Numbers are powerful, but only if they provide context to the changes in our life. This above embedded video (if you don’t see it, click here to the blog post) has been created by agency Jess3 and was embedded on Technorati’s blog. They give a comparison of the sheer volume of content created on email systems and social networks, which I’ve stated in the past are going to end up being intertwined.
For the most part these stats are accurate, but being one who tracks them carefully, I know that the FB stats are already out of date, the space is moving too quick for anyone to really track. Link via Christine Tran, researcher at Altimeter who has an uncanny knack for finding just about anything on the internet she needs to.
While the numbers help us track adoption now, the future of all these numbers is moot. In the long run, social networks as destinations will fade into the background (like air) and we’ll just be able to access or be guided by our friends wherever we are in life at any given time we want.
Yesterday, we had the second in a three part webinar series about social strategy. The first, which you should listen to, focuses on understanding customers though socialgraphics. The following slides and recorded webinar (a bit faint, so be sure turn it up) are intended to be the foundation for companies of all sizes to develop a strategy based on business objectives –not the latest technology.
We believe in Open Research and encourage our knowledge to become the foundation for growth of ideas, and encourage you to learn, share on your blog, and put into educational materials. Those that offer social services or technologies, should consider embedding this on their site, and using to quickly educate prospects and clients –furthering the industry forward.
Lots of changes, in particular, many of my former colleagues from the Forrester Research interactive marketing and marketing leadership teams that I used to work closely with have moved on. Forrester hires top minds, so when I run across an alum, it’s like a reunion of graduating class at a university. There’s a strong camaraderie stemming from common way of thinking, writing, and approaching tough problems. Forrester attracts and breeds excellent thinkers, and I wish my former colleagues best of luck as they return to the field.
In an effort to recognize the changes in the social media space, I’ve started this post series (see archives) to both track and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:
Cynthia Pflaum leaves Forrester Research (we were on the same team) and joins Dachis Group as a consultant, she is fabulous and was our “Data Queen” for the Groundswell work. I wish her the best, and know she’ll rock at whatever she does! Best wishes.
Lisa Bradner leaves Forrester Research (we did some projects together) as an analyst as the President of Geomentum.
Julie Katz, also a former marketing analyst at Forrester leaves to join the insights team at Lego, she was always a joy to work with, and we shared many interesting conversations.
Caroline Dangson, leaves IDC as analyst and joines Dachis Group as a Consultant, I’ve met her in SF, and admire her work, congrats.
Esteban Contreras, Social Media Manager is hired a Samsung Electronics (Amdocs Consulting Division), he wrote me “I interviewed Samsung’s Social Media Strategists on my podcast “The Social Nerdia Show!” and sent them my resume the next day. Two months later I was moving from Dallas TX to New Jersey. I sold my house, sold one car, and said bye to family and friends in the middle of winter. Now I’m living near NYC and working hard” awesome story. Added him to list of strategists.
Craig Hepburn is now Director of Social Media Strategy at Open Text focusing mainly on how some of the worlds largest companies are adopting social media strategies for their business both internally for collaboration but also externally facing for their partners and customers.
Christopher Fleener has been promoted to Digital Marketing Manager at The New School, a leading research university in New York City. In his new role, Chris will focus on expanding the university’s social media and mobile marketing initiatives.
Christopher Wilkes has joined Ripple6 as Senior Director of Business Development, Social Insights, where he will be responsible for further developing Ripple6’s Social Insights products and solutions and educating prospective clients on the value of social insights.
How to connect with others (or get a job):
Several people have been hired because of this blog post series, here’s how you can too:
Submit an announcement
If you know folks that are moving up in the social media industry, submit to this form
Seeking Social Media Professionals?
If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources
Hiring? Leave a comment
If you’re seeking candidates in the social media industry, many of them are within arms reach, feel free to leave a link to a job description (but not the whole job description, please)
What happens when the social web and mobile devices become synonymous? Customers will be able to access their friends opinions in real time, make decisions on the fly, and will never have an excuse to make a poor buying decision.
[As mobile and the social web become one --customers are empowered to make confident buying decisions, wherever they go]
Earlier this year, I was deliberate in my mentioning of investing in two key areas, Social CRM, and Mobile Social Networks. While Ray and I are nearly ready to publish our report on SCRM, I’m pleased to announce we’ve a new partner here at the Altimeteter Group focused on devices, mobile, and the intersection of social technologies.
