Welcome to our round-up of all that’s new, controversial or just plain weird on the social media scene in the last few days.
The UK Govt is to rush a controversial broadband tax into law before the General Election. The tax, which levies 50p per month on everyone with a fixed-line telephone, was first mooted in Lord Carter’s Digital Britain, and could raid £175m to ‘make high speed networks nationally available.’
First Direct’s new campaign will highlight both positive and negative comments made about the brand, and includes a microsite which will aggregate every brand mention on more than 5m social media sites. Don’t worry, perhaps it’s like free-running. It seems counter-intuitive now, but in a year’s time I’m sure we’ll all be doing it…
There was some anxiety this week – and not a little resentment – as social-heavyweight Seth Godin launched Squidoo, a service which aggregates all conversations around Brand X and funnels them onto one page. The resentment began to bubble when it emerged that Brand X would have to pay $400 per month for the privilege of responding to any negative comments.
Further audible gulps came with the announcement of Google’s Sidewiki, a new tool which lets anyone comment on any web pages – including brand sites. One furious but anonymous commenter said “This service is like posting a whiteboard in front of my house, that I’m not allowed to erase, and giving a marker to anyone that walks by.”
Squeeeal! Justin Timberlake casting rumours confirmed! The Timble is to play Napster co-founder Sean Parker in the The Facebook Movie – and look, he speaks Mandarin too! A Renaissance man indeed.
A rookie Redskins linebacker tweeted that his team’s fans were “fake” and “dim wits”, before asking “who are you to say you know what’s best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at Mcdonalds?” Touché, you’ll agree. Sadly, the account has now been deleted.
The developers of the dystopic MMO Fallen Earth say their players thought female characters should look “more feminine”. Which, if the results are anything to go by, translates as ‘considerably younger’ and ‘no stranger to the surgeon’s knife’.
Using just their phone number, DateCheck rifles through your prospective paramour’s online drawers, and alerts you to Sleaze factor (past sex offences) and Compatibility (their star sign). Conveniently, it also lets you know their Net Worth. Pragmatic – or creepy? You decide.
The micro-blogging upstart drew astounded gasps this week when they announced that a new financing round had pumped £100 million into the 3 year old service. With characteristic reserve, Twitter called the injection ‘significant’ – but the rest of the world was less restrained, and valuations zoomed straight to $1bn. The news predictably put co-founder Biz Stone’s revelation that Twitter won’t, after all, carry ads this year into the shade.
Following legal rumblings from Ewan McGregor amongst others, Twitter is moving swiftly towards an account-validation system. Other slebs who’ve been stung include Britney, the Dalai Lama – and David Milliband, who it turns out didn’t tweet “never has one soared so high and yet dived so low. RIP Michael” after all…
MySpace has rolled out a two-way Twitter synch allowing updates to appear in Twitter feeds, and vice versa. Fits neatly with the recent news that Twitter’s teen share is looking pink and healthy.
Some fabulously odd Twitter stats to mull here: a deathwish-tastic 11% of Twitter users tweet while driving, double the number of Facebook-users who do so. (Tiresomely, the stat has a useful point to make: it highlights Twitters superior compatibility with mobile phones.)
Just under a quarter of Twitter users have posted Tweets which seemed at the time to be of a pithy or hilarious nature, but which they later bitterly regretted. And for every user who tweets on a daily basis, there’s one who never has, or who no longer does. Finally, key concerns of Twitterers remain, if not Neanderthal, then basic: the top 5 most frequent recurs on Twitter are “working,” “home,” “work,” “lunch,” and “sleeping.”
AND ON FACEBOOK….
The weather was rather changeable for Twitter’s rival, Facebook:
On the upside, they partnered with Nielsen to launch Brand Lift. The new platform will poll those who have and haven’t seen specific ads, and compare the two groups – offering brand advertisers performance measurement. And a new home page unit of engagement will help brands target potential customers with a pop-out window to register for free samples.
But the social giant also announced the death of Beacon – the no-opt-out monitoring platform which noted when a user visited advertisers’ sites, then auto-invited that user’s friends to join him or her. Disgruntled Facebook users launched a class suit – the $9.5 million will now be going to a foundation dedicated to online privacy and security.
