Foursquare, Google Maps & Sysomos social media monitoring


fourwhere-logoI’ve just been playing with FourWhere. It’s a mashup of Foursquare location data and the Google Maps API. It has been built using the Sysomos social media monitoring tool

It is neither as fun as PleaseRobMe nor as useful as Wikitude, but it is mildly interesting to see what is being said at venues near me. And more features are promised in the future.

fourwhere mashup google maps

Most of all, this mashup reminds me of why I have been impressed with Sysomos recently. Sysomos is behind this mashup and they are  one of many Social Media Monitoring tools that we use. Over the past month they have really cranked up their PR efforts and seem to be emailing me with news every week. For examples see their analysis of Oscars buzz and their look at how people use YouTube.

In the next month we’ll be releasing a study of buzz tracking tools (subscribe to the blog to ensure you get to see it) and Sysomos have scored highly with many of our team. Their tool is very easy to use - especially good if you are likley to have multiple people from your company accessing your social media monitoring dashboard. They also allow for post-search filtering of results; essential for international or multi-segmented buzz tracking projects. And they also offer a simple influencer search.

There are drawbacks - for example,  I would treat the sentiment analysis with care. One test we ran on blog sentiment showed a 40% innacuracy in sentiment analysis (once you strip out neutral comments). But overall, it’s a good tool if put to proper use. They are definitely one of the market leaders and we look forward to telling you how they compare to Radian6, Neilsen Buzz Metrics, Alterian and many more over the next few weeks.

Social Media and the insurance industry


social media insuranceThere are many opportunites for the insurance industry in social media. Afterall, it’s the ultimate experience good - you can’t judge the quality of what you have purchased until you claim, potentially years after payment.

As a result, it’s well suited to storytelling and sharing of experiences. Ratings and reviews have the potential to be an especially powerful tool for the insurance industry.

But social media marketing isn’t the only game in town. The insurance industry has another opportunity - using social media as part of the actuarial process. Insurance firms prefer to cover people who are less likely to claim. Social media may provide ways of helping to qualify in or out some people.

Have a look at Please Rob Me. A site that aggregates people’s check-ins on Foursquare and their GoogleBuzz locations to tell you who is away from home. Right now.

It is just a bit of fun, but the site makes an important point and should provide food for thought for armies of actuaries up and down the land.

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PS for an insurance-related social media case study, here’s an example of a research community that we built for a client

The Economist on Social Networking


The Economist on social networking - world of connections

The Economist on social networking - world of connections

What joy. This week,  The Economist, every Capitalist’s favourite magazine, has published a special report on on social networking.

A World of Connections, provides an excellent overview of the current state of social media for those still trying to get to grips with it. You can download a free pdf of the report here. Or check out my summary of key highlights below.

Introduction: A world of connections

  1. “Online social networks are changing the way people communicate, work and play”
  2. Facebook users post over 55m updates a day. 70% of users live outside the US.
  3. Social networks are superb tools for mass communication [NB the report is a bit light on their strategic use as a driver of 1-to-1 customer-to-company communication]
  4. “the most avid online networkers are in Australia, followed by those in Britain and Italy”
  5. Social Networks have “become important vehicles for news and channels of influence”. Indeed, they “played a starring role in the online campaign strategy that helped sweep Barack Obama”
  6. To sceptics all the “talk of twittering, yammering and chattering smacks of another internet bubble in the making“. Social networks still “need to prove to the world that they are here to stay”

“This special report … will argue that social networks are more robust than their critics think … and that social-networking technologies are creating considerable benefits for the businesses that embrace them, whatever their size. Lastly, it will contend that this is just the beginning of an exciting new era of global interconnectedness that will spread ideas and innovations around the world faster than ever before.”

Facebook’s growth: Why social networks have grown so fast—and how Facebook has become so dominant

  1. How the network-effect can drive lightning fast growth on a relatively modest marketing budget.
  2. An openness to external developers helped create thousands of apps. These apps provide part of the service and additional reasons to spend time on Facebook.
  3. Social networks have been beneficiaries of a fall in the cost of data storage and have also been “able to use free, open-source software to build systems that scale quickly and easily”
  4. In a feat of technical wizardry, Facebook’s engineers “quintupled the performance of an open-source memory system called memcached, which allows frequently used data to be retrieved faster than if stored in a database.
  5. Facebook Connect is one of the firm’s most important innovations as it allows members to take their social graph wherever they go on the web.

