Archive for the ‘Aggregation’ Category

As Brands Continue to ‘Pollinate’ the Social Web, Expect Corporate Websites to Aggregate


Brands are pollinating the social web with easy-to-share features like Sharethis. As conversations splinter across the web, brands must prepare to aggregate those same conversations on their corporate website. As a result, the trusted conversations will centralize back on product pages.

[Trusted conversations have fragmented to the social web –shifting the balance of power to communities]

Social Pollination: Brands Currently Spreading to Communities

  • Why: Brands are trying to let their corporate and social content spread to many different communities in Facebook, Twitter, Email and others.
  • Examples: Any blog post, press release, or product page that encourages readers to share the content to other locations.   Any brand created Facebook fan page, flickr account, or Twitter account.
  • Risks: Letting content spread to other locations causes some angst, as brand managers now must monitor content and discussions elsewhere on the web.  The command+control mentality of “our corporate website is central” no longer holds true as people can share content using browser features like social bookmarking tool Delicious, or sharing links in Facebook.
  • Vendors: A variety of tools have appeared such as sharethisaddtoanyaddthis and others.  Incumbent players include: email, Facebook, Twitter, and Delicious that encourage content to be shared within those communities.

[To regain trust, corporate websites will look more like a collection of real-time customer discussions –not just product pitches]

Social Aggregation: Corporate Websites to Centralize Discussions

  • Why: Conversations and content have fragmented and distributed on the web, as a result, corporate websites are generally irrelevant.  Expect brands to start to centralize these discussions on or near their corporate website in order to bring trust and relevance back to the corporate website.
  • Early Examples: There’s a few examples that we can start to analyze, they include:
    • Any corporate blog that frequently discusses recent topics or industry news is a manual version of this.
    • Early examples include Sun aggregating technorati blog mentions of any product to their product pages –even if it’s negative. I’m having a hard time find that example now, they may have removed that from their website.
    • IBM’s hosted thousands of developers at a conference called Impact. They aggregated event tweets in this twitterfall.
    • Zappos aggregates all Twitter mentions of it’s brand on this aggregation page.
    • Perhaps the most mature example is Kinaxis, a supply chain management software company, has aggregated news of it’s industry at Manufacturing Central.
  • Future Deployments: Expect brands to at first create a lightly branded version of these discussions, on the topics of industry, or around mentions of any product.
    • Data and Content: The aggregation will need to pull in data and either sort by recency or relevancy or other prioritization pattern like Techmeme.
    • Location: Brands will likely create a seperate site or microsite for events or products that does this, as they get bolder, expect them to aggregate direct on product pages.
    • Branding: At first this will be lightly branded, but then will soon integrate directly with look and feeld or corporate site as this mainstreams.
  • Risks:  Brands will have a difficult time finding all the relevant content.  Secondly, while it makes sense to filter out off-topic, spam, and hate speech, the natural tendency will be to filter out negative reviews.  Expect there to be customer backlash as their complaints are not publicly aggregated on the corporate web pages.  Internally, expect social advocates to battle with brand preservationists who don’t want negative reviews on product pages.
  • Vendors:  A variety of vendors will appear to serve this need:
    • The toolsets have not yet emerged, however we should expect a series of startups to appear that offer this or spinoffs from Friendfeed (a logical first mover) and eventually a form of a Facebook embed.
    • A second set of players could be any of the aforementioned pollinators (sharethis) and potentially listening vendors like Radian6, Buzzlogic, or any data house like Technorati, Delicious or Get Glue (read my take).
    • Community platform vendors and CMS vendors like Vignette, Interwoven, Documentum with social features will likely launch modules or features that provide these aggregation pieces, or partner with the above.
    • Expect innovative agencies like Federated Media who conducted ‘sponsored aggregation’ of “Exectweets” for Microsoft to pioneer this with brands and technology partners. Update: CrispinPorterBogusky is already experimenting

Today, brands are trying to keep up with consumers as they self-connect to each other on social sites.  Clearly, many companies aren’t even ready to participate with communities where they already exist, so only a few sophisticated companies will be prepared for this next future evolution of corporate websites.  Don’t expect aggregation in the advanced forms I suggested to happen till brands are mature in the era of social colonization (read more about the future of the social web), so expect some time for true case examples to occur.

