Archive for November, 2008

Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: Nov 19, 2008



I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.

I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my take, and click link to dive in for more.

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Web Strategy Summary
Deployment of social networking technology in verticals such as military, vets, and the Philipines continues to occur. Soon to e president Obama to publish weekly YouTube videos. Expect to see an increase in social networks adoption around politics and government. Jerry Yang removed from CEO role.

Military: Vets and US Military get their own social networks
After banning YouTube, soldiers need an outlet to communicate with their families, introducing TroopTube. On a similar note, veterans get their own social network.

Politics: Obama to have weekly YouTube address to nation
Forget Saturday morning cartoons, Obama will be on YouTube each weekend discussing the state of the nation, go to his channel at

Leadership: Jerry Yang resigns CEO role
CEO of Yahoo steps down from his position, here’s why Forrester’s analyst Shar Van Boskirk thinks this is a good move for Yahoo.

Viewpoint: P&G asks Should brands be in Facebook?
One of Proctor and Gambles top digital marketers questions should brands be in Facebook, or is it too invasive? There are thousands of brands already in Facebook, and most are doing it wrong.

Funding: Social Network Multiply Raises $5 Million
Florida-based Multiply, which boasts 10 million users (not sure how many are active), has raised funding through equity investment, and seeks to take on the Filipino market.

Applications: Facebook to enforce quality applications
Although announced a few months ago, Facebook’s program to anoint applications that pass the user experience and security test has started. Interesting to read how developers must pay to be in the program –resulting in incremental revenue for Facebook.

OpenSocial: Social Networks vie for Developers
Platforms continue to seek developers to build on their containers and platforms (aka social networks that can have apps built on it), from Bebo, Hi5, MySpace, and Facebook. Google inserts themselves right in the middle by trying to be the open protocol. Also, continued adoption occurs for the OpenSocial protocol after 1 year of launch.

Partnership: Facebook and SalesForce team up
It’s key to watch how businesses will be impacted by social networks, and this announcement, to enable games and productivity to work together. Expect to see a new category of applications to be built that meet both these needs.

Growth: Twitter’s rapid growth
Comscore tracks an increase of 25% more tweets in twitter due to political debates, as well as as ‘hockey stick’ curve of growth.
Facebook bans racists

Launch: Liveworld launches light edition
Reaching the mass markets, LiveWorld launches a lighter version of their product, although the price is indicated in their press release, I’ll find out from Bryan and team.

Deployment: Passenger wins Mercedes Deal
Passenger, an ‘insight community’ vendor wins deal to run Mercedes community for private label community. Passenger offers brands unique ability to glean customer insight –a real time focus group within a community.

Future: Social Networks to predict your buying behavior
Perhaps the holy grail for retailers, the ability to predict consumer buying behavior based on demographics, psychographics, technographics and social network behavior.

Culture: Teachers critiszed for use of Social Networks
Are teachers sanctioned to give their honest opinion in social networks, what if the content is intended to be private? This North Carolina school district is getting some heat.

If you’re a social network, or widget company, I want to know of your news, send me an email, or leave a comment below. Help me stay up to date.

I slowly work on this digest through the week in draft format, collecting information that I see is interesting, and it only takes me a few minutes on wed morning to publish.

Using Blogs to create Industry Lists


I received a tweet from Monika pointing to this animation that was created by VizEdu, they created an animation showing how I used my blog to create a vendor product catalog for the white label/community platform space (its still a top viewed page). I started this list before I joined Forrester, as I saw a trend, and now I’m covering this space as an analyst.

I find blogs more effective in creating my many lists, as I can filter the comments and look for quality –sometimes wikis get jumbled with vendor pitches and not everyone treats quality the same way. Do note that I only use social media for some aspects of research, the majority of it leans on the proven methodologies put in place before me.

For those wondering where the Wave report is on this space, I’ve submitted my draft to my editor, it’s a long process, and we’re still plugging away, thanks for your patience.

Oh and funny how some of the spam comments showed up, I’ve since removed them, but like the song about the cat, they keep coming back, the very next day.

Categorization of Brand Backlash Storms


While brand backlash (one example of a Groundswell) from social media tools are certainly an impact to the reputation of companies and how their consumers react, there are many different levels of severity from each.

First, see this list of brands that were punk’d from social media, I’ll add some categorization to each of them as I can best gauge in coming days.