Michael Gartenberg, who stems from Jupiter and Gartner Research joins us as a partner with a focus on how customers are accessing each other in context of locations, activities, and their day to day life. In particular, I’ve been impressed with Michael for sometime, we’ve been interacting online for years, and I’ve respected his insight, and deep knowledge of the space.
If you’re not familiar with the mobile space, Michael is an influencer, his insight is sought after and he’s a regular contributor at Engadget, Computerworld and SlashGear, and has published hundreds of reports, blogs, and is one of the top analysts on Twitter. We’re pleased to announce Michael as part of the Altimeter founders.
On a related note, we’re growing quickly, and have expanded to a new office, nearly three time the size of our previous office. While it feels empty now, but we’re anticipating growth as more clients continue come on board. I’ve posted some photos from Twitpic and also on Flickr.
I’m here in Phoenix Arizona as a keynote speaker to the Council of Alumni Associations Executives, these are the fine folks that manage alumni orginizations where you may have gone to college. The reason I’ve been invited to speak as a professional speaker is their world, like many other industries, is being severely impacted by the social web.
All middlemen and aggregators are being impacted by social. Take for example, brokers, associations, sales people, classified listings, journalists, music labels, encyclopedias, and even analysts are feeling the threats of these simple –yet interruptive technologies.
Now, college grads may use social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with each other –without being part of fee based alumni organizations. Connecting directly to each other using a few mouse clicks, they can fuse lifelong bonds, help each other personally and professionally in near real time.
Yet, many savvy orgs have realized the opportunity. Altimeter Researcher, Christine Tran did research for my presentation and we found that some Alumni orgs like Stanford, Cal, Auburn, Purdue, and Brown are participating in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn with varying degrees of success.
I want to extend the conversation here online, and realized that a useful matrix would be very helpful in understanding the risks and opportunities that are abound in at least five different use cases, they are:
Impacts to Alumni Organizations In A World of Social Networks: Five Use Cases
Ignorance is bliss, at least for the short term.
Bypassed as alumns self connect rendering the org irrelevant.
Part time staff and committed resources in a budget-stricken environment
Get existing alumni members to tell other non-members they should join through social tools, low cost marketing. Read my checklist.
Some may not want to evangelize, limited control of message
A formalized program, and a way to encourage behavior
Aggregation of members voices
Inexpensive way to create ongoing content and uplift existing members. See how Stanford does it
Limited message control, content may not all be signal
Aggregation tools either manually on blogs, or an automated one that requires dollar investment
Organize online and real world events
Facilitate an event that’s difficult for members to self-organize on own.
Members may seek to self-organize if costs are excessive.
Utilize existing social tools that offer events management: Facebook events
For Alumni Organizations, Social Technologies Is Akin To Harnessing Fire
In the long run, it’s never a zero sum game. It’s rare we see industries completely collapse from disruptive technologies, as the savvy will adopt and create new business models increasing value. The opportunities are great for college alumni organizations, these same tools that threaten their existence can be used to increase membership through advocacy and word of mouth, reduce costs in organization, and a wealth of content being created by their own members.
If you’re a graduate from a college (or high school) and can think of opportunities how the Alumni organizations can benefit from social technologies –or you’ve already displaced them by connecting directly with your peers, please leave a comment below. Update: I met CalTech’s Andy Shaindlin, he writes a smart blog on this topic, also read Alumni Futures. Update part 2: He’s expanded the matrix.
Low Cost Innovation Confuses Buyers With Excess Choices
As a Web Strategist, you seek to balance the three spheres of business, technology and community. Perhaps a challenging one is the ‘technology’ sphere as you’re faced with the decision of build vs buy, specialized vs broad, cheap vs expensive. The choices are staggering –there are over 100 community platform vendors, thousands of Facebook developers, iPhone apps, and Twitter apps being created each year. Despite the proliferation of innovation, one thing remains constant: the economics and strategy of buying doesn’t change. As a result, the web strategist must first understand their strategy, develop the right parameters for buying and recognize the strengths –and weakness of each type of partner.
