Can Keek Achieve Monetization Bliss?

By Mark Evans - October 20th, 2014

keek

In many ways, Keek is the ideal case study of how social media success doesn’t always translate into financial success.

The service, which lets people share 36-second videos – called “Keeks” – has been wildly successful with more than 65 million users. The Toronto-based was billed as “Canada’s Instagram” and it enjoyed such strong growth that it was able to raise $30-million along the way.

Keek’s 64-year-old CEO, Issac Raichyk, was hailed as an example of an older entrepreneur who could enjoy success in a world dominated by 20-somethings.

In that respect, it was a huge success.

The problem, however, was Keek had a difficult time monetizing its traffic to capitalize on its popularity. In the six months that ended Aug. 31, 2013, Keek lost $13 million. That’s almost twice the burn rate the company had during the previous fiscal year, when it lost $15 million.

After a much-speculated $100-million financing failed to materialize last year, the company agreed to sell itself to Primary Petroleum Corp., a Calgary-based listed junior energy company. Raichyk was replaced as CEO by Primary’s Mike Marrandino.

That seemed to mark the end of a spectacular but short run as an upcoming and coming social media service.

But Keek is still around, and it looks like it may have discovered a way to make money.

According to MediaPost, Keek will begin hosting advertisements in the U.S.

Keek will partner with Twitter’s MoPub and Google DoubleClick AdExchange for Web-based inventory. “We project about 10% of revenue will come from the real-time marketplace offering real-time bidding and programmatic, and 70% through advertising networks,” said Keek senior vice-president Bill Blummer.

It is left to be seen whether Keek can financially successful but it does illustrate that being popular doesn’t necessarily equate to driving revenue.

One of Keek’s problem as it exploded was the lack of a strong business plan to reap the benefits of having lots of users. It was a classic example of a startup that figured it would eventually find a way to make money.

In that sense, Keek was behaving in the same way as many other social media networks who adopted a build-it-and-we-will-make-money-later approach. Case in point is Twitter, which is driving significant revenue growth through advertising, while e-commerce is on the horizon.

While the future is still uncertain for Keek, the upside is it has another chance to become a business rather than simply a popular service.

Did JetBlue Boot a Passenger Because of a Tweet?

By Mark Evans - October 17th, 2014

140602172212-jetblue-plane-story-topWhile social media is a powerful asset to both brands and users, it has a folly which can sometimes undermine its capabilities. This folly is that it is meant to share opinions in real time but those opinions can come back to haunt you in an instant.

This was proven recently when JetBlue kicked a passenger off of a flight, believed to be because of a series of tweets that the pilot felt were accusatory. The accusation was that he was intoxicated.

A delayed flight, this time from Boston to Philadelphia, tends to lend itself to Twitter coverage. In general, Twitter has become a hub for complaints about delayed flights, unruly passengers and bad experiences with airlines.

This time was no different, but it seemed to reiterate the point of accountability and how brands view tweets in a very serious light, one that prompts immediate action or reaction.

The comment by the passenger seemed rather innocent. It involved the passengers saying it had been a long night and he hoped there was a fully stocked bar on the airplane.

JetBlue like any organization had to decide how to handle that situation which best protected its image and reputation. It’s tough to fault them for acting so swiftly, regardless of how you interpret the tweet.

Social media has changed so many aspects of brands and how they do business, and the fallout seems to be that so many are on constant high alert.

In fairness to those who believe JetBlue overreacted, it did administer a sobriety test for the pilot. They claimed afterwards that the passenger was removed due to unruly behaviour, and that they would never remove a passenger for expressing criticism on any medium.

This might be one of those social media tales where the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Sysomos Stability and What You Need To Know

By Sheldon Levine - October 15th, 2014

A message from our CEO, Jim Delaney:

If you’re a Sysomos customer, you’ve probably noticed we’ve had some downtime lately.

First and foremost, you need to know that we don’t find this any more acceptable than you do. We understand that you rely on Sysomos to get business done, to deliver reports and analytics, and to keep tabs on the real-time world of the social web. When it’s not working, you’re losing productivity and information.

