The Social Egosystem

This article by Brian Solis, paints a fascinating picture.

He echos much of what I have written about here previously in relation to our ‘me’ brands and the narcissism of today’s consumers.

What’s clear is the need for brands to identify their biggest potential influencers. It’s summed up best by this quote “Brands seeking reach, presence, and connectivity must look beyond popularity and focus on aligning with the influential beacons who serve as the hubs for contextual networks or nicheworks.”
But what really permeates throughout this article is the firm belief, which I share, that actions by brands, via social tools, can indeed be measured and deliver an ROI that brands will expect in the future.

I know from my own experience, when an agency sits and squirms at the suggestion that their funky viral project should carry an element of measurement, it’s the first sign you should run away. And when they say that a calculation of  ROI cannot even be attempted, show them the door.

The refinement of Twitter will, allowing better profiling based on keywords, history and other variables means that this microblog could well become the dominant force of the social web. The launch of new Twitter indicates that they are developing more ways to keep users on the Twitter site itself and away from various third paty ‘clients’. Combine this with their growing ability to analyse user data and in turn what that means they can offer advertisers and you can see where this is going.

I’ve read recently more and more complaints about Facebook and its user interface. The constant changes are becoming an annoyance. When people become more familiar with new Twitter’s ability to show images, video and sound, the reasons we have for spending time on Facebook may decline

In the week that “The Social Network” is released, Zuckerberg surely needs to get his team to raise their game back at the ranch and avoid the red carpet?

What do you think?

The New Twitter – New and Improved?

Yesterday, the head honchos at Twitter invited a select group to a presentation of the new Twitter.com offering people a faster, but crucially a much richer experience.

Here’s the official line.

Over the next week, they will be inviting you to use the new version on your own Twitter page. So what’s new about it?

Firstly and most strikingly is the format of the new design. The right hand side of the page now accommodates any media elements that were before a click away. So if somebody tweets a video clip or picture, you can now see this without leaving the page. You can also now see the origin of a tweet by clicking an icon that opens up the thread. The threads to direct messages are now also going to be visible.

Additionally, you will now be able to see a greater amount of information about those tweeting.

To make way for this new functionality, Twitter have taken back a large amount of the background. So in future, you will need to sharpen up on your profile biography, the content of your tweets themselves and worry less about your wallpaper imagery.

Just why they have felt it necessary to launch new Twitter, is surely a response to the rise of various Twitter clients – Seesmic, Hootesuite, Tweetdeck etc. etc. They are now trying to keep us at Twitter.com by taking the best of the functionality that these clients offered and appending it to the main site.

And why would they be doing this?

To offer advertisers the amount of impressions necessary to attract the big bucks.

Indeed, co-founder Biz Stone said, the new Twitter opens up “new revenue-generating opportunities.” Well, 90 million tweets a day can’t be ignored.

Here is Twitter’s publicity video for the new format.

I think it all looks pretty cool and I can’t wait to use it myself.

I would love to know your thoughts on the new look and your opinions on the reasons behind the change.

Digging Your Heels In

Stubborn, intransigent, awkward and obstinate. We’ve all behaved like that at one time or another. Usually between the ages of 2 and 7. But for a “Professor of Marketing and an Expert on Branding” to continue to insist that social media is “…a new and relatively insignificant communications tool that has limited potential for a very small proportion of brands” as he did in the latest issue of Marketing Week, is astonishing.

At the Engaging Times Summit in Chicago last month, the great Stan Rapp announced his conversion to social media. Indeed one of his memorable quotes was “Stop advertisng, start dialoguing”.

Rapp’s conversion was based on the very numbers that the Professor rests his arguments on. Ritson says of Tesco’s Twitter page, “And what about Tesco? It’s arguably Britain’s biggest and best run brand and yet it has a grand total of 281 followers. Are you starting to see my point?” No Mark.

What this says to me is that Tesco have yet to grasp the potential that social engagement tools offer. In fact, having just checked their page, it appears Tesco are really confused! I’m not clear which Tesco Twitter account is the official one, but twitter.com/tescostores (which I suspect is the official version) last tweeted in April 2009! Do they promote it on their advertsing materials, their website or even their till receipts?

No!

In fact the tell tale sign that brands haven’t grasped the potential of Twitter, is that it isn’t promoted at all on their ‘Contact Us page!

Well, if they’re not tweeting, the it’s a good job they don’t promote it!

Go figure Mark.

