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Social media network, the next film critic?

Avatar, the magnum opus of James Cameroon, could be the most successful film ever in the world in terms of revenues. It has also been a very big hit in India where generally Hollywood movies take time to be accepted by the audiences.

Moksh: I would partly attribute the success to the rave reviews on social networking sites such as Facebook, Orkut and others. It meant that the social networking sights were loaded with the personal views of the movie-buffs who saw it in and immediately uploaded their comments on these sites especially Twitter.

Daksh: The euphoria that has ensued resulted in massive revenues at the box office. Similar can be the case with 3 Idiots. The movie was discussed threadbare and there were no-holds barred discussion where it was dissected and bisected from all the directions. A critic would surely have not done in such a detailed manner. But does it mean that the role of critic as making or opinion or marring the reputation of a film is coming to an end? It seems so but it is happening slowly but surely.

Moksh: Twitter has already made its presence felt as a medium of communication that is bringing reviews of the films in a more personalized manner and is invoking a chain of communications around it. So, is it ominous signs for the art of critique for a film? The wind is flowing in that direction.

Daksh: The discussions on the social network sites that is emanating is between those who incidentally belong to the category that forms the first week’s crowd for a movie, the fate decider of a movie so to say. If they have decided to discuss the movie threadbare on their own without bothering about the review that an official designate reviewer may have put on the newspaper, a TV channel or a website, it indeed would mean that democratization in the process of movie viewing would come into play. A viewer would be more guided by the review put up by a fellow review instead of being swayed by the review that is put up by a professional reviewer.

Moksh: But the debatable point in this development would be, whether the trend would continue for other movies as well, or it would be a passing phase? Would the same sense of participation in the same magnitude become a part for all the films that are released in India? It would indeed be a tough task, as everybody, i.e. those who want to participate would have to watch the movie to chip in with the comments. Rottentomatoes.com and imbd are websites which has loads of writers giving fair review for a movie.

For the film fraternity, it could be a bonanza, as more and more people may be viewing a movie, and could it mean that the official group of a film promoted on a social network site be accorded the privilege of viewing a movie before it is released to offer their comments and discuss the issue threadbare. This could be a sort of Paid PR activity.

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.

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.

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.

Evaluating Social Network Services

Ryze has the clunkiest interface of the four major social network services — your personal home page starts with a two column profile that is professionally oriented, but has difficulty if you have more then one affliliation. Below this standard profile you can use some HTML to create a better looking section, but for non-HTML users it is difficult. Finally, the page ends with a Guestbook, which other other service members can post comments in.

One of my favorite features in Ryze is that when you click on a friend or potential friend, it shows you all the connections that you have between yourself and that person through your friends and friends of friends. Related, once you sign in the site home page will show you small pictures and first names of various friends of friends, and you’ll sometimes recognize some of them and ask them to join your network.

One of the most interesting things about Ryze is its orientation toward having physical gatherings, such as parties. There various events going on every week. As they charge for many of these events, thus Ryse has sort of a business model.

The worst thing about Ryze is that it is a little too open by default. To add someone as a friend takes a single click, and you get no opportunity to say why someone should join your network. Though that makes it easier to add people, on the receiving side I ended up with a number of people who wanted to add me as a friend when I had no idea who they were.

Tribe- Each tribe has a message board, so ‘intentional communities’ is an important part of this service. In fact, this site almost hides your professional information, putting it under a secondary tab, but unfortunately, this tab also only allows for one affiliation per member.

Another unique thing about Tribe is the classified listings — you see on various pages listings of requests and to a lesser extent offers from your social network. The biggest weakness with Tribe.Net is that it lacks the ability to personalize very much. Your personal home page is mainly lists, and thus your personalization is largely limited to your photo.

Friendster:

This social networking service is designed originally for dating.
The nicest thing about Friendster is its simplicity. There are 13 entries to fill out, ranging from gender to favorite movies. Unfortunately the site has become a bit over-popular with the under-25 crowd lately, so it can be very slow in the evenings. Because it was a dating site, the photo links are important, and the actual photos show up larger on this site then they do on any other site, making your photo on your personal page even more important.

The biggest weakness to Friendster is also that simplicity — it is not oriented toward professional connections, nor to your group affiliations. It is just about you and your immediate friends. This makes Frienster the most “status” oriented of the various sites. It becomes more important to see how many friends you have, and how many endorsements you can get.

In & Out of Linkedin:

LinkedIn is the most professional looking of all the social networking service. It is very oriented toward your professional network and not your broader personal network. In fact, unlike almost all the other sites, LinkedIn doesn’t allow for you to add a photo your personal page. The “connections” are not called friends here.

LinkedIn has a very good resume engine. Basically you put in all of your recent job history, with dates, and the software displays it in a form that looks a lot like a resume. This is the only social networking service that lets you have multiple current professional affiliations, which for me is important. Unfortunately, this site does not allow you to easily list your non-professional affiliations, nor does it allow for you to separate job-type affiliations with lesser type affiliations like ‘investor’, ‘member of professional association’, etc.

An important strength and weakness to LinkedIn is that it is much more protective of your privacy. You can’t add anyone to your network unless you know their name and email address, or you have to get a referral from someone who is already your friend. This makes this service much more professional respectable then the other social networking services, which are more casual. For busy and well connected people, this is very important.

I’ve only recently joined LinkedIn, so I haven’t had a chance to use its requests feature yet, but in at least the area of Venture Capital, it seems quite powerful. When I searched on this I got over 500 people that were somehow connected to my social network that I might be able to ask a friend for an introduction.

The biggest weakness of this site is that it tries to be completely self-contained. It doesn’t let you list your website, blogs, or give out your personal information selectively like Ryse does. The only external information that it allows you to share is your email address and that only to friends.

Skype: the Un-Social Network:

Skype’s new owners might make it the platform it always should have been.
On the list of technology companies that inspire speculation and interest disproportionate to their size, Skype has often been near the top. The international success of its Internet-calling service was near-instant.

In ebay’s hands, however, Skype never quite achieved its promise. After spending $3.1 billion to buy it, eBay today sold off control to a group of technology investors for $1.9 billion in a deal that values Skype at about $2.75 billion. Not by any means small change but not the outlandish success that was once expected of Skype—and that it could have been.

Eighteen or 24 months ago, if you were asked to name the most important social networking platform, “Skype” would have been a very good, if unexpected, answer. Skype had passed 200 million user accounts way back in early 2007. It had 30 million or so users a day. The total time spent with Skype a year and a half ago was about 10 billion minutes a month already well behind Facebook’s 20 billion but not so far that it could never catch up.

Skype is not, of course, a “social networking” tool as the term is generally used. But it unquestionably involves social interaction. And one advantage that Skype had over social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace was that Skype had persuaded many millions of people to download its software—something very few companies have been able to do.

Today a comparison like this would be completely academic. Measured by the number of users a day or the time they spend with it, Facebook has left Skype far in the dust. And while Zuckerberg’s gutsy decision to turn down Yahoo‘s (YHOO) reported $1 billion bid for Facebook looks brilliant, eBay is happy to have wound up with a smaller loss than most analysts expected.

When eBay bought Skype, the talk was about Skype’s synergies with eBay’s marketplace, and lots of folks thought that eBay’s purchase meant that Skype would transform how eBayers did business. As social networks gained traction, Skype, with its powerful client software and enormous user base, seemed well-positioned to jump into the pool. But Skype didn’t go in this direction. Instead, Skype has chugged along, steadily building its business, but never getting to a big transformative moment.

Social media usage through mobiles:

Mobile phones have become the ubiquitous gadget which is like a shadow with all of us. As techno logy is improving and we are going from 3G to 4G especially in the developed world, mobile are increasingly used for social networking.

Recently, Advertising Age reported on the 400% surge in mobile video uploads to YouTube, attributed to the new iPhone 3GS. Beyond the implications of what that may mean for the value of ad inventory on YouTube, one thing is apparent: There is an inseparable link between social media and mobile devices.

As the capabilities of these devices expand, we can expect that updating social-network sites via mobile will continue to increase and may eventually even surpass the wired web. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook are remarkably dependent on mobile access for the value they provide to their users. Many may also argue that mobile status updates are, by their very nature, timelier, more relevant and potentially more interesting to their readers.

Every major social network offers its users a range of mobile services, from mobile web access to downloadable mobile applications. Although consumers with high-end devices may be the primary users of these mobile services, some social networks also offer a number of SMS-driven features that allow consumers to stay engaged by text, even on low-end mobile phones. This represents a big opportunity for brands to maximize their efforts and move consumers easily between their mobile and social media experiences.

While social media campaigns are becoming more common, we often see that when agencies and brands begin their engagement with social networks, they act as if their entire audience is on a computer — the mobile aspects of social media are frequently neglected. And the reverse can also be said about many brands’ initial mobile marketing efforts: They often neglect to effectively integrate the power of mobile social-media elements (even when these elements already exist) to further engage consumers and fans of the brand.

A new paradigm for Microsoft:

Microsoft wants marketers to see it in a different light — not only as an ad seller but as a smart company full of geeks who can help it solve business problems. And the tech giant is using social media to prove it can do so.

Today Microsoft is taking the wraps off a new platform called Looking Glass, a social-media aggregator and monitoring tool that’s still in “proof of concept” stage, meaning it’s not yet in the market and will be open to a very small group of testers next month.

The idea is to connect social-media-monitoring tools to the rest of a marketer’s organization — customer databases, work orders, customer-service centers and sales data. Looking Glass will pull in a variety of feeds from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr and work with third-party data sources as well. All of the data collected will connect into Microsoft’s enterprise platforms, such as Outlook and Sharepoint.

Making social media actionable:

What this also means for marketers is how all that social-media information they’re drowning in becomes more actionable.

Here’s how: A marketing manager can get an e-mail alert when there’s a sudden surge of chatter about his or her brand on Twitter or Facebook, along with the sentiment of that chatter and the influence level of those blogging. That information can then be connected to a customer-relationship-management system to decide whether customer service or PR should respond. Or a cable operator’s customer service rep could monitor Twitter for outage reports and send off a repair request straight from the tool. And Looking Glass will hook up to existing customer databases, so a pharmaceutical brand manager would be able to figure out if a person throwing a hissy fit on his blog is an influential doctor or current customer.

Social isn’t a web destination, it’s an attribute and an application on some level. They describe the product as a “bridge between IT and the marketing organization.”

It also logs all activity within the tool so, for example, companies can keep track of who posts to their own Twitter feeds.

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