First, Buyers Must Understand Their Level of Sophistication
Companies that purchase technology and services must first recognize where they are in the sophistication curve. Those who are new to social technologies should seek out strategy and education first, and rely on external experience and expertise to deter risk. Those that are in mid level should focus in on specific needs –forgoing unneeded services and features. Expert level companies are thinking of a holistic experience for customers and are focused on scalability, interoperability, and integration. In many cases, these expert level companies may be focused on building their own tools and resources –rather than relying completely on third parties.
For Growth, Focused Vendors Go Broad
Interestingly enough, some companies with rich histories in a particular vertical are also expanding to larger markets by rebranding efforts. Take for example 10 year old Neighborhood America, a community platform with strong background in government, local, and federal agencies as a vertical as recently rebranded as INgage networks –giving them a broader reach to the enterprise space and international space --read their FAQ and watch their video to learn more.
As Market Matures, Vendors Become Specialized
Radian 6, Visible Technologies, Nielsen Buzzmetrics, and TNS Cymfony have all broad reach across multiple industries by being fairly agnostic to any particular vertical. Of course, they each have experiences in particular verticals and likely have a majority of clients in one industry over another, but that’s a contrary position to Revinate, a company I recently met with that focuses in on deep integration with the hospitality industry. Their listening platform, while it doesn’t go as wide to cover the ‘brand scope’ comes pre-rigged with connections to travel rating sites like Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other consumer rating sites.
Note that no vendor is perfect, and if they can do it all, you won’t need all their offerings, and their price point will be high, as a result, understand the strengths –and weaknesses of all.
Social Technology Buyers Matrix: Broad vs Specialized vs Do It Yourself
What it is
Technology or service vendors that serve a variety of industries without a specific focus,
Buzzmetrics, Radian 6, Visible Technologies, Cymfony offer a range of services that can be use with any variety of industries. On the community platform side, Jive, Telligent, Mzinga, Awareness, Liveworld* Lithium* (update) can meet the needs of many enterprises.
Wide deployment ensures that the scope can spread to a large set of sites to crawl. In most cases, these companies can scale, and have a broad base of clients to learn from.
Configuration and specialization for your particular market may require setup costs and configuration efforts. While features may go wide –not all will be needed for your specific customer socialgraphic behaviors and industry usage.
Technology or service vendors that offer vertical (or industry) specific skills, honed in on a unique market need.
In the brand monitoring space, Revinate offers specific brand monitoring for the hospitality industry, and Kickapps*, Pluck, and Cisco EOS*, offer solutions for the media vertical and recently rebranded INgage networks has long history of serving Government –although they are moving to the broad category.
Faster deployment and features and deployments are pre-customized for deployment. Experienced teams that truly get the nuances of your particular industry.
Vendors may not be able to go broader, feature set may become limited when it comes to scaling. Sometimes specialization increases costs of goods and services.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Rather than rely on vendors, many companies prefer to build their own social media tools and processes and integrate with legacy CMS and WMS systems.
A variety of brands have bolted on social features to their corporate website using BBS systems, WordPress, or Drupal like platforms with extensive customization. Or, developers that build custom installations on .net, jsp, php, and other software languages and frameworks.
Reduced up front cost and custom tailored integration with existing systems. A controlled environment not dependent on the product roadmaps of other SaaS companies and increased security measures.
Constant rejiggering of features as the outside technology space innovates quickly. Often the soft costs and internal maintaince isn’t always accounted for up front, and innovating new features are often not native to corporations.
* The Altimeter Group takes pride in transparency and openness in research and analysis, as a result, the starred companies are currently clients, read our disclosure page.
Web Strategists Must Plan For the Long Term
Regardless of which path you choose from Broad, Specialized or DIY, there are a few baseline considerations the web strategist must factor into their long term planning, they include:
Deploy systems that are designed to scale. Buyers must demand access to the product roadmap and understand where the company is headed at least in their 2 year plan. The benefits of a SaaS technology vendor is that you can quickly scale your deployment on a turn key basis, while on premise has it’s upsides for conservative industries –scaling can quickly become an issue and out-the-door fast deployment.
Deploy systems that can integrate. Only buy systems that have protocols that can allow data to be accessed by other parties, and put into terms of service your data can be accessed at any given time, no questions asked.
