During one of the final episodes of the animated Nickelodeon series “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” two former adversaries shared a “guy” moment: “My first girlfriend turned into the moon.” “That’s rough buddy.” 2008 was like that: animated and eventually looked like Survivor, but still where with teamwork, the social and creative could win.
Conversations are the New Billboards.
2008 saw the next generation of social media explode in growth. Forrester Research said “Three in four US online adults now use social tools to connect with each other compared with just 56% in 2007.” The growth is perceived to be such a game-changer in the economy that Forrester launched the book “Groundswell” to try and explain it.
Social media went mainstream in 2008. Facebook, with claims of 140 million users, overtook MySpace as the top social network in the U.S., according to TechCrunch. A growing number of people shared photos on Picasa and Flickr, videos on YouTube and Viddler, and shared their product reviews on hundreds of web sites.
Twitter, the social networking site that lets you “microshare” what you are doing in up to 140 characters, saw explosive growth as well. Boston-based HubSpot says in their year-end “State of the Twittersphere” report that 70 percent of Twitter’s estimated 5 million users signed up in 2008. Site traffic was up 600 percent over the last 12 months, and Twitter broke into the top 1000 web sites.
Five million people may not sound like a lot when compared to Facebook, but more companies have started having conversations with their customers. They are using Twitter to build goodwill, resolve issues, and grow their business in a new way. In a word, communicate – with new and existing customers.
“Barack Obama accumulated over 100,000 followers and announced major campaign news and updates on Twitter,” according to the HubSpot report. CNN’s “Rick Sanchez uses Twitter to interact with his audience daily on CNN and reads Tweets directly on air.”
Ad revenues are not yet keeping up to user growth, but it is only time before the monetization formulas fall into place and the different types of social media evolve.
Let the conversations begin.
No Music on CDs
Students now in school may be the first generation that will never own tangible music – for example, music on a CD. Industry analyst Gartner says that 2008 should be the last Christmas for retail CDs. The report summary almost rationalizes with the record companies to submit to the inevitable.
The summary states that: “By propping up the CD business, rather than fully investing in online distribution alternatives, the major labels … have neither succeeded in stamping out piracy nor done much to recreate the business models of the old ‘record business,’” said Mike McGuire, research vice president at Gartner. “Music labels should instead emphasize ‘digital first,’ making all new releases and catalog issues via digital services and moving CDs to an on-demand publishing mode.”
Showing a 14 percent decline between 2005 and 2007 in retail sales of physical media, Gartner recommends that “labels focus on the limitless ways digital content (that is, songs, videos, lyrics and communiqués) can be delivered, consumed and monetized.”
Arguably, the record companies may fear that we may find other music out there and dragging their feet may be a normal reaction. Take note though, other countries are starting to lead the way. And they have some good music too.
We all know the ending of this movie. We just wish it were a shorter movie.
Might Mobile Power Rangers
Eighteen percent of American households no longer have a conventional telephone. Reuters, quoting a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study saw a nearly 4 percent jump in this number in the last year alone. Is it only a matter of time before the world’s best copper-wire network is retired, or will there be future innovations? And why is the CDC doing this study?
“62% of all Americans are part of a wireless, mobile population that participates in digital activities away from home or work,” according to a Pew Internet/American Life Project study.
By 2020, most people will use their mobile phones to as their primary access point to the Internet. This Pew study says that voice recognition and perhaps virtual reality may be in the future for our mobile devices.
As I said in an earlier article, our mobile devices have become our new chewing gum. It’s there to help us pass the time, stay informed and grow.
Extra! Extra! (What DOES That Mean, Anyway?)
News media can no longer pretend the Internet and social sites do not exist. People – everyday people – are creating content, and they like writing and reading it.
Newspapers are having problems moving to the New World. Costs are rising, ads and subscriptions are falling and they need a way to migrate to a place where the news stays free for the user, and can be monetized for the business.
In a November article, I explained that newspapers must monetize their links and engage their audiences. Newspapers must leverage what they do best, and link to the rest, to paraphrase Jeff Jarvis of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. The execution of this calls for different skills and a “real-time” news attitude. Press time is always NOW and must use text, video, audio, and photos – and user feedback.
Television may be doing better. NBC Universal, for example, has started managed communities with some paid bloggers. NBC’s Hulu.com brings together, as their site says: “… videos from more than 100 content providers, including FOX, NBC Universal, MGM, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. and more.”
Watch on your notebook or hook up your big-screen television and have fun. While reviews and discussions add to the experience, program choice and “time shifting” viewing have become keys for success. Even their “web originals” are gaining popularity like the infamous “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.”
I started with a quote from a cartoon series to describe 2008. I can’t wait for 2009.