Friday, July 23, 2010

PR2.0: Facebook Connects 500 Million People: Defines a New Era of Digital Society

On July 22nd 2010, Facebook officially announced that it had surpassed 500 million users around the world. This significant achievement represents a significant milestone for Zuckerberg and Co. as well as for social networking and more importantly for global societies overall.

To celebrate this achievement, Facebook released Facebook Stories, a new service to spotlight user stories from around the world and the impact Facebook has had on their lives... please read full article @ PR2.0

Collective Conversation Feed: Social Media in the Past Five Years

Facebook reached a milestone 500 million users this week. Both YouTube and Mashable turned 5 this year and FourSquare announced they’ve had 100 million checkins. It’s clear that social media is growing rapidly, and it is even more impressive how this new phenomenon has changed the way we communicate with our friends, family, and colleagues. To honor their five-year anniversary, Mashable posted a very interesting reflection on the past five years in social media. Check out “A Look Back at the Last 5 Years in Social Media” as well as my insights into social media trends below.

Facebook is still relatively young, and it’s hard to determine whether or not it will have this level of success and popularity years from now. I believe there are a variety of reasons why Facebook has a emerged as a leader in the social media world. Mashable attributes much of the success of Facebook with the introduction of the Newsfeed. While the introduction of the Newsfeed may have increased Facebook’s popularity, I think establishing themselves first with a college audience helped to start a word-of-mouth campaign about Facebook’s capabilities. It would not have been able to do this successfully without the exclusivity Facebook had in the beginning, as a network only college students could join. Another factor that helped was simply good timing. MySpace was the only similar forum at the time, which introduced the public to the idea of social media. Facebook was positioned as a different medium exposed to a controlled audience and had easier tools to navigate others’ pages. Additionally, the timing of the emergence of other social media outlets was perfect for establishing Facebook as a leader.

In July 2006, YouTube was at 100 million video views a day. Today, 100 million YouTube videos are viewed on smartphones. Mashable’s article notes the social media trend that YouTube really exemplifies, how anyone with an internet connection can claim their “15 minutes” of fame. With the growth of reality TV and the rise of the celebrity, this was just the next way to make sure everyone has an opportunity in the spotlight. Facebook and Twitter serve some of the same function, and it is undeniable that this is part of what makes social media work.

Who would have predicted that social media tools that were used for recreational use would now be key tools for business professionals? What do you think are the most likely next steps in the social media world? Why do you think Facebook, YouTube and the rest of the social media universe have become such a large part of our everyday lives?

By Sara Hiller (Tech Intern) - Collective Conversation Feed

Hard Knox Life: Never underestimate the power of design and brand for a start-up (Flipboard)

“One of the easiest things to do to make yourself standout within the digital world is to hit a homerun with the design and experience. If you invest significantly in this area, then you are going to standout from all the rest.” – Darren Herman

Darren is the Chief Digital Media Office at Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners and one of those guys that just plain “gets it.” He wrote the above quote when talking about why Flipboard is suddenly the hot start-up of the week in the media world. Ironically it is a sentiment that I was just discussing yesterday with a VC in NYC as it relates to the power of branding in the digital media.

Not enough companies in the digital world invest behind design, branding and experience. In many ways, Google won the search war because its simplistic design made it stand out from crowded search portals. The same goes for Facebook, a company that spends a disproportionate focus on user experience.
Hard Knox Life by Dave Knox

Business Insider: 10 Things You Need To Know This Morning

Good Morning! Here's the most important tech news of the day:

* Microsoft blew out earnings on the back of strong Windows sales.

* Amazon had a huge miss on earnings, sending the stock spiraling after hours.

* Disney is about to acquire social gaming company Playdom.

* The long awaited HP Slate will come in the fall as an enterprise focused tablet.

* Dell is paying $100 million to settle its case with the SEC. Michael Dell is paying $4 million personally.

* Is hot iPad reader startup Flipboard legal?, asks Gizmodo.

* None of the major handset makers or wireless carriers would fess up to Slate about calls dropped on each handset.

* Google TV isn't even on the market, and it's already making Hollywood a little bit nervous.

* Apple is starting to process bumper refunds for iPhone 4, and it should be starting its free bumper program today, so keep an eye out.

