It seems like a logical move but who would have thought that we are well and truly advanced to the point where the Internet will be delivered to us in our livings rooms via our televisions. Intel and Yahoo are teaming up to bring this experience to consumers via a Widget Channel, representing a true evolution of the Internet as know it.
So what implications does this have for the consumer? If we are looking ahead, it means that we will have the ability to interact with these TV widgets via remote control - offering us an enhanced and all-immersive online experience. We’ll be able to purchase products online, converse with friends via email, frequent social networking sites, check out favourite videos online and share with friends during the ad breaks. The possibilities are endless.
If you are viewing an ad that features a new, must-have product, this new experience could mean that you don’t need to leave your house to purchase it. You see a product, love it, want it, jump online and purchase in real time - and from the comfort of your very own couch.
And the really cool thing - Intel and Yahoo are already collaborating with companies including Blockbuster, CBS Interactive, Comcast, eBay, Toshiba, MTV, Twitter and others in order to develop these widgets.
The future of the Internet is here! What will be next?
If you could access the Internet from your TV, what would you do with it?
It is becoming increasingly evident that more business users are jumping online during the work day to frequent social networking sites, using it as an online hub to conduct business and connect with other users for work purposes. For example, Twitter is becoming not only a hang out place to connect with friends but from a professional standpoint I am seeing that PR practitioners and journalists are using it as a portal to tap into useful networks, scoop out stories, identify spokespeople and generate outcomes.
Interestingly enough, as we see this trend escalate, eMarketer predicts that advertisers in the US will spend $40 million this year to reach the business audience on different social networking sites. And according to its forecasts, this spend is expected to reach $210 million in 2012.
The very nature of a social network is that it connects like-minded people and those with common hobbies and interests. It is therefore no surprise that we are seeing this behaviour among the business audience. And what’s more, the very nature of social network sites is providing advertisers and marketers with great opportunities to reach out to the exact audience they are wishing to tap into, as social networking sites become even more purpose-built and niche.
Another example is LinkedIn. LinkedIn describes itself as “A networking tool to find connections to recommend job candidates, industry experts and business partners…” This site is a recruiters dream! With its member subscription having doubled in the last year, this is the ideal environment to scope out and head hunt potential talent.
I recently viewed by profile on LinkedIn and I was able to track not only how many people viewed my profile in the last 27 days but it also told me who these people were. One was ’someone in the Human Resources industry’ and the other was an ‘Account Director at Howorth Communications’. Nothing is sacred anymore.
These are just a few proof points that indicate the power of social networking sites in business and how sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter (and others) are increasingly becoming poweful tools that facilitate important business connections.
Do you think this trend will continue to escalate? Or are social networking sites merely fad? Would love your thoughts.
So I’ve been toying around with Twitter a lot more these days. So much so, I have been abandoning my blog. I think more and more we will start to see the quality of blog posts decline with the emergence of microblogging - thanks to Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter. Twitter gives you the option to update your network/ neighbourhood on what you are doing in a mere 140 characters.
The instantaneous nature of this means that you can easily update those that are following you on what you are up to and track what others are up to as well. I was originally critical of Twitter but I am starting to find it more useful in a professional work sense. In fact, in my perception it is taking over Facebook as one of the most valuable social networking sites.
The interesting thing here for me is that you can apply it to every day work. My Twitter neighbourhood, albeit small, is a circle of PR people and journalists. The aim = to expand my small neighbourhood! Anyway, I digress…
Although many of the posts that we upload don’t necessarily provide too much insight - I find out when people need to go to the bathroom, what they had for breakfast and when they are on the train but on several occasions it can really useful. You can pick up a lead on a story that a journalist is working on, what topics he/ she covers, when he/ she is going overseas, find out what they think of products they are reviewing and reporting on, what topics light a fire under them and so forth. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse and stay in contact. Now that I think about it more, I would actually compare this to LinkedIn - it seems to be quite valuable as a professional networking tool.
I’d be surprised if blog subscriptions weren’t in decline due to the rise in Twitter feeds. This has strong implications for mobiles as well. These days, new and emerging technologies are mirroring the lifestyle trends of today’s consumers’. As people want to access to real-time information from friends, access to news, entertainment, and be able to communicate from anywhere at anytime - we are finding that today’s technologies such as mobile phones and web 2.0 tools such as Twitter are accommodating these needs.
