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an UPFRONT MEDIA publication ISSUE 11 JULY 2010

In this issue:
The Evolution and Future of Content 2 Discovery The Social Media Guide: 3 8 Steps to Creating a Brand Persona Why Feedback and Filters 5 are Necessary in Social Media What Twitter Places Means for the 7 Future of Location Random facts, humor 9 more...

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The Evolution And Future Of Discovery

June 23, 2010 from Social Times

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s more and more content is becoming available on the web, the way in which we search for and discover new content is evolving. Over the years content discovery has developed into it’s own life force, starting out with online magazines and moving into simple search engines and web portals such as AOL and Yahoo!, evolving into super search engines like Google and finally social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. What is the next step in the evolution of content discovery? Read If a number of your friends and colleagues have watched a video or read an article and provided positive feedback (i.e. a our predictions below. “like” via Facebook), then this video or article will get priority in Today, search engines are still the predominant source when it your search results. comes to content discovery. According to a Nielsen survey in the fall of 2009, around 37% of web surfers still used search engines This can be a great way for web surfers to find great content in as their initial source when searching for new information online. virtually any arena. Search engines were followed by web portals like Yahoo! and AOL, which were followed by niche websites and social media sites such as Wikipedia, blogs, Facebook and Twitter landed at the bottom of the barrel. Ultimately, we may not even have to search for content at all to have relevant websites, videos, pictures and articles delivered to us. Many sites are already employing content recommendation engines today. For instance, when you watch a video on YouTube you will see similar videos in the sidebar and the YouTube homepage will recommend videos for you, based on what you have watched in the past. Many websites use similar content recommendation systems, and I can see a future in which our entire web experience is used for content recommendation and discovery. Imagine a future in which our entire web history is tracked and content is delivered to us based on all of the websites we visit, content we read and videos we watch. We could each have our own personal homepages that offer new videos, posts and other content on a daily basis, based upon the topics we spend the most time consuming on the Web, as well as what is popular in our own social networks and more. We could turn on our computers, log onto the Internet and be greeted with our own personalized web magazines, filled with all the most relevant and interesting information to us on the web.

From Nielsen’s data, it is clear that search engines will remain a key tool in the area of content discovery for the near future. However, as more and more videos, pictures and other content are uploaded to the web search results will become more and more crowded and vague and searchers will want more reliable sources for content recommendation.

What do you think the future of content discovery looks like? There will simply be too much content to sift through with a search If you had to paint a picture of this future, what would it be? engine. We will need some alternate way of deciding what is worth looking at and what should be overlooked. The obvious place to look for answers is social media and the social graph. By tying social networks into basic search, users will be able to view search results ranked according to their social graph.
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Anyone who has ever worked in corporate marketing, advertising, and branding is more than familiar with a brand style guide. It’s how we ensured that the brand was represented as intended through marketing aesthetics and messaging – including detailed usage instructions on font, style, color, language, placement, positioning, etc.
It is our bible and adherence to its tenets and instructions is strictly enforced. However, with the unstructured proliferation of social media within many organizations, the brand style guide is seemingly disregarded or not considered in favor of expediting the creation of profiles in social networks and the participatory engagement that immediately ensues. Everything the brand was intended to represent is no less important simply because new tools and services make it easier for anyone within the company to reach and connect with markets. The contents and purpose of a brand style guide still apply. In fact, the unification of a brand and what it both evokes and symbolizes is now paramount in this conversational medium to effectively attract, earn, and inspire customers and advocates. While it’s highly likely that the design of each social profile works against the brand elements and usage guidelines in the existing style guide, at least in principle, the true quandary and risk in all of this, is the potential for brand confusion and dilution. The goal of a social media style guide is to establish: • • • • • • • What the brand represents in the social Web Its characteristics Brand personality traits The voice of the brand Attributes and voice necessary at the representative level Procedures and guidelines for representation, accountability, and workflow Metrics for quantifying activity and the intended results

Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, has officially designated June 30 Social Media Day.

Finding the brand “voice” is not enough however. The result we seek is intentional and aspirational in its design, calculation, presence and overall mission. By completing The Brand Reflection Cycle, we uncover a series of important attributes that symbolize the brand, its personalities, and its characteristics, as well as defining and aligning the voice and personal brand of those on the front lines in social engagement.

