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AOL slams the door on social networking April 8, 2010

Posted by kewroad in social networks.
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Yesterday AOL announced that it planned to sell or shut down the social networking website Bebo. The news comes a few months after the digital media giant announced that it would cut one-third of its work force in an attempt to save $300m a year.

Despite this, the move to sell Bebo, one of the top 10 social networking websites, seems surprising at a time when social media is on the rise.  However, Bebo’s global unique visitors in February totalled 12.8 million, which was down 45% on February 2009. In comparison, Facebook had 462 million visitors, MySpace nearly 110 million, and Twitter 69.5 million according to figures from ComScore. Clearly the ability to attract advertisers and ultimately revenue is becoming more difficult – one of the core reasons for the purchase at the time in many industry commentators opinions.

At the same time AOL continues to invest heavily in digital content. In March this year it bought the local US news site Patch for $50m as part of its ongoing plans to invest in local news digital content. It also acquired StudioNow Inc. , an online platform for quality video creation and distribution, which is going to be integrated into its content management system Seed.com.  The interesting concept behind Seed.com is that users can upload original photos, music and or written content and get paid a certain percentage of the profits. However, AOL retains the rights to the product which allows the company to exploit successful content across its digital media platforms or to sell distribution rights to broadcast/music/publishing companies.

This can potentially generate high revenues, especially if the company can successfully utilise its business connections with Time Warner. Following on from this, it is not surprising that AOL has decided to refocus its core business strategy on content management and creation and avoid heavy investments in the highly competitive social networking market.  The company is trying to reposition itself as a major digital content provider and it shifts its direction towards niche markets, localised information and user generated content.

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The internet now drives opinion not the print media October 18, 2009

Posted by kewroad in 2009 predictions, information technology, internet, Journalism, new media, pr, print media, social networks, Twitter, Uncategorized.
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The furore since Thursday evening over the Daily Mail’s Jan Moir’s take on the death of Stephen Gateley serves to demonstrate that communications and opinion is no longer in the hands of journalists alone.  Twitter not only ‘breaks news’ – it also provides the facilitate to quickly garner masses of public opinion around news.   In the old days, a journalist would express a view and all that might happen is a letter from Mr Angry from Bournementh in the letters page the following week.   Many of might have wanted to comment but didn’t have the inclination to write a letter.  Not only does the popularity of Facebook and Twitter  now enable people to comment instantly but these social media tools also enable us to come together collectively, quickly and forcefully to drive comment and lead opinion.

Is this new wave of influential public opinion revolutionary? Well almost.  When before could a swell of opinion be expressed so quickly and powerfully? Long-term, this must have a positive effect on the old powers of the handful of media moguls who have long domintated the printing presses. Surely, long-term, it will be public opinion that drives the news agenda.  This new power of the people can’t be underestimated. Such was the rumpus caused by the Daily Mail article that the  newspaper lost significant advertising revenue. The mail had to remove adverts from big brands like Marks and Spencer, Nestle, Visit England, Kodak and the National Express. 

As the Observer recently reported, the print media is changing beyond all recognition and will never be the same again. We are currently living in a period of incredible change in communications and social media. No one really knows what the outcome will be, all that is for sure is that it won’t be the same as before. 

Sue Grant

Twitter: Next Generation of Citizen Journalism? June 30, 2009

Posted by billyburnettgbc in Journalism, new media, Twitter.
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I didn’t learn of Michael Jackson’s death on the news, nor did I read it in a newspaper or online, I heard about it on Twitter, the fastest growing medium of so-called citizen journalism.

I was in a public house near my flat and as a friend frequented the little boy’s room I took the opportunity to load up Tweet Deck on my iPhone.  I was suddenly met with over 300 “MJ related” Tweets, with an assortment of hash tags and tiny URLs which I could use to follow the story.  This was citizen journalism in action and I became part of it the minute I decided to Retweet and subsequently break the internet.

As the fastest growing website in the UK, experiencing a 22-fold increase in the past year, Twitter is now not only used by many for communication, but also as a source of news.  This is supported by a recent study by industry analysts Hitwise, who found that during May, links from Twitter accounted for 1 in every 350 visits to a website.  The figures also revealed that Twitter was the 27th most popular source of traffic to media and newspaper websites in the UK.

But is this a sustainable medium, not in terms of enthusiastic users but in terms of quality?  On the same day that I learnt of the news surrounding Michael Jackson, Tweets were also circulating around the death of Jeff Goldblum, culminating in an Australian news channel covering the news.  A term we are referring to internally as Tweeting Whispers.

Another challenge facing the use of Twitter as a source of news is the opportunity for misuse. Habitat has hit the headlines over the past couple of weeks when an overenthusiastic “intern” decided to leverage the popularity of hash tags surrounding the Iran elections and Apple iPhone to promote a special offer by Habitat.  On this occasion the site was simply misused to promote a special offer, but what if it was to send people to an infected website etc.

The challenge for Twitter is on how to address these problems. Does it put in place technical solutions that could potentially inhibit growth and functionality?  Or does it leverage the Twitter audience and create a new system of rating or reporting tweets?

The task ahead is unenviable however there is no doubt without some action from a predominantly unchanged social networking platform the Twitter platform will be replaced.  I am already thinking of a tool where you aren’t allowed to use vowels.