Social Media Explosion — Not The Same As it Ever Was


There is a illuminating Social Media piece this morning from Jake Hird at eConsultancy.

In it, he lays out the numerical growth of Social Media over the last 12 months.

This is explosive growth.


Some highlights:

Last Year: Facebook has 350 million active users on global basis.

Now: Facebook officially hit the half-billion member mark last year. According to figures from Socialbakers, there are now some 640m Facebook users worldwide.

Last Year: 50% of active users log into Facebook each day. This means at least 175m users every 24 hours.

Now: Still citing the 50% active rate, using the official 500m figure, this means at least 250m users every 24 hours. This is more than a 40% increase in 12 months.

Last Year: 65m users access Facebook through mobile-based devices.

Now: It may well be the year of mobile… For Facebook. Users accessing the site through mobile devices now tops 200m – an enormous 200% increase in around a twelve-month period.

Last Year: There are more than 3.5bn pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, etc.) shared each week on Facebook.

Now: Clearly, Facebook is still growing: More than 30bn pieces of content is shared each month, which is an average of 7bn pieces a week.



Last Year: Twitter has 75m user accounts, but only around 15m are active users on a regular basis.

Now: Twitter now officially claims to have 175m registered users, although it’s unclear what percentage regularly user the service.


Last Year: LinkedIn has over 50m members worldwide.

Now: Officially, Linkedin has grown 100%, now having over 100m professionals who use the platform worldwide.


Last Year: Flickr hosts more than 4bn images.

Now: Flickr continues to grow at a steady rate, having increased by some 25% in the last twelve months. At the end of 2010, it was hosting more than 5bn images.

Six other tidbits from Jake Hird:

  • More than 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • Flickr members upload more than 3,000 images every minute.
  • The average Facebook user creates 90 pieces of content each month.
  • There are more than 2bn video views on YouTube every 24 hours.
  • People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users.
  • People on Facebook install 20m applications every day.


The Final Take: David Byrne may have put it best…

Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view

That is, you need to be careful analyzing numbers and “facts”.  As objective as you try to be, they all come with a point of view.

Here’s mine: Some broader trends are well amplified here. The ascension of Mobile as a platform, and photos and video as preferred content forms, are undeniable.

And the scale of Facebook’s penetration and user participation is almost beyond comprehension. This growth easily dwarfs the golden years (2000-2002) of AOL for example, where 25mm monthly subscribers was seen as a bellwether mark, or MySpace’s climb to 100mm accounts in 2006.

This kind of scale has tremendous ramifications for users and businesses alike. Some strategists view Facebook as a “shadow internet” — with visitors who are “always on Facebook” simply substituting their Facebook activity for all online activity. Others opine that Facebook will inevitably plateau, and to be careful about over-optimizing your web activities just to serve Facebook.

Lastly, with the rise of Linkedin, Twitter, and Flickr (or Pandora for that matter), it’s clear that highly targeted silos can scale. Businesses with great, differentiated, user experiences can grow faster than ever before.

Again, just my point of view — based solely, of course, on the facts.



Read the full eConsultancy piece here.







Microsoft Won't Read The Fine Print — So There

Microsoft and Apple are at it again.

This time, Microsoft is challenging Apple’s attempt to trademark the phrase “App Store”

I missed this one a couple of days back.

Guess the font was too small:

Microsoft, opposing Apple’s attempt to trademark the phrase “App Store,” today filed a motion with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to strike theiPhone maker’s latest filing in the case — saying that its response to Microsoft’s attempt to dismiss the case violated court rules that limit such briefs to 25 pages, and require them to be in at least 11 point font.

“Apple’s response brief is 31 pages, including the table of contents and table of authorities, and on information and belief, is printed in less than 11 point font,” reads the motion filed today by Microsoft’s lawyers, accusing Apple of manipulating the text to squeeze in more of its arguments against Microsoft’s opposition to the trademark application.


Read the full Geekwire coverage here.

Font size; customizable.




Apple & The Magazine Publishers: Hot Rhetoric From Anonymous Sources

Adweek has a interesting piece this morning on magazine publishers and their reactions to Apple’s recent subscription tweaks.

Here are some of the more noteworthy quotes:

“The brands who submitted to Apple on day one are the equivalent of France in World War II” — anonymous publishing executive.

“They’ve chosen to make it as difficult as possible to execute. They’re frenemies, for sure. You have to hope at some point the FCC or someone here begins to look at it.” — anonymous publishing executive.

“The terms we currently have are terms that we can live with. It’s going to evolve and we wanted to be there as early as possible.” — Gregg Hano, vp and publisher of Popular Science.

