Social Media monitoring solutions are all the rage right now

Posted in marketing, Social Media on April 2nd, 2011 by Itamar Novick – Be the first to comment

In the last two weeks the Social Media monitoring scene has been virtually lit on fire.

With Salesforce snatching Radian6 for approximately $276 million in cash and $50 million in stock and shelling out another $10 million in stock and $4 million in cash to Radian6′s founders, and Visible Technologies raising an additional $6m in cash, it seems that this space is ripe for consolidation and a lot more action.

A good question to ask would be whether this market is actually part of the “bubble” that is developing in Silicon Valley (or at least that is what experts are saying) or has some real substance to it – Does a price of $326 for Radian6 really makes sense? is the potential market this big?

My intuitive answer is no (for this market being part of the “bubble”) and yes (for the market opportunity). I think it makes sense to assume that this market will be as big, if not even bigger, than the Web analytics market is now (Forrester reports that Web Analytics spending are around $600m annually). There are some indications supporting those thoughts:

  • Jeremiah Owyang indicated that corporate willingness to pay for Social Analytics tools has gone up to $294,000
  • According to Salesforce, Radian6 was already at a run rate of $35 million in annual revenue and is expected to bring in $50 million this year. Omniture was at a run rate of ~$100 Million before Adobe bought them back in 2009 for $1.8B
  • Social analytic and monitoring are a growing requirement for multiple groups in the enterprise, including marketing, sales, PR, customer support and research groups and other. Social Media monitoring solutions would potentially be more widely used than Web Analytics tools and those integrated solutions would be essential to business operations in today’s social web
  • 79% of corporates are undertaking Social Media activities right now, but in terms of spending the have a long way to go and we can expect double digit growth, with Social Media analytics and monitoring nicely placed in the top of the stack
  • Share

    A reminder about what platform play is all about

    Posted in Social Media, Social Networks, Web on March 1st, 2011 by Itamar Novick – Be the first to comment

    The action on the Twitter platform last week with UberMedia reminded me what platform play is all about.

    Talking to colleges, I was surprised to hear that some people think that UberMedia can “beat the platform” and create an off-Twitter network. Knowing first hand some of the developer policies that platforms like Facebook and Twitter put in place, it’s pretty easy to see that any of those platforms can shut down any service they want, whenever they want, without potentially having a reason. Off course, that can be a highly unpopular move that will result in bad PR and upset users, but if it’s “self defense” they can do it with a blink of an eye and might actually get away with it. Furthermore, even if the consequence of shutting down a company that is positioning itself as a competitor is some loss of users or a slight regression in adoption rate, that might be a small price to pay compared to the alternative.

    Personally, I think Twitter made the right move, they got worried that UberMedia controls such a large percentage of twitter’s user base, so they made UberMedia behaves sooner rather than later, before they have an even greater user reach. Twitter could have looked away and ignored it, but they decided to stop this madness right now, and make sure UberMedia remembers who controls this platform. As a nice side benefit, twitter also enjoyed two days of increased user adoption for their mobile and web tools because the redirected users that wanted to learn more about the outage to their own applications.

    Another recent example is an automatic algorithm used by Facebook to block application according to some criteria. Developer’s claim that Facebook is blocking application algorithmically that are growing “too fast”, regardless of whether they abuse Facebook’s developers policy. You can follow the conversation onQuora here.

    At the end of the day, companies building layers of services on top of those platforms need to understand the rules of the game, and realize that as long as everybody gets along it all good, but if something goes bad, the platform can always pull the trigger on them, at any time.

    Update(3/11/2011): Twitter have formerly announced that third-party developers should stop doing Twitter clients. Here is updated they have just made to their API terms of service:
    “Developers have told us that they’d like more guidance from us about the best opportunities to build on Twitter. More specifically, developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no,” Sarver writes very matter-of-factly.

    “If you are an existing developer of client apps, you can continue to serve your user base, but we will be holding you to high standards to ensure you do not violate users’ privacy, that you provide consistency in the user experience, and that you rigorously adhere to all areas of our Terms of Service. We have spoken with the major client applications in the Twitter ecosystem about these needs on an ongoing basis, and will continue to ensure a high bar is maintained,”

    Share

    Is Facebook overvalued at $50 billion?

    Posted in Social Media, Social Networks, Web on December 28th, 2010 by Itamar Novick – Be the first to comment

    Does Facebook valuation indicate that a Tech Bubble is build up?
    In the last week we’ve heard quite a few voices claiming that Facebook might be overvalued at $50 billion, and that a new bubble might be forming in tech sector (Here are a two – Economist - http://www.economist.com/economist-asks/facebook_overvalued_50_billion, Bloomberg - http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-27/facebook-overvalued-at-50-billion-in-global-poll-of-investors.html).

