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May 2009

piracy predicts the next frontier : live streams

NBA Stream YouTube challenged the traditional content delivery market for television programming.  Whereas in the early days, YouTube was streaming a fair amount of copyrighted content, Hulu (and others) have stepped in with a legal alternative to streaming media.  While this alternative has not negated the value of MegaVideo (with their incredibly deep library and timely releases), Hulu and team have certainly made a meaningful dent.

Now consider the live-streaming market.  Sure, CNN and Hulu stream major political events live with social co-viewing options. And let's be real, social is going to drive much of the appointment based viewing moving forward.  But other than the occasional political event, there really isn't much free live-streaming in-market.

3 Early Adopters
CBS Sportsline streams March Madness.

  • While the video quality has become quite impressive, their live player lacks any social integration, a daughter window option, or an always-on-top option for screen in screen viewing.  However, I'm nitpicking.  Other than social co-viewing, they really are leading the legal streaming market.

TNT and the NBA streamed a few playoff games.

  • TNT's mosaic player is nice, allowing fans to choose between four different views (2 focused on leading players, one standard view and one view from the robo-cams above the backboards).  With strong social integration, it's fairly easy to get taken away by the excitement in the social stream.  However, weak streaming video quality and a lack of basic information - like a game clock - remind us that this is still a very early solution.  That said, it's kind of cool to see what happens on the court when the cameras aren't officially on - like halftime shows and huddles during time outs.  It's less like television viewing and more like being at the game.

ESPN is not streaming their NBA playoff games.

  • But their fans are.  A quick search in Ustream brings up a handful of live streams, all illegal.  ESPN isn't making any money on this.  The NBA sure isn't.  And the fan experience could be better with stronger quality and a professionally designed experience.

You can fight the pirates, or you can adapt to your market's demand.  Shift has happened.  The music industry has been and continues to be rattled by the evolving digital dynamic.  The scripted programming industry has been and continues to be rattled.  Live streaming is next.  Live streaming is here. 

we are the people in your neighborhood

Diversity Who are the people in your neighborhood? 

There are many players in the social scene, each with their own perspective.  You may recognize them in your office, on Twitter, at a conference or in a meeting.  Without knowing who your audience, your social circle, you cannot properly sell in social engagements, or yourself/your team.  

Identifying & Dealing With Social Personalities

Social Anarchists believe that both brands and rules have no place in the conversation.  The community owns the social dynamic, and there's nothing you (as a marketer or a community owner) can really do about it.  Social Anarchists believe that brands can sponsor an engagement, but they cannot lead, nor do they truly belong in the conversation.  

Response to a Social Anarchist: Your conversational perception is based on the consensus of the participants in the conversation.  Once you have earned your place in the conversation, your team (as marketers) can participate.  Then show case studies.

Social Darwinists believe in the gradual evolution of the dynamic, where best practices survive, but change takes time.  This slow and steady approach generally leads to copycat innovation with a 6 month delay.  This often works, assuming the community hasn't moved onto the next big thing (Second Life anyone?). 

Response to Social Darwinist: Encourage a Social Darwinist to focus on behavior rather than a technology.  They have the right thinking, they just need to be focused on the proper aspect of the communications dynamic.

Social Dictators believe that people interact because we, as the market financiers, have given them the privileged ability to do so.  If we decide to interact, they will share.  This was the mentality that led to the "viral video" craze of 2007, the widget-centric culture of MySpace, the non-participatory page on Facebook, and the irrelevant broadcast blog.  While it is true that brands can shape their social impact and interactivity, the days of brand-controlled market perception have passed (at least in the social web).

Response to Social Dictators: There is a good likelihood that Social Dictators are misinformed, or have not attended a social bootcamp or read a social case study in two years.  Fighting a Social Dictator will take time, effort and is generally unpleasant.  However, building a relationship with him/her and sharing case studies as they become available, often helps shift their point of view.

Social Deniers are probably my favorite people of all.  This group claims that social is a fad.  Their mistake is in their perception: they look at the technology platform and the pace of migration from destination to destination rather than the user behavior, which has continuously grown as the experience dynamic evolves. 

Response to Social Deniers: Most Deniers have a good deal of their career invested in traditional communications channels.  Social becomes far less threatening to them when they are educated in cross-channel strategies such as "social as a performance enhancing add-on to traditional communications" or "social research as a creative inspiration" or "the possibilities of broadcast icons in social (ex Oprah, Ashten Kutcher, CNN)".

