Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Twitter - Worlds Fastest Growing Search Engine!

Which is the fastest growing search engine on the internet? Any guesses? The most common answers would be Google and Bing. Some users might even believe that Wolfram Alpha and Baidu might have a chance as well. The answer is bound to surprise most users because the world’s fastest growing search engine isn’t actually a search engine. It’s Twitter!
Already considered to be the world’s fastest growing micro-blogging site and world’s most popular social network, Twitter has just added another feather in its cap by being crowned the world’s fastest growing search engine.
800 Million Search Queries Everyday
Twitter receives a whopping 800 million search queries everyday. Prorate that for a month and it comes out to nearly 24 billion queries per month. That’s a hell lot of search traffic. In fact, it’s more than the combined search traffic of Yahoo and Bing.
In contrast, Google has nearly 88 billion search queries per month. While Twitter has a long way to catch up with Google, it is growing at an astonishing pace as compared to the latter. Twitter has already added nearly 33% more traffic in the last one year and its increasing popularity is becoming a matter of concern for Google. That’s another good reason why Google will buy Twitter.
Not Just a Social Network
One of the major reasons behind Twitter’s all round popularity is that it wears many hats. It isn’t a pure social network and neither does it classify as a search engine. It is an amalgamation of the best of all worlds – microblogging, social networking, social marketing, online shopping, online advertising, news, and search.
Given the variety of information needs served by Twitter, it is hardly surprising that it enjoys far greater popularity than any other social network be it Facebook or Myspace.
Live Updates
Twitter is increasingly being used over other search engines to find live updates on current events. The FIFA 2010 World Cup is a case in point. There are several other examples – the G20 protests in Toronto, the earthquake in Central Canada in late June, which signify Twitter’s increasing dominance when it comes to finding real time information about time sensitive topics.
Twitter vs. Google
Though many people believe that a comparison between Google and Twitter is unfair, I personally believe that Twitter is looking well poised to challenge Google’s search supremacy. Of course, it is a mountainous task to topple Google but it’s not impossible.
The first thing that Twitter needs to do is to sort out its stability issues. The “Twitter is over capacity” blue whale thing happens way too often for anybody’s comfort. Next, Twitter needs some advanced search options like the ones offered by Google. Add in some innovative out of the box thinking and a smart implementation and you can set the alarm bells ringing at Google Inc.
I personally believe that Twitter and Google are the two companies which will have the biggest say in redefining the future of the internet. If they can work together, that would be great. Else, it might be a mouth-watering prospect to see Twitter challenge the mighty Google.
After all, a few years back Google took over the reins from Microsoft and Yahoo as the premiere search engine. So, I don’t see any reason why Twitter might not take over the reins from Google Inc.!
What are your thoughts on this? Leave your comments below. - The Best in Social Business

