Monthly Archives: February 2014

Press ‘X’ to Add a Friend: Gaming as the New Social Space

There is an event going on that you most likely don’t know about – and you probably wouldn’t care about it if you did.

On the popular social streaming site, Twitch.tv, 50,000 gamers are trying to complete a Gameboy video game from 1998. “Twitch Plays Pokémon” is either an insane experiment, or the next evolution in social media. Thanks to some clever programming, someone has modified a virtual version of Pokémon Red to accept the input commands of over 50,000 simultaneous users. This exercise in group gaming has proven that even the simplest tasks can be nearly impossible when mass coordination is required.

It’s also a unique case study showing one potential future for the social media industry. Can you imagine having 50,000 people spending a week staring at your brand? This is gamification on a massive scale. Each of these users is wholly engaged in their activity. Memes and fan communities numbering in the tens of thousands have sprung up overnight. Gamers who weren’t alive when Pokémon Red was released are following the progress as if it was the latest FOX reality show. Unfortunately for the three brands that stand to profit from this phenomenon – Game Freak, Nintendo, and Twitch – only one is actually seeing any gains. Twitch is seeing active user counts (and ad views) that haven’t been matched since the DotA 2 International Tournament last year.
In fact, if Nintendo knew the stream was happening, they’d likely actively fight to have it shut down.

Of course, it’s easy for game and tech companies to fall into these types of social success. We’ve already written about the ties between social media and console gaming (and those are getting even closer all the time). In the near future, however, it isn’t hard to imagine this kind of gamification extending beyond the Sonys (Sonies?) and Microsofts of the world.

Nearly every social media junkie online is writing about the coming social cataclysm, when the “Big Four” networks fall out of favor and the new icons of social are brought to power. Some believe content curation platforms like Twitch are the future; others turn to niche networks like Wiser and Kaboodle.

There’s only one thing we can agree on: Change is coming, and it’s time for big brands to stop relying on Facebook.

Klout’s Komeback

The last time we wrote about Klout, we criticized (alongside many other outlets) the tool for failing to provide its advertised service. For those of you that missed the first blog, here is a brief synopsis: One of the earliest and longest-lasting challenges of social media is proving ROI – return on investment. Klout sought to solve that problem by creating the ‘Klout Score,’ a number between 1 and 100 that ranks your social media profile based on the supposed influence those profiles have. The biggest fault in this system was in its hyper-dependency on Twitter, and its inability to recognize context. Automated accounts tweeting links to Amazon.com could have the same Klout Score as a major news outlet, as long as they had enough followers.

Klout may have been all but forgotten, until last week, when the social tool everyone loves to hate rose from the grave with a brand new look.

Rebranded as a content-creation platform, Klout now actively seeks ways to improve your content and, by proxy, your Klout Score. Upon logging in to the new platform, users are asked to select a number of pre-defined areas of expertise, which Klout uses to rank and judge your influence. A user with 90 Klout in ‘social media’ and one with 90 Klout in ‘celebrity relationships’ will no longer be considered equally influential. Much more importantly, the tool will use your chosen fields of expertise to provide a newsfeed of relevant and trending content that your audience may be interested in. This gives social media newbies a shortcut to hot links to share, and gives brands an idea of possible conversation topics your consumer followers may want to see you comment on.

Will this complete overhaul be enough to win Klout a fanbase outside of the existing devotees? We think it just might be. Klout is finally delivering on a promise they made years ago: Make social media influence simple. They’re attempting to make it easier to enter the social space, and to find out how brands and users alike can make an impact. That effort – if nothing else – is admirable.