The Future of Social, Brands, and Data
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London was buzzing over the past few days with the excitement surrounding Social Media Week – a global conference that strives to refresh and re-engage our insights when it comes to the digitally evolving climate. Here is a round-up of events:
Facebook goes public
With a Facebook IPO in the midst, the social networking heavyweight was scrutinised in the Should Brands Be Banned from Social Media debate. Facebook will be looking for greater ways to monetise users and brands alike, all this comes at a time when monthly growth rates are dipping for the company but there still is unprecedented potential in the brand as a destination platform rather than for links and referrals. For example, the tweet has wrapped itself around major public events to become a unique destination for live communication at a global scale. Of course, with social media now a major part of our digital lives it has become a more desirable place than ever for brands to engage, which raises the question of how far brands should go when it comes to social media in the friend space; can you be really be friends with a brand?
For the motion:
- Brands cheapen the social space and they surrender their stats and analytics information to social networking sites such as Facebook and Google
- Social media is not free advertising and it is difficult for brands to know they acheived any ROI
Against the motion:
- Brands generally have the best content on the web driven by social media
- Brands are forced to be transparent, open and honest (i.e. John West is environmentally held accountable for the sustainability of it’s tinned tuna stock)
The de-tag generation
With web search moving to shape itself around our interests and friendships online, The Future of Social presentation explored the divergent internet and the theory of the interpersonal ties which dictates our loosest connections are in fact our most powerful.
Because the information we receive from close friends overlaps considerably with what we already know, we are presented with a digital barrier to discovery and may seek to un-tag our online identity in a bid to reclaim the internet for ourselves.
The attraction of distraction
In the Never Mind the Buzz panel; Amelia Gammon, VP of International Mobile at Fox Digital Entertainment mentioned the number one priority for a TV network has always been to pull in the ratings, however, the popularity of twin screening has meant that networks also leverage the power of social media to provide a complementary layer to the viewing experience.
Social buzz is so powerful that it can determine whether a TV show lives or dies, with networks now looking at the top TV shows by mentions in conjunction with audience ratings. The panel closed off with an interesting discussion point, asking if TV is the piece of art and social media, the frame, what happens when people pay more attention to the periphery. Can the twin screen viewing experience be flipped around or will our attention flip along with it?
Case Study – TV Networks
- Fox Premiered New Girl online before airing it on TV to generate buzz
- Networks want to pull in the ratings first, social media is wrapped around this construct as an additional complementary experience
- To promote The Muppets Movie, @DisneyMoviesUK allowed Kermit the Frog to take over their Twitter feed for one day. This led to a massive surge in followers
- For TOWIE, the broadcaster provided each member of the cast with a Blackberry phone and Twitter training to increase presence via social media channels
- Positive = bring social media in-house
- Negative = un-moderated forum for discussion
- Angry Birds Rio, a marketing tie-in game was released 6 weeks ahead of the film’s release (Rio), this established the IP ahead of time
- The iPhone game reached 12 million downloads before RIO‘s release, it currently has 120 million downloads
- The goal with social media is to create communities to engage with each other. Engaged people are more willing to spend on optional micro-payments and DLC which accrue over a massive install base i.e. Facebook
Less data, more insight
The final presentation in my line-up, From Social Data to Social Insight confessed that tools providing sentiment analysis were at best 60% accurate because contextual information cannot be discerned from an algorithm. Instead, we need to work with the data to discover the human meaning behind what people say on the internet and why they say it.
A pretty funny example of what context means to an algorithm was then shown:
As Social Media Week came to a close, I was left feeling optimistic that that social media is an iterative process, some brands may threaten to cheapen the environment with lazy marketing practice but only the good will rise to the top and they will shape the framework for how brands connect with with us in the future.