How To Manage Your Social Media Marketing In 10 Minutes Daily

Nathan Hangan, Social Media Examiner
Social media isn’t something that we’re born to do. Yes, we’re social creatures by nature, but let’s face it… you were plenty busy before Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn came along.
The truth is, most marketers simply don’t have the time to use all of these tools on a daily basis.
So the trick is to create and maintain a social media presence in as little time as possible, while remaining effective and worthwhile.
Here are three tips to manage your social media presence in as little as 10 minutes per day.
#1: Take One Platform Bite at a Time
Will you need a solid presence on Twitter and Facebook if you want to rock social media? Probably, but it doesn’t mean you have to get it all going at once.
If you only have 10 minutes to work with, then you’ll have to focus, which means that you shouldn’t try to divide your time among all platforms equally.
For those getting started
Don’t try to master each platform at once. Pick one and get that platform up and running before you jump to the next. If it’s Facebook, then take the time to get your Facebook page set up properly. If you decide to start with Twitter, then read this guide to get started.
This means you’ll need proper branding (images, messaging, etc.), a proper bio, a decent FBML page and an active wall.
Focus on getting each part perfected before you move to the next, but in the end, it’s the wall that counts.
By asking questions when you post a link on Facebook, you can encourage engagement.
For those already rolling
If you’ve already got everything set up the way you need it, then I recommend that you alternate between platforms on a daily basis. Ten minutes spent on Facebook in one day is better than 3 to 4 minutes every day.
Juggling doesn’t work, so take it one platform at a time.
#2: Respond to Your Fans
Many companies feel the need to talk first and respond later. This isn’t going to work.
First, most people aren’t listening to you. They’re waiting for you to respond. This is especially true of consumers.
Even though this might seem like a drag, the reality is that it’s an opportunity for you to create an excellent experience and add to your company’s narrative. If you can make a difference with just one reply, then you’re golden.
So… spend the most significant portion of your time responding to @’s, messages, wall posts, and most importantly… putting out fires.
This boils down to being an effective listener and having done a good job of setting up listening stations, while simultaneously being ready and willing to embrace detractors by meeting them on their turf and doing your best to take away their ammunition.
If you’re dealing with a light day (no complaints), then spend time getting to know your people better. Don’t differentiate between customers and prospects, because anyone can become a brand evangelist if you treat him right.
If this takes your 10 minutes, then at least you’ve spent time on the important side of social media, which is improving and repairing relationships.
Look at how Facebook responds to complaints about their recent changes via Twitter. Not only did they adjust their policies, but they adjusted their messaging as well.
#3: Reach Out And Help People
Pick an off-day to reach out and lend a hand to people who don’t expect it.
Many times, this can be a random person in a Facebook group, or even someone tweeting a question about your particular industry or niche.
Don’t ask them to follow you and don’t link a product. Simply seek out those who need help using searches and your networking skills, and give them what they need.
Might this lead to an invitation to join you on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog? Sure, but that’s not the goal.
The goal is to get on people’s radar, and get them talking about you.
It’s highly possible that the people needing your help the most don’t actually know who you are, and just as you wouldn’t shove a business card in someone’s face at a conference (you wouldn’t, right?), you shouldn’t shove a link down a Twitter or Facebook user’s throat.
Just extend a helping hand so that they know who you are and how to find you. That’s it.
Once you’re good at doing this, you should be able to hit both Twitter and Facebook in less than 5 minutes. A tweet takes what, 10 seconds? In 5 minutes you should be able to send out 6 to 12 tweets and reply to a dozen Facebook threads.
If you’re worried about doing too much at once, then use a service like Social Oomph to schedule your replies. There’s nothing wrong with scheduling an authentic tweet, especially if it prevents the appearance of spam.
I’m not a customer of Blue Sky Factory, but they sure as heck treat me (and others like me) as if I were one.
Pick Your Poison
Each of these three steps is important, and each will help you rock the social media universe. The key really is to focus on one or two actions per day, and leave the rest for tomorrow.
Obviously, putting out fires is important, but don’t get wrapped up in it. There’s always another fire.
The same is true of replies. You don’t have to reply to everything. Sometimes a blanket statement will do, while other times a tweet to a blog post will do.
If you’re hearing a lot of the same thing, then maybe it’s time to address it on your website so that you can send the message to everyone at once.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of just hanging out. Marketing messages often go unnoticed on Twitter and Facebook. Let your actions tell the story and your interaction be the message.
Don’t try too hard to stand out. Believe it or not, doing the opposite might earn you all the respect you need. - The Best in Social Business

Where there’s rubbish there’s a social business opportunity

One type of social business that I particularly like to work with are businesses which are meeting some sort of environmental need.
At the Danone Social Innovation Lab last month, I chatted with several Danoners (and their NGO partners) from around the world who were involved in setting up social businesses which had an environmental impact, including Gonzalo Roque and Martin de Ferrari from Buenos Aires, Argentina. They were planning to set up a business to improve the quality and quantity of plastic recycling in Argentina. You can see my interview with them here:
The main thing that interested me in what they were doing was that there were clear social, environmental and business benefits from the work they planned to do. The way plastics are currently recycled – by people working informally, and selling plastic on to middlemen – was largely unsatisfactory. The prices people got varied a lot – as the middlemen tended to exploit people – who were themselves reliant on the prices being paid by China for plastic. That meant they couldn’t always make a living out of it – and as a result children would often join their parents in the search for plastic bottles. The quality of the plastic that was processed was often poor – making it more difficult to re-use. And that made it more difficult for Danone to reach their ambitious targets for use of recycled plastics in their bottles.
It makes it easier to do the right thing environmentally if it also makes sense financially. This morning I’ve spent an inspiring few hours with SCRAP – a scrapstore in Leeds which takes business waste and sells it on for creative re-use. It’s a great way to divert a good few tonnes of waste from landfill – whilst also helping people to be creative.
What I like about them is that they are really committed to finding a way to make their social enterprise stand up as a social business. Traditionally they’ve had some funding – but not much – and my work with them is to help them to develop further so that they can generate more income and do more good.
Our affluence has made us a bit lazy and complacent when it comes to how we use the world’s resources. Maybe now, with the environment and our economy looking increasingly fragile, we’re rediscovering that thrift and respect for nature make financial sense as well as environmental sense.