Analyze their partnership and alliance relationships. Selecting a company that has a healthy set of partnerships and alliances will ensure that they your company will fit within the heterogenous ecosystem of the social web. Yet, probe deeper, during initial sales calls, vendors will flash ‘Nascar slides’ with dozens of logos of partnerships, find out how many relationships are truly deep integration and aligned product roadmaps –not just former one-off projects.
Although this post is buyer focused, technology vendors with a broad focus should start kindling relationships with channel partners that can resell and focus in on specific marketers. For example, Radian 6 is known for offering its service to PR and digital agencies who can then focus in on specific markets.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done this series “Silicon Valley Sightings” as well, quite frankly, I’ve been doing a lot of travel in my role as an analyst. Yet, despite the lull in posting this series (I’m sure local food blogger Brian Stephens will be happy) I was inspired to post, as of yesterday.
Thanks to bud Kenny Lauer, who was able to get us two tickets, on Airship Ventures, the only zeppelin in the United States. We were able to partake in the ‘taster’ tour, a 30 minute effortless and quient jaunt over Silicon Valley. Boarding this ribbed airship (blimps have no internal skeleton), we had to stagger our boarding, so the ship would be properly balanced. There were already 12 passengers, and 2 crew on board, so we had board two at a time, then two would leave –so the proper weight was kept.
Departing from Moffett Field, I was live tweeting photos, since we were only 1000 feet up, the cell reception worked well. People responded to me on Twitter and said they saw me like, Tatayana, Cynthia, Waili on Facebook, and even NASA Ames responded to us on Twitter! In the below pictures, you’ll see overhead views of Google (notice the solar panels), a circular neighborhood in Sunnyvale, Stanford, Facebook, HP, and Portola Valley (look for the pirate ship).
(Silicon Valley Sightings is an ongoing PhotoBlog that captures the intersection of Tech Culture in the San Francisco Silicon Valley Bay Area, check out the archives. All photos by Jeremiah Owyang)
Web Strategy Summary
Facebook to now offer Paypal as an additional way to buy advertisements and virtual currency for social games (press release). This paves a way for Facebook to reach global advertisers who prefer PayPal vs traditional credit cards. Although this partnership is limited in parameters to those two specific use cases of ads and virtual currency, this is yet another testing ground for developing Facebook into an eCommerce platform with over 400 million global users.
Update: Facebook contacted me after this post went up, and made it clear, this is announcement is not intended towards eCommerce, and is really just limited to the two use cases. While I understand and agree with the scope of today’s announcement, as brands interject more money into Facebook via advertisements, and on the flip side, users are more comfortable purchasing goods (albeit virtual) this continues to be an opportunity for brands and their members to get comfortable with monetary exchanges. As such, I’ve removed from the title of this post “Testing ground for eCommerce”, although the rest of the post stands.
Background Facebook has been testing the ability for users to purchase virtual Facebook credits for over a year, allowing users to send virtual goods to each other, as well as purchase additional features in third party social games. Over a dozen of these third party games already exist extending created by playfish, Zynga, CrowdStar, and others.
Increased revenues for Facebook –and PayPal. For Facebook, and their new partner PayPal, this deal makes sense, as they can continue to grow scalable, low-touch revenues streams by cultivating international advertising dollars, where there is clear global growth. This spurs international brands to continue to deploy Facebook ads, likely in the SMB space as international companies that are enterprise class would delegate ad buying to their digital agency. Although Facebook touts their advertising program, no official case studies or data has been released by them or third party researchers to my knowledge.
Additional channels to monetize heavy game players. For the game heavy , perhaps the 43 year old middle age women with disposable incomes, this gives them new opportunities to play games with increased functionality.
More use cases for game creators to test virtual goods, with brand sponsors. Game creators should allow for virtual items to be introduced into their games, and be sure to have a business development opportunity for large brands to participate –and offer branded virtual items in context of a social game.
The big opportunity? Testing ground for ecommerce within Facebook.
Facebook should roll this out to the application developer community to allow ecommerce functionality to the platform, starting with an application from eBay, the owner of PayPal. Brands should carefully watch how these early test by Facebook occur –and expect by end of year that Facebook will start to experiment with allowing ecommerce happen directly on Facebook Fan Pages. This is, of course, extremely exciting –but could be very terrifying to normal users.
