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News Update – Best of the Day

The top 10 ways to monezie Twitter and the real-time Web? Ron Conway shares his vision

10. Lead generation
9. Coupons
8. Analytics, analyzing the data
7. Enterprise CRM
6. Payments
5. Commerce
4. User-authentication, verifying accounts
3. Syndication of new ads
2. Advertising – Context and display ads
1. Acquiring followers

Looking for methods to monetize your blog without advertising? Brandon Laughridge has 5 top ideas for you…

The future of e-commerce is speaking in semantic words. Mike Darnell give some insight in terms of semantic web shopping – show casing a stroller purchase.

News Update – Best of the Day

There are not many case studies on how to leverage social media for business and how to engage customers, partners, and press with social media. One great company example offers Cisco. Mia Dand summarizes Cisco’s approach on openness, transparency and ROI. And if you find the time see also the example of the American red cross by Beth Canter, including their social media strategy handbook…

Twitter and agencies seems to be a relationship that is not yet established for a powerful client mode. AdAge shows some amazing examples where agencies are handling Twitter streams for clients – but the agencies don’t even own their branded accounts, or have a powerful leader or expert which can be shown as a good case study to their clients. Scary?! My advice: Before starting to believe in the agency’s knowledge on social media, read the examples above and then take a look at this short post by Lawrence Perry: How not to be annoying on Twitter and other social media. Then decide which agency is the right one to handle your social media activities…

…and whenever I find a good example of a funny commercial, we will share this…

10 general questions on web monetization 2.0

Brainstorming… ! This is a project which needs your help in order to start saving the future of the web in all its facets…

A post for you, me and all of us platform owners, web maniacs, companies, advertisers, affiliates, social medians and web workers to do some brainstorming and share some thoughts on the future of monetization.

In a lot of discussions, talks and chats with partners, clients and friends, we came across these questions. It is time to find some answers…

Please, tackle this project with me and give as much feedback as possible. We all want to participate in the future of the web. So, let’s do some work…

10 Questions on web monetization 2.0

What if…
1. … all companies respect that platform owners (social networks, media publications, portals, etc.) start their web activities in order to monetize their business like they do?
2. … web platform owners never had started using the measurement argumentation versus the former print world?
3. … companies accept that web platform owners start their business model to earn money – not just to be a service provider?
4. … web platform owners never had started the price competition in order to ‘drag away’ clients from each other – resulting in cpm values of cent amounts?
5. … companies had not overrated the measurement options and tried to buy ROI value (leads, orders & revenue) only – than simply the ‘best price’?
6. … web platform owners never had started cpx payment, let’s call this ‘performance payment’, but were using the old advertising model: ‘pay for play’?
7. … companies suddenly stop advertising the ‘pay for play’ way and just strive for performance payment?
8. … web platform owners need to go for ‘free-mium’ or premium service payment for users, as they cannot afford to run their business any longer without the support of the ad industry from the last 5 years?
9. … companies could finance, sponsor or take over the costs for those ‘free-mium’ or premium service payment for certain target groups?
10. … finally, we users all understand that without web platforms owners generating any revenue, the internet is nothing more than a shell without pearls?

Pick a question, share your views and posts and give us some answers.

Looking forward to your comments…

Study: How women use blogs and social networking…

A recent study Women in Social Media from BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners, shows that the motivation of women using blogs and social networking differs. Blogs for women follow the purpose to find the right information while social networking platforms have the ‘mere’ sense to connect.

The results state that US women are nearly twice as likely to use blogs than social networking sites. Blogs are seen especially valuable as a source of information (64%), advice and recommendations (43%), and opinion-sharing (55%). Social networking sites are more used to share their strong affinity to connect and to entertain themselves.

Women show much more interest and increase their activity in social media. So, women are turning to blogs (55%), social networks (75%) and online status updating (20%) to satisfy their interest.

The new study found that women spend less and less time engaging in traditional media activities like watching TV, listening to the radio, or reading magazines or newspapers.

