eModeration’s Social Media Round-up #21

Welcome
to eModeration’s round-up of all that is intriguing, alarming or odd in
the world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams (@emodkate).  We
had so much to say after our holiday break that this steaming helping
of social networks and brands in social media is following hot on the
heels of last Friday’s industry appetizer #20 …


In this update: Facebook’s annus mirabilis; Twitter’s job vacancies; and the most social brands of last year.

ON FACEBOOK …

According to ComScore, Facebook was the beneficiary of 5.5% of US online time
in November – a pretty impressive figure, to be sure. It was also the
most-visited website on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, say Hitwise,
as users rushed to compare presents (or possibly avoid Scary Uncle
Pete).

No surprise, then, that Facebook’s ad figures have sprinted past
those of MySpace a full year before they’d been predicted to do so –
and look likely to reach $605 million globally this year. MySpace,
meanwhile, is said to be staring at a 21% cliff-drop in revenue,
according to eMarketer.

For a full and frank assessment of Facebook’s Annus Mirabilis (and more on predictions that Facebook could file for IPO in 2010, with revenues expected to rocket past $700 million) it’s well worth scooting over to Mashable, who offer in-depth analysis, here.

Elsewhere on Facebook:

The ‘Book now offers a cunning feature
to combat persistent strangers or spammers who try to friend you. If
you’ve rejected them in the past because you don’t know them, their
friend request flags it up.

And recent Facebook privacy changes have had users scrambling to catch
up – and if you’re a brand with a Fan Page, you should be scrambling
too. You’ll find a useful guide to taking charge of your page’s privacy
settings, quick-sticks, here.

ON TWITTER …

Along with ‘Did you keep the receipt?’, the question on everyone’s lips
at the end of 2009 was ‘When will Twitter become profitable?’ – and the
microblogging site was at last able to respond that they already were,
to the tune of £25 million. The leap into profit, however, was entirely
courtesy of its real-time search deals with Google and Microsoft – and
commentators are iffy about whether the deals will be enough to sustain
a revenue stream in 2010.

So the question remains a valid one – as does the increasingly beady focus on Twitter’s horizontal stats, which appear to have flat-lined. Worth bearing in mind, though, that it’s only the Stateside figures which have stagnated – Twitter’s global figures
are doing just fine, with the 60m international user figure just
announced, and growth looking healthy in both and Brazil and the UK
(which now accounts for a 8.9% of tweets – a pretty twit-tastic tweet to population ratio.)
Other reasons for Twitter’s apparent halt: figures don’t include those
using apps like Seismic or Tweetdeck – and the fact that Twitter is
generally considered to have not yet reached critical mass.

Upshot: if you think that you’ve got the answer to Twitter’s tricky
revenue issues, the chaps over there are eager to hear from you.
They’ve launched a recruitment drive specifically
to address revenue generation, and are looking to recruit four new
staff members “to work on cutting edge monetization projects”; and
other new positions will also include a revenue element.

Elsewhere on Twitter:

Twitter and LinkedIn have hooked up – users can now update their LinkedIn status via Twitter, and vice versa…

The old way of retweeting – which allowed Twitter users add commentary to their RTs – is preferred by a ratio of 2 to 1…

Finally, the Telegraph reports that Twitter has banned 370 ‘obvious’ passwords.
So if you are the type to have ‘password’ as your password, you will no
longer be allowed to do so – though you are of course still free to
respond to emails informing you that a considerable legacy awaits you,
if you will only forward your bank account details by return.

ON GOOGLE …

Google’s dominion over the world of search remains unchallenged,
with both Yahoo and Bing wavering last month, according to Nielsen (in
the latter’s case reversing an apparently temporary surge earlier in
the year).

But the biggest news for Google was the release of its much-anticipated Nexus One. The Guardian put the iPhone competitor through its paces
and concluded that, while it lacked the glamour of the iPhone (and its
multi-touch screen) the Nexus One’s power was certainly impressive. The
smartphone’s launch was, however, shadowed by reports of customer service and network issues, and sales remained limp – a mere week after its launch, Google had ominously moved to slash the price of the Nexus One upgrade.

Nevertheless, despite some launch wrinkles waiting to be ironed out
(the version which will be available in the UK, for example, will have
a multi-touch screen) Advertising Age suggested
that the Nexus represents the final piece in an overarching strategy
which will be a game-changer for Google – giving it “a hammer lock on
the whole integrated process of consumer mobility.”

