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Don’t Try to Be a Publisher and a Platform at the Same Time

Harvard Business Review

In the wake of digital disruption, new media companies are seeking scale and legitimacy, while old media companies explore new business models.

The “platform” is a new media company model that has been perfected by the tech industry. Platforms can easily scale to serve gigantic audiences, and their lucrative possibilities beckon to established players that are often called “publishers.” Meanwhile, many publishers have solid brand identities that are alluring to platforms. So publishers and platforms are experimenting with new combinations — but is it really possible to combine a publisher with a platform over the long term?

Typically, publishers are considered to have editorial judgment, while platforms lack it. From this perspective, the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, and The New York Times are classic “publishers” — they present highly-curated content, and their editors invest a lot of time in its creation. Google, Facebook, and Twitter are classic “platforms” — they distribute other peoples’ content without as much editorial oversight. But these differences are largely cultural. It’s not technologically difficult for publishers to add platform-like elements, and vice versa.

Publishers seeking new business models are often tempted to become more platform-like by enabling their audience to post user-generated content; they hope to increase revenue by selling ads on this “extra” content. Sometimes, they also hope to develop a content management system that other publishers can license and use to distribute their content.

On the other hand, the technologists looking to differentiate their platforms are drawn by the voice and influence of publishing. Plus, platform-builders can capture more value if they own content on their platform, and not just the platform itself.

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What Digital, Social & Mobile Will Look like in 2015

We Are Social

The Headlines

Slide006 500x375 What Digital, Social & Mobile Will Look like in 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we’ve seen in our on-going series of Digital Statshot reports, mobile increasingly dominates the digital world, and we’re confident that ‘ubiquitous connectivity’ will gather even more pace during 2015, as cheaper handsets and more affordable data connections reach further around the world.

What’s more, with mobile-oriented services like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger achieving the top social media ranking spots in some of the world’s biggest economies, it’s clear that much of our digital behaviors now converging around mobile devices.

Based on the trends within this data, we expect that mobile will help to push internet penetration beyond 50% of the world’s population during mid to late 2016.

Before that, though, we  expect to see social media penetration reach one-third of the world’s population – likely by the end of 2015 – with new users in  developing nations accounting for almost all of this growth.

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Media Companies Need to Wake Up to the Digital Advertising Mess

Quartz

Digital media are stuck with bad economics resulting in relentless deflation. It’s time to wake-up and make 2015 the year of radical—and concerted—solutions.

 Trends in digital advertising feel like an endless agony to me. To sum up: there is no sign of improvement on the performance side; a growing percentage of ads are sold in bulk; click-fraud and user rejection are on the rise, all resulting in ceaseless deflation. Call it the J-Curve of digital advertising, as it will get worse before it gets better (it must–and it will.).
Here is a quick summary of issues and possible solutions:
 The rise of ad blocking systems, the subject of a Dec. 8, 2014 Monday Note. That column was our most viewed and shared ever, which suggests a growing concern for the matter. Last week, AdBlockPlusproudly announced a large scale deployment solution: with a few clicks, system administrators can now install AdBlockPlus on an entire network of machines. This is yet another clue that the problem won’t go away.
 There are basically three approaches to the issue.
The most obvious one is to use the court system against Eyeo GmBH, the company operating AdBlockPlus. After all, the Acceptable Ads agreement mechanism in which publishers pay to pass unimpeded through ABP filters is a form of blackmail. I don’t see how Eyeo will avoid collective action by publishers. Lawyers—especially in Europe—are loading their guns.
The second approach is to dissuade users from installing ABP on their browsers. It’s is up to browser makers (Google, Microsoft, Apple) to disable ABP’s extensions. But they don’t have necessarily much of an incentive to do so. Browser technology is about user experience quality when surfing the web or executing transactions. Performance relies on sophisticated techniques such as developing the best “virtual machines” (for a glimpse on VM technology, this 2009 FT Magazine piece, “The Genius behind Google’s browser” is a must-read.) If the advertising community, in its shortsighted greed, ends up saturating the internet with sloppy ads that users massively reject, and such excesses lead a third party developer to create a piece of software to eliminate the annoyance, it should be no surprise to see the three browser providers tempted to allow ad-blocking technologies.

This One Number Shows How Advertisers Are Wrong About Social Media

Time

Companies like McDonalds, Apple, and Ford all have something in common: They make and sell physical stuff, be it Big Macs, computers or cars. So if you’re considering investing in one of those companies, the first thing you might look at is how much stuff it’s been selling recently — an easily-determined metric that’s a decent representation of a company’s success.

But social media companies like Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat don’t make their money by selling physical stuff. Instead, they make it by selling space to advertisers.

As with all advertisements, digital ad space is more valuable the more it gets seen. And one of the key metrics advertisers use to determine how much they’re willing to spend on a social media company’s ad space is Monthly Active Users, or MAUs.

MAUs are simple enough: Every time you log on to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and so on at least once a month, that platform gets one MAU.

