Socialmedia Catalyst

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Augmented Reality

Slick, touch-responsive, elucidative glares have long been a feature of science-fiction. The suave, dashing spy strides down a bus New York street and pauses before a man with an impassive, phlegmatic expression. Cut to the hero’s glares: a blinker appears on the top-left corner for a few seconds, after which a list drops down the screen. The suspect’ stats – vital and otherwise – have just been sourced ‘from the database’.

In a few years – heck, now, probably – these glares will be reality. Augmented reality (AR), actually. That’s the technology these glares use. Augmented reality superimposes graphics, audio and other sense enhancements from computer screens onto real time environments. What is most impressive about this, is that AR’s information is given according to subjective needs. (If you want eco-friendly bags, that’s what your AR-instrument will point you towards, in the mall.) While Pranav Mistry’s Sixth Sense technology is the most popular and promising aspect of AR today, there are also gaming, wikitude and numerous other possibilities.

This will take convenience to a new level – Look at a lake and know if it’s too deep, cold or toxic to swim in. Calorie-count will appear as soon as you look at food. Military operations will be aided greatly by AR – blueprints, night vision, detection of weaponry – all at the touch of a screen. Surgeons will have an objective, unimpeded view of the area of surgery, with constant indicators on a single screen. Not to mention that looking at a person brings up all their information on the internet.

Which begs the question: do I *want* a stranger to see the details of my Facebook and Twitter pages? Will I have the same attitudes to the guilty culinary delights if I start using AR calorie-counts? (I know I can stop using AR if it makes me guilty, but will I ever eat Tiramisu again?). Yeah, I want the Indian Army to know the enemy’s actions like it knows cricket scores, but do I want the enemy to know the same about India? Is it really a good idea to be peering at a virtual screen every few seconds?

When AR does make an appearance in the lives of the masses, it will be extensively powerful and correspondingly dangerous. However, like all other technological progress today, it will march on regardless. Preventing a virtual Hiroshima-Nagasaki is up to the users. The choice is yours are you willing to be part of the revolution as a user or as a creator?

Trends in Social Media Marketing in 2010

Mobile will gain in Social Networking – people will start using cell phones more extensively for social net working needs. Fall in rates, more competition between mobile service providers, and the most anticipated 3G spectrum will fuel this growth.

Digital divide of the online and offline world will come together – there would be more explosion of interest based meet ups – feng shui, dog lovers

Social Networking will not be just a few handful of early adopters, but this time the voice would be much louder and the reach would be larger and more amplified

On the applications and websites the “coolness quotient” will move to more “utlity quotient”. The coolness will attract but then utility will make the stick around and keep coming back for more!!

One thing that might be negative or should be used with caution will the aspect of Peronsal Privacy and copy of content without giving acknowlegement to the user, specially true in case of blogging.

More celebrities will start engaing with their fans online, will use this tool not only to promote their movies, but also the causes that are close to their heart. Fans will be excited to have a tweet reply from their favourite celebrity or celebrities’ symphatasies on their fan’s loss.

From a more business perspective it would become micro-tagetting, mass-prsonalization and interest based profiling of users and demographic profiling of users would be a passe.

Facebook, Twitter will stagnate, next big thing would foursquare.com, are you on it yet or be left behind.

This article was featured in the DNA here

Are social networks here to stay? Is it a revolution?

Clubbing was a decade old form of social networking. Today people tweet their thoughts for the world to see. In between, we’ve had instant messaging, MySpace, Facebook and blogs.

Social networking technology is changing the way consumers, investors and traders interact and share information. However, all companies are struggling to find ways to show how the trend is actually adding to the bottom line. Almost every industry has seen the influence of social networking.

Moksh: Online social networking is here to stay—the only change will be in what form it takes. It isn’t just a fad. However it needs to keep on coming up with innovations. The content and the features will have to be kept updated very frequently for the consumer to retain interest in the same.

Daksh: yes, apart from this, more interactivity between the website and the user will go a long way in him being loyal and an evangelist for the site to a new user or even an existing user. I think the young generation get bored very easily and thus the secret to success for the network would be real time innovation, as Moksh said. It is very difficult to be logged in your site when he has plenty other options just at the click of a button.

Moksh: people ask me whether social networking would take advertisement away from the conventional media. The answer is that no media can be indispensable, ever. Period.
Each media compliments the other and social networking isn’t any different. The only thing that might happen is that initially till the media is new and people have not experienced it, some amount of content will go to it. But in the long run, it will all even out.

Daksh: people in India don’t buy or sell stuff online which I think could be a small drawback in terms of leveraging the media for trade purposes. Advertising is fine but not trade. Also the internet connectivity in India is very low which could act as a barrier. Stringent laws by the government will help trade and as people’s confidence in the system increases, more use of social networks will happen.

INTEGRATING SOCIAL MEDIA INTO MKTG COMMUNICATIONS

The newest kid on the block always gets the eyeballs and attention with respect to what it does. Same is the case with the social networking sites which have taken the world by storm. Experts predict it to be the next big thing. Only time will tell whether it will but it doesn’t stop people from taking big bets on it.

