Is Facebook a content or conversation source?

Back in May, Matt Locke, Richard Sambrook and I had a conversation about the future of Social Entertainment.  (In case you are thinking “My that’s a wonderfully catchy, if opaque, buzz word. But what on GoogleEarth does it mean?”; Social Entertainment is a term we coined a few years back to represent the idea that as social networks grow to parallel the influence of mainstream media channels, so too would traditional media companies need to progress their content and communications to fully embrace the social sphere).  Not rocket science, perhaps, but we’re interested in the implications of Social Entertainment, especially with regard to how entertainment companies communicate with audiences.

It’s highly probable that no one listened to the podcast back in May (I haven’t asked for the statistics lately, in case my worst fear was confirmed and we had chopped down trees, but no one was around to hear the loud thud of timber on the forest floor).  So if you didn’t, let me summarise: We talked about some meeja things and at the end Matt and I made some predictions for the next 12 months.

The erudite Mr Locke suggested that the talent rather than the media brand would continue to increase in influence and that this posed both a problem for the brand and an opportunity for talent looking to take advantage of the currency of their social profiles.  The case of @ITVLauraK (nee @BBCLauraK) perfectly illustrates this issue.  Both Tom Callow at TheWall and Jemima Kiss at the Guardian sum up the ramifications better than I could.  Congratulations Matt.  You were right.

Back in May, I felt the interesting shift would be the inverse of our original Social Entertainment theory.  I.e. Social Entertainment originally concentrated on how traditional entertainment companies could leverage social channels to engage audiences.  I predicted (again, perhaps not radically) that Social brands would expand to become fully fledged media channels and businesses.  This was based on increasingly professional content finding its way onto YouTube – but I thought that Facebook, Twitter and the like would increasingly become media channels – producing and distributing content, not just hosting conversations around it.

Interestingly, our annual research shows a conflict in consumer perception, here.  As this graph shows, consumers now think of social networks as a form of entertainment.

However, when asked who are the top-of-mind entertainment companies, consumers do not name new social or internet brands.  No Facebook, no YouTube, no Spotify.  Only the old dogs are named (I can’t actually show you the brands, but we do have this info should it be of interest.  Let me know if so).

And so here we are at the 22nd September 2011 and the f8 conference.  Much has already been written about the social updates (I’d recommend the Mashable picture gallery, if you’re looking for a quick summary of what it’s all about).  But I’m most interested to hear about how content companies and entertainment channels are going to be integrated in Facebook. Is this the coming of age for Social Entertainment?  True my prediction, unlike Matt’s, has yet to come to full fruition.  But with the f8 announcement, we may well be one step closer. The integration, assuming the often vitriolic users embrace it, will mean that Facebook becomes a powerful, if not the de facto, promotional channel for content owners and publishers.  This presents an opportunity but also a challenge for entertainment brands.  Content has always driven conversations. But some content is more naturally geared to social conversations and ‘lean forward’ programming than others.  For all entertainment brands, programs and channels, not applying Social Entertainment is, from today, arguably not an option.  It’s a simple dilemma; innovate and  collaborate, or risk not being talked about at all.

Hello strangers!  Or Hello familiar people that we talk to a lot in the real world but who also happen to read our blog occasionally.

Are you well?  We’re very sorry that DERTy Talk has been absent for so long.  We’re almost entirely sure you hadn’t noticed our absence, but nevertheless we. are. back.  Sort of.

There’s been a lot on of late.  Presidential visits, a footballer on the front pages, ash clouds.  Aside to all this real news, May may well go down in memory as the month we’d care to forget, which is why we didn’t bother recording it on DERTy Talk.  Adding insult to injury Mother Nature doesn’t seem to have got the memo about Bank Holidays being sunny this time round.  Tis a pity.

Anywayz.  Next week is JUNE and we will resume the ordinary, regular service of DERTy Talk.  For now we just wanted to share some actual talking from some splendid people who participated in our #SocialEnt event yesterday.  Thanks again to Gail, Jon, Matthew, Simon and Emma for taking part and for leading what was a very lively and informative discussion.  It was the highlight of the week, it’s true.

Enjoy their wisdom shared in the videos below.  Should you have missed all our other content from the event you can find it here.

This morning Edelman’s DERT team announced the results of their fifth annual survey on Value, Engagement and Trust in the Era of Social Entertainment. Gail Becker, President of Edelman’s Western U.S. Region presented the results and hosted the event along with Jon Hargreaves Managing Director of Edelman Technology in Europe and a panel of experts including; Matthew Hawn, Vice president Last.fm, Emma Barnett, Digital Media Editor, The Daily Telegraph and Simon Nelson, the Digital Business and Strategy advisor and former controller of multiplatform commissioning at the BBC.

We will be sharing the full slideshow on here later today and posting up video snippets of the event for now here are the highlights and some of our thoughts, let us know what you think.

The key stats from the survey:

· 4% of U.K. consumers feel positive about the move to a paywalled service

· 45% of people in the U.K. and 57% in the U.S. believe social networking sites are a form of entertainment

· Personal enjoyment and visual/sound quality continue to top the list of purchase drivers with “being one of the first to have new entertainment” dropping significantly (to 14%, down from 40% in the U.K. and to 17%, down from 41% in the U.S.).

· More than half (52%) of all respondents would like to use a computer to access further entertainment content, and 30% would like to be able to access that content on their mobile phone

· 49% of people in the U.K. and 52% in the U.S. believe they are spending more than a year ago with their mobile phones to access their entertainment, while 59% (U.K.) and 53% (U.S.) spent more time with their laptop

As the study revealed last year, the internet remained the second most frequently turned to form of entertainment for the second year in a row. While television remained the most frequent form of entertainment both in the U.K. and the U.S. (49% and 47% respectively), dropping 8 and 11 percent respectively since 2010.