* Droid X users are eating up 5X the usual amount of data from Verizo

Read more: Business Insider

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Six Pixels of Separation - By Mitch Joel at Twist Image: Thank Social Media For The Next Phase In Human Evolution

What do you do with your down time?

The average Canadian watches more than 25 hours of television every week (depending on which survey or research report you believe). On top of that, the average Canadian is also watching close to 12 hours of online video every month. Comparatively, the average American is watching close to 40 hours of television every week and about four to 12 hours of online video (the difference is probably related to both connectivity and culture). As busy as your life may seem, imagine what you could do with all of that free time? Let's agree that no one is ever going to ditch television (or watching YouTube videos) completely. What would happen if you suddenly had half of that time - which would be close to 60 hours every month? Would you watch more episodes of America's Got Talent or The Bachelorette?

We have to be able to recognize that television culture has done a lot more to us - as a civilization - than simply to entertain and (sometimes) educate the mass populous.

Television has changed who we are. We sit in front of this box as a way to kill time and as a way to relax (although we should be hard pressed to see how anyone could relax watching the news on Fox or Lock-Up). In its primal form, TV is probably a lot closer to what Paleolithic man did after eating and in between hunts -which is waiting to die (sorry for being so morbid, but it's true).

The act of actually creating something vs. sitting around and consuming content is one of the pivotal components that make the Internet and Web culture such a huge shift in the media landscape and who we are as a people.

That is the crux and main thrust behind the newly published business book, Cognitive Surplus - Creativity and generosity in a connected age, by Clay Shirky (Penguin Press, June 2010). In Cognitive Surplus, Shirky argues that now, instead of just sitting idly by and watching TV, this (fairly) new technology mixed in with Social Media can put our "untapped resources of talent and goodwill to use at last." Basically, television was (and still is) the main driver that is sucking this cognitive surplus out of humanity. The book isn't about turning off the boob tube to become an activist, but it is about the potential for human beings to see, do and create a whole lot more. Much like Shirky's first book, Here Comes Everybody - The power of organizing without organizations (Penguin Press, 2008), Cognitive Surplus is not only a pleasure to read because of Shirky's writing style, but it is a much needed, deeper look into what is happening now online.

Social Media and the advancement of things like the iPad, smartphones and more places us - as a civilization - in the middle of a new renaissance period.

And, it's hard to know that we're in the middle of a new renaissance period until after it is over and we have had the time to sit back, review the results and reflect on these many changes. No one will argue that business, technology and media have changed dramatically in the past two decades because of the Internet, but the question now becomes: what are we going to do with our free time now that we don't have to simply be a passive audience (or as NYU professor and media pundit Jay Rosen defines us, "the people formerly known as the audience")?

A glaringly obvious example of how to harness this cognitive surplus is Wikipedia (love it or hate it).

Suddenly, it is not incumbent on a group of PhDs and peer review to decide what constitutes the collection of knowledge and information that human beings have discovered. And suddenly, we can all contribute, edit, add, revise and yes, debate not only the content, but its accuracy. Shirky explains that Wikipedia took about 100 million hours of cumulative thought to build when compared to the reality that on average Americans watch about 200 billion hours of television every year. "That represents about 2,000 Wikipedia projects worth of free time annually," the book argues. "Even tiny subsets of this time are enormous: we spend roughly 100 million hours every weekend just watching commercials."

It turns out that even a massive project like Wikipedia takes up only a small amount of our cognitive surplus when broken down.

Now, we can do even more amazing things, projects and initiatives because of our connectivity and the publishing platforms that the Internet affords us. The question becomes this: are human beings naturally lazy or are we naturally hungry to replace our primal hunting instincts with a new hunt for information, content curation, creativity and publishing? As Shirky points out so eloquently in Cognitive Surplus, "Access to cheap, flexible tools removes many of the barriers to trying new things. You don't need fancy computers to harness cognitive surplus; simple phones are enough. But one of the most important lessons is this: once you've figured out how to tap the surplus in a way that people care about, others can replicate your technique, over and over, around the world."

This could well be the next phase of human evolution...