What started out as a forum for like-people to exchange views and opinions and start type of online club has turned into a marketing arena for marketers to get each and every pounce of it. The huge response social network sites have got and the type of audience available to the marketers unprecedented before has resulted in them researching how to leverage it. However there are concerns whether they should be clubbed with the other forms of media or should be kept separately due to the type of audience.

Moksh: Integration with existing marketing strategy or not? For me it doesn’t matter, what matters is how we tap this market. If our goal is the same, then I think we should integrate it since it would give a holistic picture and there would not be duplication of activities.

Daksh: Integrating it will help more since the objectives are same. However the technology and information for this media is developing and thus the quantity of budget allotment would differ from product/ service to product/ service. E.g. Telecom players such as Vodafone or Airtel or Idea who spend huge budgets would not mind spending on social media but low spenders and who prefer focused marketing would be circumspect till the actual response of social media is known.

Moksh: though social media is a bit different from internet marketing, the basics remain the same. i.e. banner ads or classified ads or search based ads will be the way on social media. Social networking websites cannot force neitizens to click on the banner ad.

Daksh: I think social media scores over other forms of media in a way that it is interactive. Thus the consumer is more likely to read and understand the product. Thus I would say that it is more focused and the target market is much more under the microscope.

Understanding social network users:

For the last few decades, sociologists and psychologists have been wondering whether computers are going to spell the demise of interpersonal communication. We are all going to retreat into our dark rooms where our computers are located, and avoid things like playing cricket with the neighbors, shopping at the mall, or heading down the haji ali road for a juice at the famous juice centre.

It seems that the people mostly impacted but the rise of social networking would be the clubs who charge a bomb for membership. But this may just be more a result of what they have (rather don’t have) to offer young people, more than just the cheap drinks.

To attract the youth, you need Wireless Internet may be a Wi-fi or Wimax. I wouldn’t go to a club if I don’t have internet connectivity.

Moksh: As a Marketing person who does business online, I need to understand the psyche of the young chap. They are not introverts who sit nonstop on the internet. For them, it is their way of mingling with friends.

Daksh: I could not agree more. This audience has grown up in a system where the computer is an answer to all the problems. Be it information on a particular thing or if you are getting bored, play online games on local network, play online pranks and enjoy everything at just the click of a button.

Moksh: I think parents are also responsible for this attitude of children. They do not want the children to play out. So they prefer them sitting at home and on the computer. Thus getting back on the marketing aspect, these people are very strong influencers for a brand. It is almost like word of mouth publicity e.g. mouthshut.com or consumercomplaints.co.in. This audience sits non stop online and have an opinion on all things. And it carries weight since it is from a similar peer group for the consumers.

Daksh: social networking is going to change the rules of the game for marketers. Rather than just putting up ads on the face of the consumers, interactive based marketing will be the way forward.

Moksh: marketers need to understand that to make consumers loyal to your product/ service, you need to make them a member of your product community (as in case of orkut) online. The consumers should have problems solving avenues online so that you can get as close to understanding him as possible. Their need to be social networking managers to handle the traffic.

Daksh: Finally, it can act like a double edged sword. Good reviews magnify the impact help but bad reviews damage too and they need to be managed effectively.

Blogs vs. Twitter:

Twitter feed is far less substantial than the blog had been. In fact it is difficult to see a single tweet of interest, whereas this person’s earlier blog posts had been, with some regularity, worth a look. If we don’t “follow” this person, we miss the possibility of some future interesting tweet. On the other hand, if we do follow, we clearly have to wade through a bunch of garbage. The signal-to-noise ratio will clearly be way worse than it had been on the now-dying blog.

Blogs are sometimes more substantial and I think reports of the death of blogs due to Twitter and Facebook are wrong. For me blogging has been a great way to collect and share thoughts on a particular issue, to collect ideas for future longer projects, and to create a public persona as an expert with something to say about the topics I know a lot about. I like to think the blog has been useful to people I wouldn’t otherwise get to communicate with. I’ve come into contact with many people, especially those on the ground addressing the issues I write about here, through this blog. Blogging has been and I hope it will continue to be great. It also takes a lot of time to get a post to what I want it to be before I post it.

Points of difference between twitter and blogs:

1) Twitter isn’t a substitute for blogging. Some people may choose to Twitter instead of blogging, but I wouldn’t assume that anyone has that kind of either/or relationship. A tweet is not meant to accomplish what a blog post is meant to accomplish. Neither is killing the other, they aren’t in competition anymore than, say writing books vs. writing a blog.

2) People like Twitterers’ minuscule details: In my case, though we’re not talking big numbers either way, more people follow me on Twitter than subscribe to this blog. One man’s garbage is another’s treasure, or entertainment. I find Twitterers who stick to posts about their one professional interest boring. Other people love them, and more power to them. I don’t since that is what blogs are for. If you come to twitter looking for ideas about a topic, you’re better off watching Twitter trends and searching keywords than following individuals; Twitter usually offers great topical coverage only in the aggregate.

