In 2008 tech luminaries such as Wired Magazine began posting articles proclaiming the death of the blog. The gargantuan Huff Post and Buzz Feed were just beginning their infamous rise to power and the rhetoric at the time was deeply rooted in negativity; nobody could quite fathom how smaller blogs might compete with the new, all powerful ‘super’ blogs taking over the blogosphere.
Fast-forward 7 years, it’s 2013: The year Google Reader finally died and the last person in the universe decided called it a day completely with RSS feeds. The Huff Post, Buzz Feed and Mashable sit proudly at the top of Technorati most popular blogs (as they have done for years) and nobody (it seams) is even that bothered about reading online anymore.
Glancing at the evidence, you could be forgiven for assuming that Wired, and the rest of the doomsayers of 2008 were 100% right. But it is my opinion that those commentators that donned the proverbial sandwich boards and emblazed them with ‘The End Is Neigh’ slogans where guilty of the same trap that so many other technology futurists have fallen foul of over the years; the misassumption that subtle changes and diversifications in the consumption of technology will not have profound effects on the way people digest media.
Users have a crafty and clever way of repurposing technologies, changing their uses and consequently the very ideals that underpin them. Blogging pre 2008 was revolutionary in nature; it was a one-finger salute to the old-world publishing community. It was a powerful new platform from which censorship and editorial decision-making were rubbished and castaway. There was vigorous desire just to create, something, anything, as long as it was different to that that came before!
In 2013 the blogging revolution is a distant memory to some and an inconsequential moment in Internet history to most. Bloggers are still publishing great content on a regular basis but the type of blogging has changed, and so has the audience.
Here are 4 types of small (or personal) blog that can still draw dedicated and quite often large readerships from those people who still think the written word has some relevance online:
1) The Hobbiest blog
Niche/hobbiest blogs are powerful knowledge tools for people whom have very specific interests. The niche blogger generally doesn’t care for traffic stats and visitor numbers. But by sharing their passion and connecting in an intimate fashion with a small number of readers niche bloggers are doing what should bloggers have been doing all along – making real connections with other people interested in the same topics as the writer.
2) The Business Blog
Bloggers and professional writers everywhere should probably be knelt in subservience chanting something along the lines of “All Hail Google’s New Webmaster guidelines”
The business blog is the new backbone of the blogging community. Businesses everywhere now understand the importance of providing fresh, interesting and relevant content to consumers and potential customers across the globe. Consumers like to be kept in the loop – transparency is the new black. Certain businesses are now considered though-leaders due to their blogging efforts, and of course Google loves to digest and crawl actionable and unique content direct from a businesses URL.
3) The Music Blog
In a space that has so many genres, sub-genres and genres that haven’t even been coined yet, there will always be space for a snappy wordsmith with a keen ear for new music. Unlike other industries, music journalism has continued to evolve and in some ways has grown into the online space in a more mature and creative direction than, say for example film. Where the industry giants failed the bloggers succeeded – long live the independent music journo!
4) The Blog About Blogging
The royalty of the blogosphere, the king, queen and jester of the court, all rolled into one. The pseudo blog has become the unstoppable driving force of the blogging industry.
The last 3 years has seen the development of the content marketing industry – the marketing industry’s answer to taming social networks and modern search algorithms.
Blogging about how to write/produce better blogs and how to project them to as wide an audience as possible has become one of the most written about and read subjects online. As more and more businesses prick their ears up and more directors and CEO’s start to take an interest in blogging the question of how best to do it has become a huge industry in its own right!
As for blogging being dead for 7 years, we we all know that hasn’t happened. Blogging continues to grow and change. It develops and shifts at a faster rate then any other publishing platform. It is this diversity and freedom to publish hat continues to drive it forward..
And this is why it just will not die quietly.
So there you have it: A blog about the death of blogging, written on a personal blog that’s all about blogging.
I’m off for a beer x
If you own a WordPress blog or have a website that is powered by WordPress, you will no doubt have come across the Yoast SEO plugin. If you use the plugin regularly to optimise blog posts you too may have considered that it’s relevance and effectiveness could be waning after the Google Penguin algorithm update.
I have used Yoast as my go-to SEO plugin for a number of years and generally, I have been very happy with its effectiveness. It is functional, easy to use and in it’s latest incarnation covers pretty much every thing you need to get your onsite SEO up to scratch.
The dashboard features an impressive array of tools including XML site-maps, title and meta presets, advanced perma-link functions and some great social features. All of which are very useful in structuring your website/blog into a coherent, easily crawled and efficient domain.
