What’s wrong with social media?

baseball

If I told you I was going to offer you a job where you failed 70% of the time would you take it?  Probably not. What if I told you that I know of just that type of position where anyone worth there salt would kill to be a part of that organization.  Any clue yet? Its Major League Baseball. They pay their players millions of dollars per year to hit a baseball three out of 10 times.  That’s it just 3. The expectations of hitting it 4 out of 10 times are so unrealistic that it is barely mentioned in conversations. It’s rarified air.

If you close 3 out of 10 deals or you are supposed to sell 10 cars and you only sell 3, should you keep your job?

Anthony Bradley from Gartner has spent the past year collecting  social media cases. he’s collected 200 solid social media cases out of over 350 cases, in which he’s tossed out those that either were not really social collaboration, or were clear failures.

His findings?

  1. Cases with good ROI metrics are rare.
  2. Cases with well articulated business results are few.
  3. Cases with activity metrics are more common.

Ok that’s worrisome.

While his research indicates that if you measure success by business results, the failure rate is very high, If you were to measure success by adoption rates (social activity metrics), which is what a lot of social media folk seem to be zeroing in on these days, the failure rate is still high. So regardless of whether you are measuring business results or adoption rates- the failure rate is still high.

What the hell are these people doing?

Interestingly enough, one of his sources for cases was the social software technology vendors, and by a large margin this group could not articulate the specific business value their clients gained by using their products. I find this odd since this would mean that they essentially did not have a) a business plan or b) were never in it to make money or c) just didn’t really focus on that measurement thing.

Again, what the hell are these people doing? Better yet, maybe we should ask, what are we doing? We’re the ones using this stuff. Are we fricken freemium zombies?

Paying baseball players millions of dollars to hit a curve ball 3 times out of 10 I get. There’s a business plan in there. But are we as a group collectively just following the masses down the path not really knowing where we are going but content to just go with the flow? Developers and users alike? Why would they build social tools or nets that failed the majority of the time?

Are we ignoring the fact that failure might be the most common trait in social media?

I still cringe at the thought of the business plan that’s wrapped around ad revenues, but apparently Web 2.0 still seems to be pretty comfortable with that, and not much more. I would think that one would do everything in there power to reduce the odds of failing, but this data right now or what Bradley is asserting, just doesn’t support that hope.

I hope the data is flawed. because if it’s not, I guess we will continue to invest in and support failure. In an open and transparent fashion of course.

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5 huge tech trends that you can’t ignore.

That’s it. Just 5. But why just 5? Because these 5 are rockin’ our world now and will continue to do so for the next 10 years. Do you remember the Gartner Hype Cycle? I blogged about it awhile back in regards to certain things we can be excited about over the next 5 years. Take a look at it real quick.

Ok Now look at this next slide real quick:

 

Ok, one more and I will let you off the hook.

 

 

So the hype cycle pretty much lets you know where certain “things” are in their growth development. It’s a great point of reference and doesn’t take a long time to figure out. Samw with the next slide, what does it tell you? It tells you that music is important to us. Always has, always will be. Here’s a quick 1 question quiz: What does the MySpace business model revolve around? Music and social networking. Ok So there’s 2 trends that will not be dipping anytime soon. Awhile back I wrote a blog post about the top 44 music related social networks and to this day it still pulls traffic. I recently tweeted a question as to what brick and mortar industry has completely dried up but thrived online-answer: music

Trend #1 Music will continue to thrive online and you cannot ignore it.

According to Comscore  In August 2008, Americans conducted 11.7 billion core searches, virtually unchanged from July, as Google Sites extended its lead in core search market share by 1.1 percentage points.

Search is, the gateway to everything that we do online. You may see some play in regards to trying to refine search into more of a niche based environment, but the bottom line is search will alway be the mainstay of any internet based activity.

