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20 Social Media Predictions for 2013

December 17, 2012

20 Social Media  Predictions for 2013

Introduction

It’s December, which means that it’s that time of year. Predictions! While 2012 was an exciting year for social media, I find it challenging to look back and characterize it. Was it the year of the mobile app? The year of the pinboard? Pinterest was certainly one of the big stories of 2012.

What will 2013 hold for social media? Let’s explore.

Social Media Predictions for 2013

  1. Social media becomes a “given” and we no longer call it out separately. We use terms like “marketing strategy,” “engagement strategy” and “audience generation strategy,” and NOT “social media strategy.”
  2. Likewise, organizations with “social media” job titles broaden those roles to cover a wider set of responsibilities. For instance, the “social media marketing manager” broadens to become the “marketing manager.”
  3. We see the major players doing more blocking and disabling of each other’s services, not less. The measures taken by Twitter and Instagram (in 2012) were the start of what we’ll see far more of in 2013.
  4. Venture capital will dry up for “pure” social media start-ups. You’ll need to pair your social media offering with a mobile or big data angle – or, whatever will emerge as the hot new thing in 2013.
  5. The “social media darling” of 2013 will be a new app that uses your social graph, your “interest graph” and your location to facilitate face-to-face connections. It’ll have specific features to discourage its use as a dating app.
  6. There will be a drop-off in blog postings on the topic of social media (consider this one an endangered species).
  7. Twitter publishes its definition of “spam user / spam bot” and drops those users from its official registered user count. Its reported user base drops by 20%, but advertisers give them a pat on the back.
  8. One among Klout, PeerIndex and Kred will be acquired for an eight figure sum. My money’s on Kred.
  9. Yahoo! acquires Quora for $800MM. Quora remains an independent site in 2013, but merges its user database with Yahoo’s.
  10. Despite investigations of anti-competitive actions, Google places increased emphasis of Google+ content in its search engine results. This forces social media marketers to tell their clients, “If you’re not on Google+, you lose.”
  11. We’ve gone from blogging to microblogging. In 2013, our sharing isn’t 140 characters at a time, it’s 1 character at a time. As they say on Wheel of Fortune, “Can I have an ‘E’?”
  12. Twitter’s makes further progress with the stability of its infrastructure. The fail whale faces extinction.
  13. MySpace expands beyond music into sports, recreation and other selected hobbies. It makes some acquisitions to grow audience in those areas and becomes the talk of the town at year-end 2013.
  14. After making significant concessions to the Chinese Government, Facebook is made available in China.
  15. As Facebook, Twitter and others focus on growing revenue, their end users experience “ad fatigue” and response rates (e.g. clicks) take a hit.
  16. Finding success on Twitter, The Pope expands to Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. He declines an offer, however, to become a LinkedIn Influencer.
  17. Facebook considers a move into the “data locker” space, figuring that they already have the critical mass of users – and, that it’s more effective than serving banner or text ads. See this related piece on data lockers from the New York Times.
  18. If there’s such thing as a “social media product of the year,” then in 2013 it will be Google+ Hangouts.
  19. Crowdfunding via social media is big. In 2013, it becomes huge.
  20. This post will receive precisely 17 comments. So leave your own social media predictions –and perhaps you can make this 2013 prediction come true in 2012.

Bonus Prediction Number 1

Bonus Prediction Number 2

Heidi Thorne (@heidithorne)

This prediction comes from Heidi Thorne (@heidithorne):

In 2013, I think that people will continue to collapse the number of social networks in which they participate to the Big Three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

YouTube, though I have a hard time classifying it as a “social” site, will continue to dominate the web. Google Plus, while an awesome platform, will continue to struggle to be relevant due to their late entry into the social game, but will be used for unique functions such as Hangouts.

Pinterest? I’m biased, but I think its sizzle will fizzle in the not too distant future. Other social sites, such as the reinvented MySpace, will become, for lack of a better term, “sites.” May have social sharing capability, but would not qualify as social “utilities” such as Facebook or Twitter.

Conclusion

Thanks for stopping by throughout 2012. Hope you had a good year and I hope 2013 is even better. Happy Holidays!

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

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How to Avoid and Minimize Fake Social Media Reviews

October 22, 2012

Introduction

I was surprised to come across a press release from the research firm Gartner, which stated that “by 2014, 10-15 Percent of Social Media Reviews to Be Fake, Paid for By Companies.” As someone who relies on reviews to make purchasing decisions (e.g. on Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor and many other sites), this concerns me.