Social Heretics challenge the norm for the sake of challenging.  Zagging while the markets ziggs, is only successful so long as there is an end game, a long term vision and strategy for getting there.  I personally do not understand some of the Social Heretics, but time will tell their levels of success.

Response to Social Heretics: A real Heretic doesn't care about what you have to say.  Bring your rational thinking and sound strategies to the table, seriously consider what they have to say, and then approach with caution.  Heretics love to stir the pot, keep your head on straight and prepare for a ride.

Social Dreamers see a social dynamic and imagine endless possibilities.  While it is always great to have a Dreamer on the team, they are often best used to establish end-game visions (so long as their future visions are on point).  However, it is imperative that any strategy feature short term executables, staffing structures and realistic goals and budgets in order to one day meet the vision the Dreamer set up.  It is important to have a visionary, but your success as an agency/consultant/social marketer will come from the journey as much as it does the arrival.

Response to Dreamers: Ask them to detail the rationale for the nirvana they picture.  Ask them for a vision for the journey to their nirvana.  Keep their visionary thinking while building a solution around the vision.  Then again, if their visions are wildly off, reel them in a bit, keep the enthusiasm, but channel it appropriately with education over time.

twitter changes the rules : practical implications

At 2:53 PM, Twitter announced the following,

Based on usage patterns and feedback, we've learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow—it's a good way to stay in the loop. However, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don't follow in your timeline is undesirable. Today's update removes this undesirable and confusing option.

The implications of this change to the core user dynamic within Twitter are many.  While I'm not sure that I have yet discovered all of the implications, here are a handful that come to mind.

Negative Implications

  1. The Death of Aspiration Tweeting - aspirational tweeters @message or @reply people they aspire to interact with, like @Oprah . 
  2. The Casual Conversational with a Stranger - there are many people we may enjoy speaking to around certain issues, like a conference, a #hashtag (like #blogchat) or an event like a presidential address, but wouldn't want to otherwise follow them.
  3. The Boys Club - once upon a time, when you were new to twitter and wanted to introduce yourself, you participated in a conversation and people followed you back.  This redesign severely restricts the visibility of newcomers who aren't yet networked.

Practical Implications

  1. New Follower Emails - now you have to read them, or you'll never know who would like to engage with you.
  2. Selective Following is Challenged - you now must follow everyone who you would like to speak with.  This may well be the end of celebrity tweeting, and even micro-celebrity tweeting, as there is no reason for people to follow personalities that don't follow them in kind (other than to observe).
  3. Bye Bye Broadcasting - unless you have non-twitter celebrity status, you won't gain a following by broadcasting your life. Discovery is now contingent on meaningful conversational engagement.

Community Implications

  1. More emphasis on the conversation
  2. Strong drive engage with those you know Vs those you aspire to know
  3. The concentric circles of conversation will get smaller. 
  4. Retweeting (RT) and #followfriday will become increasingly important as a mechanism for social discovery (kudos to @jeffpulver for sharing)

What Will Happen

  1. People will complain - nobody likes forced change
  2. If Twitter sticks to it, people will adapt their behavior.
  3. Many website users will migrate to desktop applications that continue deliver familiar functionality.
  4. The mainstream press will call this "The Death of Twitter"
  5. OR - Twitter will cave to community pressure and revert back to the old dynamic

social success : perspectives on Matt Dickman's ppt

Matt Dickman did it again.  The presentation below may be long, but it is well worth the time. This cross-discipline perspective, with an appreciation for PR, Advertising and Marketing is essential to social marketing (and all too often goes unrecognized). 

As for me, I'm looking forward to the connective tissue bridging the online and the offline worlds.  Facebook does this fairly well with Connect, events, photos and videos, as do technologies like Qik. But shiny new technologies and platforms are not solutions, they are tools.  The big wins in the short term will come from deeply integrated strategies.  Events, traditional broadcast media, even direct mail should integrate with social.  Social is no longer a bucket, it's an underlying strategy.  And I for one, am excited about what tomorrow will bring. 