And for women blogs are becoming more and more important as a trendsetting and purchase sources of information. Seeing the influence of blogs on purchase decisions, the study makes clear that women are more likely to buy a product after reading a customer post or reports about the item. 45% of survey respondents bought a product after reading about it on a blog.

“The scale of social media usage among US women continues to grow, and blogs remain the go-to resource for those who want to gather information, share ideas and get reliable advice,” said Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer co-founder and COO. “At a time when the economy is top-of-mind for more than 70% of these active social media participants, women who blog are turning to online resources, including blogs, to help them make their day-to-day purchasing decisions.”

Spot On!
The influence of blogs on purchase decisions shows the importance for companies to evaluate blogs as a new important part for their media plans. Reading about the habits and attitudes, the study revealed that half of the survey respondents participate in social media activity daily and weekly or more often. When we think of the 42 million women participating in social media weekly, 55% of women do some form of blogging activity; 75% participate in social networks (i.e. Facebook or MySpace) and 20% are using Twitter. The data provided shows the change in the media landscape. While traditional platform face a decrease of importance, social media is on an all time high. The time seems right to rethink traditional and digital media planning.

News Update – Best of the Day

Companies still don’t know whether to ignore Twitter or being aware of a Twitterstorm might save the brand’s value. David Sarno and Alana Semuels show good cases why major brands learn they’d better respond quick – focussing on Amazon, Skittles, Domino, Coca-Cola and Hasbro.

How to explain the social web to your parents? Obviously, all of us who engage in the social web world have faced this problem. In May, I have decided to speak at the Webinale on ‘career 3.0 – split between productivity and personal branding’ which will give some insight how successful companies might work with the social web of the future. Jeremiah Owyang did an excellent storyboard explanation on the social web and compares the industry with a ‘Social Reef’.

“…see this space like a reef, a complex ecosystem that has so many variables and changes, each day is different.”

Still thinking on how to behave on Facebook the right way? No worries, here is the answer and a wonderful advice by YourTango and their film ‘Facebook Manners’.

News Update – Best of the Day

Twitter is hiring a VIP concierge. Not true… yes it is.

The internet is the world of freebies? Not anymore and there are good reasons for it. The Economist refocuses the old strategic approach on paid services on the internet which is a great wake-up call for the web world – and again reminds me of the Social Globe.

Ultimately, though, every business needs revenues—and advertising, it transpires, is not going to provide enough. Free content and services were a beguiling idea. But the lesson of two internet bubbles is that somebody somewhere is going to have to pick up the tab for lunch.

What is the future of PR? Will agencies look after communities or brands? Jeremiah Owyang thinks that communities will gain more and more power as are aggregating decision making, support each other and share lifestyle.

With communities in the driver seat over product, a shift will happen as communities can define the spec of future products and therefore multiple brands will bid for their business. As a result, we should expect the agency model to flip over, where PR agencies start to represent communities of customers –rather than brands.

Nielsen: Facebook best in reach, MySpace in ads

The recent Nielsen study ‘Global Faces and Networked Plazes‘ focuses on the increase of social networks in terms of worldwide reach and extension. The results emphazise the rise and importance of communities but also the dynamic of the intention to grap more market share.

Talking of reach, Facebook -the worldwide leader in the social network market- is showing the strongest user base and has replaced MySpace as the world’s most popular social network. Classmates comes in third, followed by Orkut and LinkedIn. The reasons for the facebook success are obvious. According to the study and Nielsen measurement, the win of the Facebook tactic is based on the ‘simple design, broad demographic appeal and a focus on connecting’.

Reports estimate that in 2008 Facebook earned around $US300 million in ad revenue compared to around $US1 billion for MySpace. If Facebook has made a conscious choice to go for the quantity vs. quality strategy it has yet to overtake MySpace in the all-important revenue metric.

So, monetization is still not Facebook best business activity. MySpace attracts more advertisers and gets twice as much campaigns than the ‘Zuckerberg team’.
The Nielsen view on the reasons is that “MySpace’s offering possibly makes its inventory – of which there is a lot more compared to Facebook – easier to monetize, particularly in terms of immersive advertising.”