Mirror Mirror

Stan Rapp said recently, “This generation of consumers are the most narcissistic in history.”

Boy was he right. We all sit and polish our ‘Me’ brands with huge care and attention. Shall I change my profile picture (logo) for the umpteenth time? Sure we do.

It’s not a bad thing. That narcissism was always there, it’s just that now we all have channels through which to promote our ‘Me’ brands.

Firstly, isn’t it interesting what some people do with them? How many times do you see oblique status updates or tweets that are just begging for comments or re-tweets? I’ve been astonished how many times I’ve read a sad status update only to followed by “Aww hun. I’m here if you need to talk xxx”

Meaning, “I’d rather you kept it to yourself, but I want my brand to appear caring and concerned and I want to comment before the competition (I mean our other friends) do.”

Secondly, what does this narcissism mean for business?

Well, I believe it means that people (British people) are no longer shy about complaining. That quaint British trait. Their brands are protected by their screens and they no longer have to actually speak to people. Think about the work environment and that most poisonous development – cc’ing on email. A cowards charter to broadcast vitriol and blame! Screens insulate us and give us a shield behind which we can hide.

But, it’s not going away. To be successful in the future, businesses and organisations are going to have to accept the new reality and respond immediately to publicly broadcast complaints as well as positivity.

Old Spice tear up the rule book

I felt the same on Wednesday having seen the Old Spice campaign on social media, as I felt after Gorbachev and Reagan came out of a room at the White House all those years ago. The world will never be quite the same.

For a Brit, Old Spice means cheesy 70’s TV ads, so it was even more impressive for P&G and their agency, Wieden and Kennedy to succeed in the way they did.

In a nutshell, a series of TV ads run over the last few weeks introduced the brand character ‘I’m the Man Your Man Could Smell Like’. But on Wednesday the campaign was taken to a whole new level. Having seeded questions across social media for the last two weeks – “what would you ask the Old Spice man” 87 videos were recorded in Portland Oregon on Wednesday and broadcast live on youtube in real time. Staggering. As well as answering questions from influential twitterers such as Ryan Seacrest and Alyssa Milano (with whom he engaged in a 4 tweet video conversation) Old Spice man also answered those posted by average internet users who had posted their questions on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and blogs.

The legacy of this campaign won’t be known for a time yet, but women creating a posting their own videos in response to Old Spice man, plus a ‘smell off challenge issued to the Old Spice man.

Is the this a sea change in the use of social media by big brands?

You’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties.

You know how it is when you’ve meticulously planned a house party? Chairs have been carefully arranged, playlist set and ready to go, lights dimmed to suitable level etc. etc.

And then the guests arrive.

They say their “hellos” and start the smalltalk. Politely accept a canapé and take their first drink. More and more arrive.

And then the early guests disappear. Gradually more and more people are congregating in the kitchen. People have loosened up a bit. Gossip begins to flow. Secrest are shared with strangers. THIS is where the real party is!

You can’t go in there and corral everyone back in. They’re likely to just make their excuses and leave early.

And so it seems it is with businesses and social media.

People are realizing that the really cool people, are hanging out in the kitchen – on Facebook, Twitter or on Blogs. Company websites – the host’s living room for the sake of this analogy – is where the party line (sorry!) is being followed. There’s nothing wrong with the living room of course. It’s beautifully designed, comfortable and feels just right. But more and more, people want the inside track – secret offers, direct dialogue, a proper and human reaction to a complaint or question.

The kitchen is now where the real party is happening.

LeBron ‘King’ James launches on Twitter

Anyone who has been following the free agency circus over the last few days will have heard that LeBron James has launched on Twitter. What makes this so stunning is the speed at which he was gathering followers. Whilst the two other main free agents – Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh – continued to send oblique tweets giving no clear sign of what their plans were, LeBron kept his counsel – until Yesterday morning and the launch of @kingjames on Twitter. Within an hour he had 50,000 followers and by the end of the day had amassed over 200,000 once word got out. His opening tweet, gave away nothing of his plans – we wait until 9pm ET on ESPN for that, but what this move signalled was the central role that social now plays in all our lives.

As a new fan of the NBA and the Chicago Bulls, I have been riveted to Twitter since midnight on June 30th for any signs of where the King was going, hoping against hope that he was coming to Chitown. It had taken over my world! We now seek news from our peers rather than established news channels. We can talk to each other about these things, discuss and create our own rumours.

For now we wait for LeBron to decide, but the waiting room is now officially called Twitter.