The plugin also offers some in-post tools for optimising your blogs and pages. It is this area of the plugin’s functionality that concerns me after the Google Penguin and Panda updates over the last few years.
Yoast’s on-page optimisation system revolves around picking a focus keyword and then optimising the relevant title, slug, meta-data and content in accordance with that choice. Once this is done the page is then analysed to check that the keyword appears in all of the above areas and in the ‘correct’ density.
Now, don’t get me wrong it’s not that I don’t understand the importance of keywords appearing in the title, slug, meta etc. I just don’t think there is enough flexibility in the Yoast plugin to accommodate the needs of most of today’s bloggers and web masters.
Currently in the UK, over 50% of all searches are over 2 words or above. This means that If you are hoping to capture a broader spectrum of the potential search market you need to be optimising for long-tail keywords, especially if, like me, you write a blog in a highly competitive market of net savvy users.`
The Yoast plugin only offers a very rigid framework for choosing long-tail keywords as a ‘focus’ for the plugin. The words must sit concurrently, there must be no interjecting stop words and there is also no room for misspelling or synonym use.
It’s not that I expect Yoast to produce an update that uses a latent semantic indexing algorithm, which would be rather a lot to ask of a free plugin. Yet some simple recognition of the use of stop words and some basic functionality when recognising basic synonyms and miss-spellings would be a huge help to Yoast users who want to optimise for long-tail phrases.
Let’s take this post as an example. I want to rank for the following long-tail search term:
Now, in order to score well in Yoast’s analysis of my page I would have to use this exact phrase throughout my title, my slug, meta and sparingly in my content.
But lets ay for example I wanted to qualify it a little further in my page title with:
Although this phrase still includes all of the keywords that make up my keyphrase, it is ignored by the Yoast page analysis system and I am again encouraged to strip back to my basic keyphrase, without the extra words and hyphen.
This definitely seems a little unnatural to me, and I am sure it does to Google. Google are of course clandestine about how this functionality works, but we can glean the occasionally nugget of information from Matt Cutts Q&A sessions on their Youtube channel.
In the video Matt Cutts clearly lets us know that Google will penalise content that they think is too focused on exact keyword matches.
In reality, we want to be creating great content that uses our chosen long-tail phrases in a natural and non-invasive fashion. The current system that Yoast uses forces users to insert these phrases in an unnatural fashion that could even begin being penalised by Google now and in future updates.
Have you had any negative experiences using The Yoast SEO plugin in this way?
If you have, then let me know in the comments.Joe White
Making entertaining and engaging video content is one of the hardest parts of being successful at online marketing. Ignore its potency at your peril!
If you are small business, start-up or somebody trying to get your voice heard online then you need to think about video as the most important medium for getting your message out there.
Unfortunately, video is one of the hardest content mediums to nail. Not only can costs spiral out of control very quickly but unless you are careful in the planning stages you can end up with something that nobody is interested in watching or sharing.
Good ideas are the key to great online video content, not money, ideas..
In this section of When Blue Dogs Smile I dig around for the best video content on the web, so you don’t have to.
Some of the featured video might be big budget some might be very small, but the theme that will always prevail is the strength of the idea.
Find the inspiration for you next video right here…
Redbull understand online marketing better than most. It is thanks to videos like this that they dominate the energy drink market and retain one of the most powerful brands in the world.
In this latest video offering from Redbull the world’s best trial biker, Danny Macaskill, gives us a sneaky peak into what goes on inside his crazy, creative completely bonkers mind!
By making a very ambitious (and expensive) extreme sports film, then releasing it for free online, Redbull have again proven that they understand how to leverage their sports heroes to create the best viral video content the web has to offer.
Here is proof that the traditional 30-second ad slot can still work online. GEICO haven’t done anything new here. In fact stuck to the oldest formula in the book: Animals plus comedy always equals success.
I think the interesting thing here is that by being short, snappy and universally funny GEICO have proven that online video content doesn’t necessarily have to do anything new or different to the old T.V ads, you just have to make sure it’s damn funny.. Oh and having a talking camel definitely helps.
Adobe has created a something here that is both heart-warming and hilarious. But, it could have easily turned out more than just a little bit creepy. By taking clandestine photographs of people waiting at bus stops and then photoshopping them live onto the bus shelter’s advertising billboard they have pulled of the perfect prank. It is fun, engaging and most importantly different from anything done before.
