Of Hub and Spokes: Why The Next Great Media Company Won't Have a Web Site

Conceivably the next great media company will be all spokes and no hub. It will exist as a constellation of connected apps and widgets that live inside other sites and offer a full experience plus access to your social graph and robust community features.

via The Next Great Media Company Won’t Have a Web Site – The Steve Rubel Lifestream.

What it means: Brilliant quote from Steve Rubel. He hits that one right out of the park.  He understands that content and features want to be atomized (or de-portalized) and that has a major impact on the way media companies operate online.  This is the main reason why we built our Praized platform on a hub & spoke API model, where activities are happening at the edge and aggregated at the hub level. And when you add the social graph on top of those spokes, you get local verticals + friends, probably the most relevant experience possible.

Of Hub and Spokes: Why The Next Great Media Company Won't Have a Web Site

Conceivably the next great media company will be all spokes and no hub. It will exist as a constellation of connected apps and widgets that live inside other sites and offer a full experience plus access to your social graph and robust community features.

via The Next Great Media Company Won’t Have a Web Site – The Steve Rubel Lifestream.

What it means: Brilliant quote from Steve Rubel. He hits that one right out of the park.  He understands that content and features want to be atomized (or de-portalized) and that has a major impact on the way media companies operate online.  This is the main reason why we built our Praized platform on a hub & spoke API model, where activities are happening at the edge and aggregated at the hub level. And when you add the social graph on top of those spokes, you get local verticals + friends, probably the most relevant experience possible.

Canpages Leverages Blog to Increase Brand Awareness

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to moderate a social media panel at the Infopresse conference on social networking. Sitting on my panel was Guillaume Bouchard from NVI, a Montreal-based SEO/SMO firm. He explained to the crowd of more than 280 people how, by using social media tools, he manages to generate brand awareness and increase the online street cred of Canpages, a Canadian directory company competing against Yellow Pages Group in Canada.

It starts with the creation of original and quirky content in the Canpages blog. His team then seeds that content in the various social news sites like Digg and Reddit. Working with a large network of friends and contacts, he’s able to catch the eye of online influencers who might (or might not) promote that piece of original content.

Canpages blog Weird Canadian Restaurants

His best success so far with Canpages has been this blog post about “Weird Canadian Restaurants”. It was submitted to Digg and generated 676 diggs and 101 comments. It was promoted to the first page of the site and generated good traffic (he did not disclose how much) for the Canpages blog. It was also favorited by people in StumbleUpon, another social tool that has the reputation of driving a lot of traffic. The post was well enough crafted to be picked up by Dan Mitchell from the New York Times, which generated some more traffic to the Canpages blog.

Canpages Digg Weird Canadian Restaurants

What it means: a great use (and a great understanding) of social media tools and sites to build a new directory brand and make it more exciting for “cool kids”. This is also a great strategy to build new incoming links to your domain, thereby increasing your page rank in Google. You’ve got to wonder though if there are long-lasting positive effects from both a brand equity and online directory site usage but I don’t think it hurts given the runner-up position they occupy in the market.

How Facebook Complements Your Blogging Strategy

I’ve been using Facebook intensively for about 4-5 weeks now and it has become an important staple in my blogging/media strategy. Here’s how it complements what I’m currently doing in the Praized blog:

1) Facebook Status Updates: I use the “status update” function as a micro-blogging tool (a bit like Twitter). It helps me put in words what’s on my mind in that specific moment and it captures my personal zeitgeist. It only takes a few seconds to write but people react to it. I usually receive one message a day from friends/readers reacting to my status update line. Don’t forget it’s a status update that triggered the Save Business 2.0 efforts.

status update Facebook

2) The “Post a Link” function in the Posted Items page: I use that function when I want to share with my friends/readers an interesting article I just discovered that might not be completely within my pre-defined blogging topics in the Praized blog (i.e. social and local). Examples in the last week include the Skype outage and the Google browser rumors. I always comment on the article to add value and I often end up my comment with a question to trigger additional reader comments.

Facebook Post a Link Function

3) I import my blog posts within Facebook Notes using the Import a blog function. You just need to plug-in your RSS feed URL. I’ve tried using the MyBlog app but it does not work well (I have to manually update the RSS feed to get my blog posts within Facebook). My readers get warned I’ve imported a note (in their newsfeed) and they see an excerpt from the post. They can also comment within Facebook or go to the original post.

Facebook Imported Note Notification

One caveat: don’t abuse your friends’ trust by posting too many links or importing too many notes every day. Unless you’re always interesting, they’ll shut you down and change the channel. That’s what happened to Robert Scoble last week with some of his Facebook friends. Tomorrow, I’ll offer five suggestions to improve Facebook. BTW, don’t hesitate to add me as a friend on Facebook if you’re interested in reading/discussing social media.

