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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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GBC Spends a day at MeasurementCamp June 9, 2009

Posted by andysephton in internet, social networks.
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From the ashes of defeat a new champion often arises. 13 months ago a panel discussion on measuring the effectiveness of social media ended inconclusively.

But one member of the panel felt that this was a topic that warranted a more constructive, collaborative approach. From these humble beginnings MeasurementCamp was born a month later in a bar in Soho.

Last month , nearly a year after its creation, I attended my first MeasurementCamp, hosted by an agency near Southwark in London. Over 30 people showed up and enjoyed the free tea, coffee and excellent chocolate brownies before getting their teeth into the issues of how to measure the effectiveness of social media and use this new media channel to their best advantage. With representatives from marketing, PR, advertising, charities and much more, this diverse group of professionals provided unique insights into this area of the world of media.

The level of knowledge sharing was rare and refreshing, organising the event through a wiki inspired and the knowledge gained from the session invaluable. If social media has the power to bring together a group of, essentially, competing professionals and encourage them to share knowledge in such an open forum it has more potential than many of us realise.

I for one plan to become a regular MeasurementCamper and hope to see some of you there in the future and don’t worry if London is a bit far afield for you, MeasuermentCamp Dublin is up and running and MeasurementCamp USA is on its way.

Sponsoring Social Media: A Solution or Problem? March 20, 2009

Posted by billyburnettgbc in Uncategorized.
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One of the most enjoyable and influential blogs in the UK, Mobile Industry Review, announced last week it was to become a research service following consistent failed efforts to monetise its 300,000+ users. Upon the formal announcement, regular visitors provided comments ranging from support to sadness to annoyance that the site was closing its doors (unless you are willing to depart with 12k for a corporate subscription).

From a personal viewpoint I have lost one of the few sites I visit on a daily basis, but this move raises the question that if sites like MIR can’t create a blog business model that works, what hope is there? The readership, content and community aspects of the site made it an extremely attractive target for both PR and marketing professionals, so are marketers simply still hesitant to invest in new media?

There are numerous blogs that talk about the ethical obligation that is at the core of the blogosphere and that sell outs betray this ethos, however even online entities need to pay the bills. In its final months, MIR visited Rome, Barcelona and Paris, and delivered hours of HD quality video to its audience all of which were paid for by Ewan himself. So what options are available to today’s bloggers and who is implementing these tactics successfully?

Jeremiah Owyang, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research has a great blog resource which tracks some of the ways that bloggers are funding their sites and also provides examples of successful implementations of these “services”, such as TechCrunch, Gizmodo and Adrants.

Demonstrated by the success of the above blogs and also the brands that are investing in them, such as Disney, Microsoft and Panasonic, the sponsored social media conversation can provide a legitimate revenue resource to the blogger community. The challenge faced by these bloggers however is ensuring that these remain open and honest relationships, whilst also meeting the demands of the sponsor.

Can blogs ever be 100 per cent independent when covering a sponsor? Also, how do influencers ensure they do not lose that trust that their social relevance has been built upon? I think the jury is still out on this.