Courtesy of The Social Business by Rob Greenland - The Best in Social Business

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Snoop Dogg Blows Up Truck For Mafia Wars

Last week, rapper Snoop Dogg promoted the social online game Mafia Wars by blowing up an armored truck in the middle of the Nevada desert. Video of the event garnered 2 million live views on Ustream.
Las Vegas was recently added as a playable city in the social game Mafia Wars, and game-maker Zynga has been trying to promote the expansion in creative ways. Believe it or not, Snoop Dogg’s explosive antics aren’t the most controversial or unusual gimmick; Zynga contracted ad agency Davis Elen to distribute fake $25,000 bills on the sidewalks of San Francisco as well. Anyone who picked up the bills found a web address for the Mafia Wars website.
That campaign drew criticism from San Francisco City Hall, which claimed that it involved illegal littering that cost the city a significant amount of money to clean.
To our knowledge, the Snoop Dogg video hasn’t made anyone angry yet. Its two million views onUstreamustreammade it the most-viewed single event on the live video site in 2010 thus far. That level of viewership matches some network TV programs.
Snoop Dogg was already a Ustream star before this; his album launch became an online reality TV broadcast several months ago. And don’t forget that he sold branded virtual goods in the online social game WeeWorld just a few days ago. It looks like this rapper is in his element here. Who would have thought?
Here’s the video from the official Mafia Wars YouTube channel.

Get Free Social Media Data From Viral Heat

Social media analytics company ViralHeat is giving away free access to a treasure trove of data from Twitter, Facebook and a number of other social properties, all housed within the site’s more than 4,000 topic-based profiles.
The company’s revamped ViralHeat Social Trends offering gives users a fast and simple way to create their own auto-updating social media charts, which can be embedded as widgets elsewhere on the web, as well. Users can pull data and sentiment analysis from member-generated topic profiles spanning topics such as news, entertainment, music, sports and politics to create their own charts.
The idea is to help individuals capture and track real-time buzz and sentiment around an event, movie, celebrity or product with convenient widget-like charts optimized for sharing and embedding. The most obvious use case is for bloggers and publishers looking to supplement breaking news stories with live social media analysis on the topics they’re covering.
Social Trends will also give users access to ViralHeat’s repository of social media infographics.
On the business side of things, ViralHeat will be working with brands and publishers to harness these social media charts for custom offerings — think stylized dashboards for always-updating social media analysis. ESPN is a launch partner. The sports media company will be launching a custom chart on to highlight the social media power rankings for each of the 32 teams in the NFL. That initiative is slated to go live in the first week of September.
For brands, marketers, agencies and consultants, we’d like to know if you find this kind of information helpful. In the comments, tell us what kinds of social media analytics you use and whether Social Trends is an interesting product for you and your business.

Courtesy of Mashable - The Best in Social Business

Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Social Business Landscape

The blurring of the lines between the consumer Internet and the business world has continued apace this year. I’ve begun referring to this phenomenon as CoITwhen it happens in the workplace, but that’s not quite the full story either. What has happened is that social media has become one of the biggest mass changes in global behavior in a generation (since the advent of the Internet itself.) Over the last few years, the meme around social has filtered down into countless activities and processes across the business world, giving rise to now significant trends like Enterprise 2.0Social CRMcustomer communities, and so on. Keeping track of all this has officially become a full-time job and those just getting familiar with the Social Business world have a lot to absorb to get oriented.
To help with keeping up with the fast moving pace of Social Business, we’ve created a useful new model aimed at helping you stay up-to-date with the major moving parts of Social Business today. We define Social Business here as the distinct process of applying social media to meet business objectives.