How to Build a Great Facebook App (Highlights from FacebookCamp Toronto)

As I mentioned yesterday, I attended FacebookCamp in Toronto on Tuesday night. It was well attended (over 400 people) and the room was about 50% tech-oriented and 50% business-oriented. Roy Pereira, one of the organizers seen below on the right (the other host is Andrew Cherwenka), told the crowd the objective was to encourage more Toronto-based developers and companies to use the Facebook application platform and further Toronto’s global presence in technology.

roy and andrew at FacebookCamp in Toronto

We then jumped straight into action with a very informative presentation by Meagan Marks from Facebook. Called “Best Practices around Product Design and Viral Marketing”, it offered multiple data points about the size of Facebook in Canada and some tips & tricks on how to leverage the site. The Facebook team asked that we do not videotape the presentation which made me thing their live presentations are walled gardens as well… 🙂

Meagan Marks at FacebookCamp in Toronto

Data highlights:

  • Worldwide: 33M active users (people coming to the site at least once a month), 150,000 new users are added each day.
  • 90,000 application developers, 1700 applications with more 100 users.
  • #6 network in Canada with 11.3M unique visitors in June 2007 according to Comscore (close to 50% reach). Facebook claims they also have 8.5 billion page views per month.
  • They have 3.3M active users. 68% are daily users and 61% are out of college,
  • 75% of active users have an application installed.
  • 10% of all application developers are based in Canada and Toronto is one of the top 10 largest developer communities

Marketing highlights:

  • Facebook is all about identity, information and social context. It’s about connections between people, it’s powered by valuable social connections, and enhanced by network effects.
  • How do you get high growth, high users applications? By having deep integration in all channels: the newsfeed, the product directory, the profile page but there are other places where you can hook your app.
  • Profile integration: there are many places where you can embed your app including in the left navigation, under the user picture, in the upper right or in the middle of the page.
  • The best way to leverage the profile box is to show recent interactions, recently added content, social relevancy (who), the temporal aspect (what happened today and yesterday). The content is all about expression, not consumption.
  • News feed optimization (NFO): increase the relevancy of what’s pushed through the newsfeed ( for example, what the user did and the relationship with their friends) and utilize call-to-action buttons.
  • Additional integration points: the message, the profile actions, the wall, and the share button
  • An interesting marketing idea was to find other developers who have built complimentary apps to cross-promote your own app.

She also mentioned that Facebook was already seeing new business opportunities emerging from developers. Among them, she mentioned virtual currencies (ex: munny in Fluff friends), Ad networks, APIs on top API (for example, the Super Wall API).

She suggested app developers use the following metrics to measure success:

  1. Vitality metrics: installed base, outgoing impressions, conversion rate
  2. Engagement metrics: repeat sessions, canvas page views. She showed the following formula: installed users x impressions/installed users x acquisitions/impressions = new users acquired (see the following picture here from the Global Nerdy site)

Joey deVilla has an amazing summary of that session as well on GlobalNerdy.com, with even more details.

How to Build a Great Facebook App (Highlights from FacebookCamp Toronto)

As I mentioned yesterday, I attended FacebookCamp in Toronto on Tuesday night. It was well attended (over 400 people) and the room was about 50% tech-oriented and 50% business-oriented. Roy Pereira, one of the organizers seen below on the right (the other host is Andrew Cherwenka), told the crowd the objective was to encourage more Toronto-based developers and companies to use the Facebook application platform and further Toronto’s global presence in technology.

roy and andrew at FacebookCamp in Toronto

We then jumped straight into action with a very informative presentation by Meagan Marks from Facebook. Called “Best Practices around Product Design and Viral Marketing”, it offered multiple data points about the size of Facebook in Canada and some tips & tricks on how to leverage the site. The Facebook team asked that we do not videotape the presentation which made me thing their live presentations are walled gardens as well… 🙂

Meagan Marks at FacebookCamp in Toronto

Data highlights:

  • Worldwide: 33M active users (people coming to the site at least once a month), 150,000 new users are added each day.
  • 90,000 application developers, 1700 applications with more 100 users.
  • #6 network in Canada with 11.3M unique visitors in June 2007 according to Comscore (close to 50% reach). Facebook claims they also have 8.5 billion page views per month.
  • They have 3.3M active users. 68% are daily users and 61% are out of college,
  • 75% of active users have an application installed.
  • 10% of all application developers are based in Canada and Toronto is one of the top 10 largest developer communities

Marketing highlights:

