Here’s an interesting use of social media technology…A map provided by Google for the NY Times that shows the most recommended places to go on vacation in 2010. The bigger the circle the more recommendations are made for that particular country. Once you click on the location a collage of photos are automatically selected for that country, sort of what Flickr does for their slideshows.
From our post yesterday looking at a not-so surprising article in yesterday’s NY Times, Who’s Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not Teens, which looks at the popular growth of some of the latest social media in the last few months, specifically, Twitter; I thought I’d add my 2-cents. As we noted, they supply some interesting data from comScore including that just 11% of Twitter users are between the ages of 12 to 17. Overwhelmingly, Twitter users are an older segment of the population and as Forrester Research notes in the article, people aged 35 to 54 using social media grew 60 percent in the last year.
Shocking? Hardly. Over at Mashable they’ve highlighted this in their coverage of the NY Times piece here, and had written about this just a few weeks ago. In the NY Times piece they highlight a couple of obvious reasons why, first, that the nature of the technology, much more public than social networks like Facebook, is less enticing to teens who are more comfortable interacting and sharing with their friends rather than random strangers coming across their streams. This in turn, looking at it from a professional perspective, offers adults a means to find interesting and useful topics and discussions relevant to their interests.
But very simply as a segment of the population, the ‘Teens’ demographic overwhelmingly uses social media/networking compared to other age groups. In a sheer numbers comparison, there’s not many more users to attract to the technology while other age groups, all you have is room to grow. In fact, in the case of Twitter, that may be what will eventually happen for 12-17 subset of users. But for me, what is fascinating is how fast the comfort level is rising in the adoption and ongoing usage of social media by older users – not so much that they are leading the charge in using technology, but rather its overall importance as a tool among many tools they use. In the past, in the early days of the dot com boom and bust, web usage was still highly segmented. For social media today, its usage overall is beginning to top even the frequency users access their emails:
In fact in a follow-up piece on their technology blog, BITS, they look at this growing adoption and usage by older demographics, citing recent Forrester reports and data. Clearly, as a communication and interaction medium this growth in usage by older segments of the population raises some questions. For marketers, particular brand managers, the hope that the power of tv, radio and other traditional mediums to influence purchasing decisions will somehow remain strong is increasingly questionable. Why? Well, looking at advertising dollars and ROI through those mediums seems shaky at best. I’m sure any media buyer out there would say not so, but I am biased. And as we pointed out this week, clearly marketers see the numbers and the level of adoption by all age groups and customer segments, and its not a question of should we use social media, but when.But looking past marketing, the impact of social media on the business landscape raises even more questions. How does it impact customer service, if increasingly customers feel they are able to get better and faster responses via social media a la Twitter, case in point, Comcast and Southwest Airlines to name a few. How might it impact product development, market research, sales, etc, etc. Of course, I may be simply preaching to the choir.But then again, every time I work with direct marketers and product managers in certain industries, I continue to hear, well our audience just isn’t that tech savvy. When I hear that, my eyes glaze over and mind drifts away and I think, for your sake, I hope it’s true.
It seems as if the media has really taken Twitter under the spotlight the past couple of months. This article in the NY Times highlights how companies like Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Dell have used Twitter as a researching tool in order to find out what customers are thinking as they use one of their products. Amazon.com recently found out how important Twitter is when many consumers responded negatively on Twitter when certain books were reclassified as “adult” and so were removed from search rankings. The company felt it was necessary to respond to these tweets even over the Easter holiday.
Twitter’s usage does not stop at the consumer level though. Last week in Moldova, several protesters used Twitter as a means to rally up troops and to help them understand what was happening in their small country. Twitter has definitely created an enormous impact across the globe, but what are some other examples of its usage that you have come across?
Many of us have read the headlines and regardless of our political inclinations, watched with growing fascination the remarkable ease the Obama political campaign amassed an online presence across Facebook, YouTube and its own social network, MyBarackObama.com to create a political base in scope and size unknown in prior elections. This is the real deal. As many media outlets talk about the implications of an Obama presidency and the work at hand, one impact already being felt is the use of online networks to build the power base that traditional political parties would establish on behalf of a politician’s campaign using traditional methods of mailing lists, telephone banks and advertising to build get out the vote efforts and donations to the campaign.
Some recent articles I’ve come across take a close look at the impact of what the Obama campaign has done and the impact it will most likely have on future campaigns. Full disclosure: yes I did vote for Obama, but my interest in sharing these insights is really to look at how successful a social media campaign can be and how important it is to take a 360 degree approach that does not necessarily favor one online tool over another. I think there are lessons for all marketers to consider as they develop their own social media efforts and consider successful strategies.
