I’m not sure about the purpose of this commercial which I tend to find very depressing and not really inspiring. Facebook is understandably under pressure from its investors for monetising after it’s disappointing IPO and a flurry of announcements were made recently in that domain, not always convincing by the way.
I am neither certain this campaign will help sell on site advertising nor that this will help improve Facebook’s image in the eyes of its disgruntled investors.
On day 3 of the blogger bus tour we had the opportunity to meet face to face with two young start-up managers from San Francisco based Social Chorus an “influence marketing” company named Social Chorus. We were able to spend a whole hour with them and discuss influence, influencers, people-powered marketing and … “the power of the middle”, a concept which I have found particularly appealing.
Nicole Alvino (above) is SVP and co-founder of Social Chorus, she was “employee number two” in the company. Bobby Isaacson (below), senior Manager, implementation has been as Social Chorus for about three years now (he admitted “feeling like a dinosaur” which sounds strange for such a young man) and does business development that is to say that he sets up partnerships with other companies, in order to be part of their ecosystem.
Social Chorus (the company was in fact renamed in February 2012 and is the result of the merger of youcast and the halogen media group) is a social marketing/influencer platform. The main problem the company is solving is that it is virtually impossible for customers to figure out whether influencers are really influential. This is in essence, what Social Chorus is about: it provides both a tool and service for finding influencers (they might not just be bloggers, but also power twitter users for instance. There are two offices, one in New York City and one in San Francisco.
NYC and SF: a world of difference…
To European eyes, those two cities might appear very similar but in fact, according to Bobby and Nicole, they are very different. New York is more about media and advertising and agencies, whereas Silicon Valley and San Francisco have always been, at least since the seventies onwards, more about high tech. But this is not all. Mentalities are also very different. Bonding is more difficult in NYC, a very large metropolis where, according to our discussion, people and companies tend to keep things for themselves, rather than share and get together in Californian fashion. And this is what makes all the difference. As I described in my post about Rocketplace, a lot of what happens in Silicon Valley is down to the ecosystem. San Francisco has a leg up in that game. Only Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas are adopting the West Coast spirit our hosts both declared.
social media at the forefront of investment
Start-up investment has changed too according to Nicole. “2 years ago, investment was more into media and advertising, now it’s a lot more about social media” she said. This is changing the ball game, Nicole said, “now that agencies are becoming more social they are tending to move over to SF”.
topical and brand influencers … not who you think
Social Choris is aiming at “brands wanting to become more human and having relationships with influencers” Bobby added. But how do you identify them and how can you tell they are really influential? “it’s a combination of art and science” Bobby went on. “There are topical and brand influencers” he said. Social Chorus will traditionally tap into its 1.5 million influencers database but they might also use Kred and Klout. Sometimes the best influencers are niche bloggers through .
social media influence: the pyramid metaphor
“Imagine a pyramid” Bobby went on: “PR handles the celebs, super fans and topical bloggers are in the middle and at the bottom, you have the vast majority of fans and readers who click and comment”. They might not be bloggers, they could just be twitteres for instance. Social Chorus’s focus of the solution is measuring the impact of a conversation with influencers. Manage the relationship over time.
the “power of the middle”
As soon as I can, I will also post a video interview of Nicole in which she explains that most brands are wrong to focus on just the top celebrities. “This can become pretty expensive soon” she said. I would also add that celebrities are often too self-centred in order to be generous. All middle tier influencers on the contrary are more open and more prone to become brand advocates because they will want to develop a relationship in the long term with the brand.
only 10-20% of agencies are ready to do that for themselves
Social Chorus is working with agencies like Edelman, Ketchum and others. It’s mostly agencies who are delivering this service to clients, but there are a few clients like Gatorade for instance who do this for themselves. “What we find is that the interest in that space exceeds the knowledge of how it works” Bobby declared. As a result, only 10-20% of the brand on average are willing to do this by themselves.
One of Social Chorus’s biggest challenges though is to hire developers; there is a lot of competition for developers. A very skilled developer in the valley can be paid $100 k and even up to $ 200 k if he has very special skills it’s commonly said here. As a matter of fact, as an entrepreneur told me at an after work party last night: “the developer in question might even be paid more than the project manager he reports to!”.
Social Chorus can operate over 3 different countries: UK, US and Germany. They will soon launch a new version in 2013, which will extend the service to other countries.
Below is an email I received this very morning. Twitter has just changed its strategy – according to the issuer – and LinkedIn, as a result, will no longer be able to relay your tweets automatically. This is a new battle between the warring factions of social media platforms and this is just a beginning. The various players in the social media space are all trying to keep your clicks and the name of the game is … advertising. Those who had though – benignly – that building a network patiently was a free asset – unless you are rich and wealthy and you have already purchased your “fans” – will now discover that paying for your posts to be read is no longer an option. Facebook has already started that. For instance, Google no longer lets you tweet YouTube videos unless you click quite a few submenus, Facebook took over Instagram in order to undercut Pinterest even before it had time to take off, Picasa will send all your photos to Google+ even before you have had a chance to realise you have pressed the upload button and mostly before you wished you had shared them on Facebook instead. And so on, and so forth … The good old Web 2.0 is well and truly dead by now, we are in a dog eats dog kind of world and the future’s middlename is advertising. What did you say? “Net Neutrality?” … honestly, what are you talking about?!