In social networks, the brand and how it’s perceived, is open to public interpretation and potential misconception now more than ever.
Without a deliberate separation between the brand voice and personality and that of the person representing it, we are instantly at odds with our goals, purpose, and potential stature. Simply said, the style guide is more important than ever before and it is in dire need of innovation in order to humanize and personify a brand voice and persona, something that people can truly connect to online and offline. Therefore, we need to revisit our core and modernize our story, how we present it, and how we intend to be perceived, setting the tone for engagement and resulting activity.
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The Social Media Guide
The goal is to include brand managers and social ambassadors in this exercise to document the words that will personify the brand and what it symbolizes. This is how we bring new ideas to the surface and discuss them in a collaborative environment to renew the value and intention of the brand, making it something truly engaging in the social Web. The Brand Reflection Cycle is divided into 8 stages designed to not only help us define the brand persona, but also to lay the foundation for a new, more socially inspired and relevant corporate culture and value system. 1. Core Values: The audience, surrounding environment, and the circumstances in which we are summoned contribute to our disposition and character. At the beginning, we need to form a common center of gravity to support the orbiting characteristics that support our mission and purpose. Essentially, we need to specify what we stand for and emanate it through all we do. 2. Brand Pillars: Pillars are the support objects that serve as the foundation to sustain and fortify the brand. It is these pillars that establish the principal, central themes that convey our uniqueness and value, fortified through the social objects we develop and distribute. 3. Promise: The pledge that paves the way to brand meaning and direction is the brand promise. It should answer a simple, yet powerful question: What is our mission and how does it introduce value to those who align with our purpose? 4. Aspirations: No brand is an island, nor is it inanimate. As such, the attributes we define today must continually evolve. Our aspirations are representative of the stature and mission we seek over time, and it’s constant. This is how we compete for the future. 5. Brand Characteristics: Defining the brand characteristics will help us establish the traits we wish to associate with the brand represented through our actions, words, and overall behavior. 6. Opportunities: As we complete this exercise, the identification of the attributes that are not embodied allow us to embrace a path to greater relevance. It’s a combination of who we are and what we offer today and also the opportunities that emerge that allow us to connect to those seeking solutions we had yet to identify. 7. Culture: The brand team must examine the culture of the company, not only what it is today, but ultimately how it should embody our aspirations so that it is readily identifiable in social media. People need something they can align with, and it is our culture that serves as the magnet to our purpose and aspirations. We are all in this together. 8. Personality: It is crucial that we contemplate, review, and designate the elements that we wish the brand to illustrate and represent. This final step in the completion of the Brand Reflection Cycle, is to identify and bring to life the personality and character of the brand through conversations, social objects, and stories. If the brand was a person, how would it appear? How would it sound? How would it interact with others? How would others describe it?

Everything begins with evaluating the brand’s journey through the past to where it is today, and ultimately where it must travel to maintain and continually establish relevance. As we usher in the era of the next web, the brand style guide requires a social refresh in order to embody purpose, engender affinity, and earn relationships based on trust and value. In a social context, people aren’t looking to earn friendships with avatars or logos, they are seeking the attention of the people who personify the brand and the corresponding values they represent. It’s not just the brand personality that requires examination and establishment. The personality, tenor, and voice of the individuals representing the brand combined with a meaningful culture and mission, contribute to the overall brand experience – whether it’s in social networks or the real world. The opportunity to update the brand style guide is so much more than a mere exercise. It renews our sense of purpose. It is a chance to breathe new life into everything we create, where and with whom we share it, and how we engage in online societies that contributes to the brand’s universal legacy of and the brand graph that weaves everything together.
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Why Feedback and Filters are Necessary in Social Media
June 21, 2010 from Mashable

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We’ve all experienced that person who’s talking on his cell phone in public, in a voice that’s way too loud — on the train, in a restaurant, or walking down the street, screaming into the mobile, oblivious to the effect he’s having on the crowd nearby.
We rarely experience this with a land line phone. That’s because when we talk on a land line phone, “There’s a small percentage of our voice that’s fed back to us. It’s called “sidetone,” according to former Bell Labs scientist Dr. Steve Crandall. About 18 decibels of sound (the loudness of a whisper) comes back to us to give us an indication that our voice is being heard on the other side of the connection. When we have that feedback, we are less apt to make a spectacle of ourselves.

The Problem of Inadvertent Noise Sharing

Popular social Facebook games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars were examples of unintentional noise sharing before Facebook stepped in to quiet them down. The keys to their widespread adoption were the auto-generated status messages that announced the success of players to their friends.

