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.
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.
What’s the niche? Mommy-bloggers, new parents, and baby boomers
What’s it like? LinkedIn, but every group and career has the word ‘mom’ in it.
Is it worth your time?
Everyone wants to capture mommy-bloggers. However, there are probably better ways to do it. Any blogger with real influence is already active on Twitter and Facebook, so you’ll have faster results talking to them on those platforms. Consider CafeMom only if you want direct-to-consumer communication, and you’re prepared to be your own brand advocate.
What’s the strategy?
Market research. To date, CafeMom is a personal platform only – brands have no place here. Make an account, and watch the conversation groups. Find out what your customers are concerned about (hint: they’re worried about their kids) and use that data to inform your ads and brand messaging on other channels.
What’s the niche? Restaurateurs
What’s it like? Take the quietest food industry tradeshow in the world, and put it online.
Is it worth your time?
Nearly every list of the “Most Important Niche Social Networks” includes FohBoh, and I have no idea why. The network’s rules prohibit “marketing or promotions” of any kind (though that hasn’t stopped several brands from trying), and more importantly: no one on the network is talking. It’s like the early days of LinkedIn, when everyone you knew had a profile, but no one could tell you the last time they logged into it. Unless restaurants are your sole audience, give this one a pass.
What’s the strategy?
Despite FohBoh’s supposedly strict “no promotions” policy, several brands maintain very active blogs on the network. I think a better strategy would be making the attempt to jump-start communication in one of the existing groups on the channel. Open up your blog archive (you do have a blog, don’t you?) and start sharing links into relevant groups. Restaurant Marketing would be a great place to show off your reputation management tool, and Ask the Experts would love to hear how your menu design can help them move more high-margin dishes. Your account might get shut down, eventually, but there’s no reason not to experiment while you can.
Network: WAYN (Where Are You Now?)
What’s the niche? Globetrotters, hikers, and people that live in pretty places
What’s it like? Pinterest with landscapes instead of recipes
Is it worth your time?
In the right hands, WAYN could be a branding gold mine. The network would allow you to present a global approach, or help you highlight the uniqueness of your one local office. It wouldn’t be hard to build up a following, so long as you have something unique to share. Small businesses looking at capturing a fervent local following should definitely take up residence here. At the same time, global brands can really make a solid impression by showcasing the diversity of their world-wide fanbase.
What’s the strategy?
Post photos of your company’s research team as they traverse foothills searching for the right aquifer for your bottled water. Recruit by showing off that office you had built overlooking a beautiful village south of Paris. Share the global impact of your brand with candid shots of your product in homes across the globe, or in the hands of children playing in New York, Moscow, and Rio. WAYN is all about photos, and those photos need to be simultaneously breath-taking and amateurish in order to succeed. Leave the thousand-dollar an hour photographer and their model at home; this is a job for the real people that make up your company.
So there you have it. The next time a colleague brags about how successful they’ve been on this “new Facebook for questions thing,” you can tell them to come back when they hit 10,000 followers on VampireFreaks. Oh, and SnapChat? You can probably forget about SnapChat. After all, I’ve never been wrong before.
The spinning minds at Facebook in Northern California have officially teamed up with the innovative thinkers at the rapidly growing startup known as Branch, in New York City. Branch is a social startup with a twin site called Potluck. These two sites monitor, engage, connect and ignite unique thought and conversations between users across the social-sphere. The idea of creating and, more importantly, maintaining an intellectual community of users with similar interests is an extremely powerful tool – if you know how to use it.
Facebook currently reports a total of 1.9 billion active monthly users. So where do they go from here? What service do they have planned to continue that growth into the future? Something where users can gain insightful information about their daily lives; be it health, travel, education, world news, politics and local events could be just around the corner. That is what the Branch team intends to do following Facebook’s supposed 15 million dollar ‘acqui—hire.’ Branch professionals will manage a portion of Facebook centered around developing Facebook’s conversations group, a service aimed at helping people connect based on their interests.
Pushing the envelope one more step, connectivity and topical engagements will go far beyond the best Steakhouse in SoHo or how to stay gluten free. These particular engagements could become a forum where community managers can enter the social sphere and really learn how their product or service is being taken in by the average person.
The doors have opened for “users to connect, and engage in meaningful exchanges based on interests”, according to Branch co-founder, Josh Miller. While on vacation in Japan, Josh received word that the news would be released during his trip and so he did what anyone else would do, proving exactly why he made the acquisition deal that he did… he updated his Facebook status.