  • Facebook is all about identity, information and social context. It’s about connections between people, it’s powered by valuable social connections, and enhanced by network effects.
  • How do you get high growth, high users applications? By having deep integration in all channels: the newsfeed, the product directory, the profile page but there are other places where you can hook your app.
  • Profile integration: there are many places where you can embed your app including in the left navigation, under the user picture, in the upper right or in the middle of the page.
  • The best way to leverage the profile box is to show recent interactions, recently added content, social relevancy (who), the temporal aspect (what happened today and yesterday). The content is all about expression, not consumption.
  • News feed optimization (NFO): increase the relevancy of what’s pushed through the newsfeed ( for example, what the user did and the relationship with their friends) and utilize call-to-action buttons.
  • Additional integration points: the message, the profile actions, the wall, and the share button
  • An interesting marketing idea was to find other developers who have built complimentary apps to cross-promote your own app.

She also mentioned that Facebook was already seeing new business opportunities emerging from developers. Among them, she mentioned virtual currencies (ex: munny in Fluff friends), Ad networks, APIs on top API (for example, the Super Wall API).

She suggested app developers use the following metrics to measure success:

  1. Vitality metrics: installed base, outgoing impressions, conversion rate
  2. Engagement metrics: repeat sessions, canvas page views. She showed the following formula: installed users x impressions/installed users x acquisitions/impressions = new users acquired (see the following picture here from the Global Nerdy site)

Joey deVilla has an amazing summary of that session as well on GlobalNerdy.com, with even more details.

Web Cleaners: They Exist!

Following my post last Tuesday on teenagers and how they live their online lives very publicly, I was predicting the arrival a new job: the Web cleaner. To my surprise (you’ve got to love the clarity of my crystal ball!), the Washington Post talked on Monday about calling in pros to refine your Google image.

The article exposes the story of Sue Scheff, a consultant to parents of troubled teens, who came under cyber-defamation attacks in 2002. She would type her name in Google and find many pages attacking her personally. The article continues: “The stream of negative comments began in 2002 after a woman who had sought advice from Scheff turned on her. The postings appeared on PTA Web sites in Florida, where Scheff lives. On bulletin boards and online forums. There were even YouTube videos threatening her. She sued for defamation and won an $11.3 million verdict, but the attacks only got worse. In December, Scheff turned to ReputationDefender, a year-old firm that promised to help her cleanse her virtual reputation. She no longer dreads a Google search on her name. Most of the links on the all-important first page are to her own Web site and a half-dozen others created by ReputationDefender to promote her work on teen pregnancy and teen depression. “They created Sue-Scheff.net,” she said. “They created SueScheff.net. They created SueScheff.org. . . . They created my MySpace account, for God’s sake. I didn’t know how to do any of this stuff.”

Additional article highlights:

Charging anything from a few dollars to thousands of dollars a month, companies such as International Reputation Management, Naymz and ReputationDefender don’t promise to erase the bad stuff on the Web. But they do assure their clients of better results on an Internet search, pushing the positive items up on the first page and burying the others deep. (…)

Companies like IRM try to outthink Google. Search engines comb the Web with complex and ever-shifting algorithms, evaluating relevance and authority by looking at many factors: Is this a government Web site? How many people have linked to it? And so on. The point is, said ReputationDefender founder Michael Fertik, “Google’s not in business to give you the truth, it’s in business to give what you think is relevant.” The goal is to get Google and other search engines to seize on relevant sites that contain positive information on their clients and to downplay the rest. Google does not object in principle to people adding positive content to outrank the negative. But a spokeswoman said in an e-mail, “if you use spammy and manipulative techniques to get this positive content to rank highly, we may take action on it.”

What it means: wow! this is going to be big business in a few years. I would suggest that everyone working in search engine optimization today starts thinking about how this could positively impact their business.

Who Will “Own” Social Media Optimization in a Corporate Environment?

(Via the Mediapost blog)

A big question is addressed in this blog posting from Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing for Nielsen BuzzMetrics. It might be shocking to the ears of online purists but the question needs to be asked as more and more companies embark in this new world. Where does social media optimization fit in a corporate environment? Where do you build that competency?

Public relations: Kalehoff says: “They were the first to fully understand and embrace the potential impact of CGM (Consumer Generated Media), which typically is uncontrolled and must be earned, much like the news media. But with few exceptions, public relations people have yet to push the needle in CGM beyond their core competency of media relations and associated budgets. But the opportunities around CGM are so much bigger. On the plus side, public relations agencies don’t have much to lose, because CGM is additive for them. But because CGM is potentially more disruptive and erosive to other marketing disciplines, I can promise all the public relations people that the pressure for others to build competency is quickly dialing up. Competition is on the way.”