3) Looking at a Twitter feed or profile isn’t the same as following someone on Twitter: If you follow from within a Twitter account, there’s a setting so you don’t have to watch that banter unless it’s between people you also follow. That changes the signal/noise ratio a lot.

6) Twitter is a great site for language play. The 140 character limit is a fun challenge for wordsmiths, and those who do it well are joys to read. As a genre, in as much as it is a genre, the language of Twitter is just way more fun than the language of blogs.
If you don’t like Twitter, don’t use it. Encourage others to keep on blogging by letting them know how much you appreciate the volunteer work they do through blogging. But don’t be disappointed because people don’t twitter how you want them to blog. That just doesn’t make sense.

Social-Network Users’ data at risk:

Researchers find a way to identify individuals in supposedly anonymous social-network data. One way for social networks to make money is by sharing information about users with advertisers and others who are interested in understanding consumer behavior and exploiting online trends.

Social networks typically promise to remove “personally identifying information” before sharing this data, to protect users’ privacy. But researchers has found that, combined with readily available data from other online sources, this anonymized data can still reveal sensitive information about users.

In tests involving the photo-sharing site Flickr and the microblogging service Twitter, the researchers were able to identify a third of the users with accounts on both sites simply by searching for recognizable patterns in anonymized network data. Both Twitter and Flickr display user information publicly, so the researchers anonymized much of the data in order to test their algorithms.

The researchers wanted to see if they could extract sensitive information about individuals using just the connections between users, even if almost all of the names, addresses, and other forms of personally identifying information had been removed. They found that they could, provided they could compare these patterns with those from another social-network graph where some user information was accessible.

Data from social networks–particularly the pattern of friendship between users–can be valuable to advertisers. Most social networks plan to make money by sharing this information, while advertisers hope to employ it to find a particularly influential user and target her with advertising to reach her network of friends, for example.

The researchers say that it is fairly easy to find non anonymous social-network data: the connections between friends in many networks, such as Twitter, are made public by default.

Examples of how social networking sites are accessed through mobile phones:

Facebook
According to Nielsen, Facebook is the No. 7 mobile website in terms of reach. About 15% of Facebook users (11 million) in the U.S. regularly access the social network’s mobile web version (not to mention various downloadable versions and the roughly three million users who use SMS).

Facebook fan pages are just beginning to be supported on the mobile web, and hopefully soon on mobile applications as well. Once they are fully supported, that will open up mobile social-media integration opportunities.

Facebook recently launched a new feature for fan pages that allows users to subscribe via SMS. This is a free service that essentially gives any brand with a Fan Page the ability to send targeted SMS updates to their fan’s mobile phones if they have opted into the service. However, only a few brands have effectively used this new feature, and more work needs to be done to actively engage fans with it by including content that is relevant to mobile users.

Twitter:

Twitter is another great example of the power of mobile and social media working together. According to Nielsen, more than 3 million Twitter users in the U.S. alone regularly access the service via the mobile web. Additionally, many consumers are frequently using Twitter through SMS and a range of downloadable mobile applications for iPhone, BlackBerry and other mobile devices. This makes Twitter an easy and seamless way to drive consumers to mobile content.

If you’re already actively using Twitter for a brand, consider how mobile-friendly your tweets are. Also, if your brand has a mobile site and a Twitter account, then why not invite your mobile users to click over and follow your tweets right then and there? Brands can take advantage of this easy integration point.

YouTube
YouTube is a powerful social network and content site, and by far the most ubiquitous in terms of the number of platforms and devices that it can be accessed from. Even on mobile, there are a number of distinct ways that users can access the full range of mobile content. The native versions of YouTube that come pre-installed on iPhones, Android phones like the G1, and the Palm Pre offer the best mobile user experience. However, the mobile web version is also outstanding, and has well over 4.6 million users that log in many times a month.

Orkut and its new Look

Orkut has introduced a completely new get up facing competition with Facebook. (via Orkut Blog)

Orkut - New Look

Orkut - New Look

The new look is a mixture taking elements from MySpace the new default color theme, updates is a are very Facebook element and last one also the see the notification like the one in gmail.

What would have made a difference and probably switch the evolved internet users back to Orkut would the integration of status updates via twitter, friendfeed and any other RSS compatible links.

Primarily, Orkut being very popular in Brazil and India, they should have added some very specific themes which are contextually relevant to Brazilians and Indians respectively. Plus, the usability has also become easy in the sense that a person does not need to wait for new tab or window to open. Personally, i always liked Orkut, since it was the first social networking site that i was introduced to and that time, till date I dont like chatting, so Orkut was a welcome relief to be connecting with friends and at the same time, we dont need to give them instant responses.

Even though, you have the chat facility in Orkut, the video chat may not be all that successful, since we are still facing with low bandwith and the major population who is accessing Orkut, might still be using Dial up, so then the chances of using video chat again, diminishes.

With the new feature, you might just have a slight increase in the usage and interactivity on Orkut, but then a lot of people in groups have already shifted to Facebook and now adopting to Twitter. Dont see all of them shifting or spending time on Orkut, untill they make some drastic changes, not just theme colour. They should also look into adding some more community features and connecting with the people on the communities.