“The reason many people find this a hard pill to swallow is they were running around believing the iPad would save the business. It’s a reality check that says, ‘Look, if you want to reinvent your business, you’re going to have to do it yourself.’” — anonymous publishing executive.

Read the full piece here.

Mary Meeker Shows Us Where We Are Headed

Mary Meeker is a partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. She consistently does a terrific job of contextualizing web trends and their business ramifications.

SAI has just released a 56 page presentation that Ms. Meeker has completed — it makes for great reading.

Top 10 Mobile Internet Trends (Feb 2011)

View more presentations from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
The Final Take: For Digital Music thinkers, at least five main take-aways become clear:

1-Our business will live or die on how well we address the mobile  consumer.

2-Social Networking & Recommendation Marketing will continue to drive the most effective engagement strategies.

3-We have fallen far behind other industries in three key tactical areas: Gaming, Virtual Goods, & Freemium.

4-The tethered download is out-of-step with trends.

5-Investing time and money in established companies, at the expense of jumping in with new movers, is a historically poor strategy in this space.

Burning Man Needed — 1st Requirement, Realize You Are On Fire

Yesterday, tech blog Engadget released a company-wide letter from Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. It is an amazing letter — harsh and to the point in detailing Nokia’s recent strategic and competitive failings.

Some key excerpts:

There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour.

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.

While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time. At that time, we thought we were making the right decisions; but, with the benefit of hindsight, we now find ourselves years behind.

How did we get to this point? Why did we fall behind when the world around us evolved?

This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven’t been delivering innovation fast enough. We’re not collaborating internally.

We are working on a path forward — a path to rebuild our market leadership. When we share the new strategy on February 11, it will be a huge effort to transform our company. But, I believe that together, we can face the challenges ahead of us. Together, we can choose to define our future.

The burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story. Now, we have a great opportunity to do the same.

The Final Take: To be clear — I’m not suggesting that how the recording industry got here is exactly analoagous to Nokia’s competitive miscues. Piracy is a different animal than competitively shooting yourself in the foot. Although, the labels and publishers have mastered that kind of self-mutulation too, no doubt.

But, what I am saying…is that we have a label & publishing landscape engulfed in flames — and my gut says it’s going to take a man who realizes that we are already burning, to fix this.

Read the complete Endgadet coverage, including Stephen Elop’s full letter, here.

And take a look at Elop’s Twitter war with Google/Android here.

The Church's New App — A Place To Make Amends?

There is a new, Church approved App in the iTunes App store. It is called Confession: A Roman Catholic App and was developed as an aid “for those who frequent the sacrament and those who wish to return,” according to Little iApps, the developer.

The app offers a step-by-step guide to the different ways in which the user might have sinned and offers them seven acts of contrition – ways in which they can atone for their sins. The app was given the Church’s official seal of approval, the imprimatur, by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana, according to New Scientist.

“Our desire is to invite Catholics to engage in their faith through digital technology,” Little iApps’ Patrick Leinen told Reuters.

From the iTunes App store description:

Designed to be used in the confessional, this app is the perfect aid for every penitent. With a personalized examination of conscience for each user, password protected profiles, and a step-by-step guide to the sacrament, this app invites Catholics to prayerfully prepare for and participate in the Rite of Penance. Individuals who have been away from the sacrament for some time will find Confession: A Roman Catholic App to be a useful and inviting tool.

Final Take:  The Confession App sells for $1.99, and is another example of the Church’s recent interest in technology and social media. (We first reported on the Pope’s comments on Social Media on 1/24).  Perhaps we should file this under “The Catholic Church — a place to make amends?”.

The Football Commissioner & The Music Biz–Change Before You're Forced To.

He embraces the new. “Change before you’re forced to”, Goodell told owners. “Find a better solution”.

This from Sports Iillustrated’s  cover piece on the trailblazing and enormously successful NFL commissioner, Roger Godell.

Pro Football makes an interesting case study for the music industry. It’s not a perfect analogy — The NFL pre-Godell was already a thriving business. But, I’ll argue, that for record labels and new model music companies, there are many good lessons to learn from the tactics and strategies the NFL has employeed, especially under Godell.

First, some facts and figures regarding the NFL:

Pro Football is the most popular and the most lucrative sport in the United States. It is run by a charismatic and innovative leader, who has advocated for change, placed consumer experience at the top of his priority list, and delivered new thinking consistently during his tenure.