Google Sites led the U.S. core search market in July with 63 percent of the searches conducted, up from 61.9 percent in July, followed by Yahoo! Sites (19.6 percent), Microsoft Sites (8.3 percent), Ask Network (4.8 percent), and AOL LLC (4.3 percent).

Americans conducted 11.7 billion searches at the core search engines, nearly identical to the number of core searches conducted in July. Google Sites handled 7.4 billion core searches (up 2 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 2.3 billion and Microsoft Sites with 977 million.

In the comScore August 2008 analysis of the top properties where search activity is observed, Google Sites led with 10.2 billion searches, a 2-percent increase versus July.  That’s billion! Yahoo! Sites ranked second with 2.4 billion searches, followed by Microsoft Sites with 1 billion and AOL LLC with 839 million.

Trend #2 Search ain’t going nowhere.

According to Hitwise, MySpace.com received 67.54 percent of the market share of U.S. visits in August 2008 among a custom category of 56 of the leading social networking websites.  The market share of U.S. visits to the social networking site decreased 2 percent in August 2008 to 6.40 percent of all U.S. visits compared to July 2008. Visits to the category decreased 17 percent year-over-year. But check out the chart below:

What do those numbers mean to you? It means that MySpace had 66 million visits in one month and Facebook had 28 million. The fact of the matter is that social media and social networks are interwoven into the daily fabric of our lives. I know, it’s not like it’s earth shattering, it’s just not a fad anymore. It’s legit. It will continue to evolve and the potential will always be there for someone to do something different and exciting and unique with the social media application. Could that be you? I hope so.

Trend #3 Social networks will continue to evolve and grow larger and gain in importance.

A recently released UN study indicates that by the end of 2008 mobile phone use worldwide will reach 50% of the earth’s population for the first time in history. Although the percentage of mobile phones in North America, Western Europe and most of Asia is much higher than 50%, in developing countries, a mobile phone is still considered a luxury.

Mobile phone ownership rates have been rising significantly, almost at an exponential rate. Countries like  India, Brazil, and China are seeing crazy growth in the number of people owning a cell phone. In fact, China had an estimated one billion cell phone subscribers in 2007. At the current rate of growth, there will be over 3.3 billion cell phone subscribers worldwide by the end of 2008.

So there’s no escaping the fact that cell phones are now-another essential part of our daily lives. Grab the keys, grab the wallet, the purse, the backpack and the cell phone. Ok so we get that. But now, pay attention.

According to a recent online survey conducted by ABI Research, nearly half (46%) of those who use social networks have also visited a social network through a mobile phone. Of these, nearly 70% have visited MySpace and another 67% had visited Facebook. No other social networking site reached 15% adoption mobile adoption.

So what are these consumers doing when they access their mobile social network? They’re checking for comments and messages from their friends, with both of these features registering above 50% for mobile social network users. Posting status updates also has proven popular, with over 45% of mobile social users letting others what they are up to via their phone.
What we are seeing is a melding of 2 functions into one via the hub of the cell phone. Or is it the hub of the social network?  There’s no doubt that a social network is increasingly becoming a central hub for communication across online and mobile domains for a lot of people. Because it’s  allowing them to consolidate activities or processes. From text, to email, to chat, to phone calls, to exchanging of data, uploading images and downloading songs. The phone and the social net. allow thesee things to occur almost seamlessly. As a trend, the centralization of a consumer’s cell phone activities combined with their increased social network usage is only going to make adoption of mobile social networking more inevitable as we move forward.
Trend #4 The growth of the mobile social network will be steady and exponential.

Here is trend 4a for you as well:   comScore M:Metrics reports that in June 2008, 20.8  million U.S. mobile subscribers and 4.5 million European mobile phone subscribers  accessed search during the month, an increase of 68 and 38 percent from June 2007, respectively.  The U.K. had the highest penetration of mobile subscribers using search at 9.5 percent, followed closely by the U.S. at 9.2 percent.  That’s right, Mobile Search.