Agency Partners Are Critical To The Success Of A Brand
Your strategic agency partners are key to your success. They bring with them domain expertise, years of experience deploying, and a fresh injection of thinking that most brands can’t foster internally. As a result, relying on these agile partners outside of corporate walls if often key to responding to new technologies. Yet, as the technology landscape changes at an even faster pace than ever before, brands must have criteria in selecting the right agencies.
Yet, Beware of Those That Fondle The Hammer
Caution. Agency partners that are focused on technologies –not business needs, can destroy your brand. Although new technologies are emerging at an ever-increasing speed, creating a strategy based on tools will leave you in a churn of change, without anyway to escape. Agency partners that jump from one shiny tool to the next (hammer fondlers) risk poor implementation, not tying efforts to business goals and worst of all confusing your customers as you over-deploy.
Don’t Let Your Brand Fumble In The Tool Chest — Focus On Building Your House
Stop, breathe, think. Business hasn’t changed, just the mediums in which consumers are now using. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just because new channels have emerged. Instead, focus on your business objectives and how they’ll meet your consumers existing behaviors, rather than yet another “Twitter strategy”. Rather than developing a strategy based on the latest tool –focus on the end goal of building a place for your customers to come interact with each other, and your brand. Look for agency partners that focus on customer behaviors, and business goals as the over-arching goal.
Put Them Accountable: Score Your Agency Partners Now
Use this review scorecard to see how your agency partners stack up now. Also use this as key criteria in finding new agency partners that focus on emerging technologies. Print it out, score them, and discuss plans to improve –be wary of those that aren’t ready to adapt.
5) In addition to the below, develops a strategy based on your customers social behaviors see socialgraphics.
3) Develops a strategy based on your business objectives first.
1) Develops a strategy based on whichever technology emerges. ”You need a blog strategy” vs “You need a two-way communications strategy”.
0) Has no strategy.
Vision & Roadmap. Agencies often come in two flavors: able to see long term based on experience, or unexperienced with only short term tactics. Your agency should have a track record in adopting new mediums –without throwing strategy out the window. Look for agencies that can see the long term –in the midst of many fast moving technologies.
5) In addition to number 3 be;pw, allows for flexibility as new tactics must emerge.
3) Long term Vision: Has an over-arching strategy that spans quarters, if not years –not weeks, based upon customer goals.
1) Reactive: Have a different set of suggestions and recommendations based on whatever new technology appears. Last month, it was a Twitter strategy, this month it’s a Gowalla strategy.
0) Wait for you to tell them what to do.
Partnerships: An Agency’s ecosystems is critical to their ability to implement –especially in a fast moving environment. Look for agency partners that can work well within your existing ecosystem of partners and technical teams, as well as bring their own set of strategic alliances to the table. The trick is, ensure your business goals are considered first –not the tools they have on hand.
5) Have a broad set of technology partners.
3) Only have a few technology partners, and coincidently are the same recommendations they present.
1) Has pre-built technologies –but not an agnostic mindset, recommends their technology over and over.
0) Has no alliances or ability to implement recommendations
Proposals: What an agency brings to the table is going to help you determine how strategic your partner is. Look for agencies that are creative, can offer suggestions that haven’t been done before, or can defend why repeating an existing effort makes sense. Be sure to look for a pattern of proposals that first meet your customer needs and business needs –not just what they’ve done in the past.
5) When appropriate, willing to recommend other agencies to work with as that’s best for the client.
3) Provides recommendations that are agnostic of their existing tools or experiences.
1) Come to the table with case examples they’ve used for other clients –recommending you do the same.
0)Have no recommendations at all.
Results: The ultimate measurement is the final ROI they provide to their clients. The proof lies within here. Don’t put success in fate’s hand, look for agency partners that set goals and benchmarks to achieve, and track their success over time.
5) Exceeds expectations of a positive ROI based on customer and business objectives.
3) Has shown success, but isn’t quite able to justify how it happened –they got lucky.
1) Was not able to demonstrate success –a weak set of customer engagements for a short period of time.
0) Was unable to demonstrate any capabilities at all.
