Isn’t Dead, Is It?

I’ll admit I have a account that I never use, I use Facebook extensively, becoming active with the addition of the Newsfeed and later API/Applications.  Biggest reason?  I was able to hook iPhoto up to Facebook via Exporter and put up pictures of my kids.  Combine that with mobile uploads and then the Blackberry application, and my friends and I can share pictures of our kids.  The dragged my family on, because not everything was making it to Shutterfly or other online album software.  The walled garden aspect doesn’t bother me, I’m not terrifed that random people will be unable to find pictures of my kids on tricycles.

That said, has completely disappeared from the news.  However, Mashable is reporting that still rules the critical teen demographic.  This actually makes a lot of sense to me.  Facebook with its public adding of friends is perfect for those of us out of school, married, and reconnecting with high school/college classmates, but if I was in middle school or high school, I’d be terrified of the in your face nature of Facebook.  The idea that a relationship breakup is quickly messaged to your entire school seems terrifying.  The clean nature of the Facebook interface is perfect for college students with a more relaxed sense of social moors (and a larger world than a middle school), and it lets you track your friends at other schools, but bringing the competitive social nature of middle/high school online, terrifying.

Myspace’s flexibility drives me crazy, but I’m an Internet professional specializing in usability, SEO, and correctness in markup.  So why does the Newsmedia talk about the importance of Twitter and treat Myspace as an also ran, despite Myspace being easily 5 times the size of Twitter and dominating the entertainment world.  As far as I can tell, the rapid assignment of followers (unlike two-way friendship) works perfect for a celebrity-driven culture, and therefore works perfectly for the media world.  Myspace is about self expression, Facebook about sharing your life with your friends, and Twitter about disseminating your life/views/events to people that are listening but without requiring a two way conversation.  Which one of those matches the media?

The media’s cultural biases (coastal, liberal, urbane) also come into play, where Myspace’s focus on alternative music genres, popularity with subcultural groups, and ownership by News Corp (Fox/Fox News), the epitomy of low brow markets.  Despite the media lavishing attention on Twitter, Twitter appears to be making little traction with teenage users, and Myspace/Facebook still dominate this demographic.  Twitter depends on users always being on, Facebook/Myspace fill you in when you return.  Twenty-something entry level employees at a desk all day are perfect for Twitter, teenagers with technology restricted at school and possibly at home?  Twitter doesn’t make sense.

Social Media players should look past their biases and realize that Twitter may have the Buzz, but Facebook and Myspace have the users.

Does Social Media Need New Metrics?

Media Post is asking if we need a new metric for social media, and they talked about CPSA, Cost Per Social Action.  I think this idea illustrates the danger of group think in a bubble.  Marketing departments are responsible for brand goodwill and helping generate sales, a social action isn’t inherently valuable.  Advertising paying for impressions isn’t new with the Internet, and paying for leads and sales is a form of commission sales.  The unique element of CPC is the new addition for the Web as an intermediate metric, but is no different than crediting a television campaign for each person that enters the showroom, even if sales fails to close the deal.

I find it unlikely that we will develop some intermediate metric related to something nebulous like “social action, but rather a new intermediate metric related to generating sales or retaining customers.

Are Single Revenue Media Companies Dead?

That subject line caught my eye the other day.  As someone who started with a programming shop turned SEO shop, the idea of a single revenue media company makes sense to me.  You focus on what you know and do it well.  Television stations sell ad spots, newspapers sell ads, and websites sell ad spaces, whether they do it CPM or CPC.

Should companies need to diversify?  In my mind, when I’m representing a company, I want to have plenty of places to put their ads.  However, the mega channel companies usually suck at all of them as opposed to the single channel companies.  Many companies go to the Mega companies because they lack a dedicated media buyer in house, and hate the idea of hiring an agency.  But this to me seems like a great area for agencies to add value, and what is a multi-channel company other than a agency + series of channel companies.

Somewhere, the company is grabbing the agency model, because they are paying their customer service people.  If they make less than agencies do, it’s because they do a worse job, just pushing you to channels that don’t do a good job.

The whipsaw of the market hurts the undiversified, but if you are really good at what you do, if you manage to handle the downswings, you should do better than if you are mediocre at everything.

Virtual Worlds are Booming while out of Spotlight

When I was in Middle School, I learned the Scheme programming class as part of an experimental math program.  While most computer science students recall wrapping their mind around functional programming languages (most elite Universities offer some LISP derivative instruction, Scheme, Common Lisp, Haskel, etc.).  As someone who loved playing online, this knowledge base made learning MUSH programming for TinyMUSH derived systems great, creating objects with commands on them in the internal LISP dialect.

So when Second Life hit the scene, I took immediate interest.  Alas, my personal life didn’t leave much time for video game playing, and I never got involved in what turned into the most fascinating “old is new again” story, where what looks like early 1990s Virtual Worlds combined with 1980s online gaming via TinyMUSH has developed a small but dedicated following.

Who uses it, I have no idea, as all my gamer friends seemed to spend a few years on World of Warcraft (my wife can describe making me shower after playing Diablo 2 for 3 straight days, so I can appreciate the obsession with a new Blizzard game, even if I got bored after leveling by guy to 60 pre-expansion), and my technology friends were into other areas, and Second Life seemed just too low tech to be interesting.  The media, latching on to whatever seems unique, appeared to have taken a huge interest in a non-technology company… a category I put Twitter in a few months ago, other than an example as to how Ruby on Rails was NOT a solution for a scalable need.

Yet while the media attention has moved to Twitter, the Online Worlds are minting money.  The subscription model, plus online items that can establish value, other in game or out of game, has created its own economy.  Twitter has tremendous influence on the media, and the application has a huge following in metro areas (where people go out taking cabs or mass transit, and update from their phones) where the media is located, but seems to have a small number of users compared to other mediums.

The recession is forcing companies to focus on what works.  Twitter can help drive the press and bloggers, bloggers help move the press and search engines, and search engines and the media move traffic.  But if you are looking for cash, Twitter won’t generate it immediately, but if you can use it to manipulate the press and bloggers, two gateways of traffic and ability to influence search engines, you can market in the 21st century.

From a business point of view, the Virtual Worlds still mint money, the online purveyors of walled gardens of information like Facebook, and the mass disseminators of information like Twitter can’t make a dime.