to content created by others), and 69% are Spectators, meaning that the majority of people in Forrester’s survey would find themselves more at the root level of the social media tree.

Look at Jake Mckee’s model. The 90-9-1 Principle where 90% of users are the “audience”, or lurkers. These people tend to read or observe, but don’t actively contribute.

9% of users are “editors”, sometimes modifying content or adding to an existing thread, but rarely create content from scratch. and 1% of users are “creators”, driving large amounts of the social group’s activity and  driving a vast percentage of the site’s new content, threads, and activity.

If we look at it from that standpoint then the tree will be inverted, where it’s all about how “rooted” you are and how deep your social media penetration is. The deeper, more involved you are, the more rich the experience is.

smpresence2

So which version of the tree are you? Where do you see yourself? Should the tree be a 100 year oak or a common weed?

ROI-Return On Influence

Earlier this week on Twitter I got into a back and forth discussion on whether Influence could be measured with Niall Cook. Niall essentially says that:

I am reaching the conclusion that influence cannot be measured, and thus is a futile metric for exploration.

Though this may end up being a chicken versus the egg type of discussion, I decided to throw up some visual representations of my thoughts on the matter and have some fun with it. Here are Niall’s thoughts on the topic: Social Media influence cannot be measured. One issue- there is a bit of a difference between social media influence and influence… Or is there? What are your thoughts?