With that said, again regardless of your political inclination or even interest in politics, here are some thoughts on the Obama campaign’s success with social network. First of all I came across this analysis in the NY Times regarding the campaigns use of social media. It gives some excellent highlights and looks at some general implications. The most obvious, when you bring in tens of thousands of individuals to share their own perspectives, a place to voice their expectations, and to provide their own opinion, well the possibilities are endless. But not always manageable.
But the advantage is clear: a lower cost to expand their database and communicate instantaneously to this audience, and more important leverage it as an expanded distribution channel to pass along all types of content to the expanded networks of their community members.
With such a powerful network established, the question then is how will it be used now that the election is over? In a recent article on ComputerWorld regarding MyBarackObama.com it’s been confirmed that it will stay online even now as the campaign is focusing on launching his presidency. There was a recent post on their blog confirming this. (On a side note, for those of you unfamiliar with Chris Hughes, suggest you read up on him, we may see this wunderkind pop up again and again.) Now one interesting point the article cites is the fact that legally Obama cannot use this political tool as part of his administration, so more than likely it will be brought under the Democratic Party National Committee and their own social network. It will certainly be interesting to see how well this distinct group, who has so closely identified with Barack Obama’s campaign and the political brand he has created using social media, will be incorporated and morphed into some element of the DNC base.
Before I go on, here are some figures I’ve been able to track down regarding the campaigns use of social media. I’ve gone to each site to see what figures are reported for lack of an official breakdown of the numbers, so if anyone has other sources of data please feel free to share in the comments:
1) YouTube:Subscribers: 134,998 , Channel Views: 19,576,473
2) Facebook: 914,496 members – and if you perform a search on Facebook you will find any number of groups in support of or against Obama, but this figure is the official campaign group.
Unfortunately, I could not find any clear membership numbers for MyBarackObama.com, so I welcome anyone with such information to please share and I’ll update the post with that detail. Though Jeremy Owyang has a great side by side comparison of both campaigns and their comparative figures across these platforms. Now while McCain clearly did not build up as much of a base on some platforms as Obama, some things come to mind. First, his campaign began using these later than Obama, also they did not use it as frequently as Obama’s campaign until much later in the general election – though many would say this failure in their social networking strategy may have been a result of the fact that McCain won the Republican candidacy earlier and did not feel the need to develop such tools.
Now for many of you, far savvier and knowledgeable in using social media, the clear lesson here is persistence in my view; the constant outreach across not one but multiple platforms to reach the widest audience possible. From my perspective the campaign’s effectiveness in ongoing and constant outreach was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Naturally there was a tremendous interest in this election year. But at any time that I would go online there was never a moment when I did not see some site that would link to one of their blog posts, link to a new video update, as well as their constant email after email informing their community members of the latest and greatest available online. It was deafening in my opinion.
As marketers we all have developed a sense of consumer fatigue, how much is too much; but what social media has clearly demonstrated is that rather than worrying if its too much, we must worry about if its enough. The tools available at hand give individuals every ability to control the flow of information, but even if they restrict it, what can be worse than when there is a moment they do come to your site, your online community, or any other effort, and nothing is fresh or new for them to interact with? It’s a worry I have and face daily in order to build up and create the type of interactions that are necessary for an overall positive experience. This election year, watching how the campaigns played out online, clearly demonstrates the power of social networks to bridge demographics and create the the relevant associations to a political brand. Through the interconnections across these platforms, they then expanded their reach even to individuals who may not directly associate themselves to a campaign, but nevertheless were reached.
It’s an ideal scenario for sure, one we all can learn from, and I’m sure will be dissected for months to come. This is just my own two cents, but one I felt worth sharing. I’m curious to see commenters thoughts and perspectives on the use of social media in the campaigns – though I ask that let’s keep any heated political discussions to a minimum.
Much has been said in the media lately, about the impact that online communities are having in every part of our lives. Of late special emphasis has been placed on the political aspect with candidates having blogs, YouTube videos, and using other web 2.0 tools. In a latest update from the NY Times, Katie Couric announced that during the national political conventions, after her primetime broadcast has concluded, she will move to web casts. Is there any aspect of today that has not seen the impact of online social media?
In what could be a move copied by other social networking sites, LinkedIn and NY Times have become partners in order to provide users with constantly updated news for their respective industries. It is not yet clear whether or not any money has exchanged hands. This review from ReadWriteWeb is supportive of the new team. As summarized by the article: We’re big on LinkedIn here at RWW and though a wide open developers platform has yet to emerge, moves like this are inspiring. The deal is an important step beyond the previous integration of sharing hooks on NYTimes.com from other services. LinkedIn has over 25 million registered users, while NY Times has over 17 million unique visitors a month, making this partnership seem very promising. What are your thoughts on this new alliance? Do you think other sites such as Facebook will start to pursue similar avenues? Click on this page to update your LinkedIn profile to include the NY Times.