    There might be a Tech bubble out there, and I’m probably the last person that might have good  insights on whether such a bubble exists or not, but I do think that adding Facebook to the mix and inferring that Facebook’s is overvalued might be wrong. It could be that there is Tech bubble and Facebook may still be truly worth $50 billion or more and there might not be a bubble and Facebook will still be worth that or much more.

    I’m one of strong believers in the notion that Facebook’s Market Cap will quickly reach $100 billion or more, and have been bullish on them for a few years now. Here is why:


    Facebook Connect (Social Graph API)
    Over 250 million users use Facebook Connect each month. 10,000 sites are adding Facebook Connect each month and a total of over a million websites (including most of the top sites) are leveraging the connect technology today. Soon enough almost any site out there would have a “login with Facebook” option, and Facebook will have a staggering number of impressions outside Facebook.com.
    Facebook will be able leverage Facebook Connect to create a huge display and social ad network outside Facebook, adding profile and Social graph to the mix, as well as targeting and retargeting capabilities, to appeal to publisher to allocate more ad inventory to serve effective Social ds.


    User reach and campaign innovation
    Facebook’s key web metrics, such as Time spent, impressions, Unique visitors, and number of active monthly users are consistently growing and fast, while their main competition’s stats (Google and Yahoo) are either falling or standing still. Soon enough they will be the leader, by far, on any key metric.

    Facebook have not yet fully ramped up their ads in Facebook.com and are playing around with new ad units to try to deliver more value to advertisers. For example, the ad product they unveiled this week – Facebook sponsored stories (http://mashable.com/2011/01/25/facebook-sponsored-stories/) is another interesting attempt, a bit like Twitter’s promoted tweets, that might actually work.


    Mobile, local and the Facebook platform
    Facebook understands the importance of mobile and are heavily investing in it. They already have hundreds of millions of mobile users and coupled with a local strategy they will be a serious force in the mobile ad space.
    On top of that Facebook is pushing hard on other initiatives on their platform, such virtual currency and e-commerce. Their platform partners, such as Zynga, are virtually printing money today and it’s just a matter of time until Facebook figures out the right angle to claim their share of the revenues partners make on the platform. I feel we can expect them to create a steady and decent revenue stream from those initiatives.

    Finally, it seems that Social is an inherit layer in anything that is Web or Mobile, and that Facebook will dominate this space. If Social is everywhere and Facebook is Social, Facebook will be everywhere, just like Google is everywhere today. I would not be blown off my feet if two years from now Facebook and Google will be head-to-head in terms of Market Cap.

    Update (2/27):

    emarketer.com has recently published a forecast of Facebook ad revenues, expecting it to hit ~$4 Billion in 2011.

    Share

    Social platform integration – Which platform is right for you?

    Posted in marketing, Social Media, Social Networks, Web on December 20th, 2010 by Itamar Novick – Be the first to comment

    Although I’m a fan of integrating as many social platforms as possible in external sites and application, it’s clear that marketers are sometimes forced to focus their efforts and budgets on one platform or the other.

    Having a clear strategy and goals in place can help make smart choices. For example, if you are planning on integrating social authentication in your site or app you will probably want to consider a wide range of authentication providers, including Google and Yahoo, but if your focus is on sharing user activities and driving traffic, you are probably debating whether you want to integrate Facebook, Twitter or both. In this post, I’ll try to focus on driving traffic to external websites and applications and compare between the two platforms.

    Facebook has 600+ million users, compared to 180 million Twitter users. But is user reach the critical factor in deciding which platform you should integrate more tightly? it really depends.
    A young startup that is trying to maximize traction and word-of-mouth, targeting tech-savvy early adopters with minimal costs, might consider Twitter as your top option, while a mature brand, which targets teens, will probably consider Facebook as a top priority.

    The fact that there are so many Facebook users out there is not always positive. With Facebook you get a larger audience that includes consumers that might not be in your target segments. This requires potentially leveraging targeting technologies to reach the right audience and you might need to put in more effort in outreach to drive clicks.
    On the other hand, Twitter conversations have gaping holes in the middle, often leaving Twitter users hanging with just bits and pieces, and leaving them with quite a bit of questions. This could potentially be a con for the brand conversation you are trying to develop on Twitter. Also, Twitter have had a history of security breaches and uptime issues that are just trouble for services that integrate with them.