Total: Tally up their score
Scoring and Rating Your Agency Partners
Now that you have scored your agency partners, tally up the sum, then find out where they fall in the following ratings and rankings:
21-25 points: A strategic partner that has your brands best interest in mind and that of your customers.
16-20 points: A strategic partner that has your best interest in mind, but may be cutting corners when it comes to making recommendations for the long term, or truly understanding your customers.
11-15 points: Questionable partnership. This agency may have their own interests in mind before yours, as a result are certainly cutting corners by making recommendations of recycles campaigns, not thinking long term, or not investing enough resources in thinking long term.
0-10 points: Doh! Your agency fondles the hammer. You are at risk. Demand improvements or find someone that can meet your business needs now.
Summary: Rather than Fondle the Hammer –Develop a Customer Strategy
This scorecard, while will vary from industry to industry is a guideline for your success, having the right agency partners are key to you standing out in front of your customers –or just spinning your resources to no strategic end. Brands should use this scorecard in their discussions with account teams at their agency, and executive and account teams should hold themselves accountable to their own clients. With customers moving even faster to mobile, augmented reality, and location based social networks the rate of change is happening even faster. As a result, agencies must be strategic in their approach, or risk damaging the brand of their clients –or worse yet, losing the account all together.
It would be great to hear from brands (buyer) and agency partners on how well they think they would score and why. Looking forward to the discussion.
Lack Of Signal In A Sea of Noise
There’s an incredible amount of media and blogger noise about social networks, yet most focus on “killer app” hype without an objective point of view. My career mission? To cut out the hype and help companies make sense of what to do. For those fraught with information overload, this definitive matrix distills what matters.
Situation: New Contender Shakes Up Industry
Google has entered the social networking play with “Buzz”, and by the look of it, this time it’s for real. There’s a lot of market confusion on how they could stack up, so here’s my take. Let’s cut the noise and get to the heart of it with a comparison matrix based upon my insights talking to these companies in formal briefings, observations, as a user, my former research and dealing with the brands trying to reach them.
Executive Summary: Brands Must Stay Focused On Where Customers Already Are Google’s entrance causes media havoc but web strategists should stay focused. Find out where customers already are through developing data around consumer behavior called socialgraphics. Facebook continues to demonstrate a sophisticated marketplace for consumers and brands to mix about, however don’t discount MySpace’s active consumer base –but only if your customers are already there. Continue to monitor Twitter and respond if customers are tweeting –but they’ve yet to indicate sophistication to help marketers, instead rely on third party tools and agencies to respond. The feature set of newly spawned Google Buzz isn’t important, what matters is their ability to aggregate social content which will impact search strategy for businesses trying to reach consumers, read my first take analysis.
This scorecard has a limited shelf life, so I’ll likely create a new scorecard after future announcements from these players.
Web Strategy Matrix: Google Buzz vs Facebook vs MySpace vs Twitter (Feb 2010)
A dark horse that has big backing and access to existing platforms.
A mainstay platform that needs to grow out of its shell.
The MTV of this generation is at risk during an ugly transformation.
Has opportunity to become utility-like infrastructure, but not a destination.
Estimated to sit on a user based of over 100mm active gmail users, they have access to the most popular webpage in the world, google.com. Has access to mainstream users on Google.com and advanced email users on Gmail.
Boasting over 400mm users in just a few short years, they’ve saturated Gen Y in US, and show global expansion at record rates.
Recently reported at 57mm US unique users most of which are heavily engaged with site. Has saturation of coveted youth, working class and small businesses within US.
Although difficult to track, estimates indicate 75mm active users, but doubts are emerging about reduced rate of growth. Usage by tech savvy, media, and celebs.
A large talent pool of engineers to pull from, Buzz stands on top of existing Gmail, mobile devices, and dominant search portal. As Buzz grows, they can integrate with all Google apps –and aggregate the entire internet.
Rapid US and international growth over last few years bodes well as quickly evolved feature set of platform and and FB Connect gain traction. Attracts top talent from Google –which are quickly defecting.
Big backing by a media giant, a super engaged audience, and rich history of reaching media starved young consumers.
Has clinched adoption over media elite, celebrities, and tech influencers. Incredible media buzz, and easy-to-use features.
Late to the party, Google has had a series of social networking misfires from Wave, Dodgeball, Orkut their culture shows signs of becoming corporate –like Microsoft.