For actions such as views, Likes and followers, the “cost” (overhead) is low, while the action can be performed somewhat anonymously. A review, on the other hand, requires more “work,” and is often associated with some sort of identity (profile) of the reviewer.

In the press release, Gartner indicated that companies will emerge to assist brands: “Gartner analysts said they expect a similar market of companies to emerge specializing in reputation defense versus reputation creation.”

I have a better solution – and that’s to “attack” the root of the problem, which is the review site itself. Thankfully, many review sites are already structured to separate the quality reviews from the fake reviews.

Let’s look at some examples and consider some related ideas.

Review the Reviews.

“Meta,” according to Wikipedia, is “a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.” To determine the worthiness of reviews, there’s nothing bet-ah (better) than meta (bad pun).

Let’s consider the reviews on Amazon. First, notice that the heading is “Most Helpful Customer Reviews.” Amazon allows users to indicate whether a review was helpful and then sorts their reviews list in order of “highest number of helpful review ratings” first.

The “Most Recent” reviews are listed off to the right column, in less prominent real estate. Also note that the reviewer is an “Amazon Verified Purchase,” which means that he purchased the book on Amazon.

Granted, one can still manipulate the system, as the New York Times detailed in a piece titled “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy.” But the Amazon system is effective because it relies on its users to tell us which reviews have been helpful. It also means that to display the “verified purchase” label, a fake reviewer would need to purchase the book on Amazon.

Establish “On-Site” Reputation.

In the Amazon example, the helpful reviews rose to the top, while the “non-helpful” reviews remained at the bottom. In this way, the Amazon reviews are similar to search engines, as few people click past Page 1 of search results pages (and the cream rises to the top).

In addition to rating the reviews, sites could establish reputation ratings for end users. eBay has been an innovator on this front, with their Feedback ratings. If you’ve ever purchased something on eBay, you probably viewed the seller’s ratings and read through comments (on that seller) left by other users.

Of course, an online review is a much different than an online purchase. Reviews won’t garner as much feedback as transactions. But the concept remains: allow users to establish reputation on the site, which will influence other users’ judgment on the published reviews.

Amazon, in fact, has a program called “Hall of Fame Reviewers” and Yelp has a program called the Yelp Elite Squad. Reviews that prominently display these sorts of reputation “achievements” (next to the reviewer) emphasize the “high reputation users” over those who may have ulterior motives (i.e. fake reviews).

Integrate Third Party Reputation Data.

Services such as Klout, Kred and PeerIndex aggregate public data (about you) to calculate online reputation scores. While not quite as useful as “on-site” reputation, linking reviewers to an online influence profile could help ward off fake reviews.

Influence equals credibility. And in considering whether a review is bonafide, I’d take an online influence score over nothing (i.e. an anonymous profile).

Deeper integrations between review sites and online influence services could tie “review topics” (e.g. books on Finance) to “influence topics” (e.g. Finance).

So, for instance, a review of a Finance book could link to the reviewer’s “Finance topic” page on the online influence site. Users reading the review could then determine how much weight to place on that particular review.

Integrate Third Party Social Identities.

Blogs and web sites use services such as Livefrye to conveniently integrate social identities (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to web site and blog comments. Tying reviews to a social identity is far better than anonymous reviews. At minimum, the reader can visit the social profile of reviewers to make a judgment on their worthiness.

Conclusion

Online reviews play an enormous role in worldwide purchasing decisions. As with any data source, effectiveness is closely tied to credibility.

If 10-15% of social media reviews are fake, then credibility suffers. And when that happens, people will look for other means of purchasing decision research. As such, web sites that provide reviews should look to successful examples from Amazon, Yelp, eBay and others to help avoid and minimize fake reviews.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


Want More Klout? Here’s How To Get It.

May 5, 2012

Introduction

In a widely read (and shared) piece in Wired titled “What Your Klout Score Really Means,” Seth Stevenson describes Klout as “a service that purports to measure users’ online influence on a scale from 1 to 100.”

The most talked-about aspect of Stevenson’s article is the story of how Sam Fiorella was turned down for a VP position (at a marketing agency) because his Klout score was too low. Fiorella’s score, at the time, was 34 and the job was given to someone with a score of 67.

My Views on Klout.

Opinions on Klout seem to be at two extremes: either you love it or you hate it. I find myself in the middle: I find that “metrics” (like a Klout score) are useful for comparing things against a standard of measure, but I wonder whether aspects of Klout’s measurement “algorithm” are completely valid (add to that the fact that the algorithm itself is clouded in some secrecy).

Previously, I shared my thoughts on the changes Klout made to its scoring model.