On social networks like Facebook and Twitter, as on cell phones, people often have no measurable feedback on the amount of shouting, over-talking, and noise they’re creating on the web. At first, most people didn’t realize that their exploits were being shouted from the virtual rooftops, annoying their friends. Many “Our brains don’t adapt as quickly as the technology works,” articles have been written informing people how to shut off the said Pamela B. Rutledge, Ph.D., MBA, and director of the Media gaming broadcasts. Psychology Research Center. “Humans have limited capacity to process information at any given time.” These problems have been mitigated by a slew of Facebook interface changes over the years, including news feed control Thus, individuals and businesses can miss out on the real value options, friend lists, and application blocking. Yet they did not of these networks because the bare bones web interfaces don’t solve the root of the problem through feedback — that is, notifyallow them to effectively filter, categorize, or otherwise make ing the people who are generating the noise in the first place. sense of the information. Like cell phone loud-talkers, we make noise and don’t realize it. Rutledge told me that “For the amount of information Facebook is trying to coral, they have a very ineffective interface. They should be careful about assuming people are going to continue to be loyal to them. … [P]eople are not in love with Facebook. They’re in love with the contacts they’re able to maintain with other people via Facebook.”

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And we end up consuming useless noise from others instead of tapping into the real potential.

When social media noise interferes with those connections, it could mean trouble for both users and the network alike.

Clients have consistently asked, “How would I use Twitter? It’s If all of your previous messages have been irrelevant or useless, just a bunch of people talking about esoteric and self-centered the one you really want people to see will be ignored. things, with no order or reason.” It can be even worse when networks are linked. A person whose However, given the right tools to filter conversations, such as every “Lol, Thx” tweet is echoed on his or her Facebook profile hashtag trackers or column interfaces, they can soon figure out can end up with angry friends. who’s talking, what is relevant, and get feedback on how their Matt Wallaert, lead scientist at Churnless, studies decision communication affects others. making and works to figure out how people relate to information. He created the interface for the much touted personal finance website Thrive.
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Volume and Relevance

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Why Feedback and Filters are Necessary in Social Media
“As people, we’re designed to make decisions a certain way. We bring in information, and we process it, and then we make a judgment that leads to behavior.

Sharing every whim, utterance and update indiscriminately risks a “boy who cried wolf ” scenario
We’re efficient at filtering out peripheral information that our brain decides doesn’t matter,” said Wallaert — for instance, our ability to hear one person talking to us in a crowded room. “Often in social media, all the information we get is given the same weighting or value. For example, on Twitter, all followers are treated with the same weight. You could easily miss the ‘friend’s husband died’ message because the ‘I just brushed my teeth’ messages’ overwhelm the truly relevant ones. While the major social networks themselves can’t do much to push the most relevant information forward, developers are hot on the trail.

Gist tries to tie your social graph from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail together, and rank the people you communicate with the most. T.A. McCann, founder and CEO of Gist, told us that “Most of us have an inbox or three that are overwhelming, and the amount of personal communication is difficult to deal with … Most of us, irrespective of what stream we’re looking at, tend to look at it in chronological order. That might not be most effective — we should be looking at who is most important, and center the content around them. Gist is trying to help people prioritize by centering the information you get around the people or businesses you care about.” These third party tools are very useful, but they’re also limited by the amount of openness and connectivity provided by the networks to which they connect.

Prioritizing Your Updates

Conclusion

magine a world where we can set up useful, personal filters that enable us to prioritize certain kinds of messages, especially if they come from specific people. Xobni and Rapportive do some analysis based on people you e-mail frequently, and their connections to you in other networks.

In the future we see the possibility of tools that enable us to see our “noise impact” on social media — similar in function to Klout, and others that show our online influence or sentiment. Social networks may also choose to give us feedback when people “mute” us or “dislike” what we’re posting, perhaps anonymously or in aggregate, similar to the way Facebook’s Insights for Pages show the number of people leaving every week. This feedback, just like the sidetone on the old phones, may be just what we need to bring the volume down and allow us to make more sense of the social web.

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What Twitter Places Means for the Future of Location
June 28, 2010 from Mashable
Despite the bungled launch and short hiatus, Twitter Places is back in action. The feature has huge implications for the geo-location space and the location-sharing movement.
Places is a big improvement on Twitter’s previous geo-location offering, which was never widely adopted or embraced by the majority of users. Whereas before users had to adjust their settings and agree to posting every single tweet with their geocoordinates, now Twitterers are presented with an elegant way to attach a place to their tweet, one tweet at a time. Right now Places is a Twitter web and mobile experience only, but soon developers will integrate the Places API into their applications and services. Only then will we see Twitter Places reach its full potential. If Twitter can fix the issues crippling the service, then Places has the power to turn location-sharing into a mainstream behavior and significantly boost interest in applications like Foursquare — not to mention the monetization potential of location-based ads.