We’re committed to making this right.

Second, we’d like to explain what we’re doing to fix the problem so we can deliver the Sysomos reliability you’ve come to expect and deserve.

These recent issues have three main root cause: some migration issues with our ongoing move to grid server architecture, a lack of redundancy for some of our social data feeds and inputs, and data input growth requiring rapid increases to our network capacity.

To address that, we are:

  • Immediately and rapidly replacing hardware we’ve outgrown with new, high-capacity servers. You’ll see a big difference in performance by early next week.
  • We’ve already installed additional and more sensitive alerting systems on our server infrastructure to ensure we fix issues before they impact you.
  • Backfilling data from sources like Twitter that were unavailable last week, which will be complete by the end of tomorrow (Thursday).
  • Continuing our move to a grid server architecture, which will provide better stability, capacity, and 99.9% uptime once finished. That migration will be complete early 2015, but we’re moving things continuously to this new structure.

We’re also hiring like crazy on our grid, systems and engineering teams (know anyone great? Check out our career opportunities) to make sure we continue to have the smartest, most capable minds building and maintaining our infrastructure and products.

We’re evangelists for the power of social intelligence. But we also know that having the information and the social data you need to drive your strategies isn’t optional, it’s essential. And it has to be reliably available when you need it.

We’ve let you down there recently, and we’re hard at work around the clock to make it better.

If you’ve got questions, concerns, or need a hand, here’s how you can reach a human, directly and quickly:

  • Tweet us at @Sysomos
  • Call our support line at 1.866.483.3338 between 8:30a ET and 8p ET
  • Email our support team directly at clientsupport@sysomos.com or email your dedicated Social Media Specialist

The exponential growth of social data is only matched by the sheer capacity for social intelligence to help our enterprises grow and thrive.

We absolutely believe in that potential. We’ve made more investments in our infrastructure in the last three months than we have in the three years before that, precisely because of the growth, opportunity, and power of social for business.

And while roadbumps like this are not a fun part of that evolution, we appreciate your support and patience as we navigate them.

We promise it will be worth it, and that it’s all in the name of delivering the world-class social intelligence platform that you need for your business.

Thanks, as always, for being part of our journey.

Feuding Movies Go Social

By Mark Evans - October 15th, 2014

gcpd-batman-movie-jack-snyderThere’s a crossover war happening between Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and the new Star Wars film. The battleground is social media and fans seem to be eating it up.

It all started when the director of the next instalment of Star Wars, J.J. Abrams, sent the man donning the cape and cowl as the Dark Knight, Ben Affleck, a photo of he and his camera operator wearing cheap Batman masks.

Affleck then showed the photo to Zack Snyder, Director of Batman v. Superman, and then all bets were off.

From there, Snyder posted an image of storm troopers being pushed into a police cruiser by Gotham City police officers. Abrams responded with a video teasing the Millennium Falcon where underneath the Batmobile was camouflaged and hidden.

Something so simple escalated then exploded into an elaborate and fun exercise in buzz building across multiple social networks.

All of the images were shared over and over again, and it even created a social war of words between fans of Star Wars and those of DC. Anticipation for both films (Star Wars in 2015 and Batman v. Superman in 2016) is sky high and these stunts have only heightened their appeal.

It has also quelled the disgruntled fans who are upset about the Affleck casting or that the Star Trek director is helming another iconic sci-fi franchise. This might have been the greatest gift of this spontaneous social media campaign.

The lesson for brands is to have fun and leverage your competitors in playful and creative ways.

No Stopping the Facebook Juggernaut

By Mark Evans - October 13th, 2014

According to a new survey by Piper Jaffray, teenagers are losing their fascination with Facebook.

Between fall 2014 and spring 2014, Piper Jaffray found that Facebook use among 13 to 19-year-olds dropped to 45% from 72%.

social media, facebook IPOThe news attracted a lot of media coverage but investors shrugged it off given Facebook is trading just below a 52-week high.

In the past, I haven’t been convinced about Facebook’s ability to drive ultra-growth but I have now realized it is a juggernaut with the ability to adapt and innovate.