Twitter’s transmitters: The magic of 140 characters

  1. A key difference between Facebook and Twitter comes from the nature of relationships that underlie them. “On Facebook, users can communicate directly only if one of them has agreed to be a “friend” of the other. On Twitter, people can sign up to follow any public tweets they like”
  2. The most prolific 10% of Tweeters account for 90% of all tweets
  3. Another big difference between Twitter and Facebook is in the kind of content that gets sent over their networks. Facebook allows people to exchange videos, photos and other material, whereas Twitter is part-blog, part e-mail [I disagree with this. On the surface Twitter looks like a text tool, but many tweets link to videos, photos or other media].

Social Networks making money: Profiting from friendship

  1. When it comes to turning users into profits, social networks face two issues. Firstly, users are taking part to spend time with friends, so they do not pay attention to ads. Secondly, brands are nervous about appearing alongside unregulated comments and other content.
  2. Click-through rates are low, but the amount spent on adverts is increasing despite the recession.
  3. In part this may be because Marketers recognise the value that personal recommendations can have on buying behaviour. And social networks provide an opportunity for viral marketing.
  4. During 2009, Facebook turned cash-flow positive on revenues thought to be in the region of $500m.
  5. Games, virtual gifts, premium services and search rights are becoming an important part of some social networks’ revenue streams

Social Media for Small Business: A peach of an opportunity

  1. They cover the well known Kogi BBQ social media success story and mention that according to Razorfish 44% of people follow brands on Twitter  for deals [NB the methodology used in this research was rightly brought into question by Susan Braton in a recent DishyMix podcast]
  2. Social networks can provide a great launchpad for startups thanks to their reach.
  3. This article then randomly veers off into social gaming. A subject that deserves it’s own dedicated piece. But you can’t have everything.

Internal social networks: Yammering away at the office

  1. Social networks are being used to break down internal barriers in the corporate world.
  2. Informal conversations they allow can be a catalyst for creativity and new ideas.
  3. “The networks are also a great way to capture knowledge and identify experts on different subjects within an organisation”

Recruitment in a social world: Social Contracts: the smart way to hire workers

  1. Social networks, such as Linkedin and Xing help firms cut search costs
  2. Business social networks help improve the efficiency of the labour market
  3. They have also made recruitment more transparent as recruiters go onto social networks to check up on candidates ahead of making an hire

As an aside, if you’re interested in social media for recruitment here are a few relevant posts from our sister company, FreshMinds Talent:

How to use Web2.0 for recruitment
Social Media and the forefront of the job market
How to imporve your Linkedin profile

Privacy in social media: Privacy 2.0

  1. Privacy could be the Achilles heel of social networks. Users could decide to start reducing what they are prepared to share with the world online.
  2. Social networks have been developing privacy controls that give users the ability to edit what can and cannot be seen. However these are often hidden away within sites and social networks are making blatant attempts to encourage more sharing of data not less.

The Future of Social Media Towards a socialised state

  1. Social connectivity could become ubiquitous
  2. Mobile adoption will fuel future growth in social networking
  3. Facebook says that mobile users of the site are almost 50% more active than regular users
  4. Geo-networking apps may be the next big thing [unsurprisingly, the Economist can't resist a fleeting mention of Foursquare, the social network tipped for big things in 2010]


It’s great to see social media and social networking getting reported in such depth by mainstream media. This Economist report is not exactly cutting edge when it comes to social media insight or analysis. However it does provide a great base level for the 99% of the business world who do not spend their days glued to Tweetdeck.

Even if the above is not new to you, I recommend you read the report purely for a lesson in good business writing. As ever, The Economist delivers on elegant prose that neatly and efficiently flows from point to point.

Was there anything in the report that leapt out at you?

