Update: My post below created a great deal of discussion about Twitter Auto DMs and whether they are welcome and worthwhile or unwelcome and damaging to senders' reputations. Because of the diversity of opinion, I created a brief 10-question survey and invite you to complete the survey and then share it with your followers on Twitter. The survey should take less than 3 or 4 minutes to complete, so please visit: http://blogs.forrester.com/augie_ray/10-11-02-please_complete_a_brief_su... or http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CFSTQ3D. I'll share all of the data here on the Forrester blogs in a week or two!
MySpace has seemed passé ever since Facebook lapped MySpace two years ago, but the news of MySpace’s demise was always a bit exaggerated. While Facebook catapulted to international success, MySpace continued to chug along with tens of millions of unique visitors each month. It’s still the 40th most popular site globally according to Alexa, and when Forrester published our report on Peer Influence Analysis and Mass Influencers, many were surprised when the Q4 2009 data demonstrated more influence impressions on MySpace than on Twitter. But while MySpace perhaps wasn’t getting the due it deserved, there was no doubt its importance to marketers and its influence in the social media world was on the wane. Change is in the air — soon a new MySpace will launch that will help it regain some of that lost luster.
Make no mistake — the days of MySpace as a general-purpose social network taking on Facebook are long gone, and MySpace recognizes this. Instead, as has long been rumored, the revitalized MySpace is focusing on entertainment, and this means connecting with Facebook and Twitter rather than competing with them.
Rewarding people for "liking" a brand on Facebook has created some eye-popping headlines. Bing offered FarmVille players three units of "Farm Cash" for friending the search engine on Facebook, and the outcome was 400,000 new fans in a day. Einstein Bagels offered a free bagel to new fans and increased its fan count from 4,700 to near 350,000 in three days. It's hard to argue with success, but could tactics like these come back to haunt brands as the next generation of search evolves in the coming years?
Bing recently launched a new social feature on its search engine. If you're logged into Facebook when you conduct a search on Bing, you will see specially highlighted search results of links or brands that your Facebook friends have liked. The "Liked Results" feature makes sense--it's as if your friends are beside you as you search and chiming in with their personal recommendations.
Facebook owns spectacular portions of its users’ time and has the right to use their data; this is the basis for Facebook’s significant revenue potential and is a great reason why we should hold Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to very high standards. But Facebook’s success is not nearly sufficient cause for the level of demonization that occurs today in popular media and among social media insiders. Facebook deserves the scrutiny it receives, but the excessive reputational lynching that is underway could result in outcomes that are contrary to the interests of both consumers and marketers.
How bad has the Facebook scaremongering gotten today? I opened my latest issue of Maxim to find “The 12 Most Dangerous Men in the World: Meet the Dirty Dozen who very well could be the last people you see before you die.” And there, stuck between the Mexican drug lord who uses severed heads as a warning to rivals and the Jamaican drug lord responsible for street battles, is Mark Zuckerberg. To be fair, the magazine was being comical, citing as a threat “annoying people from your past ‘friending’ you” and including Brian Austin Green in the same list; still the casual and easily accepted association between Facebook and evil is not without repercussions.
Community is an ideal toward which all social networks should aspire. In a true community, everybody is pulling for everybody else, sharing whatever assistance, expertise, and insight they possess with anybody who might benefit.
We all know that most communities are a bit more one-sided than that. In most communities, most people are essentially there for the ride, contributing little while benefiting from whatever resources the more generous among them have chosen to share. This is not necessarily a criticism of individuals or of society in general, but rather a recognition that as communities scale beyond close personal relationships, the bonds of reciprocity and altruism often grow weak.
This truism applies just as much to customer communities as to any other. Enterprises have avidly adopted social networks as virtual extensions to such customer relationship management (CRM) functions as call centers and user groups. In the new world of social-network customer communities leveraging blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other channels, it is not uncommon that a handful of individuals post most of the useful content and feedback while the majority simply consume without contributing. And that’s fine, as long as you keep encouraging and incentivizing these actively engaged individuals —whom Forrester refers to as CRM highly empowered and resourceful operatives (HEROes) — to keep the useful content coming. In the final analysis, these are the sorts of individuals — expert customer service professionals, longtime customers, or even highly enthusiastic hobbyists — who can spell all the difference between true community and a haphazard scattering of nominally affiliated strangers.
One of the reasons marketing on social networks is so popular is that the consumers a brand can reach are largely active, vocal and willing to connect -- with each other and with their favorite brands. But did you know that 22% of US online adults with cellphones access their social networks via mobile at least monthly? In my new report, I explore research that shows that these particular social networking users are even more active, vocal and willing to connect than the general population.
Consumers who access social networks via mobile over-index on every rung of the Social Technographics® ladder, except for inactives. More interesting? Mobile social users have specific, focused intentions that differ from desktop mobile users: They're interested in immediacy, entertainment, and in knowing which of their friends and favorite places are physically nearby.
Keeping in mind the specific interests of these extremely socially active consumers, marketers can optimize their already-existing social campaigns to make them even more successful for mobile users. For recommendations on how to optimize your own campaigns with little additional effort or cost, check out the full report.
Have you already optimized your social messaging for mobile users? If so, I'd love to hear what you changed and what the results were. Head to the comments section to share your case studies!
Today’s Bing news is very interesting, not because the new functionality that Microsoft and Facebook announced is terribly powerful, but because it demonstrates how the next great evolution of search will occur. In brief, Bing announced two new ways it is introducing social data into its search results:
Enhancing results with Facebook Likes: If you search on Bing and your Facebook friends have "liked" something related to your search term, you will see those "likes" highlighted within your search results. The idea behind this functionality is that something your friend "likes" will be more interesting to you than other search results.
Facebook profile search: Bing reports that more than 4% of searches are for people. Of course, trying to find a particular Bob Smith can be a challenge, which is why Bing will utilize your Facebook network to help you find the Bob Smith that is most likely the one you seek.
Barring any unforeseen technical difficulties, I'll be livetweeting from the Facebook press event tomorrow, October 6, 2010. Facebook hasn't said what the event is about, but speculation is circulating about a Skype integration, an evite-like event feature, Facebook credits or enhanced social gaming.
If you're curious, follow me on Twitter (@augieray) or watch the widget below for a live feed of tweets from Facebook in Palo Alto, Calif. The event is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am PDT/1:30 pm PDT.