Finally important, the use of social networks has outdated email as the first way of online communication: 67% of the users show a regular activity in communities.

The Social Globe – social networks become paid-content

The challenge for social media will remain to find ways to monetize platforms best way. Now, facing Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or any other social- or business network there is probably nothing shorter than their best practice list on monetizing social media business. Still there is banner-, text- or link advertising as the prominent revenue stream. Nobody really finds the right turn for a profitable and successful revenue model.

Now, let’s take a wild ‘think-tank’ approach… Is a business model like the ‘Pay-Per-X’ Murdoch TV business models (i.e. Sky TV) a solution? A company which ties together or combines social networks to a bundle and offers those on a paid subscription basis?

When we started silicon nearly a decade ago as a closed b2b IT community (see picture), social media and web 2.0 did not even have a name or definition. In those days we thought about offering silicon as a paid subscriber community for IT and business decision makers. Obviously the idea was to make our investors and share holders happy ‘asap’ by monetizing the business modell best way. But web days were too young for such an approach, paid content was seen as ‘boo’ and we were fighting against old media that gave ad space away for free in order to save their ‘powerful-print-publisher-position’ in the market. Paid content models were not embraced with open arms by (business) user. The appearance of an evangelist was even worse in the user’s eye. Today every adolescent knows about online communities and their use is paid for by parents. They are about to accepted spending money with their credit card for their children networking.

Surprisingly enough, most of the leading social and business networks as well as any other communities don’t want to touch the monetizing issue ‘premium-subscriber’ or ‘paid communities’. In the past as well as today it is the art of financing social- and business networks not only by revenue streams coming from the classical (banner-) advertising or cpx model because for social networks as well as for any other business counts: profit is a liability. A critical business model is, if users just love but are not willing to pay for it. Nevertheless, investors and the providers need to re-finance the business and ideally make it profitable. Altruism is nice but in our modern common era it does not exist anymore, and in business never did.

So, what if social media platforms were only offered as a subscription model? Let’s give the responsible company the title: The Social Globe. The business area of this company would be defined with the following definition…

The Social Globe is the leading pay-social-media company. The business segment of The Social Globe relies on the credo that pay-social-networks can only be successful as a broad offer of high-quality and exclusive community content. Social networks on subscription basis is the main business of The Social Globe. Furthermore, The Social Globe offers its subscribers an attractive value of business communities, corporate networks, micro-blogging services and so on with the option to subscribe to single- as well as pay-per-use services. The company carries the open networking, markets the lineup of all social networks and provides a world-class service around the planet.

Facebook Connect could be the door opener for this kind of open marketing via The Social Globe for the users (and also solve some security issues). Whoever wants to use social networks in the future has to pay a certain mite per month and intensity of use. These subscriber packages are targeted to business or private user or as topic packages – nice portions with attractive subscription offers and reasonable offers, or as single use offers. Would the users pay one to ten EURO if the social or business network is useful for them? Probably…

If providers and investors of social media platforms want to see reasonable profits they need to make their users pay for the quality platforms they get offered – on a long-tail view, advertising and co-operations are too heavily depending on global and regional fluctuations of marketing budgets and the world-wide economic situation. If the financial situation for social media remains as it is today, a positive view of the future will be a distant prospect. XING did it right when taking 5 EURO from their premium-users – but no other social network seems to be following. OK, XING wanted money from their users from the very start… a clever move!

Nevertheless, other social networks do have to follow if they don’t want to run out of money and face a ‘internet-crash-reloaded’. A big user and interest database -and most of the social networks are nothing more and nothing less in most cases- is nice to have but somebody has to pay for the efforts the providers are offering. Otherwise these business models are worthless, or let’s say, not really of value.