And if Facebook is unable to innovate internally, it buys what it needs – e.g. Instagram, Oculus, WhatsApp.

As important, Facebook is maturing and expanding as a business. Armed with huge amounts of user data, Facebook is the leading place online for advertisers to target specific groups.

If you’re an advertiser, for example, interested in 35-to-year-old males in Seattle who play chess, you can micro-target them on Facebook. That’s powerful data for advertisers that want a return on investment.

At a conference last week in Toronto, Gary Vaynerchuk was enthusiastic about Facebook as an advertising platform.

In particular, he talked about the value of “dark posts”, which are posts that don’t appear on a timeline but can be access via a direct link or by clicking on an ad. (Check out this post by Duct Tape Marketing to learn more about why dark posts are the best approach to Facebook advertising.)

You may not like how Facebook keeps changing the rules of engagement in how the service works. And you may have problems with how much of your data is being leveraged to make the platform attractive to advertisers.

But the reality is people use Facebook because it is a user-friendly way to keep in touch with friends and family. It has become a part of your personal digital presence, as much as having an email address.

And while people may gravitate to Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter as alternative to Facebook, they don’t offer the same utility as Facebook so they can’t be replacements.

Whether or not you’re a Facebook fan, you have to give Facebook a lot of credit for being agile, aggressive and unafraid to changes thing to keep the platform and business moving forward.

This is not an organization content to rest on its laurels. The $2-billion acquisition of Oculus, which develops virtual reality technology, shows how Facebook is already looking over the horizon strategically.

I would suggest that anyone who believes Facebook has peaked or lost its mojo should think again. The Piper Jaffray survey is interesting but it doesn’t really suggest there are crack in the Facebook armour.

What do you think? Is Facebook still the dominant social media player, or do you see signs of trouble?

social media usage

 

Social Media Sneers at Subway Ads

By Mark Evans - October 10th, 2014

subway-halloween-eat-light-hed-2014Another week and another brand feels the not so gentle lash of social media outrage.

This time the brand in question is Subway, who recently ran a series of ads about how Subway sandwiches can help women fit into their halloween costumes.

Both men and women took to Twitter and Facebook to label the commercials as sexist and old fashioned. Now, this post is in no way to pass judgement on Subway, it is merely to look at the swift hand of justice that belongs to social media.

The ads were slammed. There’s no way to sugarcoat that. Whether you think they were sexist or not, the social media activity reflected a very negative tone.

Many users were not kind to Subway, wondering what was going through the minds of those who produced the ads.

Social media reflects the pulse of our times. We are currently in a zeitgeist of questioning gender equality. This is a constant streaming conversation on many social media platforms.

like any brand that has encountered this trial by digital fire, Subway will rebound from this and best of all they will learn many valuable lessons.

One of these lessons is that regardless of the medium in which it airs, social media will judge your content. In 2014 and going forward, mediums are interlocked with social media. Even billboards are not a safe haven.

Another lesson is that you have to be aware of the important topics that are being discussed in the world. Before brainstorming ideas, check out social media and see what users are interested in and figure out what to put forward and what to avoid.

Social media expects brands to be modern and conscientious, respectful of both customers and non-customers. It’s not an easy job but it’s now the cost of doing business.

Four Easy Ways to Improve LinkedIn

By Mark Evans - October 8th, 2014

For business professionals, LinkedIn is ubiquitous. It’s the new digital resume (does anyone have a resume anymore?).

But LinkedIn is far from perfect, which is surprising given its size and how aggressive it has been to deliver more features beyond connecting with other people.

img vspace=If I was running LinkedIn, here are a few things that I would improve.

1. Make it easier to make and ask for recommendations. Right now, you need to do the following:

– Click on “Account & Settings”.

– Log in, even if you are already logged in.

– Click on “Manage your recommendations, which is one of many options on the page.

– Click on “Ask for recommendations” or “Give recommendations”.

It’s a lot of work for what is an important part of the LinkedIn experience. It’s puzzling why the feature is buried deep inside the Website to the point where it’s almost inaccessible.