    A recent study done by SocialTwist, in which they analyzed more than one million links on both platforms, indicates that Facebook’s shared links average only 3 clicks, while Twitter’s embedded tweets generate 19. There might be a few good explanation for that:

  • The relatively new Twitter interface that includes the split screen and view pane design is good for marketing. Businesses can effectively share updated videos on their Twitter profiles, instead of just repeatedly tweeting messages, and users are potentially better exposed to those messages.
  • Twitter’s audience is more tech-savvy. with third-party applications through and features such as scheduled tweets and searches and with only 140 characters, a lot of tweets leave readers waiting for more. This factors into a desire to click on more links and drives click-through rates per items posted higher.
  • Twitter requires less time for actionable exposure and reaches a more specific audience and consumer base. The amount of distraction on Twitter is also far less than the amount of distraction on Facebook
  • For B2B marketers, Linkedin might offer an interesting opportunity as well. Back in April 2010, the business-oriented social network gave users the ability to follow companies in addition to following users. Even before that, Linkedin added newsfeed activities, such as “like” and “comment”, very similarly to Facebook’s newsfeed, and enabled users to integrate their Twitter accounts into their LinkedIn feed.
    My overall feeling (unfortunately, I don’t have any data to back this, it’s just a hunch) is that all those features have substantially increased user engagement on the platform. LinkedIn, like the other platform has API in place that enables sharing links, and as professionals spend more time engaging with LinkedIn, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the platform can deliver good results in driving interest for business products.

    To summarize, choosing Facebook because everybody else does it is not always the right answer. One best practice would be to have a clear understanding of your target audience and use publicly available data to figure out in which platform your core audience spends more time in, helping you deliver more bang for the buck.

    Share

    Myspace finally surrenders to Facebook

    Posted in Uncategorized on November 18th, 2010 by Itamar Novick – 1 Comment

    Sometimes it’s unbelievable how fast and disruptive things can be in the harsh world of online - http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/18/hell-freezes-over-as-myspace-fully-surrenders-to-facebook/

    Today, Myspace announced that there are basically surrendering what used to be their core business – Social Networking and Social Graph. It’s true that have already announced that they will focus on Media, Music, etc. moving forward, but still, implementing Facebook Connect is just saying: “Okay, we give up on Social”.

    I remember that not a long time ago, Myspace was bigger than Facebook. Two years ago, we used to talk advertisers about Social Media campaigns and Myspace was still all the rage. Advertisers knew they wanted to be on Facebook as well, but Myspace was the focus for many of them. Just a year later, in 2009, everybody was just raving about Facebook and didn’t even want to hear about Myspace anymore.

    What went wrong? it’s hard to tell, but my personal take is that it’s all about the user experience. Facebook just did an awesome job with that (and are still doing a great job) while Myspace failed to further develop their product to have a great user experience. They didn’t experiment enough to learn and develop their product to be better.
    Facebook today is very different from Facebook two years ago, Myspace is pretty much the same. Facebook adapted and learned how to make a better product. Myspace didn’t, and that is why, I think, they reached the spot they are in  today.

    This story should be a classic Harvard case study, which I hope will be written in the future. the lesson is not a new one – if you can’t adopt your business to fit your customer needs, you won’t survive. Customers needed a site they loved and worked for them. Facebook did exactly that.

    Share

    Which social media platforms drive most traffic into websites?

    Posted in marketing, Social Media, Social Networks, Web on November 16th, 2010 by Itamar Novick – 4 Comments

    Although I guess this is wide spread knowledge for most Social Media professional, I think it’s worth discussing some of the stats about Social Media related traffic on external web-sites from a different point of view (note: “external websites” in the context of this post are traditional non-social network sites).

    Here is a graph from a recent Technorati post highlighting traffic driven from Social Networks to blogs:
    The data, which is probably focused on the most important goal for marketers and website owners – driving traffic from social networks to their sites, shows that the mass of traffic is driven by Facebook and twitter. It’s very conclusive – Facebook and Twitter are by far the most effective platform to target, but there are two good questions to ask are: to what extent is this true for websites implementing social connectivity strategies? and is this traffic content related?

    Moving forward, I assume that Google, Yahoo and most of the platform above, would do a very good job in prominently showing social activities on their platforms to promote content discovery and outbound clicks. everybody would have a “stream” – This is a must for those platform to survive in a world dominated today by Facebook and Twitter. If that actually happens, some of the marketers might find it more effective to promote user activities on other platforms, as they would offer a lower “price”. Assuming that each item shared by users has some “cost” associated with it (especially if it is an incentives share) an interesting data bit for marketers would be the the cost of a lead gained from sharing activities or advertising in all other platforms.