The Internet as connective tissue

Most sources of entertainment are less used, this just means that people are spreading their consumption wider. It seems that to succeed in the era of social entertainment, entertainment companies must invest in multiple channels of distribution to enable consumers to access their content wherever and whenever. Five years ago the entertainment industry viewed the internet as a threat, but now it’s an opportunity for those same companies to monetise internet content through simple revenue models indeed the internet can be the connective tissue bringing content together.

Overwhelmingly, consumers (84% in the U.K.) feel negatively about the move from free to paid entertainment services. The survey also reveals that paywalls created by entertainment sources for previously free services are being met with feelings of frustration and distrust by users. Some cite the lack of improvement in quality of service, while others state they would suspect a profit motive driven by greed.

The study also delivers insights on how content providers can try to overcome feelings of distrust about paywalls by delivering value in other ways. 87% of U.K. respondents consider visual and sound quality important in making their entertainment purchasing decisions and nearly half (47% in the U.K.) consider the number of devices with which they can access the entertainment.

The DERTy types at Edelman (that’s those of us who work in the Digital Entertainment, Rights and Technology practice) are gearing up for the launch of this year’s study:  Value, Engagement and Trust in the era of Social Entertainment.  We go live tomorrow so watch this space…

But what do you remember most about the entertainment landscape if you think back to 2007? We thought it would be interesting, ahead of releasing the new findings, to take a look back at the headline stats from the last five years.  Wow how far we’ve come…. Early studies were dominated by the debates around illegal file sharing, how much consumers were willing to pay for content and the emerging power of social networks.  In some ways a lot has changed – and in other ways nothing has.

We should add that the methodology for the study has changed a little across the five years as we’ve grown to look at a wider pool of consumers in the UK and US.  So a statistician wouldn’t be happy about comparing year on year.  However – we think this little slideshow gives a nice little summary of the evolution of the sector.  If you’d like to know more about each specific year, what was asked and who was asked, then please just drop us a note in the comment section.  You can see last year’s findings here.

If you can’t attend the event tomorrow, you can still take part by using the hastag #SocialEnt.  You can also have a listen to our podcast last week, with Matt Locke, Richard Sambrook and Luke Mackay, which sets up some of the themes of tomorrow’s study.

Borges' Bookshelf

If you haven't read the short-story by Borges. Do. It's awesome.

A timely post perhaps – what with yesterday’s revelations about the war in Afghanistan.  Without doubt the Wikileaks story marks a significant milestone in terms of the use of data and transparency and there are interesting debates to be had around the role of information, state security and the freedom of the press that more intelligent people than I will have.

I wanted to post about the bulging shelves of Wikipedia (like a wing of the Library of Babel) because while dancing around the South Bank on Sunday – I was struck by how the ‘trusted’ source of info has become far more ingrained in culture than any encyclopaedia before it.

On Sunday I participated as an audience member in Domini Public – presented in the UK buy the Gate Theatre, but ‘staged’ outside the National.  (Incidentally I did this alone as a friend couldn’t get out of bed) The concept of the ‘play’ is aces.  The audience wear headphones, and are guided by an authoritative yet kindly voice, around the play space.  At first the instructions are simple enough: “stand to the right if you were born North of the river”.  As the play progresses, however, the audience is divided into three factions: police, prisoner, red cross.  What follows is a simple, yet insightful, comment on civil unrest, law and order and the role of the individual within society – all delivered with a wry smile.  Alas, Sunday was the last London performance – but should you ever come across the company behind this production do check it out.

So what does Wikipedia have to do with all this?  Well, during the warm-up section the entire cast/audience were grouped at one side of the space.  We then had to take four steps forward, if we could answer yes to the following questions:

  • Have you finished a book in the last week?
  • Have you seen a concert in the last seven days?
  • Have you been to the cinema this week?
  • Have you referenced Wikipedia this week?

Watching the  70 or so audience/cast members play out their answers to these questions, was really quite interesting.  I wouldn’t go as far as saying we displayed a microcosm of society (it was the Southbank on a Sunday, not a census), but what followed was quite startling.  I’d say the audience were aged between 16 and 60, though, so a good mix of ‘consumers’.  I’ve put in brackets below the rough percentage of who in the audience/cast moved.

  • Have you finished a book in the last week? (15 per cent)
  • Have you seen a concert in the last seven days? (10 per cent)
  • Have you been to the cinema this week? (20 per cent)
  • Have you referenced Wikipedia this week? (85 per cent)

So why did this interest me?  Well, it was a clear illustration that online media, entertainment and  information are all now a central part of our once analogue culture.  The immediacy, ease and (in many cases) low cost of social entertainment encourages us to use the internet as a more frequent source form of  entertainment and information than traditional mediums.  On Sunday, as a crowd of people, of mixed  backgrounds and ages, surged forward four steps – broadcasting their association with Wikipedia – it made a profound statement about the place of Wikipedia, and the internet, within the future of our society.  I’m not very good at maths but if 15 per cent of people are reading a book, but 85 are reading online – you can see how this is going to continue to snowball.

In case you’re interested, I took 12 steps…

@LukeMackay

We love data here at Edelman.  Technology  floats our boat and aguably we’re pretty interested in Social Entertainment.  You might have noticed that we like Trust as well.

So is there anything more awesome than a presentation of data that shows the relationship between the Entertainment Industry, Social Networks and Trust?  We think not.  Except perhaps bacon sandwiches.  We like those as well.

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