ON YOUTUBE …

UN investigators believe they’ve cracked the mystery at the heart of a macabre YouTube hit,
in which a recently-assassinated anti-government lawyer blamed his
imminent death on the Guatemalan president. In a twist worthy of
Hollywood, it seems the man, who was depressed about personal issues,
actually arranged his own murder in order to frame the president.

A recent patent application by Google has set tongues waggling that
YouTube is about to dip a toe into online gaming. The patent details a
‘web-based system for generation of interactive games based on digital
videos’. Translated, this seems to describe a level of interactivity
that would allow users to change the outcome of the video being shown –
“a video game, if you will,” as TechRadar points out.

BRANDS GET SOCIAL …

The big news of the New Year was Pepsi’s decision to nix its SuperBowl budget and push $20 million into social media. Now Coca-Cola and Unilever have decided to move deeper
into social media by using social networks to ‘break’ campaigns, as
well as relying on their own campaign sites. For example, Coca-Cola has
unveiled a new Glaceau Vitaminwater
flavour called Connect – the result of a competition run on the brand’s
Facebook site, which gave fans the opportunity to design the new
flavour.

Good lord – is it really Easter already?
Cadbury’s have launched www.cremeegg.co.uk, where fans are encouraged
to hunt down various Creme eggs to be found roaming the internet, on
sites including MSN, Yahoo and YouTube.

Lego has launched a campaign to celebrate what it calls those ‘click’ moments
– when the solution to a Lego build problem suddenly pings into a
user’s head. They’re offering an app which will ‘Lego-ize’ a photo -
available from a hub site called LegoClick.com, from which users can
also post descriptions of their own ‘lightbulb’ moments of creativity
to the Lego Facebook page.

Stateside social media star-brand Best Buy is launching in the UK
– and they’ve unveiled a British website and social media presence, to
prepare their passage. Content through both these channels will
eventually include videos, blogs and images from Best Buy’s bloggers –
plus details of the 8,000 jobs that the brand hopes to create in their
first five years in the UK.

Hoorah – a triumph for the mystery creators of the ‘bra colour’ Facebook meme,
which saw thousands of Facebookers updating their status according to
the colour of the bra they were wearing – successfully raising
awareness of breast cancer.

Domino’s latest ad campaign trumpets the astonishing turnaround
they’ve pulled off – by listening to their consumers. The daring
‘documentary’ – which features Domino’s staff taking on board many
negative comments about the brand, and working to improve their product
– was inspired in large part by monitoring consumer comments about the
brand on social media channels.

Evian’s taking Roller Babies – their 45m-views YouTube hit – to Facebook, where they are already effortlessly gliding towards 200,000 fans.

Following the 2007 return, due to customer demand, of the Wispa bar, Cadbury’s is putting social media at the heart
of its latest campaign. The brand is allowing fans to personalise its
Wispa webpage, suggest ideas for the content, and vote on how they
think the site should be developed.

Huggies wants proud parents to upload photos and video of their little darlings,
in a new campaign called ‘Everyday Discoveries’ – the ten winning
babies will star in a storybook illustrated by Disney artists.

Super-social brand Harley-Davidson called on fans to submit photos of
themselves and their bikes – and has now used 10,000 images to create a
giant mosaic of their logo.

Travelocity has launched another ‘Roaming Gnome’ campaign,
in which the touring elf encourages consumers to vote for one of three
of his trips on Travelocity’s social networking pages, as well as
upload photos of their own winter trips.

Trident has used authentic, unsponsored tweets from happy chewers of their ‘Trident Layers’ gum in their latest campaign – which they’re calling ‘The People Have Tweeted’.

Home decoration specialist Umbra will be giving a dollar to each of its Facebook fans who successfully refer a friend to the brand’s fan page. The campaign will run until the pot collectively reaches $1000.

Equator Estate Coffee, who make artisanal coffees and teas, are experimenting with turning their Facebook page into an online store: the public will be able to make purchases without leaving the site.

Guiness have teamed up with Google Earth to launch a social media campaign in which users can invite their friends to help to create a virtual version
of their part of the planet – until the entire globe is virtually
represented. The winner will get a year’s supply of the iconic stout.