Kudos to Valeria Maltoni for sharing on Twitter. (PS - if you aren't reading Matt and Valeria's respective blogs or engaging them on Twitter, startWell worth your time, trust me.)

target exposed... themselves

Target facebook First of all, kudos to Target for launching a fantastic charity campaign on Facebook.  Great campaign, good charities and a nice gesture.

But possibly more interesting than the campaign, are the conversations taking place in the Discussions tab on their Facebook Brand Page.

They are hilarious, obscene, unmoderated and quite possibly unread by Target.  Discussion topics run the gamut, from employee discussions and Target shopper experiences to rants around some of the oddities of shopping at Target - like the conduct of the obligatory rent-a-cops by the doors.

Is this extreme transparency good for Target?

As one employee wrote, "Weed... I've seen one dumb kid put weed in his locker and the smoke it and get caught on break."  As a Target shopper, I kind of expected this.  But "pair of shoes in frozen foods" is not something I want to read.
"i LOVEEEEE it when old ladies come through the lane with condoms and make the attempt to hide them
under clothes. FUNNIESSSSSSSS" is not the kind of sentiment that fits the Target brand image.

And let's not forget, "LMFAO watch your wording!! but HBA is pretty shitty, but were always short of people so I sometimes end up getting two zones which sucks. Try balancing electronics and toys.  also domestics sucks ass."

For more goodies, check out "Oh the things guests say..." section.

Sure, there are lots of great conversations, thousands of engaged customers and staff members.  But what will Target do when they encounter their first Dominos moment?  When an employee or staff member crosses the line (if they haven't crossed it already)?  Are they listening?  Will they know about their problem before it's too late? 

Giving all of your employees a free microphone on your brand destination a risky proposition. 
Doing so without monitoring and engaging is absurd.

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facebook : social governance is a dangerous game (updated)

Never again Is a picture of a breastfeeding woman pornographic?

Are pictures of Holocaust victims pornographic?

Should antisemitic groups be considered hate based, or are these forums for honest and open discussion?

Should Facebook be in the social governance game at all?

Facebook is walking a very dangerous line, both morally and legally.  By choosing a voice of "tolerance" towards intolerance, have they chosen to stand by the irrational, hateful and often racist minority? 

Personal Point of View

Holocaust denial is not a scientific argument.  It is not only illegal (in many places), it is not only immoral, but it is not based in reality. 

I have spoken with eyewitnesses who saw the death of tens of thousands of innocents, including friends and relatives.  My wife's grandfather never wears short sleeves because he doesn't want to see the numbers on this arm.  I have walked through the gas chambers and seen the crematoria first hand.  I personally attend the US trial of a convicted Nazi living here in NY.  I saw the uniforms, heard the expert opinion and read the press coverage of the resulting guilty verdict.

I worked side by side with the US Office of Special Investigations to bring political pressure and popular awareness to their efforts at bringing WWII criminals guilty of crimes against humanity to justice (this was about 10 years ago).  The US government, many European governments, the Catholic chruch, multiple international bodies of justice and law as well as dozens of war tribunals have confirmed the facts.

Conspiracy theory is not always harmless honest discussion.  You have the freedom to speak, but as with all freedoms, they are a right and a responsability, not a license to act hatefully.

Facebook is stuck between a rock and a hard place.  When they chose to police their content, to define "offensive" they walked into a minefield.  While this issue hits very close to my heart, this will be the first of many such issues to arise over the next few years. 

Facebook's action and inaction is actively defining not only their perspective on these issues, but their standards of practice moving forward.  Facebook, the ball is in your court.  We have seen what happens when good people stand silently by.  We are not prepared to let that happen

Nevertheless, seeing that these groups still exist serves as a powerful dose of reality for a good liberal NYer (I'm speaking of myself). 

Will this set a precedent for what is likely to come from Facebook?  How will they govern? 

Should they be positioning themselves as governance officers?

- - - - - -

Update: Facebook has now removed two groups, but three more remain. Facebook looks to be walked a tight rope, and whatever side they fall on, people will be unhappy.  You can't make everyone happy, but social governance is a dangerous game to begin with.  Personally, still not thrilled.  Facebook needs to make a public statement, clarifying their stance and actions to date, getting past this episode and moving forward.  Even if some people aren't happy, their anger will flair out.   Maintaining ambiguity is keeping this story in the spotlight.  Sources: CNET, TechCrunch, The Register, WebProNews, Inside Facebook, PC Mag and Switched.