Feel free to pipe up if you have some answers because I haven’t done all my homework in this area. Are we seeing a trend now - as people become more time poor are we seeing blog posts getting shorter? Rather than well-researched, quality blog posts - are these increasingly becoming short excerpts and randon bursts of one’s thoughts?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…
I was reading an article about Twitter on Silicon Valley’s Mercury News today. It raised a good point and one that I wanted to talk about here. The sites describes Twitter as the “…Seinfeld of the Internet”. This can also be interpreted as ‘the website about nothing’. I have blogged about the use of Twitter in the Marketing/PR industry previously so with this comment, I think it is time to revisit my thoughts on this new(ish) Web 2.0 tool.
Are we wasting time frequenting Twitter? Is there really any inherent value that we can take away from this online tool? To be perfectly honest, i’m not too sure if my Twitter updates, such as those below, would provide any use to any of those that follow me:
It might make them laugh at me but i’m probably wasting their time (and mine). These people, however, have requested to follow me which makes me think people actually want to hear about my daily rants and whereabouts - as pointless as it may seem.
I don’t want to be too pessimistic about the value of Twitter. Mercury News reports that Twitter had “…1.2 million unique visitors in May…”. We are seeing it gain value in some parts of the world - particularly with regards to political applications in the United States. For example, Barack Obama has used Twitter to provide updates to the public from his campaign trail.
We are also seeing the tool used for PR purposes. These days, many journalists are also using Twitter as a means of communicating the stories/ features they are researching and writing. Savvy PR consultants are utilising tools such as Twitter regularly in order to keep abreast of relevant engagement opportunities for their clients.
As I mentioned, I see this tool gaining traction in the United States but I don’t think we are seeing similar traction across the Asia Pacific - at least not at this point in time. Will we see the journalists/ analysts on this side of the world use the tool to put the word out regarding what they are working on? We’ll just have to wait and see.
As far as reaching a wider audience, would my mum or dad ever use Twitter? (No - I really doubt it). I don’t even think my friends working at large IT-centric companies would.
The questions I am toying with at the moment (and I ask for your input) - Will we see Twitter move into the mainstream? Will it ever attract a truly global audience? As communication experts, should we be using Twitter on a daily basis?
Are social networks such as Facebook and MySpace over-valued today? The price tags we put on them are steep in my opinion - in the billions of dollars! Although, are these sites and other online communities just a fad that will be replaced by the next big ‘It’ technology shortly down the line, or will they all see a long and prosperous future?
I slightly digress from my original thoughts but want to put this perception to the test and undergo a couple of benchmarking tests.
Step One - The Site Traffic Test
I got some interesting results whilst conducting a traffic rank comparison between Facebook and MySpace on traffic ranking site, Alexa. For your reference, all the following figures are based on a snapshot of a three month average.
MySpace receives a traffic rank of 6 [this traffic rank is based on a combined measure of page views and users (reach)]. The number of unique pages viewed per user per day on MySpace is 34.52.
Facebook comes in just behind MySpace with a traffic rank of 7. The number of unique pages viewed per user per day on Facebook is 21.26.
The graph above, however, shows us that the traffic rank of MySpace has dipped over the past two months. Over this same two month period, Facebook has grown considerably.
To be completely honest, i’m a little surprised with these figures. I definitely thought that Facebook would have had a bigger lead on MySpace.
Step Two - The Member Test
This next step isn’t really a fair test but I thought I would throw it in to add a new dimension into the mix.
An interesting sociology study was posted on Mashable about one year ago now addressing the difference between Facebook and MySpace users. According to the study ‘jocks’, ‘athletes’ and ‘goodie two shoes’ are the types that frequent Facebook whereas MySpace is the hang out for the ‘alternative’ crowd, ‘punks’, ‘emos’ and other kids who didn’t play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm!
Based on the vast differences between the member bases of these sites, I am starting to feel a little guilty for comparing the two. Apples with oranges?
After completely digressing from my first questions in this post, I want to go back to my original question on the longevity of these online sites. And are we or are we not over-valuing them?