Flash mobbing was the first powerful use of the prank by businesses in online video content. Since then companies have been on the look out for new and unique ways to pull of locally targeted pranks that can be streamed to an international audience, Abode have created a peach here. Watch it, it’s brilliant.
Parody, politics and music from Shaggy. What more could you want from a video commissioned by a charity? ‘It Wasn’t Me’ was originally released in 2001 and featured Shaggy making a bold denial about something that may, or may not have taken place on a bathroom floor (with the girl next door).
In this version President Obama uses the same famous song to perscribe his deniability in USA sanctioned drone attacks. This video is a great reminder that you don’t necessarily need to tackle a big and powerful subject with a big, powerful rhetoric. Often it is comedy that can bring the bigger issues to a much wider audience.
Metro Trains Melbourne has come up with this rather funny little ditty to promote railway safety. On the surface, ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ sounds like a Jack Johnson surfer jam, but the lyrics here tell quite a different story. ‘Dumb Ways To Die’ leads the listener/watcher on a colourful and morbid journey through the varies dumb ways you might die.
What makes this video interesting above and beyond its quite obvious entertainment value is that its viral potential hinges not only on humour but also on the message. By taking time and money to increase awareness of potential safety issues Metro have created something that is both useful and entertaining.
This is a new feature for the blog. I am hoping it will act as a sounding board for some of my more controversial, personal opinions about the current state of play in digital marketing.
I have a problem with the term ‘on-trend’. I find the phrase repulsive, a direct assault on my sense of value. A killer of individualism and a destroyer of self expression, It encapsulates everything that I despise about online culture and I when I hear it spoken I want to weep tears of acid into the perpetrator’s mouth.
I know this might read like the start to the most boring Vice Magazine article ever commissioned, and might well turn out to be just that yet. But this subject fuels an internal battle between the analytical and creative sides of my brain. It’s a problem that produces a considerable amount of negative emotion in my work and consequently needs to be fixed – quick sharp. This article will be, in the first instance, a place to attempt a reconciliation of the subjects of trend, individualism and marketing. I also hope to generate some discussion about the subject from other marketers; so please, let me know in the comments if you have an opinion on the matter?
I think the real reason that terms like on-trend and right-trend really make me feel uncomfortable is they challenge my notion of individualism. Although countless sources of research could no doubt be levied to contradict this point I think it is reasonable to say that most people nurture some notion of individualism, of being unique, different from everybody else. I believe it is this sense of pride in individuality that conflicts with using trends to influence customer behaviour.
I have never consciously decided to buy something that has been marketed to me as on-trend. The concept that I would want something just because other people want it is an alien idea to me. Maybe I am still fighting the subconscious corner for my rebellious 16 year old self, or maybe I’m just not ready to admit that my romantic notion of the individual is a croc of shit? Either way, the fact remains, the Bandwagon effect is a powerful marketing tool that delivers great results for campaigns that successfully tap its potential.
The bandwagon effect is a well documented psychological phenomenon that proves that people will change their opinions or beliefs based on a relationship to the proportion of people whom have already done so.
Social validity drives the bandwagon effect.
The problem with social validity is that it can, and does feed on insecurity. I find it difficult to move past this issue. I have an altruistic view that it is possible to create great marketing without appealing to negative influencers. I often refer to myself on this blog (some people would claim paradoxically) as an honest marketer. Is there anything less honest than preying on a target market’s insecurity in order to generate a want, or a perceived need for a product?
The human race is naturally social. We gravitate toward people that we feel some affinity with. Having a sense of belonging is an important driving force behind a great deal of positive behavior. Maybe my reconciliation with trend will come through understanding a little more about the basic psychological need for community?
In 1943 a famous American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, claimed that having a sense of belonging is the 3rd most important need in a hierarchy of human needs (only safety and physiological needs came first). A study by The University Of Michigan also claimed that people who feel connected to the world around them feel better and suffer far less from depression. This basic need for belonging has even been proven to have a positive effect on physical health. This study, by The Canadian Government, claimed that a sense of belonging to one’s country or local community has a positive influence on the individual and on the community’s overall well-being.
Now let’s assume for a minute that we apply these theories to branded communications. Although I have no scientific grounding for this leap, I can see no glaring reason why we can’t transfer the ideas of community loyalty to brand loyalty. After all we live in an ever more global society, where traditional international boundaries are constantly tested and scrutinised. Maybe we could go as far as to say that commercial trends are creating communities and affinity that have become lost through the breakdown of traditional national boundaries.
