Are you an early adopter or easily distracted?




Are you a moth to the latest must-try social media flame? An early adopter always looking to push the envelope, try new things? Or actually easily distracted, trialling the latest new thing instead of focusing on the challenging things you need to do?

There have been a number of new, and not so new social media news stories in recent weeks (if you don’t believe me, sign up to Techcrunch), but the one that has filled my Twitter stream the most is Empire Avenue.

Empire Avenue is essentially on online game that works on the basis of trading stocks and shares in yourself or your brand, the value of which is based on your social media activity. Therefore, the more you do the more you are potentially worth. As people invest you, and you pass / unlock certain aspects, your stock rises as does your ability to invest. All in fictitious online currency though, not real world cash – yet.


As a b2b marketer, I’ve watched as location based services like Foursquare and Facebook Places, have slowly began to monetize their audiences with time-sensitive deals. Buying sites like Groupon have also contributed to the phenomenon of securing big savings on retail products and services. Retail and leisure b2c sectors are seeing benefits but an effect on my clients and their customers is still some way off.


I’m watching people get utterly sucked into some of these emerging platforms and I’m left wondering if it is affecting their business. Do I think that someone who runs Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter accounts, creates blogs and other content to drive inquiry, uses Foursquare, and digests/shares and comments on lots of other content, has time to deliver in their role, letalone play online games like Empire Avenue? No.

Business impact

I accept that there is something for everyone. But will Empire Avenue get you hired? No. Will Empire Avenue differentiate your business from a competitor? Doubtful. Will you be engaging with the same people you bump into as you journey the web? Probably. Will Empire Avenue have a tangible effect on your business? Unlikely.

Save some tenuous value figure I might apply to my social media work, and an inordinate amount of additional email in my inbox, Empire Avenue isn’t helping me.

And doesn’t that defeat the object? If new digital platforms hinder and confuse rather than help, what function do they serve other than to distract?

Image: Empire Avenue masthead


4 great tools for monitoring social media on a shoestring (SMWF pt 4)

Some further insight from Social Media World Forum, last week. This for me was the pick of the sessions I attended. As Paul Szomszor from Citigate took to the stage to discuss how Brandwatch was used to impact their TalkTalk work, news was breaking outside SMWF that cloud CRM had acquired the social media monitoring platform Radian 6 for $326m.

A massive deal, this illustrates the importance of social media monitoring in relation to online influence and reputation. Paul went on to discuss how reputation online boils down to working out what is noise, what is a flagged/interested mention, and the most important, the key mentions – which are graded positive, negative and neutral.

Paul offered a great soundbite ‘Social media is a tool, not a solution. It needs people to make it work’. I can see this on tshirts, mugs, pens and mousemats!


In all seriousness though, there is a relevance in trying to ascertain how engaged people are with your brand and much was made of sentiment tracking, an increasingly ‘in vogue’ phrase used to describe how positively or negatively you or your brand are being talked about.

Having a grasp of this means you can keep on top of discussions, conversations and if necessary influence them to ensure they are as positive as possible. There are basic and expensive tools that can provide the data, but it is far from automated and does ultimately fall to you as the brand custodian to use the information in a constructive way.

Monitoring social media

Paul talked about  BrandWatch, which at around £100 a month per keyword can start to get expensive for brand owners. BrandWatch gathers, cleans, analyses and presents data, drawing information from a range of online sources to give a complete picture of when a brand, person, company (any keyword searched) is mentioned. If you’re interested, check out a demo.

I’m more interested in some of the free to use platforms which can still help paint a picture and give you a more accessible and cost-free entry point to social media monitoring.

1. Social Mention As the name suggests, it is a free to use real time search engine which pulls together information and references from lots of place including blogs, Twitter, bookmarking sites, events, video sites and social networks. I ran a search for ‘marketingassassin’ and it has proved illuminating. I think the sentiment tracking is a little eskewed as there is no apparent reason for it based on the list below, but it is useful in displaying all references in one view.

2. Topsy Another quick and simple ‘mention’ based search engine which can be integrated with Twitter and Facebook. Shows a public trending timeline and tailored searches across the social web.

3. Board Reader An interesting search engine covering forums, boards and groups. It picks up lots of content discussed on Linkedin and other platforms, and searches can be split across a number of categories. Of most interest to business marketers, I think, is the press release search.

4. Twitter Search – an often overlooked, and distinct, search facility. Avoid at your peril, it offers better results than the search function within Twitter itself.

This is the final in a four part set of posts inspired by sessions at Social Media World Forum, London. Read part one giving an overview, part two about the ASA and the CAP Code revisions affecting online marketing, and read part three about some recent social media start ups.


My Twitter Week (w/e 13 March 2011)

Here’s some links worth a click from the last seven days:

Right off the bat, MarketingProfs reported on how YouTube topped Facebook & Twitter in User Satisfaction. Despite 7 in 10 users of Facebook returning to the site within 7 days, it seems more people share more content on YouTube.

Mark Shaeffer penned the excellent Six ideas to get your company blog out of the fog. In it he dissects the blog, looks at the data and comments on design, structure, content and promotion. A must read if you produce any kind of online content.

Over on Utalkmarketing, I stumbled on a post examining why marketers shouldn’t let email marketing drop off the radar. This backs nicely into stats I recall from last year about how social media can help create an audience but opt in email allows you to provide personalised content. There is still a place for email in the modern marketing mix.

The very readable SocialMediaB2B blog posted an interesting piece looking at how to make social media interesting more digestible and relevant for clients and managers with 6 Ways to Format B2B Social Media Reports.

Staying on the social media front, it always seems to be a challenge to locate good case studies. Here are five of the latest that involve social media from a PR perspective from Mashable.

The last one this week provided more proof Facebook isn’t everything with Econsultancy’s Top 50 brands in social.

More next week.