Saturday, July 16, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
A devastating murder within a family. A shocked public drawn into a sensational trial. A new media platform sizzling with salacious details. A verdict that many believe is unjust is angrily decried.
The Casey Anthony trial on social media in July, 2011? Yes. But also:
- The Lizzie Borden trial, summer, 1893. Medium: Newspapers. Newspapers devoted pages each day to reproduce testimony word for word, and published wood-cut renderings of the proceedings. Many pre-printed editions with soaring headlines saying GUILTY and NOT GUILTY so they could fire them out as soon as the verdict was reached. Borden was found not guilty, despite lack of another suspect. So convinced was the public that she committed the crime that a nursery rhyme is still familiar about her giving her mother "40 whacks."
- The Lindbergh kidnapping trial, winter, 1935. Medium: Newsreel. Some 200 journalists swarmed the trial and 100 telegraph lines were connected to the courthouse, but it was newsreel that electrified the public. A local magistrate allowed movie cameras in the courtroom and five newsreel studios sent continual updates into movie theaters all over the world. The newsreel coverage whipped the public into a frenzy and 10,000 gathered outside the courthouse calling for the suspect's death. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was executed for a crime historians agree he did not commit. Cameras were banned from courtrooms as a result.
- The O.J. Simpson Trial, 1995. Medium: Cable TV news. According to Wikipedia, The L.A. Times covered the case on its front page for more than 300 days. The Big Three networks' nightly news broadcasts gave more air time to the case than to the Bosnian War and the Oklahoma City bombing combined. But it is cable TV news, and specifically CNN, which dedicates itself almost exclusively to the case. "If we had God booked and O.J. was available, we'd move God," said CNN's Larry King. A CNN poll estimated that coverage of the trial may have set back race relations in the U.S. by 30 years.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Social media got real when the numbers got real, and that was not right away. It's hard to blame the executives (many of whom were not on social media) for saying, "Why should we spend money on this stuff when we don't know what the return on investment will be?" (Especially in the recession.) I'm bullish on Google+'s ability to move ROI metrics, for the following reasons:
- Google immediately released a new slate of metrics tools. Facebook Insights only gradually grew into a tangible role.
- These tools are primarily focused on how users share your content on Google+, rather than basic user demographics, including an emphasis on the new +1 sharing button. This harnesses the social graph, an evolving realm of search. So you see what users are sharing, and their web activity after they share.
- Companies like Radian6, General Sentiment, Coremetrics, and Facebook itself have answered a demand for social metrics. Google Analytics are very strong, too. The changes brought by Google+ won't mean a reset in this progress. The data infrastructure -- and market -- are already there.
- Ford is already up with a brand page on Google+. Brands will not hesitate to plunge in, and apply real business objectives. (And kudos to Ford for going first. You can make a strong argument that the most important measurements to social ROI are at the top of the marketing funnel -- or have even added a new layer at the top. In other words, don't just focus on the bottom line, and get in the game. You want to be there, in front of your customers, where all ROI begins.)
- By metrics, do you mean sales, or another end goal? Conversion is just one category of social metrics, the other large areas being insights, awareness, and affinity. All provide meaningful data. It was unfair to demand ROI in the form of sales from a new channel in the recession. No channel was strong in sales in 2008-2009. (And social commerce has not responded since.) But a free platform has done quite well in showing who your customers are (insights), whether they're getting your message (awareness), and whether they are brand advocates as they engage with you (affinity).
- Are you looking at communications as a means to an end? Ultimately social is a conversation, and always will be. If you have a motive, you're selling the exploratory role of the conversation short: You don't know what you'll learn (and be able to measure), unless you go in with an open mind. Besides, how much do you enjoy the hard sell? (Even click-throughs to your site are not the be-all end-all: engagement about your product is valuable wherever it happens.)
- Is your business really ready to adapt, again? Many large companies wanted Facebook and Twitter to neatly dovetail into their existing strategies, and that didn't necessarily happen. Companies had to get a little more Facebook, a little more Twitter, to invest in the tools, and learn to use them. They may have to get a little more Google+, too. And they won't get there on the sidelines, frowning and saying, "Show me the money." Go master the platform, and develop your goals. Then you'll know if you're hitting meaningful numbers.
Friday, July 1, 2011
If you're not on already, it might be a little while. New users have been shut down due to "insanely high demand," according to Google. Is this a contrived way to get more buzz? Exclusivity is a recipe for demand. Here is a purported loophole to the blockade, but my experimentation with it did not work.
UPDATE: Many spammers are exploiting the demand for invites by luring suckers with phishing scams. Don't enter your email address or jump through any other hoops in an effort to snag one. If you're not in, you aren't going to get in by doing something shady. Also: Contrary to much of the conversation going on, attaining an invite does not get you in. Entry to the Google+ platform by new users, not the sending and receiving of invites, is where the holdup is occurring. Someone can send you an invite that you still can't use. Will this lockout end after the holiday weekend, when there is a flurry of iterations happening? Don't know.
- In a nutshell, Google+ is Facebook like, with innovations in three areas: Grouping of connections; integration with search and surf; cool communicating gizmos.
- Grouping app Circles is the game-changer, an easy, intuitive, right-in-front-of-you segmentation of your connections into different groups to provide instant levels of privacy. Think Facebook friends lists, but built right in. So your boss won't see party pics.
- Communications app Hangouts is hilarious, a video phone functionality with a group, so you're all talking heads. Skype meets the beginning of "The Brady Bunch."
- Search and surf apps +1 and Sparks are an undertaking. They're not intuitive, but in the long run might be a very helpful improvement in "the semantic web," showing you what you're interested in online.
- Another function, the instant upload of photos from your phone, is scary. Sorry, I don't want everything I snap on my phone going anywhere - even if I do have to share it out afterward. I take pics of documents and where my car is parked. I want to upload stuff manually.
- Gmail is changing to incorporate alerts from Google+. So they'll get you there, too, keeping you connected with Google+, even if you don't have it up. (Take that, Facebook! The G in Gmail is for "get you there, too.")
- Google+ is going after gaming, too. Google's big investment in Zynga may be about to pay off: Checkitout.
- No popularity contest with the connections numbers! One nice thing about Google+ is that you can hide the number of friends or connections you have. Which is a real relief. The old contest to see who has how many friends has been a petty and pointless part of the psychology of social networks.
- Yes, it is kind of contrived that Google suddenly cares about our lives. Remember when Google took pride in being a scientific, algorithm-based company that couldn't be blamed for anything? A line in the Google+ demo video says: "When you have lots of options in front of you, it's easy to find yourself wishing for a bit of advice." A bit of advice? Since when does Google give a bit of advice? Since Facebook.
- Overwhelmed? Good. That means you're sane. Social media users have just opened a closet, been avalanched by all kinds of junk, and then, when they think it's all them, clunked on the head by a bowling ball. The hits just keep on coming. Remember when the music industry kept changing formats? When phones wouldn't settle down? (Not that they have, much.) In other news, Facebook plans an "awesome new release" next week. (It's expected by some to be mobile in nature.) More new social platforms to try to evaluate. Oh good.