If there is an argument developing from somewhere buried deep within this waffle it is that trends create a sense of community, a sense of belonging. By creating and nurturing these trends into communities it may be possible to create a positive marketing message via trend driven initiatives.
I do still have issues with this argument. The connotative meanings of the phrase ‘on-trend’ are so much more open-ended than the literal definition. The fashion industry are primary culprits for the over use of forecasting trends. They are forever speculating and scrutinising over details, looking for patterns and trends from labels, designers and brands. The truth is that often, they just don’t exist. They are a fabrication of the writer, and the fodder for the marketing department.
And herein lies the problem…
Trends are too ‘faddy’, they’re fickle and they are used too liberally. If a little more caution were exercised when finding and utilising trends then people, like myself, might find more value in their claims.
By building real communities that facilitate communication between like minded individuals brands and businesses might just be able to harness the authority of trends to mean something a little more powerful. Consumers want to be part of something special, not just another fad but something more genuine and permanent. These are the trends that will have lasting impact, these are the trends that create something special that people will never forget.
Create a piece of content that reacts to a current media trend. Use Google Trends to find out what people are searching for and hijack it for use on your own blog or social media channel. People love to use social media to prove they are abreast with current affairs. Chose a hot news topic and give it a spin to fall in line with your brand message. I Did this recently when I wrote about the effect of the NSA spying scandal on online privacy. More famously, Paddy Powers made a great advert that celebrated the retirement of Alex Ferguson from Manchester United and the death of Margaret Thatcher. Their ‘Some scouser has one wish left’ billboard generated an inordinate amount social sharing in the week after both news stories broke.
This one can be very difficult to get right and used inappropriately could easily lead to an online brand meltdown. Try to stay clear of powerful subjects like death, race, religion or sexulaity unless you really know what you are doing. KitchenAid made one of the greatest Twitter ‘faux pas’ of 2012 when they posted this following the death of President Obama’s grandma.
Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president. #nbcpolitics
Grey Poupon (an american mustard brand) created a fantastic social media campaign that promoted their mustard as an exclusive, premium condiment enjoyed by the social elite. They created a Facebook application that screened prospective members of their ‘Society Of Good Taste’ group by checking their spelling, use of grammar, taste in art and restaurant check-ins on their Facebook profile. Although a little risky, they kept the feel of the whole campaign very tongue-in-cheek, in the end it made for a highly entertaining and engaging experience.
There is no turnkey solution to making your content valuable. Value can have a range of meanings dependent on context. If, for example, your business operates in a highly technical b2b environment, use your knowledge and skill from within your niche to offer a unique piece of content that nobody has produced before. Entertainment can have value, but so can information. Be sure to look very carefully at your potential audience when assessing the value of a piece of content.
If you can produce something targeted, unique and interesting people will share your content.
The late, great David Ogilvy once said
The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.
Social media is a playground of fleeting whimsicality. It is often a haven from the serious nature of the real world, people flit from one post to the next looking for something that makes them smile, without having to think too hard. Remember this notion and create something that makes people smile. Be original, honest and creative, but be warned, you can’t fake funny.
Here is an example from Old Spice – the kings of branded comedy. Just to get your creative juices flowing:
I know, I know, originality is almost impossible in today’s over saturated online space! But originality doesn’t have to mean a completely new concept or idea. It just has to be new to your customers. Try not to get too stuck in the social rhetoric of your industry. follow tweeters from outside of your industry, read a range of blogs and other media that don’t directly apply to your business and repurpose some the best ideas you find.
The french philosopher Voltaire once said:
Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.
Originality doesn’t always come in a flash of inspiration, more often than not those ‘Eueka’ moment are few and far between. But by being clever about where you draw your inspirations from you can still develop an original authoritative voice for your business or brand.Joe White
Last week, amidst confusion and anonymity, The Guardian Newspaper released a series of top-secret presentation slides referring to a previously unknown computer program run by the NSA. This program, designed to bypass online privacy laws, has gained access to private and personal data held by many of the major web companies since 2007 – it is called Prism.
Effectively, this program is able to snoop through emails, search data and all other digital communications without first requisitioning it via court order. It would seem that the American government has completely abandoned any respect for the privacy laws of its constitution and the offending internet companies have disregarded their own privacy policies, in favour of becoming NSA pets.
Alleviating privacy concerns is a primary mission for all of the web’s major players. Yet this privacy scandal is far bigger than Google, Facebook or any of the other offending parties have ever dealt with before. It cuts to the very core of people’s online privacy concerns.