The Social Business Power Map, presented above, is an attempt to identify the major social media trends, how they can be mapped generally along consumer/enterprise axes, and where they are in terms of their overall maturity level today. Note that many of the aspects of social media in the consumer Web side is also heavily used in the enterprise side, while the reverse is generally not the case. This map is as exhaustive as space allows but inevitably some items had to be omitted. Any all such omissions are my fault alone. The items on this Power Map are rated on the following scale:
  1. Buzz: A newer social media trend, technology, or approach that is both compelling and getting attention at the moment but its staying power and ultimate fate are still unclear.
  2. Experimentation: These currently have some fairly widespread interest but lack of broad commitment from either Web companies or businesses. They may eventually hit mainstream adoption, but may also enter the dustbin of Social Business if they fail to show promise.
  3. Adoption: These are aspects of social media which are currently experiencing broad uptake but have not yet broken out to a majority audience. They are all likely to become mainstream. It’s still possible that some of them will fade away before then or be replaced by something newer though it’s not highly likely.
  4. Maturity: These are all widely used and very popular aspects of social media. They all have global reach and most Internet users either consume or participate in them. Note that enterprise social media currently has no aspects that are yet in a mature state, but that will likely change soon with Enterprise 2.0, customer communities, and Social Media Marketing about to cross over.
The following major social media trends were identified as significant players at the moment, either because they are currently receiving a lot of attention or they are getting a notable real-world uptake.