Social Media Case study: Vitamin Water’s newest flavour created by Facebook fans


vitaminwater-connectVitamin Water’s latest flavour, launching in March this year, was developed and named by the brand’s Facebook fans. The black cherry and lime flavoured drink will be called ‘Connect’ and one Facebook fan, Sarah from Illinois, won $5,000 for her role in developing this new product.

The competition was interesting and unique in that it used Facebook fans to develop all aspects of the product:

  • Choosing the flavour - over the summer Facebook fans were able to monitor and add to buzz about different flavours. The more chatter about a flavour online, the higher it was rated on the Facebook page. And by mid-September the most ten talked-about flavours were put to Facebook fans for them to vote for their favourite. This is a good example of using a community to help sort and rank ideas in a co-creation process. Fans couldn’t create their own flavours from scratch, but could influence the top 10 flavours and then vote for the best.
  • Designing the packaging - when the flavour had been selected (in October last year), the Facebook fans were able to use the app to design the packaging - the look and feel, the blurb and colours used on the label. Fans could collaborate with up to two more Facebook friends to develop the packaging and the final winners were chosen by a panel of experts.
  • Naming the product - alongside the packaging and look-and-feel, Facebook Fans were asked to name the product. The team who created the winning name would be given a prize of $5,000.

This is a great example of co-creation and working with your customers and fans to help to develop your product. Using experts from the brand at critical input stages - choosing the original flavours that could be shortlisted and then selected, and reviewing and agreeing on the winning product design and name. The community was used to help shortlist and select the flavour to be produced, and to create a range of options for the design and name of the product itself. Many brands would be anxious of allowing consumers to create a product like this, but at every stage the brand and consumers were playing different roles and doing different things. It is true that some of the best and most intelligent people don’t work for your company (whoever you are) and so working with them in a controlled but creative way like this can have great results.

And for the more than one million Fans of of the Vitamin Water Facebook Page, they feel like they have had real involvement in the development of the new product. That’s one million people who feel ownership of this product. One million potential purchasers when it launches.

Read more of our Social Media Case Studies

Google Wave vs Twitter at conferences


Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Twitter has quickly become the must-have channel for conference back-chat. Reading what other people tweet during a speech provides an extra dimension as you get a sense of what the audience is thinking. And just like passing notes in class, it’s also a lot more fun than simply sitting and listening. (and empowering - remember that Facebook interview from SXSW’08?)

Twitter is also a great way to attend a conference without actually being there - just follow a conference hashtag (e.g. #smib09 or #figarodigital) and find out all the gossip and the key points from the comfort of your desk.

But watch out Twitter. Google Wave is going to take this digitally-enabled conference back-channel a step further.

At the recent Ecomm conference delegates were provided with Google Wave accounts. What resulted was a fantastic showcase of collaboration and crowd-sourcing. Sprinkeled with a good dose of integrated offline and online real-time social media.   <- way too many social media buzzwords.

Here’s what happened: an audience member would create a Google Wave and others in the audience would edit the wave during the presentation. The result would be a crowd-sourced write-up of the presentation: a transcript of key points and a record of audience comments.
Here’s an example:

1. Audience member starts a Wave

google wave edits

2. Others join and edit the wave as the speaker talks

google wave edit1

3. By the end of the talk there are lots of people using the Wave (their photos are along the top) and the Wave became a complete record of the key points plus audience commnets below.

google wave finished
For this conference the organisers created a Wave directory so that you could find what was said in each presentation.

google wave conference schedule

The organisers also added waves so that the audience could give feedabck about the conference in general and ideas for next year.

google wave conference feedback

It’s worth pointing out that Twitter is still an early-adopter phenomenon, and Google Wave even more so. As a result, whilst I am a complete junkie for following conference tweets, I suspect it’s going to take a couple of years before this goes mainstream. But it will. And the impact on conference organisers and speakers is significant.

And just in case you are new to social media, make sure you check out the other excelent social media platform for conference notes: Slideshare. This is always the best place to find presentations from conferences.

Have you tried following conference tweets? Or waves? If so, have you found them useful? and will augmented reality will be the next major influence?