The saying “Free things always hurt!” has it’s rights. The power user will be paying, the ‘normal user’ needs to be made visible that there is a surplus value in social networks. Then this user will be paying as well – or this person will not be of real value for providing the platform. And if ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing works, then friends and peers will be getting this normal user to pay who once unsubscribed as of financial reasons. As this person will not be able to follow the offline conversation if he is not part of the online community. These people will become unpopular, or not…?

Spot On!
The surplus value of a subscriber model for social media platforms is huge and the ‘funding’ as well as the ‘revenue increase’ as well. What value do 140 million users have if the business model will not be flying in the sense of incoming revenues. If The Social Globe just turns 30% of the users of this social network to paid users the providers have 40 mio. EURO more to elaborate an even more powerful platform. Ad and newsletter formats would continue to serve as additional revenue streams but not as the only and leading ones. The Social Globe could tie all together and split revenues according to traffic.

Just utopia or is ‘The Social Globe’ a viable vision?

The Social Globe: Social Media als bezahlter Abo-Dienst?

Auch wenn wir jetzt eine aussagekräftige Studie zu Erfolgsfaktoren in Social Networks haben, bleibt das Thema Monetarisierung von Social Media weiterhin ein schwieriges Businessthema. Egal ob Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, StudiVZ oder welches Social- oder Business Netzwerk auch immer – so richtig hat noch niemand den Dreh für eine erfolgreiche Monetarisierung der Social Media Modelle gefunden. Nun wollen wir mal einen ‘wilden’ Denkanstoß wagen: Ist ein Modell à la Premiere, Kabel Deutschland oder Sky TV auch für die Social Media Welt in Form einer Netzwerk-Betreiber-Gesellschaft denkbar, die Social Media Abo-Dienste bündelt und anbietet?

Als wir mit silicon.de (damals eine geschlossene B2B-IT Community – siehe Bild) vor acht Jahren an den Start gingen, hatte Social Media und Web 2.0 noch nicht einmal einen Namen. Wir haben damals über ein kostenpflichtiges Angebot für IT-Professionals und Business-Entscheider nachgedacht, um die Monetarisierung im Sinne der Shareholder anzukurbeln. Damals wäre ein solcher Vorschlag undenkbar gewesen (Evangelist hin oder her) und die technischen Voraussetzungen hätten die Maßnahmen nicht erlaubt. Heute kennt und nutzt jeder Halbwüchsige Communities und die Bezahlung für Mehrwertdienste in Kinder-Communities ist teilweise schon im Vorschulalter durch die Eltern akzeptiert.

Dennoch machen die meisten führenden Social- und Business Networks sowie Communities noch keine Anstalten über eine Abo-Monetarisierung nachzudenken. Die Kunst und die Kür für Social- und als Business Netzwerk Plattform damals wie heute ist, sich als Businessmodelle erfolgreich nicht nur über ‘Werbe Revenue-Streams’ zu finanzieren. Denn auch für Social Media gilt: Profitabilität ist die Pflicht. Was die User nur gut aber nicht bezahlenswert finden, muss sich dennoch für Investoren und die Betreiber refinanzieren- und idealerweise ‘profitabilisieren. Nästenliebe gibt es in der modernen Zeitrechnung der Wirtschaft nicht mehr, und gab es früher auch nicht.

Was wäre also, wenn man die Social Media Plattformen als Abo-Dienst anbieten würde? Nennen wir die verantwortliche Firma mal: The Social Globe. Das Geschäftsfeld des Unternehmens würde sich dann vielleicht so lesen…

“The Social Globe ist das führende Pay-Social Media-Unternehmen. Das Geschäftsmodell von The Social Globe beruht auf der Überzeugung, daß Pay-Social Networks nur als breit gefächertes Angebot aus hochwertigen und exklusiven Communityinhalten erfolgreich ist. Social Networks zum Abonnieren ist dabei das Kerngeschäft von The Social Globe. Zusätzlich bietet das Unternehmen seinen Abonnenten attraktive Business-Communities, Social Communities, Corporate Networks, Micro-Blogging Dienste mit der Option zur Einzelbestellung im Pay-per-Use-Verfahren auf Abruf an. Das Unternehmen betreibt die offene Vernetzung, vermarktet die Palette aller Social Networks und sorgt für einen umfassenden Service rund um die Welt von Social Media.”