To help gauge the differences, I’ve constructed these categories of brand backlash storms (leaning on the Hurricane categorization)

Category 1: Consumer revolt and use social media tools (Twitter, Blogs, YouTube) to tell their story, the brand doesn’t flinch, and there is no mainstream media coverage. Examples: A weekly, if not a daily occurance.

Category 2: The backlash extends beyond just social media tools (Twitter, blogs, YouTube), the brand makes changes based on consumer feedback, and coverage extends to mainstream media and press. Examples: Louis Vuitton brandjacked, Exxon Mobile’s Twitter experience.

Category 3: Consumers use social media tools to spread backlash and there is considerable mentions from mainstream press. the backlash is more severe resulting in significant changes from the brand (hiring, firing, processes, policies or new teams put in place). This becomes a case study for social media books and is often discussed in social media culture. Examples: Dell Hell, Comcast Cares, Kryptonite Locks, Wholefoods CEO.

Category 4: Number three plus short term financial impacts to the brand resulting in reduction of sales, revenue, increased costs, or impact to stock price less than 30 days. Examples: Apple Stock temporarily sinks from blog rumors.

Category 5: Number three plus brand backlash from social media tools resulting in long term financial impacts to the brand including reduction in sales, revenue, increased costs, and most importantly, stock price lasting over 30 days. In the most extreme cases, it causes closure of the business or bankruptcy. Examples: None.

I hope this puts things into context when we see brand backlash incidents occur.

The Motrin Moms Backlash by the Numbers


If you weren’t following what was happening online this weekend (yes, yes, ok you’ve got a life) there was a Groundswell against Motrin’s latest viral advertisement that was rejected by mothers in Twitter, spread to blogs, and YouTube. I’m not a mom, so at first glance I didn’t understand the offense, but apparently, it was condescending to moms who perceived wearing babies in a sling as ‘fashionable’ accessory, and who didn’t wanted to be labeled as an ‘official mom’. The original video, which was trying to lean on the light side, took to many generalizations with mothers and resulted in a revolt capped by this backlash video.

To learn more about the story, read Laura Fitton’s summary, Dave Knox of P&G is taking note, has made it to the NY Times Parenting Blog, and the VP of Marketing representing Motrin has apparently responded (I can’t confirm this). Update: Motrin has now apologized on their site (see screenshot below) and there’s MSM pickup by Scientific American and Computerworld (of all places)

As much as I’m interested in what folks are saying, allow me to provide an aspect that most others aren’t: short term numerical numbers. (it’s the analyst in me)

The Motrin Moms Backlash by the Numbers
I watch the twitter storm start on Saturday (thanks zsazsa), and watched it carry on through the weekend, I’ve taken snapshots of various analytics and social media tools now on Monday morning.

Motrin gets bump in mentions
Above Screentshot: Twitter stats indicate bump in mentions of “motrin” and “motrinmoms”

Twitscoops shows mentions for "motrin"
Above Screentshot: Twitscoop’s Twitter Analytics shows peak for “motrin” notice there’s no mention before the ad.

Motrin Moms shows peak during weekend in Twitter
Above Screentshot: Twitscoop’s Twitter Analytics shows peak for “motrinmoms”

Over 6000 views on Motrin Mom Video
Above Screentshot: 6,000 views on Youtube Video: Motrin Ad Makes Moms Mad

Search results in YouTube for "Motrin"
Above Screentshot: As a result, 3rd result for “Motrin” in Youtube is to the mother video

Motrin tagged on Delicious
Above Screentshot: Although there are only a few tags for “motrin” on delicious, most point to brand backlash is down
Above Screentshot: The website is down, likely they are removing the ad and reverting to a previous website

Google Results "Motrin moms"
Above Screentshot: Google search results for “Motrin Mother” (I found an adjacent term to measure the impacts) are mainly to brand backlash

Motrin SERP not impacted by blog storm
Above Screentshot: Brand backlash has not impacted Google search results for “motrin”

Update: Nov 20th, It’s finally hit the search results pages of google for “Motrin”, the 9th link down is to the NYT times blog.

Above Screenshot: The site is back up on Monday 11am PST, after being down for a few hours, with the public apology –which I think is handled well

Conclusion: It’s not as bad as it looks…yet
In summary, there were some major blips in social networking tools like Twitter, (it was the top trending topic over the weekend, meaning many saw it that weren’t directly involved) however it’s not likely to cause enough of impact search engine results for “motrin”, be a mainstream press story, or cause damage to stock price.