Let’s take a look at four tactical things the NFL has done — and how the strategies behind these tactics could inform a music company:

1- Embrace multiple partners & multiple touchpoints. Choose ubiquity over scarcity:  For most of it’s history, the NFL was built on a two network approach, with games only played on Sundays and Monday Nights.  Over the last decade, and especially under Godell, this has broadened dramatically with games on  Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays, carried by multiple networks.

This multi-partner approach is interesting as the labels and sites wrestle with the idea of licensing multiple partners, or new music companies look at  multiple experiences such as streaming just on computers, streaming to mobile devices, or owning the files outright.

2- Embrace gaming, and gaming technology: While gaming such as Madden NFL is more than a decade old, the Goodell era has seen a much closer link between gaming and the league. Broadcasts now are filled with computer generated graphics that approximate the look and feel of gaming, not to mention the deep linking between Fantasy Football and the NFL’s websites and broadcasts.

The music business with a few notable exceptions like Guitar Hero and Tapulous, has done a horrible job of leveraging gaming. Think about American Idol — it’s the ultimate music business “game”. People love American Idol, Karaoke, music message boards and blogs, etc…yet labels and new services are rarely part of the economic equation around these behaviors.

3- Broaden the demographic you appeal to: The NFL has employed a series of tactics to broaden it’s appeal — most notably by catering to women. More American women watch the NFL than any other team sport, and not just the Super Bowl. In the past decade the NFL has launched several marketing and outreach programs, including coaching clinics, apparel that fits women and donning pink during breast cancer awareness month. The league has amplified the idea of watching football tends to be a social event, with people watching in groups of varying gender composition.

Think back 10-15 years. The best sellers of the old-guard music business were truly mass-appeal hit-makers — Christina Aguilera , Dixie Chicks, Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Metallica, Linkin Park etc. These acts were for Mom’s & daughters, Dad’s and sons. Songs from these albums were on four to five formats of radio, and all over TV. But the last ten years have seen tremendous erosion of teen radio listening, and increased dominance of  niche albums at the top of the charts –Susan Boyle, Sade, and Josh Groban representing the adults, and countless 1-week Soundscan winners representing the hard rockers and rap communities. The industry desperatley needs more than one Taylor Swift — it needs multiple all-things-to-all-people stars.

Which brings us to….

4- Make more stars, and then make them bigger. Build star-making into the DNA of everything you do:  From Nielsen; “In 2001, journeyman Trent Dilfer led the Ravens to a Championship, creating the perception that a team can win a Super Bowl without a marquee quarterback. Most NFL teams now subscribe to the belief that the quarterback is the most critical cog, both on and off the field. The Cowboys, for example, lost QB Tony Romo to injury and saw their season and ratings go south. In recent years, the NFL has tried to safeguard their stars, implementing rules to ensure that the QB isn’t tackled low, hit in the head or after the whistle. And to a large extent, the quarterbacks this year were healthy and able to serve as the marquee names for their teams.Interest in quarterbacks goes beyond the stadium: they are making news off the field too. Many have been linked romantically to supermodels, actresses and singers, creating news in celebrity magazines and other non-traditional media.”

This should be the music business’s greatest advantage. The faces (and bodies) of our stars aren’t hidden by helmets and pads. Music stars have fashion stylists, gauzy lighting, and PR-handlers. But our star-making machinery is broken. Sure it’s partially broken by piracy, partially broken by radio and retail lameness, but I’d argue it’s also broken by ourselves. The labels, and even the newer model companies like Spotify, Rhapsody, etc. have underestimated the power, even the necessity, of big stars. The labels have slashed their marketing budgets so dramatically, that it’s a miracle they can develop any stars at all. And the new model companies have only learned half the story from Steve Jobs…yes, great design and an amazing consumer experience are key, but look at all the marketing Apple does. Think about what those Coldplay, U2 and Mary J. Blige ads have done for both Apple and those artists. Think about 5 million Beatles tracks sold in just a few weeks, when almost every digerati turned his or her nose up on the very idea that The Beatles on iTunes even mattered. The music industry needs to spark superstar creation, nurturing and  amplification, and that means money, marketing and partnerships that understand this have to coalesce.

Final Take:   Pro Football is the biggest it’s ever been, a multi-billion dollar industry lead by a charismatic, change friendly, evangelist. The (traditional) music business is the smallest it’s been since 1991, feeling more like a once exciting candidate or a company hanging on past it’s prime, than an industry with momentum. But entertainment is much like politics and pure business — a comeback, while difficult, even highly-unlikely, is always possible. Just ask Bill Clinton, Bob Dylan, or even Steve Jobs.

Perhaps on the eve of Superbowl weekend, the music business should take a big page from  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s playbook.