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Just two years ago, Twitter and its 140-character updates seemed silly, if not absurd. Now everyone from all walks of life including athletes, politicians, celebrities and media are tweeting. Location-sharing — via applications that use geo-location to tie locations to places for the purpose of letting users broadcast where they are — is prime for a breakout moment. Twitter can help take it there. The tweet has proved to be a powerful and revolutionary way to communicate and spread information. Add location, in the form of places, to these messages and we could see a surge of interest. Places add context to tweets, which means that breaking news — whether it be related to a natural disaster, event, conference or other situation unfolding in real-time — flowing out in the form of tweets can be localized for further value. It’s this context that will finally help location-sharing holdouts understand why location matters and how they could benefit.

1. Location-Sharing to Become Mainstream

As trendy and hip as Foursquare may be, it’s still only reaching a small subset of the online population. While Facebook — due to its size and reach — is the most mainstream of the social networks, Twitter might have the best chance at making locationsharing a common behavior.

2. Boost Interest in Geo-location Apps

As it stands, Twitter is not a threat to locationbased social games like Foursquare and Gowalla. In fact, it’s a complementary service that will positively impact user uptake. Given that Places integrates with both services, users of Foursquare and Gowalla have double the incentive to continue updating their friends on their whereabouts. Checkins from either service are tied to places on Twitter, which means those updates get sucked into the Twitter Place feeds/streams. Checkins will also have broader reach on Twitter via the Twitter Place page, which means more exposure for Foursquare and Gowalla. More exposure will translate into more users who checkin more often, and so on, and so forth.
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Twitter is still the primary purveyor of real-time information and news, and location needs real-time visibility to thrive. Locationsharing amongst friends is certainly well suited for Facebook’s purposes, but the value of location supersedes knowing where your friends are.

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What Twitter Places Means for the Future of Location
Plus, as location-sharing becomes more accepted, users will begin to appreciate the added values that Gowalla and Foursquare bring to the table. Saving money — whether that be at Starbucks, Domino’s or Sports Authority — is something that never gets old.

3. Promoted Places

With Places, Twitter has an opportunity to serve up highly targeted advertisements in the form of Promoted Tweets. Ads could appear atop the Places tweet stream — a.k.a. search results for tweets at a particular place — and engage Twitter users with specific messages about a locale. Obviously this a feature that brands like Starbucks — an early Promoted Tweets user and Foursquare early adopter — could use for store-specific promotions or messages. Perhaps there’s even a “Promoted Places” product brewing that will function similarly to the new Promoted Trends feature. “Promoted Places” may just be a projection at this point, but we are quite certain that Twitter’s current fixation on advertising revenue will extend to Places.

Twitter Sets New Record: 3,283 Tweets Per Second
June 26, 2010 from Mashable
Despite massive Twitter activity due to ongoing World Cup match play, Twitter’s biggest tweets per second record to date was during last week’s NBA finals. That record was shattered yesterday as Twitter users published 3,283 tweets per second at the close of Japan’s victory over Denwark in the World Cup. These new numbers come directly from Twitter. You may recall that the previous record of 3,085 tweets per second came at the close of the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory over the Boston Celtics on June 17. Both of these recent records are staggering given that Twitter — during normal daily activity — averages roughly 750 tweets per second. The Japan-Demark World Cup figure means that activity swelled 438% above average, which helps to put recent service issues into perspective. Still the World Cup has yet to reach its climatic finale, so we expect this record broken in the very near future. Stay tuned.

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Humor

EXCLUSIVE: First Teaser For “The Social Network”
June 26, 2010 from Mashable Columbia Pictures has just released the very first teaser trailer for its upcoming film, The Social Network. Like the poster that debuted last week, the teaser is sparse in its detail, but intriguing and provocative at the same time. The Social Network, otherwise known as “the Facebook movie,” is based in part on the book The Accidental Billionaires. It chronicles the formative days of Facebook, from its founding in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room through its early rise to success. Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, the film stars Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg. It hits theaters this October. The tag line for the film, “You can’t make 500 million friends without making a few enemies” seems to sum up some of those early days, and the film (or at least the version of the script that I read) is as much an exploration of young people coming to terms with creating something bigger than themselves as much as it is about loyalty, jealousy and money.

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Some have questioned why Facebook and its story wasworthy of a film, let alone a film from A-level writers and directors. Well, think about just how much Facebook dominates the online communication space today. Think about how much bigger it is than it was even a year ago. Now consider that it was started only six years ago. Its overwhelming success and the fact that it has become important enough to drive ongoing discussions regarding privacy and data ownership is indicative that it is a force. Plus, think about it: Movies are an inherently social experience. A movie about a social network and the social factors, stories and melodramas that went into the founding of that network makes sense on a weird meta level. What do you think of the teaser trailer? Are you convinced that a Facebook movie is a good idea?

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