(Also, I’m trying out a new writing style, this time in outline form to break out a set of ideas. Was this helpful?)

Sponsored Aggregation: Impacts to Twitter, Federated Media, Microsoft, and the Community


My job is to dissect new and moving parts into ways that business decision makers can understand, I hope to do just that:

Web Strategy Summary
Twitter is finally monetizing. Working with social media marketing vendor Federated Media, Microsoft has sponsored an aggregation tool that collects all the voices and tweets of executives. While none of the executives were paid, and it’s not influencing their editorial, these public tweets are being monetized by the brands involved. (Added this previous sentence, thanks to Dom in the comments) It’s featured from the Twitter homepage (top right column) this program called ExecTweet gives exposure to the voices of executives and promotes Microsoft’s campaign.

Getting the Facts
I just got off the phone with Matthew DiPietro the Marketing Manager at Federated Media, to understand how brands are now working with Twitter and how the money is moving about. While I believe that Twitter could best monetize by becoming a CRM system, they’ve instead decided to do a variation of what we call sponsored conversations.

Sponsored Aggregation
This isn’t the same as other sponsored conversations programs where the bloggers (or Twitters in this case) are paid, but instead the voices and tweets of executives are aggregated. The executives (including my own CEO @gcolony) is aggregated on this site called ExecTweets, and there is no change in the editorial from the twitter users. In some cases, these execs may not even know they were added to this aggregation page. Individuals can submit other executives to be added to the aggregation page, which will soon be the untethered voices of this executive zeitgeist.

The exectweets site has some voting features that help to allow users to vote up the top discussions, and FM will help curate some of the discussions they think are most relevant. They didn’t say it, but I’ll bet they’ll put emphasis on conversations that best match the Microsoft campaign that’s sponsoring it called “Because it’s everybody’s business

I’d apologize for creating yet another buzzword, but it’s my job to help define new trends, and there’s constant changes in this space, so I’m trying to use terms that people can understand, use and be actionable with.

Breakdown of all the moving parts:

Twitter Community
First and foremost, focus should be on the Twitter community. This small advertisement was featured on the site displaying ‘house ads’ that would promote Twitter features, which is almost a warm up for this Microsoft Ad. Being on the fish theme, I remember that some web designs happen slowly as to not shock the users. The saying “change the fishbowl water a little at a time” comes to mind.

Executives that were selected or nominated to be in exectweets aggregation can now benefit from getting additional exposure and provide thought leadership amongst the land of 140. The downside now is their personal conversation are now associated with this campaign, and their general brand. I’d doubt that John Schwartz CEO of Sun would not want to be associated with this program, although I’m told that execs can opt-out.

Federated Media:
FM continues to impress me over the years, lead by John Battelle, they continue to develop innovative ways to sponsor influence, sponsor conversations, and insert brands directly into the editorial flow or develop brand association. Of course, they’ve had a few blunders in deployment but have a strong framework they use in their playbook regardless of the toolset. Their biggest challenge will be that they need to be careful not ensure that all programs are transparent and authentic, in order not to burn any stakeholders.

Microsoft: Tying in it’s campaign to reach executives and those who want to listen to executives, Microsoft benefits from associated branding by sponsoring the development and launch of this program. In theory, this should segment higher qualified clicks to their site “business if for everybody” as the link is on the exectweet site –not Update: I also learned that McCaan, Microsoft’s agency was a large part of this project.

Twitter: This nearly accidental microblogging network benefits by, well monetizing. This small ad takes up very little real estate and gives them the opportunity to trial methods to advertise. I strongly encourage them not to disrupt the editorial flow, and instead focus on the data portion, and monetize the firehose or develop products that brands need to manage discussions.

While it’s going to gain buzz from being new, don’t expect click through rates to the Microsoft campaign to be high, as it’s not in the editorial stream of tweets. However, it could generate more qualified CTR from those that are interested in what executives have to say, and secondary benefits from association with the top leaders. Expect this to be a rotating inventory for future campaigns, as Federated Media has done innovative conversational marketing during the height of blogging.