The Elements of the Social Business Power Map

In rough order from top to bottom, this list represents what those in social media need a good grasp of at a strategic level in order to be effective. Depending on your industry, specific ratings on the maturity scale may be slightly different, but all of these elements must be in the vocabulary of those seeking to tap into the business benefits.
  • Social Analytics. Effectively participating in social media as an organization requires a lot of listening, but how do you make sense of the totality of what you’ve heard? Enter social analytics, which has recently seen a major uptick, from virtually no discussion of it in 2008. Many organizations are now realizing that, like Web analytics was early on in Web, social analytics will be crucial for obtaining a strategic understanding of what’s taking place in social media, either on the Internet or within their organizations. The hold-up preventing widespread experimentation in social analytics at the moment is that there are still too few vendors and even fewer compelling and mature products.
  • Social Dashboards. iGoogle showed how many people would use a dashboard (hundreds of millions) and now there are now too many dashboard products for social media to count. They range from feed readers to apps like the popularTweetDeck, which provide a convenient way to consume and participate with Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FourSquare, and others. Enterprise equivalents now exist, and are typically included as features of the more mature enterprise social software suites. At this time, most users are experimenting with social dashboards but they have not collectively broken out into a full-on adoption climb. Aggregating of social experiences will become increasingly important however and dashboards are well positioned to solve a significant portion of the channel fragmentation challenge of social media.
  • Microblogging. With the rise of Twitter and its approximately 200 million users, microblogging has hit it big though it’s still not quite mainstream. The convenience and format of microblogging ensures that just about anyone can participate and this has made it very popular online and increasingly so in many businesses today. However, social networks remain overall more compelling for many despite often having a similar status message format. Those seeking the simplest and most straightforward social experience however are finding microblogging attractive. Expect microblogging to proceed to the mainstream level in the next year or two in the consumer side and a year or two later in the enterprise space, for which the tools are still emerging.
  • Mobile Social. I covered this more detail in my recent Six Social Business Trends To Watch post. The world of social media is moving to mobile devices in a big way this year. Social networking apps for iPhone and Android remain among the top applications for those devices, particularly each platforms’ respective apps for Facebook. More compellingly, some of the most interesting new mobile social apps, like FourSquare, will only really function on GPS-enabled devices. Mobile social is on a fast rising adoption curve and will hit the mainstream in relatively short order (as in next year) as new large-scale usage trends take hold, such as the move entirely away from desktops, and even laptops, towards truly capable mobile devices like smartphones and slates (also known as ultra mobiles) such as the iPad. As for enterprise adoption, a recent survey by Citrix indicated that surprising 84% of businesses will not only allow iPads in the workplace but will actively support them. What this all means for mobile social in the enterprise is less clear but it will be significant.
  • Social Location. This trend is tightly coupled with mobile social since effective location-based services typically requires hardware-based GPS. More and more social applications are becoming location-aware and it’s telling that Facebook has apparently decided to join in the ‘check-in’ bandwagon to compete with potential location-aware rivals like FourSquare. That said, location is definitely a good bit behind the broader adoption wave to mobile social. However, it’s on target to become an integral part of Social Business as location-enabled mobile apps get better at mining the value of physical location with new features and capabilities such as better contextual advertising and improved Social Shopping.
  • Federated Social Identity. While OpenID and Facebook For Websites (the identity feature formerly known as Facebook Connect) are taking the lead at the moment, there is still a long way to go before there is a real social identity victor. Federated identity, a technical sounding term that really just means you can choose the user ID service of your choice and use it on any social service you’d like, inside or outside of the firewall. A robust and usable federated social identity that automatically brings your social graph, avatar, and other personal data is barely on the radar today and mostly consists of individual standards (see Open Standards for Social Media, below). There is a good chance that OpenID will add many of the needed capabilities, but the jury is still out and most social identity today really isn’t very social, yet.
  • Crowdsourcing. I’ve explored the growing promise of crowdsourcing many times in the past and great many experiments over the years have proven the model out fairly conclusively. Yet uptake has not been as broad as it might be because of the perceived shift of control issues combined with lack of familiarity and competence in crowdsourcing by most businesses. Fortunately, given the rise of innovation programs based on the crowdsourcing model, recent success stories, and other independent data points. Expect it to start climbing the adoption curve in 12-18 months, though most organizations should start planning this year to ensure they get first mover advantage, which really matters when trying to build a community of contributors in an industry or vertical market.
  • Facebook Connect/FFW. Now called Facebook for Websites, the uptake for this feature has been very strong across the Web given how much it increases the percentage of users that register, up to 2 out of 3 new registrations by some estimates. Over one million Web sites have integrated with Facebook and climbing fast. Though many organizations are reluctant to overly depend on Facebook to manage their user data, the risks can be managed and it has become a leading way to access a user’s personal information and social data upon request. FFW will probably remain in the adoption phase for a couple of more years and has the potential to be disrupted by more open social identity systems.
  • Social Search and Recommendation. The information that our friends are interested in is what we’re likely to be interested goes the theory. Social search is already part of the Google search engine, making it score higher on the Power Map than it otherwise would. Another way to look at timely knowledge that flows through the news feeds and activity streams of our favorite social networks is “search that finds you”. Mostly a consumer Web phenomenon, with leaders such as Mahalo andWikia there are some business players. For example, Vivisimo’s Discovery Module has an especially interesting enterprise social search capability. Thus social search as well as recommendations are a significant and growing element of the social Web today. Social recommendations are already featured in many Facebook applications and other popular services such as Yelp. Social search has not, however, consistently found its way in terms of prime mover utility to grow a major service or revolutionize business processes yet. It will likely enter the adoption phase in the coming 24 months as more products are designed around the potential and ways to access ROI is more focused.
  • Community Management. All social communities require some level of community management, which I dubbed an “essential” capability for Enterprise 2.0 last year. Almost always under anticipated at first (after all, most of us are just learning about large scale online communities and what they need to survive and thrive), community management has steadily gotten more respectable and the some of the credit it so richly deserves, though there’s a long way to go. As a result of thegrowing community management competence of many large-scale commercial communities and many successful customer communities, ad hoc and otherwise, this capability has had a great year. One part best practices, one part enabling technology, and two parts dedicated people, this skill is well into the adoption phase (all successful online communities today have the skill set and staff) and is on target to become mainstream in the enterprise within 36 months, even if it’s nearly mainstream on the consumer Web today.
  • Social Networking Surpasses E-mail Data by Comscore Visual by XPLANESocial Networks, Blogs, and Wikis. As we start heading into 2011, it’s clear that social networking has become truly mainstream at a global scale. The data on the right shows that social networking is the now most used Internet communication tool today, with usage having eclipsed e-mail — the previous #1 method of communication — entirely. This is a sea change in societal behavior for which businesses are still now only … - The Best in Social Business