Full-service advertising agencies: Kalehoff adds: “(…) like the PR agencies, there are a few progressive ones, which have invested substantially and created value for their clients. But for the most part, they are lagging. Perhaps it’s because CGM still seems so trivial and miniscule relative to those big television budgets? Why bother?”

Big media shops: he continues: “To be sure, many of these guys are making substantial investment in tapping into buzz to understand consumer decision processes and the way that word of mouth weaves into other media dimensions. It is perhaps the channel-agnostic investment approach that gives media people an edge in leveraging CGM. They have yet to really step up to the plate, but I’m betting we’ll see more action as CGM metrics, standards and best practices evolve.”

Direct marketers and interactive shops: “Relatively speaking, these guys have been walking the talk within the agency world. They’ve been heaviest among the agencies in investing in research, planning and execution, and connecting to larger brand programs, including with other marketing partners and agencies. Of course, these folks have the digital and database savvy required for larger scale programs, and are nimble to navigate the fast-moving and sometimes volatile nature of CGM. They’re also advantaged by the continued flood of marketing dollars online.”

Client-side marketers: “Barbara Bacci Mirque, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, recently observed that “more and more advertisers are leading their agencies into new media, not the other way around,” and that “clients are the ones who are personally and professionally experimenting with new media forms and directing their agencies to look into them.” In the world of CGM, I can confirm this is true, and it happens across departments.”

Max Kalehoff’s prediction for 2007? “Client-side marketers will continue to lead, though they’ll soon begin to receive (and expect) a far higher level of support and expertise from the larger agency landscape. In fact, marketers will simply need more and more integrated support, to properly bake CGM into more complex marketing functions. Consequently, we’ll see agencies make massive educational and experimental investments to develop their unique value proposition and credibility. Each discipline will jockey hard where there is ambiguity or overlap of ownership, but broad fluency will rise and CGM will become a more holistic overlay in the entire marketing mix. ”

What it means: based on my current experience, I would say that the SMO thrust has been coming mostly from a mix of both interactive shops and client-side marketers. In any case, marketers need to start embracing SMO (potentially starting with blogging) and push their marcom stakeholders in that direction as well.

Beyond Google: Social Media Engines First, Other Search Engines Second

Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land dropped a bomb on the SEO world last Wednesday by firmly putting a new stake in the ground:

“…over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself more and more thinking that if you want to go beyond Google as a search marketer, the other search engines that matter first are the “social media search engines.” After them come the other major general purpose search engines like Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask.”

“Search marketers should tap into search engines — and that includes the social media search engines. Neil Patel’s Forget ABCs – The Social Media Alphabet Is DNRS (…) is an excellent introduction to some of these players, for those not up on social media search engines and social media optimization. (…) They are traffic powerhouses you can’t ignore.”

What it means: Wow! Social Media (Digg, Techmeme, Del.icio.us, possibly MySpace, etc.) are now considered to be the second biggest source of traffic after Google for certain types of sites (news, blogs, etc.). Which means Social Media Optimization (discussed in the Praized blog in November) should now be a key element of your traffic strategy. Are you properly leveraging these sites?

Local & Social Media Predictions for 2007

I’ve recently discussed in this blog a list of online media predictions for 2007. I’ve decided to take the plunge and offer my own predictions in the Local and Social Media space for the year to come.

1) Atomization: 2007 will see the acceleration of content/functions/applications atomization (decentralization) via the adoption of multiple syndication methods like RSS, XML and APIs by a majority of web sites.

2) Verticalization: The success of generalist social networks and online video sites in 2006 means that we will see the arrival of a multitude of new specialized players in these two fields.

3) RSS: a clear business model for RSS will emerge. It will start replacing e-mail marketing as a way to communicate directly (and better) to your customers

4) Local will become more social / Social will become more local: A good example of the later is the addition of maps (often Google Maps, the poster child for Atomization!) in FiveLimes or Flickr.

5) Traditional Media will continue to realize that they desperately need to capture eyeballs online, leading to more online acquisitions and/or investments.

6) Long distance & local calls will continue their move towards free. Model might actually reverse itself and we might finally see the strong emergence of pay-per-call as a legitimate lead model for advertisers.

7) Traditional media will create SEO job positions. Search Engine Optimization is a key success factor for traditional media to be well positioned in search engines. Innovative companies will create Social Media Optimization (SMO) positions.

8) Video Monetization: a clear business model will emerge. Either Google’s acquisition of YouTube or the launch of the Venice Project (don’t bet against Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom…)

9) The proliferation of destination sites without clear business models will lead a lot of them to adopt the B2B business model, i.e. software licensing or ASP to traditional media companies.

There you go! Anything you would have added? Do you agree, disagree?