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Porn and Activism: Signs Your Platform Is Working

From Ethan Zuckerman’s post on his Etech talk The Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism:

We [at the website hosting service Tripod] sincerely believed that the purpose of the web was to give college graduates helpful information about renting apartments, applying for jobs and investing their money. Our users rapidly told us that what the web was really about was publishing their own information… which left us with the difficult challenge of figuring out how to make money off of people’s collections of cat pictures.

User-generated content, on average, is a lot less interesting than professional content. But there are a lot more people creating their own content for fun than those doing so for a living, and in aggregate, that content is at least as interesting.

Among all the cat videos and porn, it turns out, there’s lots of quality content out there. Build a useful platform, let the pornographers road-test it, and soon you’ve enabled a community to do something valuable.

Social Media Sobriety Test from Webroot

What a great idea.

Tribal DDB’s Eric Weaver: You Don’t Need a Social Media Strategy

Let’s Hope That Next Year Digg Isn’t An Island

With the new Digg rumored to be launching this week, and further rumors that it will allow users to import their social graphs from Facebook, Twitter and others in order to create a personalized My News experience, I’m hoping next year’s Social Media Map won’t represent Digg as that lonely island just north of the United Territories of Wikimedia.

Social Media Map 2010

When Brands Act More Like Humans in Social Media, Results Improve

I came across some eMarketer data this week that initially struck me as obvious: Social media users are more likely to trust blog posts, Tweets and Facebook updates authored by friends than those posted by brands. In the “trust completely” column, friends are considered two to three TIMES more trustworthy.

Makes sense: human friendships are built around trust, and while we sometimes trust brands, brands aren’t friends or humans.

Consumer trust levels -- info from friends v info from brands

Of course brands aren’t people, but they’ve long understood that humanizing themselves (itselves?) — by hiring likable pitchmen and pitchwomen or creating cute animated characters, for example — makes us more likely to think of them as friends. When they act like humans (or tree elves or fun-loving tigers), we often forget they are corporations trying to sell us stuff. We start considering them pals and trusting them.

In social media, though, brands aren’t doing a good job of acting like our human friends. A recent report by digital agency 360i (see Forbes) shows that consumers use Twitter to converse with their online friends — @Replies, in Twitterspeak — while brands predominantly use social media to talk about themselves.

“When marketers use Twitter, 360i says that 75% of the time they are using it to disseminate news or information about the brand, as opposed to actively engaging Twitter users. Consumers are only engaged by the brand approximately 16% of the time. Putting that in perspective, consumers engaged in conversation with each other 43% of the time.”

And it turns out that behaving like a human in social media — listening and conversing rather than spouting from a soapbox — isn’t just an academic exercise or a contest to rack up follower counts. Charlene Li at the Altimeter Group recently ranked brands into a leaderboard of what she calls the Social Media Mavens, the brands that most actively engage with their followers, and cross-checked her data with financial performance of those companies. It turns out that acting more human in social media is good business.

“These Mavens on average grew 18% in revenues over the last 12 months, compared to the least engaged companies who on average saw a decline of 6% in revenue during the same period. The same holds true for two other financial metrics, gross margin and net profit.

“Note that we are not claiming a causal relationship — but there is clearly a correlation and connection. For example, a company mindset that allows a company to be broadly engage with customers on the whole probably performs better because the company is more focused on [customers] than the competition.”

Social Media Stats-Porn: Updated Social Media Revolution Video

5 Tips to Successful DiggAds [Whitepaper]

Whitepaper listed in Digg

Digg and the Social Media Group teamed up on a whitepaper that analyzes performance data from DiggAds campaigns over the past 8 months, and offers 5 tips to improve campaign performance. From the introduction:

“In 2005, Digg launched with a mission to let readers curate content by voting (or “Digging”) stories they think others should read — an online newspaper of sorts where readers, not editors, determine the stories that appear on the front page. Members of the Digg community submit quality content they find on professional publications like CNN.com, independent publications and blogs like TechCrunch, video sites like YouTube, or even commercial websites such as Toyota.com or IBM.com. Other readers review these submissions and vote the best-of-the-best to the homepage. In other words, Digg readers care about the quality, relevance and timeliness of content, not whether the publisher is a publicly-traded media company, a Fortune 500 consumer electronics manufacturer, or an independent photographer posting pictures to her blog.

“Understanding that Digg readers are willing to engage with quality, branded content led to the development of new social ad products on Digg. These ads allow brands to promote their own content, provided they’re willing to let the community Digg them up (or bury them down), just like other content submitted to Digg. DiggAds, as they’re called, are a simple idea. Consumers today trust their peers over brands when it comes to credible content. If brands want their content to be considered more credible (and therefore be consumed), there is an emerging opportunity to let those same consumers curate their messages, too.”

Click here to download the PDF.

Or here to view it at SlideShare.

Digg's Money-Making Strategy

Two articles and a post at Digg’s blog this week all discuss the progress of Digg Ads, the Digg-able, bury-able ad units on Digg’s homepage.

Mashable describes the Digg Ads product better than I do:

“DiggAds is powered by a complex auction-based system that attempts to serve users with the highest quality ads — Digg assigns its own quality score to ads — while factoring in the advertiser’s bidding price. It’s like Google Adsense but with quality scoring. The idea is to reward high quality ads with lower CPCs; the more diggs an ad gets the less the advertiser pays.”

Bob Buch on Digg’s blog says:

“In the first four months, DiggAds has been extraordinarily successful for Digg. From a revenue perspective, things have been great — we view this as a positive sign that giving users control over the advertising they see is a good user experience.”

And Liz Gannes at GigaOM says:

“Social networking behavior — endless repetitive page views, unvetted content — isn’t a great fit for traditional forms of online advertising. Early attempts to bring search or brand ads onto sites like MySpace and Facebook had pathetic results compared the trajectories of the sites’ popularity and attention. But now, a few years in, social media companies are starting to discover how to advertise to their own audience. And in the last five months, Digg has figured out a model that makes sense. So much so that its new site-specific ad formats already account for more than a third of its revenue.”

(Liz interviewed me for the article.)

Baby Boomers Quickly Increasing Usage on Social Networks

eMarketer Data on Social Networking by Age Group

“[A year ago] a Pew Internet and American Life Project study found that 20% of online adults 45-54 years old (the ‘younger’ Boomers) and 10% of online adults 55-64 (the ‘older’ Boomers) were participating in social networks…. Boomers are, in fact, joining and participating in social networks. Deloitte late last year found that 46% of Boomers maintain at least one social networking profile — up significantly from 2007.”

Full story at MediaPost.

Forrester: Social Media Is Key to Engaging "Empowered Women"

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“In order to effectively engage ‘empowered women’ online, consumer packaged goods brands must design campaigns that enhance communication and aid in consumers’ decision-making and influence. And that, according to a new report by Forrester Media, means social media.”

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The Forrester report suggests that purchase decisions by these women are being affected by the content and conversations they’re having online.

“Empowered women — or those ages 25-54 who feel that the Internet helps them manage their family life — are highly influential as household decision-makers as well as among their peers. From entertainment to electronics, empowered women are much more likely to be asked by friends for product recommendations.”

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