    Here is some more data from Gigya (disclaimer – this data is not super up-to-date). Unlike the Technorati data, those stats are not blog focused:

    Distribution of shared items
    Facebook: 44%
    Twitter: 29%
    Yahoo:18%
    MySpace:9%

    There are far more companies providing identities with which users can sign-in to 3rd party websites, so that data looks different from sharing data, and also looks different by site type:

    Share of Authentication By Platform:

    News sites:
    Facebook: 31%
    Google: 30%
    Yahoo: 25%
    Twitter: 11%
    AOL: 3%

    This indicates that users actually share and authenticate using diverse Platforms, if they actually are given a chance to do so (depends on whether the website has implemented sharing and authentication to other destinations). The data actually drives right into the heart of Gigya’s value proposition – enable users to choose which destinations they want to connect and share to, and then track and optimize the conversion rate of share to traffic to realize which platforms are effective in driving traffic for your site.

    I’m guessing some websites would experience that the distribution of users authenticating and sharing by platform varies according to the site’s content and target audience. If your website targets an older demographic user segment you may find that Yahoo and Linked-in are actually a favorite connectivity destination for your users, potentially leading to lower costs associated with acquiring leads from those platforms and making them an important part of your social marketing strategy.

    Share

    sFund and the challenges of the Social Web

    Posted in marketing, Social Media, Social Networks, Web on October 23rd, 2010 by Itamar Novick – 1 Comment

    Intense discussions about the new era of Social in web and mobile have been all over the place this week. Those discussions are, rightfully, getting tons of media traction.

    It started with the announcement of the new sFund from VC Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, who joined hands with Facebook, Amazon.com, and Zynga to announce a new $250 million fund for social networking startup (You can read more about that here: http://www.businessinsider.com/live-facebook-to-announce-new-vc-fund-2010-10#ixzz13DmAQGTd).

    The new fund met with some criticism led by Chris Dixon, a leading angel investor, who kept shredding Kleiner Perkins initiative on twitter (you can see his tweets here: http://twitter.com/#!/cdixon). Chris basically suggests that Kleiner’s dedicated social startup fund is late to the party.

    Thinking about Chris Dixon’s response and the opportunities out there I can’t help but wonder that:

    • Nobody has yet to figure out how to successfully use Social Media for e-commerce. It’s clear that this is one of the Holy Grails of Social, yet no disruptive solution or technology has showed up.  Not only have we not seen the first generation of successful Social solutions for e-commerce, we aren’t even seeing beta solutions that deliver solid value.
      Unlike Brand Marketers, online retailers want performance based solutions and are willing to pay handsomely for leads that convert into paying customers.
    • Social Network brand marketing tools have made a huge leap forward in the last year, but there are many optimization challenges ahead. This space is young and growing and we will surely see more disruptive technologies that would grab more advertisers’ dollars.

    Chris surely recognizes that those opportunities are out there. True, Social is not all new and it’s already here, big time, but the industry is still pretty young and will probably see a lot of game changing products in the future.
    Unfortunately, it took a long time for players in the industry to understand where there are headed to and what works best, but now as some of the key concepts are unveiled it’s officially the first round of the new web – the social web. Round 2 and maybe 3 are probably around the corner and it seems that there are many opportunities out there for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

    I would bet a small amount of my money on Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers new sFund. Would you do the same?

    Share

    Making Y-connect and Yahoo Social strategy work

    Posted in Social Media, Social Networks, Web on October 19th, 2010 by Itamar Novick – Be the first to comment

    According to WSJ Yahoo are making an effort to take their Social Strategy seriously, again. They are launching a new service called Y-Connect, aimed at media sites and publishers with the end goal of bringing more traffic.

    TechCrunch and Blogs around the web are just all over the place talking about how Y-Connect will fail, but I’m more interested in asking what they need to do to succeed. The world needs more than one social network. Competition is healthy for everybody and although Facebook are doing a brilliant job so far, competition will only make this space better.

    Back to Yahoo, they are saying that: “With Y Connect, users could register with and log into media sites simply by clicking on a Yahoo button.”

    OK, so authentication with Yahoo is great. Being the biggest email provider in the world, Yahoo has more than a handful of user accounts and that could help boost activity. However, social optimization platforms, such as Gigya, have already been using Y!OS for over a year to authenticate users on external websites (checkout answers.com, a really cool integration), So what’s new here?