Struggles with the conundrum of having promised users a ‘closed’ experience where to be successful requires them to be ‘open’. Historically poor track record in meeting privacy expectations of customers, and overall complex interface.
Complacent: they really let themselves go. In the eyes of the tech world, they are becoming irrelevant or even worse, a niched media play –not even a lifestyle network. This leaderless ship without a captain is undergoing radical internal turmoil and innovation has stalled.
Although features are dead simple, they are now a commodity –status update features are ubiquitous. Mainstream users confused by how to get started. Overhyped, the infrastructure has shown strain. Brands generally confused on how to interact.
The more information users share, tag, or create, the more data is created on Google’s platform to organize, giving them opportunity to monetize.
By integrating Facebook Connect everywhere, the service becomes ubiquitous, and therefore the default identity and default address book for consumer behavior.
A few hours ago, the CEO Van Natta was let go. Now a new chief can step up, and lead the recently formed executive team, fostering innovation and solidarity.
Must develop more features to increase the overall value of this utility of the this simple status messaging tool.
Mainstay email companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL have already shown social features ‘bolted’ onto their email systems, and could pose threat, although success hasn’t been proven by any. Secondly, Facebook has made notions to develop an email web client “Project Titan” that will threaten tech savvy users competing for Gmail’s attention.
Facebook is a conundrum as they must make experience open –yet this provides Google the opportunity to monetize as an intermediary. Social networks come and go, before MySpace was Friendster, they run the risk of becoming complacent, losing talent to Twitter and failing to innovate over the next few years.
Self-implosion from internal instability causes stalls, forcing media brands to develop their own social networking on their own sites, rendering MySpace a duplicate. Worse yet? Cool kids jump ship, and establish a colony elsewhere, leaving MySpace a wasteland of clueless advertisers.
Overhype from media leaves Twitter at risk for burn-out-syndrome like a Hollywood child star turned skid row. Secondly, the more successful they are, the more strain it put on the already questionable infrastructure.
Although not fully developed, expect advertising options to appear for brands who want to promote relevant ads wherever Buzz is located, especially on SERP pages
Confusing and overly complicated, there are too many marketing options perplexing brands. It’s not clear if brands should advertise, interact in pages, create widgets or do a combination of all.
Strong and straight forward. Established team has cut deals with many media companies and has legacy culture of understanding media.
Nascent. Although promises have been made for branded experiences, analytics, and other premium features, for most marketers it’s being treated like a chat room –not a marketing platform.
Buzz will aggregate the voices of their users –and those of other social networks, aggregate and serve up monetization options.
A communications platform for consumers and brands. Expect Facebook experience to be in many public experiences and mobile devices.
There are two paths: Integrate MySpace into TV and mobile devices or fade into pit of irrelevance like Friendster.
Like gas, water, or power, Twitter is likely to fade into the background and become a utility that’s integrated into everything –someday, even your fridge will Tweet.
What They Don’t Want You To Know
The collective already owns you –you just don’t know it yet.
They’re trying so hard to shift from closed to open, and like a nasty divorce, it’s tearing them apart from users.
Like an internal disease, the insiders are hurting, morale sunk, teams in disarray, yet they don’t want the public to know.
Not sure what they want to be when they grow up.
What They Should Do
Demonstrate success with Buzz, then quickly integrate into other tools like Search and Chrome. Kill off the confusing Wave, and consolidate teams and efforts. Aggregate public content from Twitter and Facebook, intermediate them and monetize their own content.
Get open now. Build a browser to quickly go transcend the web. Reward users to share more information in public like restaurant or media reviews in exchange for other values. Double down efforts on Project Titan email feature.
Quickly establish a chain of command and execute based upon a single vision. Have regular talent turnover to avoid complacency. Develop a white label product that can compete with Cisco EOS, Kyte, Pluck, or Kickapps (Altimeter client).
Develop a vision to become the dominant protocol over SMS, where teens and international cultures are already heavily texting. Continue to build out platform for developers to build on top of, becoming a data play, like a utility.
Everyone has a morning ritual, for me, I invest up to two hours reading, thinking, and blogging each morning. I hope this helps you cut through the noise –if it was helpful, please pass it on, email to colleagues, tweet it, and blog about it.