2. Write content, which is a feature that LinkedIn recently introduced. Too bad, it’s so difficult to find.

After some pecking around, I finally figured it. There’s a tiny pencil in the “Share an update” box that launches the publishing tool. It’s not the best or most prominent way display a key feature given LinkedIn wants to become a place where people create content. What about the idea of a call-to-action: “Write a Post” using a bright button? I bet that would probably get people to write more posts or, at the very least, discover the feature exists.

3. Better and easy way to search connections: It’s super-easy to request and accept connection using LinkedIn, which explains why there are a lot of people with hundreds or thousands of connections.

But why doesn’t LinkedIn make it easier to search through your contacts. There should be a more user-friendly, intuitive way to quickly discover your connections than the existing tools.

4. A powerful and/or effective lead nurturing tool. Now, this would be a super-cool tool that would amplify LinkedIn’s value. It would make LinkedIn far more interesting and valuable for people who have a lot of connections but would love a way to get more business from them.

The improvements I would like to seem like low-hanging fruit, and could probably be ticked off with some UX/UI work. So, what do you say LinkedIn?

What other improvements would you like LinkedIn to make?

 

Just How Popular Is Ello?

By Sheldon Levine - October 7th, 2014

ElloEllo seems to be the favourite new kid on the social media block as of the past few weeks. Yesterday on the blog Mark even wrote about how many users are claiming they’re moving over to Ello to “escape” Facebook.

But is it really possible for Ello to replace Facebook?

In my personal opinion, I’d say not quite. For one thing (and this is my personal thought), I think that Ello feels a lot more like Twitter currently than Facebook. And secondly, and probably most importantly, in order for Ello to actually replace Facebook in people’s lives, the exodus over to the new network would have to be enormous. The only way that Ello could replace Facebook is if all of your friends and contacts that you’ve connected with over the years all moved there. That will take a very long time… if it happens at all.

But even with my personal thoughts on Ello, I wondered just how popular Ello has actually become in the past few weeks?

On September 26th, just as Ello was starting to go viral, Vox (along with many other sources) reported that the network was receiving 31,000 invite requests an hour. That seems pretty popular to me.

To investigate further, I decided to see what conversations were happening on other social networks about this new social network (very meta, I know).

Using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, I looked up mentions of Ello over the past month. One hindrance to my search though was that I could only search for English conversations because “ello” in Spanish translates to “it” making it a very common word. So, please keep that in mind when looking at the information below.

If you follow the big names and outlets that talk a lot about social media, you may feel like you’ve been over hearing about Ello. However, when I conducted my search for conversations about the new network I found less than 350,000 mentions of it. In the past month, Ello only came up in 3,042 blog posts, 3,321 online news articles, 3,716 forum postings and 332,692 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

While those numbers may not be as big as people who are hearing about it nonstop may expect, it’s also interesting to note that the majority of those conversations have only happened in the past two weeks.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart Without Twitter Data

Since Ello is being dubbed the “anti-Facebook” it made sense for me to also search public Facebook data to see how much it was being talked about there. Again, the number of Ello mentions I found there was not quite as large as I initially thought it was going to be. That said, it has still accounted for 28,598 mentions in public status updates. Also interesting is that if you look at the three examples in the screenshot below, you’ll notice that a lot of the mentions are people posting a link to their new Ello account on Facebook. It’s interesting because people feel the need to use Facebook to tell their friends that they’ve joined the “anti-Facebook.”

Sysomos MAP - Facebook Activity Summary

As with any new social network, people want to understand it and why they should consider grabbing real-estate there. To help with that, there’s already been just over 1,000 videos created that try to explain Ello to others.

Sysomos MAP - Video Activity Summary

So, what are people saying about Ello so far? A look at both our buzzgraph and word clouds around the network show that “Facebook” seems to be one of the most used words when people talk about Ello. There is also a significant talk about Ello’s “manifesto”. This manifesto is what seems to be the appeal behind Ello, as it states that people will have more “privacy” as they will never sell your “data” for “advertising.” However, that’s also making people question how the network will stay in “business” for a sustained amount of time.