That interest in MAUs has extended to Wall Street, where investors have come to view them as the be-all, end-all metric for judging a social media company’s potential to make money. MAUs are popular with investors and other market-watchers because they’re easy to calculate, digest and compare.

But a number emerged this week that should make us all question the MAU as the holy grail of social media metrics: 50 million. That’s the number of MAUs racked up last year by MySpace, a social media network you probably haven’t used since you signed up for Facebook. While MySpace used to be a reliable presence in ComScore’s annual list of the 50 most popular sites on the web, it hasn’t made an appearance there since 2012, when it ranked 46th.

Sure, MySpace’s 50 million figure doesn’t touch the numbers boasted by its onetime rivals: Facebook has 1.27 billion MAUs, Instagram 300 million, Twitter 284 million. But it’s still doubtful that figure is truly representative of MySpace’s shrunken userbase, even if the site still has a small but thriving community thanks to its efforts in music and video.

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Forrester: Pinterest Doesn’t Work For Marketers

MediaPost

While Pinterest’s ad strategy is taking shape, analysts remain on the fence about the pin-based social network, and its near-term marketing potential.

“Many marketers just can’t seem to find success on Pinterest,” Forrester analyst Nate Elliott writes in a new report. “Barely one-half of top brands maintain branded Pinterest boards — and those that do are unsure what to post, collect few followers, and see little user interaction.”

Coca-Cola, for example, has fewer than 5,000 Pinterest followers, while its last 50 pins have been repinned an average of just 11 times each.

After eight months in beta, Pinterest officially launched its Promoted Pins program, at the beginning of the year.

Yet the new program doesn’t give marketers enough Web-based targeting criteria, according to Elliott. “The result of such limited targeting is unclear ad performance,” he suggests.

In its defense, brands that participated in the Promoted Pins beta program saw a 30% increase in “earned media” — i.e., the share of users who saved a Promoted Pin to a board, according to Pinterest. Per internal findings, Promoted Pins are “repinned” an average of 11 times — the same as non-branded pins.

Pinterest is also more popular than ever. The proportion of online adult women using the service increased from 33% in 2013 to 42% in 2014, according to recent findings from the Pew Research Center.

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Marketers Claim to Be More Mobile Than We Might Think

MediaPost

While social media was the top area for expanding budgets in 2015, according to 5,000 marketers polled in Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report, mobile took up the rear.  Seventy percent of marketers said they would be expanding spend for social media marketing and advertising, and 67% would further support social media engagement. But 67% also said they were bullish on location-based mobile tracking, with 66% increasing spend in mobile apps.

While only 58% of those surveyed said they actually had a dedicated mobile marketing team, at the same time a surprising 71% claimed mobile marketing is core to their business. While 68% say they have integrated mobile marketing into their overall strategy, still  43% still say mobile or app traffic is the most important mobile marketing metric.

Really? That makes me wonder what stands for mobile marketing sophistication at many companies. In fact I would take as somewhat naïve the additional finding that 57% of marketers think mobile apps are most critical to creative a cohesive customer journey. Really? In all business segments? If this belief had any remote base in the reality of mobile use, imagine how many apps consumers would have to carry around with them?

From marketers’ responses, it seems that everything looks equally promising to them. When asked to rate the effectiveness of the many digital channels open to them, everything from branded web sites to podcasting, text messaging to blogging fell into a similar range of acceptance, with 58% to 68% finding them very effective/effective. Still, only 27% say they are actually using mobile apps, 24% using text messaging, 19% using mobile push, and 18% using location-based mobile tracking.

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Twitter Buys Indian Mobile Marketing Startup

Time

Zipdial allows people without internet connection to get advertisements and promotions on their cellphones

Twitter is buying an India-based mobile marketing startup for an undisclosed sum, as it seeks to attract users in the developing world.

The Bangalore-based ZipDial allows consumers interested in a company’s services to dial its number and hang up before connecting. The company then sends them free text messages, app notifications and voice calls containing advertisements. The so-called “missed call” marketing means users aren’t charged for the service, because their initial call never connects.

Twitter will use ZipDial to reach consumers who aren’t connected to the Internet. ZipDial’s campaigns have reached nearly 60 million users, the Wall Street Journal reports, and could be used to reach users in Indonesia and Brazil. The company has 56 employees.

Consumers in countries like India, Brazil and Indonesia with developing Internet infrastructures are key markets for Twitter, and 77% of the social network’s 284 million monthly active users are outside the United States.

“By coming together with ZipDial, we’ll help more people around the world enjoy great and relevant Twitter experiences on their mobile phones,” Twitter said in a statement.

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Storytelling in the Age of Social News Consumption

Edelman 2015 Forecast

Social media is having a dramatic, perhaps outsized impact on how digital news is produced, distributed, consumed and ultimately monetized. As mobile and social technologies reach critical mass, it is fueling a footrace to create highly shareable, yet informative news stories that generate traffic. More critically this is changing how journalists approach their craft.

To address this dynamic further, Katie Scrivano and the Edelman Media Network (a team of earned media specialists) teamed with two start-ups, NewsWhip and Muck Rack to study U.S. social news consumption.