Overtime, these search results may fade away, depending on how Motrin reacts, and how mothers decide to press the situation.

Although brand backlash certainly wasn’t intention, I’m sure that some at advertising firm who created the campaign will chalk this up as a success (it got influencers talking about the brand –who previously weren’t), although the PR group certainly has been dealing with this firestorm all weekend.

Lessons Learned

  • Always test your campaign with a small segment first
  • Always have staff on hand to be prepared to respond during the weekend
  • Don’t launch a campaign right before the weekend unless you’re prepared to respond
  • The participants have the power, so participate
  • For better or for worse, more influencers are talking about Motrin than ever before
  • I’d love to hear your comments on the fiasco, what short term and long term impacts does this have to the brand? Update: more stats from Freshtakes

    SnapShot: YouTube’s Top 5 Channels vs Obama, ranked 34


    Obama has declared he’ll be using YouTube to provide weekly addresses to the nation and the world, I want to start taking snapshots of the analytics in order to understand the changes that are happening to our world. Each generation has it’s medium, and this one is the web –let’s see how our leadership grasps this.

    The following is the most subscribed channels of all time. I use this as a primary measure as if someone subscribes it means they’re asking for updates whenever new content is published, preference. The following is a snapshot of numbers of the most Subscribed (All Time) YouTube Channels.

    YouTube’s Top 5 Most Subscribed Channels of all Time:

    #1 Fred

    This skit act from a very hyperactive spaz who had too many moutain dew and twizzlers publishes ‘burst’ style videos featuring non stop high-pitched clips stringed along designed to keep the attention of pre-teens, teens, and the occasional web strategist. Fred is now the star of the New TV conference. Notice the few amount of videos Fred has produced and high viewership.
    Type: Comedian
    Videos: 35
    Joined: October 01, 2005
    Videos Watched: 16,203
    Subscribers: 647,697
    Channel Views: 19,314,418

    #2 Nigahiga

    This Hawaiian comedy group does satires, interviews and slapstick style stunts.
    Type: Comedian
    Videos: 57
    Joined: July 20, 2006
    Videos Watched: 11,693
    Subscribers: 632,891
    Channel Views: 17,116,311

    #3 Smosh

    Two college age guys produce skit comedy.
    Type: Comedian
    Videos: 60
    Joined: November 19, 2005
    Videos Watched: 20,161
    Subscribers: 597,161
    Channel Views: 21,898,415

    #4 Universal Music Group

    The only ‘mainstream’ media channel to make it to the list, this shows TV clips and shows as a secondary medium to the TV screen. They’ve published a whopping 8k videos, a scattershot strategy, far beyond any of the other top 5.
    Type: Director
    Videos: 8,905
    Joined: August 23, 2006
    Subscribers: 499,766
    Channel Views: 18,214,102

    #5 Jonas Brothers Music

    The only mainstream music group to make the top 5, the Jonas Brothers Music publish vids, behind the scenes videos and tour updates.
    Type: Musician
    Videos: 72
    Joined: May 11, 2007
    Videos Watched: 1,474
    Subscribers: 385,888
    Channel Views: 18,845,718

    The reason I’m posting these channel numbers is because I’m watching carefully the changes that will happen from Obama’s promise to be a YouTube president. He plans on publishing weekly videos from the white house to provide a human face as well as accepting feedback in a conversational way. Let’s stop and think about mediums used by past Presidents. Franklin D Roosevelt understood the power of the radio (during an economic crises), and was able to reach millions of Americans in ear shot, John F Kennedy harnessed TV, used makeup to keep his cool over his sweaty opponent and beat out and reached millions of American homes to beat out Nixon by 100,000 votes. Now, Obama is using the internet to reach millions around the globe, all at no additional cost of publishing than Fred. Here’s Obama’s stats on his official channel:

    #34 Barack Obama’s YouTube Channel

    Obama used social media tools for awareness, fundraising and word of mouth marketing. He has committed to doing weekly YouTube videos and publishing on Youtube and to the nation and the world, here’s the first video.
    Type: Political
    Videos: 1,823
    Joined: September 05, 2006
    Subscribers: 137,570
    Channel Views: 19,705,785

    Change Dot Gov
    Also, this channel has just been created this past week, and is just getting started…

    Type: Political
    Videos: 4
    Joined: November 05, 2008
    Subscribers: 4,550
    Channel Views: 29,779

    Fred vs Obama
    Although Fred has almost the same number of Channel Views (both 19million) as the next president, Fred has 640k subscribers, 4.6 times more than Obama’s 137k subscribers. Of course, Fred’s preteen target audience is more likely to be regular YouTube users with registered accounts, they’ve all opted in for his videos.