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph

Sysomos MAP - Word Cloud

The other thing that I found interesting about the apparent popularity of Ello revealed itself when I used our Influencer Community tool to see the groups of people that were talking about it. If you’re anything like me, and I assume you might be since you’re reading this blog, you probably follow a lot of sources online that talk about news and trends in the digital and social media space. Well, those are the types of sources seem to be the ones who are perpetuating the talk of Ello. If you look at the big blue community, it’s filled with popular sources for social media news like Forbes Tech, Gigaom and Medium, but also with social media influencers such as @briansolis and @AmyVernon. So, while it may seem to people who work in and follow the social media space that Ello is all the rage, it may really just be the social media people getting each other excited in a big circle.

Interesting as well is that the second largest community I found, in orange below, is a big group of celebrities (mostly from the music industry). When I investigated that group a bit further it seems that fans are tweeting to find out if their favourite celebrities are on Ello yet and where they can find them there.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Influencer Communities

While the real fate of Ello is still up in the air, being that it’s only been popular for a bout two weeks now, it does seem to have a lot of fans. A look at the sentiment around the network shows that it’s 86% favourable.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Sentiment Summary

So, what do you think about Ello so far? Is it going to replace Facebook or is it just going to see some hype for a little while and then fall off? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

The Great Facebook Migration to Ello

By Mark Evans - October 6th, 2014

Ello“Your social network is owned by advertisers”.

With this powerful mantra, a user enters into Ello, the social network trying to turn the social media game on its head.

Ello is born out of the rebellion towards Facebook and the policy change that require users to use their legal names, as well as the anger towards advertisers that have taken up prime real estate. (Check out this Guardian article about the “New Facebook”)

The response has been overwhelming. People are moving in droves to Ello (or, at least, trying to check out Ello, which is invite-only). Ello is seen as a digital sanctuary from brand invasion. Being labeled the “anti-Facebook” is one way to make a mark and leave an impression.

Ello is built on the foundation that popular social networks have become digital vessels to fool users and sell them as nothing more than data. It is a bit cynical and near-sighted one could argue, but that’s the angle that captured the imagination of social media users looking for something new and different.

To see such a strong response to the Facebook policy of users disclosing their legal names is refreshing on some levels. While social media networks don’t belong to the users, it is users that make them vibrant and interesting, and provide companies with lots of valuable data.

Facebook’s need for legal names is a problem for some people. The LGBT community, for example was vocal in their outrage, and there are people out there with genuine privacy concerns.

The exodus of users, especially those from the LGBT community and its supporters, has made headlines. It might – a big “might” – be the sign of a big migration if Ello can prove its worth over the long haul.

The promise of privacy from Ello and the vow to not be invaded by ads make it an intriguing option. It will be interesting to see Ello it can resists the urge to monetize, particularly if it raises more venture capital. If they build their user base, the potential for profits will be very real.

Ello “bohemian” utopia might be tested in the realm of inappropriate content, which will currently not be flagged. Ello does promise that these filters will be coming soon.

Like any social network, Ello will have to deliver on the content side of things while keeping its values intact.

Would you abandon Facebook for Ello? If so, why?

Meet Amber Naslund; Our New SVP of Marketing

By Sheldon Levine - October 3rd, 2014

Amber NaslundYesterday on the blog we introduced you to one of or new exciting team members, Amber Naslund.

While Amber has been a big name in the world of social media for years, we realize that not everyone knows who she is or what she’s accomplished. So, we thought that we’d shed a little more light on her so the entire world can get to know her like we do.

Today, we did a short little Q&A with Amber to find out a little bit more about her past, why she decided to join our team, what she has in store for the future of Sysomos and few more fun things.

So, without further ado, please meet Amber Naslund:

 

What did you do prior to joining the Sysomos team?

For the last four years, I’ve owned a social business consulting firm with my co-founder, Matt Ridings. We work with enterprise companies to improve their social collaboration and adoption to make “social business” truly operational in the real business world.

Prior to that I led social strategy at Radian6 and Salesforce.

What attracted you to Sysomos?