Working with NewsWhip, we identified the 50 overall most-shared, English-language articles, and in six key topics – general news, food and beverage, energy, health, technology and finance. Edelman Berland then analyzed each story to identify significant commonalities. This helped shaped a survey of more than 250 working journalists that Edelman conducted in collaboration with Muck Rack.

This research revealed that:

  • More than 75 percent of journalists say they feel more pressure now to think about their story’s potential to get shared on social platforms.
  • To make their stories more shareable, journalists are infusing their stories with five key ingredients: video/images, brevity, localization, more use of human voice and a proximity to trending topics.
  • Nearly 3/4 of journalists are now creating original video content to accompany their stories. However, very few journalists (13 percent) are relying on sourcing consumer-generated video and only 3 percent are using corporate video.
  • Journalists see five key trends impacting their profession this year: more mobile friendly content, faster turnaround times, more original video, smaller newsroom staff and social media growing in influence.

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Top Tips for Improving Your Business Through Social Selling

IDG Connect

 Top Tips for Improving Your Business Through Social Selling

Dale Roberts is VP of Professional Services at Artesian, the innovative developer of social intelligence software. He is also a keynote speaker, blogger and author of Decisions Sourcing: Organisational Decision Making for the Agile and Social Enterprise. Prior to joining Artesian, Dale worked with some of the largest European and US businesses to build analytic and performance management solutions in his role as European Services Director for market leader Cognos, now part of IBM.

Dale discusses his top tips for embracing social selling and explains why smart businesses are putting social insight at the heart of their sales strategies.

We are in the middle of an online and social revolution that has not only changed the way we buy a holiday or book air travel but how we buy for businesses too. Figures show that three quarters of business buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions. The wave of cultural change is being felt beyond consumers as business buyers connect on professional social platforms and check rating sites when considering a wide range of purchases from electronic goods or employer liability insurance to exhibition space.

The pace of change is dramatic, with typical business buyers opting to delay their first engagement with a seller until they are 57%[1] through their purchasing decision. What this means is that more than half of the sales process has now disappeared, taking with it the influence and control that professional sellers previously had.

Businesses must recognise this change and implement social strategies within their sales and marketing departments to transform the way they engage with customers.  To make this effective, sellers have to adopt new habits and the following tips will help them to stand out with the new connected buyer:

# 1 Spend your day more effectively

According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, sellers spend only 39% of their time carrying out role specific tasks, eg. selling. Other activities, such as reading and answering emails, searching for information and internal collaboration are pulling them away and whilst email is a valuable communications tool it can also slow progress towards closing a sale.  Sales people and managers can start by assessing how much time they are giving to direct communication and research and restructure their day to focus at least 60% of their day on selling.

#2 Use social tools to support sales effectiveness

Gathering information is a necessary activity, but it’s possible that too much time is being spent on this and not very effectively. Traditional sales intelligence focused on data about people and businesses is limited. Sellers must have access to topical, timely and, if possible, behavioural information, most usefully derived from user-generated content, social media and/or news. If customers are using social networks, sellers should be connected too, so they can communicate with them in the space they occupy and build credibility. Buyers are also more likely to engage with someone they recognise through social networks.

#3 Refine your social listening

The Internet is immeasurable and Google searching or casual browsing for relevant information is not only time-consuming, it is also like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack. Social intelligence tools are designed to sharpen this process so sellers receive insight that they can use effectively, whether that’s product announcements or managerial shifts, legislation or the impact of political change. The tools tap into social and user-generated content in real-time, and deliver it instantly so that sales people can leverage it to engage with buyers intelligently and at the right moment.

Read all 5 tips… 

28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros

Social Media Examiner

Are you wondering what 2015 might look like for social media marketing?

If the changes in 2014 are an indicator, there will be a lot more changes in 2015.

To get a grip on what the near future may look like, we tapped the knowledge of 28 social media pros.

Here’s what they had to say.

And if you’re curious, here were the 2014 predictions.

#1: Video Becomes the Content of Choice

Let’s look closer. In August 2014, Facebook surpassed YouTube in the number of video views via desktop according to comScore. It’s important to note that YouTube still has more views across all devices. As of September 2014, Facebook attracted a billion video views per day, a roughly 30-fold increase since July.In 2015, video will dominate as the social media content format of choice. Further, regular video segments, like podcasts and blog posts, will come into their own as a form of content that drives social engagement and other marketing goals.

ck heidi cohen facebook vs youtube views e1417584970525 28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros

Based on SocialBakers’ data, video posting moved away from YouTube towards Facebook in 2014. While these results still show YouTube ahead, the trend favors Facebook.

ck heidi cohen video posts e1417585191341 28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros

Also, Facebook videos receive significantly more shares than YouTube. This makes sense because sharing and engagement are at the heart of Facebook interactions.

ck heidi cohen share of interactions e1417585315119 28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros

YouTube is the best-performing social media platform to drive trackable sales,according to AOL’s Convertro research.  It’s the first, last or only platform touched.

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