    I’ll be tracking Obama’s YouTube stats as we move through the next four years, in the meantime, here’s the first of his weekly YouTube video.

    Saturday, November 15, 2008 06:00am EST, at the time of this embed, there are only 3,858 views.

    Growing your Career: Do at GUT Check


    This blog is focused on web professionals, and to be that, I’d like for you all to have jobs. Given the state of the economy there are three tips I want you to start on immediately, regardless of your rank, industry, or location.

    There are actually great opportunities for those during a recession for professionals, restrained resources and competition will force you to become excellent in whatever you do. You’ll be forced to learn new skills and be more efficient than you’ve ever before. Some layoffs will leave opportunities for vertical growth and leadership opportunities.

    You’re going to need a leg up in the market whether it be in your company, outside of your company, or to win new clients. You should start this process now, a simple three letter acronym that you should repeat during your day to yourself. Ready?

    Growing your Career: Do at GUT Check:

    G: Grow Your Network Before You Need Them
    Nothing is more sad that seeing someone getting layed off and groveling to their non-qualified friends and family the need for a job. After this, they’ll go to their professional network to help and network with others, but the look of desperation is evident –no one wants to be hired out of pity. Be prepared.

    Therefore you should always be building your professional network, espicially when your job feels secured. There’s really no excuse as many real world networking events are free, but if you’re in Juno, err Juneau Alaska, you can heavily lean on the digital tools, they’re also free. You should start by building your online profile in social network sites, finding the communities most tied to your industry, then reading, then answering some of the questions in forums. The trick here is to add value, not just ask for help, demonstrate your expertise by answering questions in an intelligent way and helping others. If you’re a web professional, start with my Facebook group, or if you’re a social media professional, I created this one for you. I’m not scalable –but networks are– so you’ll have to connect with others around us to grow.

    U: Uncomfortness Leads to Growth
    When you look at a candidates resume, and you see (esp in web industry) they’ve not grown in the last 3-5 years with their skillsets (not skillets), you ought to be worried. In a tough market, employers and clients want self-starters, those that go beyond the regular call of just doing the minimum requirements. Being Uncomfortable means trying something new, and eventually growing.

    When I was an intern right out of college, I made a promise to myself to bug everyone in the IT department to teach me a new skill or task. You’d be surprised how thankful they were that someone so young wanted to learn from them. Each day, you should do the same, find someone and ask them to show you something or teach you something new in your career. What am I doing? I spend two hours each morning reading and blogging before I look at email, and I just started Guy’s latest book, Reality Check.

    T: Tout Your Successes
    Getting found online is part of the game, recruiters are going to do web searches before they purchase time on my job board, so you want to easily make yourself found. By this time if you’re a web professional and you don’t have your own personal domain I’m concerned for you, what are you waiting for, it’s only 10 dollars to register and 5 a month to host at some places.

    If you’re worried about looking like you’re trying to find a new job, you can use your initials and just list the industry that you’re working in to protect your identity. If you’re still concerned, rather than post your resume on your own website, keep your LinkedIn profile updated with the higlights.

    At industry parties and events I always ask folks: “What do you do” it’s surprising how folks are unable to articulate what they do, they beat around the bush, are self-deprecating, or try to avoid the topic all together. Instead, develop a single sentence describing what you do, practice your delivery, and learn how to ask an open ended question to trigger a conversation.

    One caveat, this does not give you the right to be a raging egomaniac on your blog or website (sorta how I fear I come off sometimes) but is the chance for you to list what you’re capable of doing, what you’ve done, and what you can do for others.

    Everyday I want you to do a GUT check, practice these skills, build your arsenal, don’t hesitate but do it now. Are you an HR professional, career development expert, or just learned a helpful tip along the way?? Now’s your time to leave a comment here with some other tips to demonstrate your own tips. Leave a comment or suggestion to help others.