And there wasn’t a huge amount of love for The ‘Book swilling around the marketing blogosphere either. Chris Brogan was a bit meh about the risqué ads he’s being served (“Call me a prude, but I find these ads offensive”) and wondered why Facebook isn’t more concerned about scratching its shiny.
And Social Media Playground pointed out that the new sample pop-outs might be a way of charging brands for what they’ve been doing free for a while. As Todd Deffren says, “here’s the trouble with Facebook: it’s a proprietary network… the rules change pretty frequently… and there’s little the average Corporate Marketer can do about it.”
BRANDS ON SOCIAL…
Woo-hoo for Cadbury’s Wispa and CocaCola’s vitaminwater: the two brands saw considerable fan gains on their Facebook pages this week, according to Inside Facebook.
Boo-hoo for Sara Lee, whose social media campaign failed to rise. One eMarketer analyst was succinct: “I’m a mom and I didn’t see the point.”
A new, mobile-only social network is being launched by Albion London. The O2-backed network’s members will get rebates for participating in user-generated marketing campaigns, and voting on the company’s business decisions.
And finally, if you’re a brand who’s courting the bookish, steer clear of social networks: less than 3% of readers find them useful.
SOME MORE SOCIAL STATS
WHOOSH! (that’s the sound of social networking usage on Smartphones skyrocketing). Nielsen reports a rise of 187 percent to 18.3 million unique users in July 2009. That figure triples the 6.4m users of a year ago, and Socnets now account for 32% of all Smartphone activity. Nielsen also reports that nearly a third of all mobile video is viewed by 24-35 year olds.
I’ll have what she’s having: Science Daily reports that there are two intriguing tipping-points in the conformity of groups. Researchers discovered that, after one menu-item has been ordered by 30% of a group of diners, the tendency to go for something different weakens. But after 80-90% had chosen the same dish, the instinct to be different kicked in again.
Yikes! 84% of companies don’t measure social media ROI and 40% didn’t even know whether or not they had the tools to do so.
Even the ones that are measuring don’t feel that they are doing enough. The full results of the survey are definitely worth a look.
To highlight some of the threats which face teenagers online, US communications net Verizon have teamed up with the Ad Council to create a campaign which will run across mobile, web and TV. The ads spotlight the various forms of digital dating abuse with the tagline ‘Where do you draw your digital line?’.
The New Jersey School Boards Association recently published their policy regarding staff, students and social networking. The paper, which other bodies can use as a template, advises that ‘teachers should be friendly, and not friends’.
The new gTrend Teen Report was launched this week, based on a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 American teen influencers. The reports authors say they have identified 15 new trends around teens’ relationship with technology.
The Pizza Kitchen in Knox County has embraced social media – perhaps a little too warmly. After falling out with their marketing company, its owner posted his disgust – and allegations of the theft of his email list – on both Facebook and Twitter. The marketing company in question have now filed a libel suit against the restaurant.
Amongst many interesting takeaways from a recent conference which pulled together the legal brains from 100 top companies: companies are most at risk when employees contribute company-specific information online but don’t disclose that they’re an employee. Plus, it’s not a good plan to block employees’ access to social media, since it drives workers to their mobiles instead.
PalTalk has launched scattergun lawsuits against six virtual world/MMO developers, including NCsoft and Sony, alleging infringement of their patents for real-time chat during gameplay.
ELSEWHERE IN VIRTUAL WORLDS…
Linden Lab released some stats which reveal that globally users have spent more than a billion hours in Second Life. User hours have grown 33% year-on-year to an impressive 126 million, and they’ve transacted the equivalent of more than $1 billion USD between themselves.
Dizzywood, a virtual world for kids aged 8-12, has nabbed a National Parenting Publications Award. Previous winners include Club Penguin, and the Word Girl PBS Website.
The 20 fastest-growing Facebook apps are social games – with Zynga scoring particularly well. FarmVille hit 46 million, and Mafia Wars 23 million – placing them at number 2 and 4 respectively.
That’s all folks!
Kate Williams, Research Consultant