Is This The End Of Online Privacy As We Know It?
Out of the 41 top-secret slides handed to The Guardian by Edward Snowden, 5 have now been released. After the initial 4 slides were published on Thursday, another was released on Saturday. This supported some of the evidence levied against the government and the internet giants involved.
Data is collected directly from the servers of the following companies: Microsoft, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.
There is further private data mined via access to fiber cables – the infrastructure of the internet.
The NSA are using both of these resources simultaneously to mine data from online communications.
In the initial instance this looks like pretty damning evidence that proves that the these internet companies are allowing data to be taken ‘directly from their servers’. However, the claim that this is happening with the knowledge of these businesses has been furiously denied by nearly all of the parties concerned.
Apple immediately issued a press release denying any knowledge of the Prism program. This refute was quickly followed by statements from Google and Facebook venomously denying any involvement or knowledge of program. Yahoo and Microsoft also issued statements denying any knowledge of the program.
Facebook is not and has never been part of any programme to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers,” he maintained. “We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn’t even heard of PRISM before yesterday. [link]
First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday. [link]
Both of these rebuttals do not appear to be the words of guilty businesses trying to cover their backs; their are no concessions to ambiguity here. If it ever does come to light that either of these parties are guilty of complicity in Prism then these comments could very well land them in jail.
At this stage we can only guess as to whom is responsible for these monumental breaches in privacy. But lets face it, although it feels good to postulate on who’s to blame, In the end it doesn’t really matter.
Google, Facebook, Microsoft and the rest of the motley crew that account for almost 90% of all our time spent online are guilty of one of the following allegations:
They are complicit in allowing the NSA into their servers, allowing them to search freely through private data
They know what is happening, but have plausibly deniable in their understanding of the Prism program
Their servers are not secure enough to resist an open hack from the American Government
Whichever turns out to be the truth the fact still remains: Our private data is not safe with any of the organisations mentioned in the leak. Either we accept this fact, move past it and continue our relationships with the internet giants. Or we disconnect from them completely and find new alternative ways to interact with each other online.
Can Facebook ever match up to Google as a platform for effective digital advertising?
Google’s Adwords platform is the stand-alone champion of PPC advertising, it’s powerhouse status is unrivaled. Facebook have made inroads into PPC advertising over the last few years, but with limited success. They quickly rose to the number 2 spot in terms of advertising revenue, but they have failed to come anywhere near to challenging Google for the top spot.
PPC (pay-per-click) advertising works for Google because people browsing the search engine are quite often already looking for products or services that are being advertised. On Facebook things are a little different, the majority of people are predominantly communicating with friends and sharing information. Although they may be interacting with brands as well, they are not generally looking to make purchases.
Can Facebook overcome this dilemma, or should they be looking to monetize another area of their service in order to build a successful revenue model?
SoLoMo sounds like something a ‘txt msg’ lingo savvy friend might write to indicate that your recent attempt at humour was below usual standards. Fortunately, for those of us who can’t help but cringe at the text messaging lingo franca, this isn’t the case.
We have the venture capitalist John Doerr to thank for this partuicular addition to the digital marketing vocabulary. Simply put, SoLoMo stands for Social, Local, Mobile.
More specifically, it denotes the relationship between users of smartphones and tablets [mobile], the GPS enabled positioning that these devices have and how search engines are using this data [local], and the social media conversations that these users are involved in whilst on the move [Social].
SoLoMo is a digital marketing trend that gives boutique local businesses the chance to compete with huge corporations in online search. Think about it like this, if you can provide a potential customer with relevant content, specific to their location, you can beat the web giants and score a lead before they even get a sniff at it.
Lets say you own a shop that sells tea and you are based in Leeds, UK. A visitor to the city wants to buy a present for their friend but they don’t know where to start.
While browsing their Facebook feed (on their mobile) they come across a post from said friend claiming they’ve just had a cup of X tea, and it’s the best tea they’ve ever tasted. The visitor quickly jumps over to their mobile browser and searches for ‘X tea Leeds shop’.
Smartphone users spend a huge proportion of their online mobile time using social networks like Facebook and Twitter. 80% of all smartphone owners access social networks from their devices and 55% of them visit their favorite social networks at least once every single day.
Think about the different ways your customers use social media while on the move, think about the ways you use social media on the move. Create content strategies that mirror these behaviors, play up to them.