At least, using LinkedIn’s workaround which requires you probably click on ten more links, you will probably still have a chance to send something through Twitter … Good luck with it!
From LinkedIn Fri Jun 29 18:54:34 2012
Apparently-To: email@example.com via 188.8.131.52
Fri, 29 Jun 2012 18:54:40 –0700
LinkedIn and Twitter have worked together since 2009 to enable you to share your professional conversations on both platforms. Twitter recently evolved its strategy and this will result in a change to the way Tweets appear in third-party applications. Starting today Tweets will no longer be displayed on LinkedIn.
We know that sharing updates from LinkedIn to Twitter is a valuable service for our members. Moving forward, you will still be able to share updates with your Twitter audience by posting them on LinkedIn.
How can I continue to share updates on both LinkedIn and Twitter?Simply start your conversation on LinkedIn. Compose your update, check the box with the Twitter icon, and click “Share.” This will automatically push your update to both your LinkedIn connections and your Twitter followers just as before.
What changes can I expect to see on LinkedIn? Any conversation you start on Twitter will no longer be automatically shared with your LinkedIn network, even if you synced your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
If you would like more information about what this means for your synced LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, please visit our related Help Center topics.
The aim of this study was not to be comprehensive either. What Sofrecom have wanted to do is to highlight the main trends in social media in emerging countries. Chrystel started with a little sketch (right) defining a “social” network showing how (virtual) networks of people can be intertwined. With user generated content (UGC), content gets published online, and even though you are not a media, there are many chances that some people are going to see your content; your contacts will see it and then your contacts’ contacts etc.
She then replaced Social networks within the slightly larger framework of “social media” (which I had covered before in my presentation). There are different types of tools within Social Media, from blogs to microblogs and wikis and, eventually social networks proper. There are 2 types of social media platforms which make up a first axis: content centric such as youtube of Flickr, and communications centric such as Facebook, Orkut etc. The two are sort of joined at the hip though because they are both about content, but the approach is radically different. Then there are 3 more types on the second axis: collaborative such as wikipedia, community orientated or deal oriented (crowdsourcing, social e-commerce for the latter catregory). Eventually, Chrystel showed us that completed matrix showing how all these tools can be spread out across this two axes (above, click to enlarge).
Twitter is an issue because it can’t really be squeezed into the “social network” box as it is more of a tool than a social network. As to crowdsourcing, there are sites like e-Stockphoto which is reshaping the photo market, as a lot of media are using them now vs. traditional agencies (we could have added fotolia, here’s a link to my page as an example).
Main trends in local services
Different countries have been investigated, it is not meant to be comprehensive though. Commercial Services and Crowdfunding have been zoomed in in the rest of Christelle’s presentation.
Watwet (note: the server was down when I tried it, so here is the cached version) is microblogging focused on Arab populations, it’s open, whatever country you are from. Zoopy is like youtube or Flickr. The service was launched in South Africa. Now we can see that some of the videos are coming from other English-speaking countries. They are both open solutions.
Facebook is not providing any specific value to local countries in these regions. Veepiz for is just like that. They are using the Facebook platform but provide a local service based on top of Facebook and let users be on their own environment. They do that with Twitter as well so that users have the best of both worlds. It’s coopetition. Veepiz integrates other social networks but provides local value.
nov 20, 2010 adendum and clarification by the owners of Veepiz: “Just to clarify, veepiz is not built ontop of facebook platform. its all hand coded and has its own unique platform. for more goto http://www.veepiz.com or our bloghttp://veepiz.wordpress.com“
FrontlineSMS: many services, blogs etc. in Africa are becoming social. FrontlineSMS is a Yammer-like two-way SMS platform which has developed its activity for NGOs. They have created a community. The platform helps NGO employees communicate amongst themselves. The platform is free for NGOs.
Crowdsourcing: this is about making the user at the centre of the service. It’s up to the user to decide whether he wants to collaborate. The idea is not to just let people complain about the service but to let them be part of the improvement of that service. There are 4 domains to which crowdsourcing applies: knowledge sharing, task force, real time information and funding
Kiva is well known and is about micro funding. People go to the web and fund a project. You don’t win anything apart from the pride of being part of something.
txteagle is a task force example
iYammobi and Kerawa are examples of knowledge sharing. Kerawa is about small ads; say if you are looking for a flat in Cameroon. It’s working in most sub-saharian countries and enjoying good success in that region.
Ushahidi is a sample real time information example: it was used in Haiti after the quake to map needs for medicine and or in Atlanta to inform people about robberies being committed
For small ads, in emerging countries and namely in Sub Saharian regions, ebay cannot provide the right kind of service whereas Kerawa can. There are still many opportunities in the Middle East and Africa for services like this to be provided for local people.
Facts and figures
there are sites on which one can find interesting data about Middle East social media usage: