August 2010


Today we thought we’d celebrate the wonder that is Paper.li by adding it to the hallowed Gun Cabinet archive.

In case you’re unfamiliar with it – Paper.li is a wonderful tool that basically allows you to create a daily newspaper from #tags and Twitter names.  In their own words:

paper.li organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy to read newspaper-style format. Newspapers can be created for any Twitter user, list or #tag.

A great way to stay on top of all that is shared by the people you follow – even if you are not connected 24/7

The personal element is useful, erm, personally speaking.  You can read mine here, should you wish.  Where we think there is most potential for PRs though is in using #tags to capture a summary of event news.  Take the #IFA one we’ve created, for example.  It’s a nice piece of ‘added value’ to share with clients on each day of a trade event, as a summary of the big show news.  I need to play around with it, but I think could probably create a bespoke Client@Event newspaper as well.

Lovely stuff.

BREAKING NEWS: Lady Gaga has finally knocked Britney Spears to No. 2 in the Twitter charts, according to gossip magazines, tabloids, the Telegraph, CNN, and the International Herald Tribune. The two have been cat-fighting it out  to be the pop star queen of Twitter for the past several weeks. Lady Gaga – with 5,803,000 followers to Britney’s 5,726,000 – marked the occasion with a tweet. "Thank you for beginning my reign as Twitter queen," she said in a video to her followers

Personally, I don’t count myself as a follower of either. I have absolutely no desire what so ever to know what Lady Gaga had for lunch today. So who does? And more importantly; Why? Are these two just popular because of who they are coupled with our infallible hunger for celebrity gossip, or, as entertainers, are they really genuinely influential and engaging online as well as on stage? Enter TweetLevel. What I found is rather interesting actually.

Lady Gaga has an overall TweetLevel influence score of 87; Britney Spears, 82. So, this tells us that Lady Gaga is indeed on top in this girl on girl battle, but let’s dig a little further, shall we?

Both have a popularity score of 99.8, so no news there. Britney is slightly more engaging that Lady Gaga, coming in with an engagement score of 51.1 to Gaga’s 48.2. Perhaps Britney Spears has slightly more time on her hands to respond to followers and participate in conversations?

While the scores are pretty close, both are rather low: Ashton Kutcher has an engagement score of 64.6 (and an overall influence score of 92). The most interesting stat however is the trust score. Though she is influential and participates in conversations, Britney’s trust score is, in comparison, a rather low 75.7. Lady Gaga triumphs in the category with a veritably whopping 92.2.

So, what does this all mean? When I started this little exercise, I was hoping to find that though she has more followers, Lady Gaga is not more influential than Britney Spears. But of course I now see the errors of my thinking.

Lady Gaga has made a name for herself because she is different in style and tone, her performances are as wacky as her personality and she draws attention from crowds and online communities. Lady Gaga’s brand embodies compelling authentic content, lesson No. 1 in social media engagement – or No. 5 of Mashable’s recent 10 tips for aspiring community managers. Furthermore, she uses her Twitter feed to broadcast updates but also videos and photos.

Britney on the other had is an unstable brand. Recently reappearing (again) on the celebrity scene, the once troubled-star seems to be have put her outrageous ways behind her and is rebuilding her celebrity profile with a highly-publicised stint on Glee and a new album. Still popular yes, but were we more interested in Britney when she was ripping out her hair? Still popular yes, but interest in what she has to offer the masses is dwindling. She may have been America’s sweetheart pop star and our favourite celebrity-gone-wild-to-watch, but we are just not the interested in what she is doing, or has to say anymore. Plus, we have Lindsay Lohan now.

Note to Lady Gaga/ Lady Gaga’s social media team: Start engaging with your followers and then maybe we can call you the Queen of Twitter. With 5,831,213 followers (at the time of writing), I am not convinced you have earned the title just yet.

@jacqui_cooper

an interesting development from the twittersphere yesterday; with the arrival of Cat Bin Lady (on the back of this)… she’s gone from sod all followers to about 1,900 in the space of a morning, and I’d challenge anyone to suggest these posts are not very entertaining…

…however, for me, what’s interesting is that the account links directly to the RSPCAimage donation page. Is this therefore either a fuzzy heart warming bit of philanthropy from the person who set it up, or an amazing reactive piece of social media from the RSPCA? (and if it *is* from them / their PR department, fair play for having the conviction to set this up)

…be interesting to find out whether any donations come through this to the RSPCA…

note, she’s gone up another four hundred followers since i began to write this.

@wonky_donky

A new twist in the copyright tale and the question of rights was raised in Germany’s Der Spiegel today. A German historian argues that Germany’s rapid industrial expansion in the 19th century can in fact be attributed to an absence of copyright law.

Economic historian Eckhard Höffner argues that England had pretty stringent laws, whilst reading and production of materials was massive in Germany. In a single year (1843), 14,000 works were produced. England, by comparison, produced 1000. As you can imagine, the industry is up in arms. Interesting stuff…

@nicole_harvey

Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, is certainly provocative theory and a great read. Essentially his thesis boils down to the argument that the ability to search and access the world’s information means that our habits of concentration and work have changed with growing web usage. This is causing our brains to evolve to a different pattern of skimming information which he claims is rather shallow, hence the title.

Despite all the hype that surrounds the new media darlings of Twitter and Facebook, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of business, more time, effort and most significantly money is spent by businesses focussing on search than anything else, so the behaviour of companies suggests that he may have a point.

He singles out the largest of these companies to make the point: “Google as the supplier of the Web’s principle navigation tool, also shapes our relationship with the content that it serves up so efficiently and in such profusion. The intellectual technologies it has pioneered promotes the superficial skimming of information and discourages any deep, prolonged engagement with a single argument, idea or narrative.” Carr believes one of Google’s founders: “Page had another insight, not all links are created equal. The authourity of a web page can be gauged by the incoming links it attracts. A page with a lot of incoming links has more authority than a page with only one or two. The greater the authority of the web page, the greater the worth of its own outgoing links. Page’s analogy led him to realise that the relative value of any web page could be estimated through a mathematical analysis of two factors: the number of of incoming links the page attracted and the authority of the sites that were the sources of those links. If you could create a database of all the links on the web, you could have the raw material to feed into a software algorythim that could evaluate and rank the value of all the pages on the web. You would also have the makings of the world’s most powerful search engine.”

Carr succinctly describes a powerful group of Influentials we have observed participating in online conversations – the ‘viewer’. The characteristics of a viewer are relatively simple; they are searchers. Viewers seek information about a topic that is important to them and transient in their community memberships. Individually they contribute little to the addition of content but savour the information that is freely available to make ‘informed’ choices. The people who invariably influence this group are those with one significant attribute – Google juice. Therefore the algorithm running at the heart of search reflects the core reason why these viewers make the decisions they do because they make judgements as they skim.

Carr, I believe, underestimates the engagement the viewer has with the content. It may be shallow but it is not irrelevant as it is the frequency and speed of interaction that makes a true ‘influential’. They don’t need long to understand and they certainly make judgements by synthesising and aggregating thoughts very differently from traditional opinion forming, but this is not superficial. The power of this engagement is illustrated by how these patterns of search create endorsement for deep content experts such as ‘idea starters’ and ‘curators.’ It is the viewers’ choices on Google that give a democratised influential their authority. If these choices were as superficial as Carr believes, these new influentials would be an arbitrary selection of noisy web citizens. They are clearly not; even lesser known influentials stand out for the veracity of their opinions and depth of content. As I said, Carr’s book is a great read and makes a powerful point about the changes the web has created in the dissemination of knowledge, but he has not fully explored how this dynamic works and therefore over emphasises the negative points and does scant justice to the new benefits of the web and how it engages us with influential thought and knowledge.

  Last week, I had some very interesting discussions with a well known UK music consultant Daniel Cross (head of Record-Play), who also runs an East-end indie label called TAPE. He was talking about the shifts he is seeing in the UK music industry and, yes, wait for it: digital is dead. No, not really. But that got my attention too. Rather, the model for revenue generation in music is shifting. TAPE – and indeed, many UK indies and industry heads – don’t even count digital as a serious driver of revenue anymore. And you can hardly blame them when labels make around 0.01p per play on music streaming services like Spotify. TAPE have moved music retail to the periphery of their business model, (they are returning 90% of digital and physical sales royalties to their artists), have set up a publishing division and launched a merchandising division with eco furniture designer Ryan Frank. They are small, they are agile and they are storming. Rather than make money off traditional and new retail platforms, they are using them as places to build, engage and grow communities and fans of their brand. Interesting to see that music businesses are going back to the roots of digital, for what made digital popular in the first place: people.

@nicole_harvey

Over the past year, Edelman Digital APAC and our partners at Brandtology have mined and analyzed 12 months of online conversation about major technology brands covering:

  • 8 million posts,
  • representing the perspectives of millions of netizens,
  • talking about 350 technology brands,
  • housed in 4,000 regional online channels,
  • across eight Asian markets.

 

So what? Well apart from improving the insights; targeting and relevance to our client’s digital programs; and helping us to win some new clients; the DBI has answered many of the questions we had when we launched it. Further, the DBI has tracked and enabled us to better appreciate macro-trends in the social media landscape across Asia. For example:

  1. Online chatter grows and grows: The first DBI (October 2009) tracked 800,000 mentions of survey brands in the quarter, while the fourth and most recent DBI (10.3, August 2010) tracked 2 million. This finding demonstrates that as more Asians come online, they are happy to build or join communities to discuss (technology) brands, pass verdict on products, and share content that catches their eye. The unprecedented rise in social network usage across the region has also not gone unnoticed in the DBI. For example, this quarter, the DBI (10.3) in China saw social networks finally overtaking bulletin boards in terms of total conversation about surveyed technology brands. We all knew people were talking – but the speed of increase has been startling!

 

  1. The Twitter Phenomenon: Asia has been a major contributor to the 100+ per cent increase in the platform’s usage over the past 12 months. In October last year, Twitter represented approximately 18 per cent of the conversations found in the first DBI (ex-China). This has since grown to represent almost half of all posts tracked about technology brands surveyed in influential local channels monitored – with a high in India where microblogs account for a whopping 69 per cent of all conversations!  As Steve Rubel eloquently puts itwe are quickly moving from a Web of pages to a Web of streams, and one where tech brands need to be omnipresent and working in, and reacting, in real time

 

  1. Tech brands joining the conversation: The past 12 months has also seen technology brands expand their local blogger engagement outreach programs, with some running online competitions for advocate communities (Canon being a great example) to build their social presence on Facebook and Twitter in particular. In Singapore, seven of the 50 technology brands tracked now have a local Twitter presence, with others contributing to a regional or global Twitter ID. Facebook pages are also springing up, with tech brands taking a regional, local or product line approach towards building communities – with some building communities across all three at the same time! However, presence alone is not enough – more needs to be done to build engaged and active communities – but more on that another time.

 

  1. Telcos and mobile chatter dominates: Local telcos are prominent in the Top 10 brands across all eight Asian markets where we run the DBI. Netizens either love or hate their telcos – there seems to be little middle-ground. When you consider the fact that telcos are often the access point to the hottest devices we have tracked – smart-phones – then local telcos have the best opportunity to lead and define successful online brand engagement. For example, Bakrie Telecom in Indonesia, a new entrant to the local list of Top 10 ‘Buzziest Brands’ had 90.9 per cent of brand mentions take place on Twitter – mainly referring to its “Esia” product and service – and has done a good job at engagement. It will be especially interesting to track how such telco social engagement strategies and efforts evolve as people seek increasing amounts of information about popular smart-phone brands that we continue to track such as including BlackBerry, iPhone and Android.

 

As the DBI evolves, we see the opportunity to dig deeper into the hottest technology products, as well as into the specific content that brands are using and creating to engage with online communities. Further, we’ll be able to track specific branded Facebook pages to measure engagement on an ongoing basis.

However, that’s for the future. In the interim, you can read more about the fourth Asia Pacific Digital Brand Index (10.3) in the following documents – a personal favorite of mine is how World Cup initiatives helping drive buzz for consumer electronic brands in China.

Finally – I knew you’d ask, so below are the Top 10 most discussed technology brands we’ve tracked in the 12 months (ending June 2010) across our eight Asian markets:

  1. Google
  2. Microsoft
  3. Apple
  4. Samsung
  5. Intel
  6. Nokia
  7. Sony
  8. Hewlett-Packard
  9. Yahoo!
  10. Research in Motion

 

We are keen to hear any feedback you may have on how we can take the DBI to the next level!

Disclosure: Edelman represents technology brands around the world, many of which are included in the Digital Brand Index.

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