How we use our time to connect, share and build things (ideas, movements, social change, businesses, political change, helping those in need, etc.) in an era where everyone is connected and we push toward the last mile of connecting even those who are not in the developed world.

What are you going to do with all of this free time? What do you make of Clay Shirky and his concept of Cognitive Surplus? Please view this article in full @ Six Pixels of Separation - Marketing and Communications Insights - By Mitch Joel at Twist Image

FreshNetworks Blog: Why is Facebook such a success?

Our last post looked at Facebook’s announcement yesterday that it had reached 500 million users. A huge number but it should not be mistaken as proof that Facebook is now ubiquitous. However, Facebook’s growth is impressive both because of the size the social network and the way it has grown when alternative social networks have been less explosive.

Yesterday, I appeared on BBC News talking about exactly this issue. Amongst the many reasons why Facebook is a success (and I’m sure that an element of luck and good timing is, of course, in that mix), I explain why I think two things have made a real difference:

1. Having some really good products that have helped people and change the way they connect with people online. Most notably the photos product – by allowing an easy way for people to share photos and associate people with the photos they are in (through tags) they have created a powerful tool that many people use. In many ways Facebook is to photos what YouTube is to videos.
2. Making it really easy for people to set up their own groups. For individual users this means that their experience of Facebook is often made up of their connections and the groups of these that they are part of. It is a huge social network made up of lots of little groups. This second point is great for user created groups but adds to the reasons why Facebook is a difficult place to play for brands and is not always the answer to their social media strategy.

Below is the BBC News piece from yesterday that I am interviewed for, we’d love your thoughts on this and why you think that Facebook is such a success.
FreshNetworks Blog by Matt Rhodes

Canadian Marketing Blog - Canadian Marketing Association: Golden Rules of Blogging: Part 1 of 239

I challenge you to find me a less captive audience than the one you find on the Internet. Tell me where I can find people in a comparable state of temptation fueled by an endless sea of customized possibility. It's impossible - there's just too many options online. Too many cool sites. Too many Facebook photos to creep. Too much damn stuff to do. And herein lies the challenge of blogging, that is, creating content that pulls your reader in deeply enough that they wont jump ship in the middle of a post.

So, what are the keys to creating blog content that is sticky, interesting and, most importantly, looks tastier than any of the dangling carrots that the world wide web puts in front of your readers?

1. Save the keg for college Micro-sized content rules. If I'm interested in a lengthy thesis, I'll pick up a book. But here on the Internet - the land of free music, porn, and cute videos of seals holding hands - my attention span is firmly set to minimal. Think in terms of offering your readers a beer, instead of forcing them to do a 23 minute keg-stand. Give me quick points, intriguing information, and good links in case I'm so inclined as to go further down the rabbit hole.

2.Sequels are for movies Nothing makes me cringe like reading an introductory sentence that sounds something like this: "In this, the first post in my 9-part examination into report-appropriate sans serif fonts of the B2B sector......" Oh. My. God. Blogs are supposed to be efficient and intriguing. Being concise is in your best interest. If you can't explain it in one post, then it probably isn't worth listening to. The mere thought of having to look at several subsequent pieces in order to fully understand your idea turns me off of reading even the first one.

3. Personality rules It's been said a kajillion times, but it still holds true that the best bloggers write the way they talk. Blogging is built around personal commentary, and yet so many people are terrified to show their bias and state their own opinions. This is the biggest difference between traditional journalism and online thought-sharing. People can find raw, objective data in any number of places; they read your blog because they are looking for insight. You must strike a balance between the two. So go ahead - take a stand, make a point, pick a side! This ain't CNN, folks. Compelling information + an intriguing stance = a great blog.

4. Don't suck. Be something. Most important thing to remember is this: nobody HAS to read anyone's blog. Readers follow them as an extra curricular function, and only when they enjoy doing so. As the author, it is your obligation to provide content that entertains and enlightens. It goes without saying, but a polished product is always the first step to success. Be funny. Be smart. Be something. Have you been on Technorati lately? There's no shortage of competition in the blogosphere, so you better have something incredible to offer. Stand out and make sure you're not adding to the clutter. Canadian Marketing Blog - Canadian Marketing Association by CMA on behalf of Brook Johnston