First and foremost was the people. I’ve learned along the way that culture fit is everything when you join a company. I’m encouraged by Jim and the executive team’s leadership, and felt like they were a team that I’d enjoy creating things with. That matters a lot. And I figured they’d be willing to put up with me. I loved absolutely everyone I met in the interview process – fun, enthusiastic people – and the bonus is that I get to be reunited with some former Radian6 colleagues, too.

Second was the potential of the platform itself and the incredible work going on behind the scenes around innovation and tech advancement. There’s a lot going on with the Sysomos platform that just hasn’t gotten much attention out in the world — I had no idea myself! — so it’s a heck of an opportunity to have a killer product just waiting to have its story told and give customers a real advantage.

What are you hoping to accomplish with the Sysomos team?

Like I said above, the Sysomos team and technology are doing great things, and I want people to know that, much more than they have to date! I’m also hoping that we can really work internally to collaborate and make Sysomos customers’ overall experience with us – from product to useful content to customer service – the best in the industry.

This market is in a very unique state right now and I think we have an opportunity to really do something exemplary with our customers. This kind of technology can really change the way people work, and I think we have a great opportunity to make that potential a reality.

Oh, and we have to have some FUN. What good is work if you’re serious all the time?

Where do you see the future of social media heading?

Social is in the normalizing phase right now, which means it’s a lot of grunt work, and the  reality check that ‘social’ is NOT synonymous with tools and tech like Facebook. It’s a behavior and a method of doing business that demands open communication and community focus regardless of the technology involved..

The tools are just enablers of that philosophy, exposing the ability to be more communicative and customer-centric through tech. I think we’re starting to see glimmers of movement in that direction, so I think the future of the industry is all about pushing that forward and improving our businesses, both culturally and operationally, to take advantage of what modern tech allows us to do.

Plus, there will always be cat videos. It’s simply not the internet without cat videos.

You gave a great TED Talk on mental illness in 2012, what inspired it?

I was asked, actually. I have to give credit to my friend Jacqui Chew for that. She wanted me to give a talk at TedX Peachtree, and we were tossing around topic ideas. She knew I’d written about my experiences with depression and anxiety before, and wondered if I’d do a talk about it. At first, I thought “NO WAY!!”.

But the more I considered it, the more I realized that it wasn’t really about me. It was about telling other people out there that they weren’t alone, that many of us suffer too, and that we have to stop being so silent about it. The stigma around mental illness is so awful, and it’s only through talking about it that we change it. So that made it worthwhile.

Who’s your hero?

I have a few,  but most immediately I think of my friend Sara Santiago.

She’s been through more than almost anyone I know living with crazy neurological conditions, and yet she maintains a beautiful sense of humor, optimism, and a strength that you rarely see. I think of her daily, and more than once I’ve said to myself “look, lady, if Sara got up today, you can handle this.” And she’s so open and vulnerable about it all.

Plus, when she reads this, she’ll either cry or swear at me or both. Which is exactly why I love her.

You wrote a book once. How hard was it and would you write another one?

I had a co-author, so I had it easier than many! The writing wasn’t the hard part, that comes pretty naturally to me. But the marketing, the promotion, the book tour…that was the hard part. Getting the book sold is a heck of a lot harder than getting it written in my view. But it’s the kind of hard I love.

Not only would I write another one, but it’s being written as we speak. This one I may self-publish, even, just to try it out. Glutton for punishment, I guess.

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation (despite just starting a new job)?

Cabin. Woods. Near water. Solitude and quiet. A stack of books, no itinerary, campfires and a couple of great bottles of wine. Or a case. Whatever.

Where’s one place that you’ve never been but would love to go?

Spain! It’s on the top of my wish list. New Zealand is a close second.

What’s the one app you can’t live without at this very moment?

I’m such a terrible example of a tech geek because I use hardly any apps. But I’d say Evernote. I rely on it daily to help me remember all the stuff I’d surely forget otherwise, from shopping lists to blog post ideas.

And lastly, if you’d like to see the great TED talk that Amber gave in 2012, we have it right here for you:

So, if you haven’t yet, please help us welcome Amber to the team and keep an eye on what she’s going to do here.