Nivea want consumers to “have more love, hugs and kisses in 2010″ – and it’s asking them to upload a virtual hug or kiss
to build the Nivea XOXO Chain. The skincare brand will donate $1 to the
charity ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters’ for every each entry.

Visitors to NYC’s Times Square have been taking part in the latest campaign around Kodak’s huge digital display – an app that lets them upload their own photo to the mega-sign, and control when it appears.

Finally, to get you up and at ‘em for the new decade, take a look at Vitrue’s Social Media Index,
which tells you everything about which social brands generated the most
consumer buzz through social media over the last year (clue: iPhone
won.) And to top it off, here’s Netimperative’s list of the Top Ten online marketing campaigns
of the previous ten years. The winner, most fittingly for the social
decade, is the Mentos-Coke viral – despite the fact that neither brand
was involved in the making of the ads

SOCIAL STATS …

US internet users, who now number 80% of the adult population, spend 13 hours a week
online – up from eight hours in 2003. What’s more, half of them have
bought online in the last month, according to Harris Interactive.

Meanwhile, research by PostRelease and Synovate has revealed that one
in five Americans contribute to an online forum – and those that do are
more influential, both online and offline.
The 20% who are active forum members are considerably more likely to
recommend products, share links and advice, and help a friend make a
buying decision.

What’s more, 26% of UK consumers place online recommendations higher than those of friends and family in importance, according to Weber Shandwick – and

SheSpeaks reports that 80% of female Internet users
say they’ve fanned a product or brand on a social network in the last
year, and 72% had found out about a new product there. A full 50% had
made a purchase based on content they’d seen on a social network – a
considerable leap from 2008 figures.

Unsurprisingly then, a survey by Bazaarvoice and The CMO Club found that a hefty 62% of chief marketing officers planned to hike their social media budgets
next year. Industries polled including software, finance and insurance,
travel and hospitality, media and publishing, consumer goods and retail
– but over 50% of them were still uncertain about the precise ROI of
social media, and 63% were still ‘undecided’ about the extent to which data from social media sites helps them learn about their brand and its customers.

UK broadband speeds grew 22% in 2009, perhaps adding to a cheering 15.5% jump in the UK’s online spending figures, according to SpendingPulse. And eBay predicts that by 2020, 1 in 5 UK pounds will be spent online – with some categories like electrical goods and books overtaking off-line sales.

Across the pond, comScore reports that the figures for holiday e-tail were up 5% year-on-year, hitting an astonishing $27 billion in online sales – a humongous $30 million of which was spent on virtual gift-giving during November and December, per PlaySpan.

ON MOBILE …

Business users will be the target market for Google’s next Nexus smartphone – and the new version might even have an actual keyboard, according to Reuters.

Web analytics firm Compete report that nearly 2 in 5 smartphone users have used their devices to buy something
unrelated to their mobile. Books, DVDs and video games in the lead -
though a frustrated 8% who tried to buy via their handsets couldn’t get
the site to load.

They were most likely to be making their purchases using an iPhone 3G, which is currently the most popular single phone with US users according to Nielsen.

UNDER THE GAVEL …

Kodak has launched a US suit against Apple
and Research in Motion, the makers of the Blackberry. They claim that
the technology which both the iPhone and the Blackberry use to preview
pictures, in fact infringes Kodak patents.

And a US federal appellate court has confirmed an earlier decision that review site ConsumerAffairs.com was immune from liability
for posts by its users. The posts, which a New York car dealer claimed
had defamed him, included comments about prices and fees.

VIRTUAL AND GAMES …

Social gaming giant Zynga abandoned in-game ‘offers’ at the end of
2009, after a spate of accusations about scam ads signing players up
for goods and services which they had not agreed to. Now they’ve
announced that they’re bringing them back, albeit from a tightly controlled roster of eight advertisers.

Elsewhere, Korea has become the only country in which virtual currency is legally agreed to be equivalent to real-world cash – with sweeping implications for the online gaming industry, according to Massively.

THINKING …

Finally, if one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to spend a little
more time cogitating, why not dip into this smorgasbord of
food-for-thought?

360 Degree Digital Influence offer this comprehensive exploration of crisis management in social media;

Last Exit examine the pros and cons of Crowdsourcing – here’s what to look out for when using an online community to develop a brand, product or campaign;

And Brian Solis ponders
the story-so-far for Social Media, and looks at predictions that its
coalescence with plain old ‘media’ is coming sooner rather than later.

That’s all folks!