Ok last one-And it’s a no-brainer. Check out the slide below. It’s from December 2007, but the message is loud and clear.

Google Sites  ranked as the top U.S. video property in December with 3.3 billion videos viewed (32.6  percent share of videos), gaining 1.3 share points versus the previous month. YouTube.com accounted for more than 97 percent of all videos viewed at the property. Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 358 million (3.5 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 340 million (3.4 percent) and Viacom Digital with 238 million (2.3 percent).

In total, nearly 141 million Americans viewed online video in December. Google Sites also captured the largest online video audience with 79 million unique viewers, followed by Fox Interactive Media with 43.9 million and Yahoo! Sites with 38.2 million. So if you don’t already know it online video consumption is growing at a sick-ass rate.

Trend #5 Online video consumption will evolve into an acceptable replacement for a TV.

In conclusion, here’s the most interesting aspect of them all. The hub for all of the above trends can and will be centered on one thing, Your cell phone.

4 reasons to be excited about the next 5 years

According to the Gartner Hype Cycle, they have identified 27 emerging technologies to keep an eye on. They have also predicted that 8 of them will have a major transformational business impact. For that reason,  those 8 should be strongly considered for adoption by technology planners in the next 10 years. Of these 8, there are 4 that have caught my eye and thus have a particular interest to me.

The first of the 4 is Web 2.0. Although if you look at the below diagram, Web 2.0 is currently in Gartners “Trough of Disillusionment”. Though it almost sounds like some type of business purgatory, it will emerge within two years to have a transformational impact, as companies steadily gain more experience and success with both the technologies and the cultural implications-according to Gartner. If you cannot get excited about how Web 2.0 is transforming the web and the way we utilize it, then you just might not be geeky enough. That’s ok though, there are enough of us out there that truly are “giddy” about the direction we’re heading.

The next area that Gartner feels is about to explode is Social computing platforms — you’d have to be living in a cave on the island of Fiji to not suspect that consumer-oriented social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, are causing companies of all sizes to evaluate the role that these sites, or various components of these sites, including their enterprise sized brethren, might do to transform and elevate the way that they currently communicate and do business. What’s more, the individual components and their ilk are forcing people to re-think what it means to be social, to re-evaluate what communities are all about, and how all of this can change the way we might interact with each other in the future.

If it hasn’t been obvious to this point what would be on Gartner list, its Microblogging— Thanks to Twitter specifically, and Plurk and Friendfeed to a lesser degree, microblogging is the new kid on the block in the world of social networking. But if microblogging is the new kid, it’s the new kid who can hit the ball out of the ballpark the first time he picks up a bat. The potential has already been leveraged by some pockets of the online community such as social media marketers and PR people, but it is also slowly being adopted by some forward thinking leading-edge companies who are using it to communicate with its customers, and employees. It’s becoming and will become another viable tool in a companies quest to engage it’s customer, communicate with the customer and brand their products more effectively.

Lastly, I’m going to lump 2 together. Corporate Blogging and Social Network Analysis I think that corporations, because of the advent of Web 2.0 technologies and the emergence of social networks and their niches, are starting to realize the importance of communicating like they never have before. We throw around the word transparency and I think it has never been more self evident what the upside can be to these organizations. As soon as Corporations can get a handle on the how’s and the why’s of blogging, they will be well served to incorporate it into their marketing mix. My suggestion would be to start with the book Naked Conversations.

Social Network Analysis is a natural extension of Web 2.0,  social computing platforms and microblogging. Because we are in the realtive infancy of these aformentioned technologies, the measurement of these is still as well, in it’s early stages. Analyzing the impact, the ROI, the level of engagement, the depth, the reach, the frequency, the conversations, the numbers- of social networks is something we talk about every day. An example of a company that does monitors social media would be Radian 6. As social networks continue to mature, look for this aspect as well to become robust and very vertical and very in demand.

So take a look at the diagram below, which ones get you excited to be in this space?