LinkedIn recently valued itself at $1 billion. Similarly, according to Computerworld, Facebook received a market valuation of around US$15 billion after Microsoft bought 1.6% of the site for US$240 million last year. Other networking sites have had valuations between US$200 million and US$560 million, based on transactions from this year. In the same vain, Facebook received a market valuation of approximately “…US$15 billion after Microsoft bought 1.6% of the site for US$240 million last year…”
I’ll leave this one with you to ponder on. Will this bubble burst?
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at work only to find a few blog post links in an email mentioning that I ranked number 29 in the Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneer Blogs. This said list was compiled by Julian Cole. See below.
|2||Servant of Chaos||9||5||8||6||6||5||39|
|3||Duncans Tv Adland||6||5||7||6||8||5||37|
|5||Better Communication Results||8||3||6||5||6||6||34|
|7||Small Business Branding||7||3||0||8||7||8||33|
|14||Business of Marketing & Branding||6||5||6||4||4||1||26|
|16||Australian SEO Blog||4||4||5||4||6||1||24|
|17||Wide Open Spaces||8||5||4||3||3||1||24|
|28||Mark Neely’s Blog||7||3||2||2||3||0||17|
|31||In my atmosphere||6||4||0||3||2||1||16|
|34||Pigs Don’t Fly||6||4||1||1||2||0||14|
|36||Australian Small Business||6||3||0||0||4||0||13|
|37||The Jason Recliner||4||4||1||2||1||1||13|
|42||Zero Budget Marketing Ideas||6||3||1||1||1||0||12|
|46||Arrow Internet SEO||7||2||0||0||1||1||11|
|47||The Sticky Report||7||0||1||2||0||0||10|
|48||Naked Communications-The Flasher||8||0||0||1||0||1||10|
|50||Send up a larger room||7||0||0||1||0||0||8|
The blog list was compiled using a set of criteria, including Google Page Ranks, Technorati Blog Reactions, Alexa page ranking and Blog Lines. Additionally, a subjective ‘pioneer’ score was also included, measuring the ‘blog’s ability to have pioneering thoughts about marketing’.
The Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneer Blog list will appear in the August edition of Marketing Magazine. It will also be updated every three months, with the next update this September.
I try and give my blog as much love and attention as possible, but unfortunately find that my time tends to get cannibalised elsewhere. This new found, albeit short, burst of fame is exactly what I need to give me that extra bit of motivation to make sure that I am regularly contributing my thoughts on the latest emerging technologies and Web 2.0 developments and how these are impacting on the marketing and PR disciplines.
Here’s to crawling up the ranks Stay tuned for the next instalment!
A really interesting IDC study, titled “The Hyperconnected: Here They Come” was released this month which talks about the exploding “culture of connectivity” and the implications that hyper-connectivity has on the enterprise and business practices.
Whilst on a fact finding mission, another interesting point that I came across is that the global mobile workforce continues to grow unabated - IDC expects the global mobile worker population to increase from 758.6 million in 2006 to more than 1 billion in 2011, representing just over 30 percent of the worldwide workforce. [see more details here]
The thing that really struck a chord with me is that we are becoming a generation addicted to connectivity. We are seeing our younger colleagues enter the workforce as ‘digital natives’ (an idea widely discussed by Peter Sheahan) - they only understand communication via IM, email, text messaging, social networking and so forth. This is the ‘conventional’ that they seek and the ‘unconventional’ that the rest of us are all so keen to adopt. Today, we are spending more time connected and switched on in both our personal and work lives - so much so that we are now seeing a blurring between the two.
More and more people are starting to leverage Web 2.0 tools in business (a term coined Enterprise 2.0) such as shared wikis, IM and social networks in order to better facilitate information sharing and collaboration between workers and provide a competitive edge to those businesses that embrace it.
I think we will see Enterprise 2.0 increasingly extend beyond the office as wireless technologies such as in-built 3G, WiFi and WiMAX become faster and more efficient for business users to access personal internet on-the-go, and as mobile devices become sleeker and lighter for users to carry with them.
The IDC study predicts that “hyperconnected business users will likely rise to 40 percent in five years”. Another five years down the track, I am sure we will see a substantial increase on this figure. Application and web developers, mobile device/ notebook manufacturers and telecommunications providers will need to cater towards making this hyper-connected experience for users a more seamless one.
Watch this space!
David Carlson: Social Media and Traditional PR