Get More Klout, If You Want To.

OK, so here’s the piece in the article that no one is talking about. Stevenson spoke to Klout product director Chris Makarsky and asked him how he could boost his Klout score. If you care about your Klout score, check out these tips:

  1. Improve the cadence of your tweets – that is, tweet a lot more.
  2. Concentrate on one topic, instead of spreading yourself thin.
  3. Establish “relationships with high-Klout people,” as a way to extend your influence.
  4. Keep things upbeat. “We find that positive sentiment drives more action than negative,” said Makarsky.

So there you have it. I’d be interested in your take on Klout. Does Klout score matter to you?

Related Links

  1. The author, Seth Stevenson on Twitter (@stevensonseth).
  2. Sam Fiorella on Twitter (@samfiorella).
  3. My profile on Klout. I was at 59 before their scoring change and currently stand at 51.

Other Tips to Get More Klout

  1. Mashable: 7 Surefire Ways to Increase Your Klout Score.
  2. Ask Aaaron Lee: 6 Unofficial Ways to Increase Your Klout Score 
  3. Inc.com: The Right Way to Increase Your Klout Score

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


The New Klout Scoring Model Reflects a Shift to Klout 2.0

November 7, 2011

Introduction

Key happenings in October 2011: the NFL in full swing, Halloween, a World Series that was a true October classic and a new scoring model from Klout. I think the World Series received the most commentary, with the Klout scoring changes finishing a close second.

For the most part, people’s Klout scores went down. And not surprisingly, that created a stir, with reactions that ranged from annoyance to sheer outrage.

My Klout score dropped quite a bit. And while I was initially dismayed by the drop, further reflection leads me to conclude that the scoring changes reflect a shift (on their part) from Klout 1.0 to Klout 2.0. Let’s first summarize Klout 1.0.

Klout 1.0

Klout 1.0 was all about generating awareness. Klout was happy to have leading social media experts tweeting about the service and logging in daily to check on their score (and how much it rose in the past day). In addition, Klout kept us all hooked via a crafty use of game mechanics. These game mechanics had us checking our score each day (on klout.com) and engaging with the service. Examples:

Appointment.

While a time was not pre-determined, we did feel an “appointment need” to login to the site each day to check on our latest “rewards.”

Progression.

On your Dashboard page, Klout listed out the following steps:

  1. Connect with Twitter
  2. Connect with Facebook
  3. Follow Klout on Twitter
  4. Like Klout on Facebook
  5. Share Your Klout Score
  6. Visit your profile

When you completed a step, it was visually “crossed out.” The progression dynamic certainly worked on me, in the same way that I was compelled to make my profile “100% complete” on LinkedIn.

Virtual currency.

Second Life has Linden dollars, Klout has “+K” (and they do not cost any US Dollars, unlike Lindens). Each Klout user has an allotment of “+K” that they can award to other users for selected topics. If I think a friend is an expert in social media, I can award her “+K” on that topic. It’s not clear whether receiving +K’s has an impact on your Klout score, though.

Points.

Your Klout score is a form of “points.” And Klout makes you all too aware of your score and its comparison to other users’ scores. In fact, Klout.com allows you to compare yourself to another user. Klout will tell you things like:

  1. You have a higher Klout score
  2. You have a larger Network Influence
  3. You have a larger Amplification Probability
  4. You have a larger True Reach

Status.

Klout’s algorithm assigns you into a particular category (or status). I’m a “Specialist,” which Klout describes as such:

You are a Specialist. You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.

Klout 2.0

Klout 1.0 made savvy use of game mechanics to stir up early interest and engagement. In the 1.0 world, user advocacy was a big thing, as early adopters who told other early adopters allowed awareness and usage to spread.

The change of scoring method, however, signals a clear shift from the users of Klout to the underlying score itself. Frankly, Klout could care less about noisy users (who are unhappy with their scores dropping). Their focus, instead, is to become the gold standard for online influence.

comScore is “a global leader in measuring the digital world and preferred source of digital business analytics.” Nielsen provides “the complete view of what consumers watch and buy through powerful insights that clarify the relationship between content and commerce.”

Today, Klout sells Klout Perks programs to advertisers.  In the near future, I think Klout wants to become the comScore and Nielsen of online influence.

Conclusion

I have to admit that when my Klout score decreased, I logged into the site much less frequently. But for Klout, that’s OK. What they care about is the fact that the right methodology is now in place behind my current score – one they can track and maintain over time, for the benefit of “watchers” (e.g. advertisers and other future clients).

What are your thoughts on Klout? Share them with us in the Comments section below.

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