    Yahoo cannot honestly expect publishers to switch their existing Facebook Connect button (which is already on over 1 million sites) with Yahoo Connect. At best, they will add Yahoo on top of their existing Facebook and Twitter buttons. Taking into account that users only need to login once, Yahoo needs to work hard on making sure that users log-in with Yahoo first and not with other buttons.
    If Yahoo gets the User experience right on those buttons and make it as seamless as possible it could work, but it has to be better than Facebook connect. It has to be “seamless”. What I mean by “seamless” is that signing into an external site using Yahoo_connect would be easier, smoother (less screens, and preferably using a dialog if possible), and overall a better experience than doing the same with Facebook connect. It has to be so good that users will prefer using Yahoo-Connect than using Facebook Connect .Otherwise, people will just go on using their existing Facebook connect buttons instead of using the new Yahoo Connect.

    Yahoo goes on and says: “…Then, users’ activity on the media site can easily be shared with contacts on Yahoo.””

    That is probably the key to success here. User authentication is great, but publishers need an effective social media strategy that brings in traffic. The issue is that Yahoo hasn’t been able to deliver that just yet.
    Yes, users have a profile in Yahoo. Yes, they have a Social Graph (very much like Google Buzz the relationship graph is related to their email connections), but for the social sharing piece to work, Yahoo has to help users to interact with each other and interact with friend’s feed content.
    If Yahoo wants to get serious with their Social Strategy (and it’s not too late to do that yet), they have to feature the feed items on the Yahoo front page (for logged in users). To me, this seems like the only way to play the game to win. I know it’s hard as Yahoo front page is one of the most valuable web assets in the globe, and I totally understand why Yahoo is sometimes reluctant to change something that clearly works, but this is what innovation is all about. Change. If Yahoo wants to play the Social Network game to win it has to adopt and promote their Social Media Strategy by doing more than PR. They need to help users discover that Social functionality in Yahoo and make it an integral and prominent part of the Yahoo services suite, just like emails, News, Finance and other successful Yahoo products.

    Share

    The Social Network

    Posted in academic, Social Media, Social Networks, Web on October 3rd, 2010 by Itamar Novick – 2 Comments

    Watching “The Social Network”, regardless of whether the stuff they show there about Mark Zuckerberg are true or false (or somewhere in between), you can’t help but think it’s a great movie. Also, it made my mind race with a few thoughts.

    It’s one of the first movies (if not THE first) that illustrates the web 2.0 start-up world. Hollywood has been slow in recognizing the impact of web entrepreneurship on the world and even more specifically on the lives of Y-gens. I hope that the movie’s success will result in more movies about entrepreneurship in the Tech world.

    Another thought is that this movie pitches, not directly, that quitting school is a good thing. Although they don’t discuss it at length, the movie signals that if you are the next Mark Zuckerberg you should quit school. Okay, so a classic counter argument would be that 99.9999% of the population are not the next Mark Zuckerberg, but as quite a few academic researches show, most people have a confirmation bias about themselves and think they are capable.

    It’s interesting to note that thoughts leaders are also pitching dropping school. Last week a group of students at UC-Berkeley (including me) got quite a treat: a lively discussion with TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington.
    Arrington was very direct, and said that the kind of person who wants to increase his chances of success by getting a masters degree isn’t an entrepreneur; older entrepreneurs have no chance of raising money (so they’re a lost cause).

    Overall, I think that “The Social Network” is a good thing. This movie and others that could follow will help spark innovation and push more entrepreneurs to get out of their comfort zone and do what they believe in doing.

    Share

    Apple vs. Adobe Flash – Round 2

    Posted in Web on April 9th, 2010 by Itamar Novick – 1 Comment

    Apple has been pushing web publishers and video platforms to switch to HTML5 as part of the iPad launch. Amazingly, within just a few weeks many publishers, such as Brightcove , have answered Apple’s call to arms.
    it’s pretty clear that the one to suffer here is Adobe, or more specifically – Adobe’s dominance in Flash powered video players.

    With the iPhone OS4 release Apple are taking this strategy one step further and are getting into both Adobe’s and the interactive ad-networks’ backyards.

    Watching Steve Job’s iAd demo today asking “Have you ever seen a mobile ad like this? Anything even close?” (you can watch the whole video in Apple events) I couldn’t help but think that Apple’s app-like interactive ads look very much like, hmm, Flash Widgets.

    So basically, Apple’s is aiming for the interactive ads $$ here, and to counter Adobe’s strong Flash developers community, Apple are matching another developer community to strengthen their interactive war – the iPhone developer community.
    Just wait until this iAd gets adopted in the iPad and than advertiser would needs to choose where to spend their dollars in – iPad’s soon to be massively adopted ad platform or mobile browser.

    Stay tuned, I’m guessing that there are yet many more rounds to come.

    Share