Facebook Connect liefert die Vorlage für die offene Vermarktung durch The Social Globe an die Kunden. Wer zukünftig die Plattformen nutzen will, zahlt einen Obolus pro Plattform und Nutzungsintensität. Diese Abo-Pakete sind für Businessuser und Privatpersonen ausgerichtet oder eben als Kombipaket – schön portioniert mit attraktive Abonnements zu sinnvollen Angeboten oder eben als Einzelangebot nutzbar. Für ein bis zu zehn EUR pro Plattform im Monat zahlen die User bestimmt, wenn das Social- oder Business Network für den User einen wahren Nutzen hat. Oder nicht…?

Wollen die Anbieter und Investoren von Social Media Plattformen irgendwann mal mit einem vernünftigen Gewinn dastehen, müssen sie den User an das Bezahlen gewöhnen – nur Werbung und Kooperationen ist langfristig immer wieder zu starken Schwankungen der globalen sowie regionalen Marketingbudget-Zuteilung in Unternehmen und der generellen Wirtschaftslage ausgesetzt. Eine positive Zukunftsaussicht bleibt so für Communitybetreiber in weiter Ferne. XING hat es richtig vorgemacht, aber irgendwie zieht keiner nach. OK, XING hat es von Anfang an gemacht, ein weiser Schachzug…!

Andere Social Media Anbieter müssen dennoch nachziehen, wenn das Geld irgendwann nicht ausgehen soll. Eine große User- und Interessen-Datenbank -und mehr ist eine Social Media Plattform heute in den meisten Fällen nicht- ist schön, aber es muss auch jemand dafür zahlen wollen, sonst ist sie wertlos bzw. nur bedingt wertvoll.

Der Satz ‘Was nichts kostet, ist nichts Wert’ hat schon sein Berechtigung. Der Poweruser wird zahlen, dem ‘normalen Nutzer’ muss der Mehrwert nahegebracht werden. Dann zahlt auch dieser… und sonst ist er auch nichts wert für die Plattform. Und wenn ‘Word-Of-Mouth’ Marketing funktioniert, werden die Freunde, Bekannten oder Peers denjenigen schon zum Zahlen bewegen, der mal aus den Networks ausgetreten ist aus finanziellem Grund. Denn irgendwann wird derjenige in der Offline-Community nicht mehr mitreden können.

Spot On!
Der Mehrwert eines ‘bezahlten Abo-Dienstes’ für die Social Media Plattformanbieter wäre immens und die Finanzierung der Plattform sowie die Umsatzsteigerung ebenso. Und was nützen 140 Mio User, die die Kuh nicht zum Fliegen bringen? Zahlt The Social Globe nur einen EURO pro User an eine Social Media Plattform aus, so wären das bei 30% Powerusern über 40 Mio. EURO Mehrumsatz. Banner- und Newsletterformate würden weiterhin als klassische Umsatzquelle dienen und ebenso vermarktet werden durch The Social Globe.

Alles Utopie oder ist die Vision ‘The Social Globe’ denkbar?

News Update – Best of the Day

– Die Diskussion um Portable Social Graphs geht weiter. Razorfish zeigt eine gute Präsentation hierzu und verschweigt auch nicht die Risiken…

– Microsoft holt den Ex-Chef von Yahoo und macht ihn zum ‘Internet Unit Chef’: Qi Lu. Er wird die freie Position im Unternehen füllen, die seit Juli Kevin Johnson aufgemacht hat – nachdem er den gescheiterten Versuch, Yahoo zu kaufen, Mitte des Jahres mitverantwortet.

– Chris Brogan hat mal wieder eine Liste gemacht: die 40 Wege, den ultimative Blog-Content zu bringen. Unternehmen, die bloggen, es sich überlegt oder noch nicht sicher sind… – einfach lesen.