Do you stock a certain popular brand that people might be interacting with online on a regular basis? If so, make sure you create content that references this brand, then link your content back to theirs. By curating these relationships carefully you will ensure that your customers know who to visit next time they want to make a purchase.
Local search drives action. Mobile device users love to use their prefered device to find out what is happening around them. They might be searching for some live music they can watch during an evening out with friends, or which local restaurant is offering a great early bird menu deal. Both of these examples are using their mobile devices at the very end of the marketing funnel, they are looking to convert to action immediately. You must be visible at this point otherwise you will lose their business.
Ensure you are signed up to Google Places and The Bing Business Portal, these invaluable tool will help people find your service specific to your location. They also provide information including maps, opening hours and a contact telephone number.
Make sure you’re website is responsive and looks great across all platforms. The key to a successful mobile friendly site is to keep things as simple as possible. Mobile users don’t want to scroll through pages lots of irrelevant information just to find your price list or menu. They want solutions to their immediate problems. Remember, these are people whom are hoping to convert to an action that could bring your business substantial revenue almost immediately.
Recent data on mobile solutions for e-commerce vendors suggests that only 48% of retailers have a website that is optimised for mobile devices. This leaves a lot of room for you to carve out your niche, but don’t dawdle, your customers are waiting.
Maybe you are looking for ideas that will send your next video viral, or maybe you just want to watch some great videos from across the web? Either way, check out my top 5 online videos from the past week here:
What are your Facebook friends doing while you sit at home alone on a Saturday night? College Humour create a great piece of video content that satirises the ‘Fomo’ [Fear Of Missing Out] effect with hilarious results.
Upshot TV and Nabil provide us with a powerful response to the Woolwich murder.
Evian proving once again that the combination of good humour and dancing babies will always equal mountains of Youtube hits and shares.
Eric Tsytsylin delivers a short lecture for Stanford Business about the powerful effect laughter can have on our productivity.
CP Grey give us a [slightly biased] explanation about why coffee is the greatest drink on the planet.
Cool is a commodity no business wants to lose, especially when its clientele reside in the unforgiving world of youth culture. Mark Zuckerberg knew this when Facebook launched in March 2004. He didn’t know what cool was, but he knew what wasn’t cool – money, especially advertising money.
The web has been plagued with monetisation dilemmas since Tim Berners Lee famously ‘took the idea of hypertext and linked it to TCP and DNS and ‘ta da – created the internet’. Initially the web was kept free of commercialisation, and the early-adopter internet community has continued to support those who don’t put investor dollars at the forefront of their business ideals.
In an online landscape where display advertising has failed, the best bet for leveraging an income for social start-ups comes from introducing a form of native advertising to their platform. Either that or selling out to a larger business whom, will more then likely introduce native advertising to their platform anyway.This perpetual drive towards the dollar signs and fat cats of commercialism eventually leads to a head on collision with Wall Street, where hungry investors snap at the heels of young tech start-ups, insisting on detailed revenue models and larger dividend payouts.
This morning another social media ‘shit-storm’ erupted as users of the Tumblr platform were told the business has agreed a buyout of $1.1billion by Internet giants Yahoo. Even after Yahoo promised not to ‘screw it up’, it seems that once again users of social media are lashing out at monetisation proposals. Comments like this one are currently making the rounds on Tumblr and appear to be galvanizing a great deal of the support from the community.
So how do social media companies retain their cool, keep their user-base, and still keep the money-men smiling? The truth lies in a very fine balancing act that only some start-ups have managed to pull off. The crux comes in deciding when to make the move. If its done too soon, and there aren’t enough users already on the platform all efforts to create revenue will fail. The social media start-ups that have successfully created powerful revenue streams have always reached a critical mass of users before they have announced a monetisation program.
The truth is advertising isn’t cool, platforms that think too much about money and not enough about user experience will never succeed. They’ll lose their chance at being cool before they’re even off the ground. Facebook didn’t lose too many users when they started adding native advertising. Yes, there were 100’s of Facebook pages set up in disgust and anger, but the majority users stayed, they even chose to vent on the same platform they now ‘hated’ so much.
Without critical mass users will disappear in droves at the first hint of monetisation. Social media is particularly sensitive to this because users are aware that their data, the data they volunteered to the network is being used to sell products back to them. Not cool! However, if users still need the platform to interact with an already well developed network, a network they have invested a lot of time in building, they’ll most likely let a little bit of advertising slide here and there. They’ll even most likely let Yahoo take the helm, as long they don’t screw things up too much.