Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Chatting taken to the next level

Thé new online hype is Chatroulette. If you know your way around the net, you definitely must’ve heard of it. The chat website was launched only a couple of months ago and already featured on popular talk shows like Good Morning, America and Newsnight. In six months’ time, Chatroulette.com was able to tempt about 1.5 million people to check it out. Talk about a big bang, or buzz, or whatever fancy words there are to describe gigantic website hits.

The funny thing about Chatroulette is that more and more surfers are using the concept to push the boundaries of connecting online. Although a lot of the users apparently feel the need to simply expose their genitals
to total strangers (or other even less appetizing body parts) , you could come across something special if you’re patient. A great example is the concert singer-songwriter Ben Folds gave recently. The artist played – in front of his audience – improvised songs to the users he connected with on Chatroulette. This resulted in some very funny moments.

Could this be a new trend? I certainly hope so! It definitely takes communicating via the net to the next level. However, let’s not forget that the website is all about simple fun and meeting new people. It should not be taken over by a bunch of ‘wannabe celebrities’ that hope to acquire a new status of fame by showing off their talents. Nevertheless, I’d never say no to a free online serenade from a handsome and talented musician. Who can hook me up?


Sunday, 28 March 2010

The business investors of the future

What if internet users, normal everyday people like you and me, become the business investors of the future: Would that lead to ultimate chaos or the ultimate opportunity to get your talents out there? Tenpages.com decided to take the leap and test the theory.

On tenpages.com aspiring authors can post ten pages of their manuscripts online. Users then decide whether or not they want to read more of the story. If they do, they can invest some money in the excerpt or more precisely, they buy shares (worth €5 per share). If two thousand shares are sold, the manuscript will be published by a partner of the website. Clever, no? By letting the users do the decision making, tenpages.com lowers the risk of failure and they give the users exactly what they want. It is a win-win for every party involved.

This total integration of business, client and user is the perfect example of what I believe to be the future of the net. You may have heard of it already: Web 3.0, does it ring a bell? Although the term is getting increasingly more known, companies are still mainly focusing on the reigning trend of Web 2.0. I believe however, that we should hop on the 3.0 train and reap the benefits of total integration.



Friday, 26 March 2010

Time spent on SNS surges globally

The Nielsen Company has discovered that the global average time spent per person on social networking sites has increased tremendously: nearly five and half hours per month nowadays (February 2010 data), which is a rise of more than two hours in comparison with last year. In arriving at that conclusion, Nielsen measured social network usage per person across ten countries, and compared that to data from the same time last year.

If we take a look at specific countries, it seems like Italy tops the charts with social network time per person just under six and a half hours per month (6:27:53). Australia is the runner-up (6:25:21). The United States takes the credit for having the largest unique social networking audience, but only ranks third in usage with the average person spending just over six hours (6:02:34) on social networks.

Another remarkable conclusion is that Facebook, with its 400 million members, accounts for the majority of the time spent on SNS. In other words, we can declare Facebook to be the absolute number-one social network destination worldwide, with a score of nearly six hours (5:52:00) per person with the average user logging in more than 19 times per month. This means that the time spent on Facebook is almost five hours longer than the time spent on MySpace (0:59:33), which is the second closest social network in terms of time spent on site per person.


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Having trust issues?

Building a social network site that builds the bridge from virtual social contact to real-life social contact has one major issue: trust. If you don’t get the users to trust other users, or more importantly the service you’re offering, you can kiss your dear internet company goodbye. But where to start building that necessary trust?

Well, I’ve found an interesting introduction on a book called Trust Agents, written by the Web 2.0 gurus Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. They state that companies should profile themselves on the net as a ‘trust agent’. The keyword to reach that status is personal approach: the company should spontaneously and sincerely try to help their clients. It’s almost like becoming one of your clients’ best virtual friends.

I believe this is actually the most effective approach we could implement to make our users forget their trust issues. The article ‘The Science of Building Trust With Social Media’ on mashable.com backs up Brogan and Julien’s point. That article claims videos are more efficient to reach your users and to solve crises like for example a clear lack of user trust.

In short: first point on the agenda is hiring someone the camera loves, because he or she will function as our very own ‘trust generator’.




Saturday, 20 March 2010

The success of apology

Apologizing is one of the important social codes of behaviour. After having made some kind of mistake, an apology can make some damage undone to the harmed person. It acknowledges that the wronged person has every right to feel wronged. On the other hand, it can also relieve the person who has to apologize.

Communication specialists tend to agree that offering apologies is a good technique when confronted with a major crisis. Recent examples show that it has become a quite popular strategy: Tiger Woods’ mediatised press conference and the extensive excuses by the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, have been seen all over the world.

This recent culture of apologizing is part of new communication strategies. Both customers and shareholders have to be satisfied. Public excuses are the perfect opportunity to get past troubles and start again with a clean slate.

The success of apologies could at some point be compromised by its popularity: it could seem to become an easy and theatrical way out. The apology itself does not really change anything, it basically is just communicating that you’re sorry. The most important thing should be a real change in behaviour.

De Standaard

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Social Media Activism promoted at Oscars

The omnipresence of social media has been proven once again at the 82th Academy Awards. One of the men responsible for The Cove, the 2010 Oscar winner for Best Documentary, used the Academy Awards stage to promote a web and mobile-based activism. The film describes the annual killing of dolphins in a National Park in Japan from an anti-dolphin hunting campaigner’s point of view. During the accepting speech, Ric O’Barry held up a small black board with the words “Text DOLPHIN to 44144” on it.

Viewers who followed the sign’s instructions were subscribed to text updates and plugged into the larger social media campaign for the film’s cause. The campaign is rooted in a Takepart.com page that links to several ways people can get involved, including a letter-writing campaign and a Facebook Cause application page with more than 500.000 supporters. The latter has also been used to organize live-streaming Q&A events with Ric O’Barry.

Activist O’Barry has made a clever use of social media in order to reach people who had never heard about the movie before, and to inform them about the slaughter of dolphins. It seems like text messages and the web increasingly pay a significant part in activism lately: the American Red Cross, for example, ran a very successful text message donation campaign for relief efforts in Haiti, while Twitter was used by protesters in Iran to make voices heard and to organize events. The film itself has caused a major uproar, but the impact of the social media campaign of The Cove cannot be measured just yet. Nevertheless, this example illustrates how social media can function as an important weapon for activists.


Friday, 5 March 2010

Popularity of sharing

The popularity of social networking sites is undeniable. Part of this (r)evolution is reflected in the increasing trend of sharing. On the internet, property is slowly becoming a relative concept. The success of online platforms like social networking sites goes along with this evolution.

The trend is most obvious in the music industry. Via free peer-to-peer file sharing programs such as Kazaa, Limewire, BearShare and many others, songs have become a kind of common property. iTunes is starting to legalise downloading, but there is still a long way to go. Younger generations do not consider their behaviour as ’stealing’: the internet has become a place where almost everything is available to everyone.

So how exactly do SNS’es fit in? Networking sites are the ideal way to share our lives with others. Via tweets and status updates on Facebook people are constantly sharing their photos, opinions and innermost thoughts. And if you do not take part in this kind of exhibitionistic behaviour, you will be dragged into it at some point.

The only way to take some control, is to be present on the internet and try to shape the perception yourself, instead of letting it just happen.