5 Big Fat Social Media Trends

9 11 2009

Social Media is like the new West. 3 or 4 years ago we were barely calling it “new media”. Last year, I couldn’t use the word “social media” or people would look at me like I was talking French. It was a new frontier, but today, everyone has arrived. Now there are way too many people here. We need to aggregate or suffocate. Here are 5 clear trends I see developing in social media:

The Return of the King: ROI
Growth in usage is just not enough to let budgets increase without a return. Every one of our clients asks one single, but not so simple, thing. Track, measure, improve. Buzz is good, traffic is good. Conversion lies in the conversation (with the client). Brands can understand that social media is the rising star of their investment center. A rising star (social media that is) needs to become a cash cow though time or it will be come a dog.

Billboards have new highways:
Recently, Techcrunch blasted the practices of application developers on Facebook and how people are victims of a new form of infomercials, or even starting to use their own influence to advertise. Let’s go back to square one –move some eye balls and convert them into $. If you were not aware, you can advertise on Twitter. There are many services like it and if you sign up for those services, you can get paid. Joel Comm who wrote Twitter Power was just last week making clear that he is okay with it here, here and here.
All in all, billboards have new highways. Get used to it and be(a)ware.

Communities are the new News-Outlets:
Like my physics teacher in high-school said, “nothing is lost, everything transforms”. We’re losing news Twitter-Listsoutlets by the 100s but we’re also creating fan pages, online niche networks and now Twitter lists at a never recorded speed. These are the new influencers; these are the new trusted-agents. Communities, organized or informal, will dictate trends like old media used to. The Fort Hood disaster today is proving that New-Outlets can be recreated instantly. If your company doesn’t have or belong to a community, your influence is vanishing.

Quality and creativity have never been so important:
Forrester / Josh Bernoff have just released their ‘Groundswell Awards‘ – whether it is Nascar, YarnCraft, Norton or the others, I am fascinated by one thing: each of these creative programs is leveraging the power of the Common Unit of Experience (CUE) as I call it, of those ready to activate communities. Quality of intent and creativity of a social media program can only work if the CUE exists.

Personal branding and corporate brands have to work together:
Jeremiah Owyang last week blogged about social media accounts (e.g. Twitter account) and ownership quoting the Cisco CTO twitter account. It is her account, if she leaves, that digital footprint goes with her. This is a magnified case of Jeremiah’s own case when he recently left Forrester for the Altimeter Group with his own digital footprint. When working on social media project, we advocate the brand’s constituency should be a center of the engagement strategy. A brand has to look at its employees and partners as much as it looks at its customers. Grow them and they’ll grow you.

Follow me @YannR

Is Twitter herding sheep back home by creating ‘real time news-outlets’?

6 11 2009

I was half listening to the Gillmore Gang show with the Silicon Valley wiz this afternoon and heard many interesting things like the eID conference. I think David Gillmore generously said that “Facebook was opening up and Twitter was closing”… smiles on many faces, smile on my face.  If you look at Twitter traffic, it’s been plateaued for months and even when you take into account external apps (Tweetdeck, Seesmic, PeopleBrowsr… or phone apps Twittie, SimplyTweet), Twitter is pretty much not visible compared with Facebook’s atomic growth as Brian Solis points out with his recent social graph post.

What happened, where are we going? How about in opposite directions? That’s the Facebook and Twitter story. Opposites attract, don’t they? Facebook has built a generally closed environment. The average Facebook user only uses Facebook and became social online because of Facebook, and their friends and communities out there. Well, Twitter went pretty much in the other direction. Why compete head to head? Let’s just go ‘open’ all out. Anyone can pull or push info from Twitter.  Twitter got $100 million in funding back on September 24th. FriendFeed was swallowed by Facebook (I still prefer FriendFeed). Both are now accumulating enough reserves for the next step: growth and domination. Google and Bing are both watching closely behind every move. Bing powers Facebook’s search (owning 10% of FB) and both search engines announced agreements to deliver Twitter results.

We’re going to see a HUGE spike in Twitter traffic when data is released by Nielsen, Comscore or Compete next month. Twitter is now bringing the sheep back home and after building the most fantastic eco-system of apps ever (after iTunes maybe). They are moving towards bringing some key features in house. Last week, for example, the Twitter lists appeared.

This week, the ‘RT’/Re-Tweet feature (= “forward” in email language) is rolling out today. The millions of Twitterers are being asked to come back home to the sound of the ‘ego bell’. We had to rely on home-made lists to figure out who to follow. Now, lists will dictate influence. Groupings and communities of influencers are congregating to become the ‘new media’. Lists clearly have the potential to become what a TechCrunch or a Mashable has become — ‘real time news-outlets’. Lists can compete with traditional news sources and yes, it’s going to shake this cool world further. The savior for the most common of us is that it’s still organic and not corporatized, well, not just yet.