Politics of the Future: Digital and Social Media

What if President Obama held press conferences not in the White House, but on Google Hangout? What if he answered questions asked by the American people, rather than the news correspondents? Earlier this month India’s Finance Minister P Chidambaram did just that. The minister participated in a live video conference that lasted hour, but the conference sparked conversations that lasted quite longer (e.g. #askthefm).

“People have been calling this era of computers, the Internet, and telecommunications the ‘information age’ … What we’re really in now is the empowerment age…This power is shifting…to a new paradigm of power that is democratically distributed and shared by all of us.” – Joe Trippi, author of Revolution Will Not be Televised

President Obama's current Facebook banner.

President Obama’s current Facebook banner.

Today everyone and everything is going social. Barack Obama and Fançois Hollande are on Facebook, and even The White House, the WTO, and the United Nations tweet.Digital media has become a new form of infrastructure. The United Kingdom offers virtual tours of Parliament buildings. The EU website has an Audiovisual Newsroom. Online presence is a public expectation.

The virtual world has a very real influence.The last two years proved digital and social media’s power to mobilize entire nations (i.e. revolutions in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria). Minister Chidambaram’s conference is further evidence of a growing desire to not only pay attention to the man (or woman) behind the curtain, but to eliminate the curtain altogether.

 

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Yelp!

Aside from Google, one of the most important websites for small businesses (and their social media agency or department) is the crowdsourced review site Yelp!. If you’ve eaten out lately, you’ve probably seen the little red “People Love Us On Yelp!” sticker on the door. I know I personally use it quite a bit when trying to find new places to eat, and I review places on it quite frequently, so I thought I’d share some fun facts about Yelp!, because we’re all kind of tired of election news, right?

1. Yelp! is unique in that most of its site traffic is generated on its desktop site and not the mobile site! You wouldn’t think this would be the case in 2012, but 60% of searches are from regular computers, and the company’s mobile apps are used by about 7 million people. Yelp.com gets 78 million visitors per month. However, like other social media agencies, mobile is starting to gain some serious footing.

2. Every star on a review means about a 5-9% jump in revenue. Yelp uses a rating system like movie critics do – using stars. Every “star” a place gains on it’s Yelp rating means a revenue jump, according to a study by Havard professor Michael Luca, who found a correlation between high revenues and high Yelp! ratings.

3. Most places that get reviewed aren’t restaurants. I was especially surprised by this, considering restaurants are primarily what I have used Yelp for, but in 2011, shopping venues reached “parity” with restaurants. The “restaurant review site” perception still exists, though, as restaurants do have the natural advantage because they see far more customers than, say, your doctor’s office would.

The social media agency can definitely take advantage of Yelp!, as it offers the user a direct chance to voice their opinion in a public forum. This gives you feedback in very nearly real time to see if a campaign is doing what it should and engaging an audience. Just don’t encourage people to review – artificially boosting your Yelp! rating does more damage in the long run.

Red Bull Stratos Breaks Records, Including A YouTube One

I don’t know if you watched Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking freefall to Earth this weekend, but I did, and what an incredible achievement. If you really didn’t know what happened, he jumped out of a capsule 24 miles above Roswell, NM, broke the sound barrier, and free-fell for 9 minutes before landing on his feet safely in the New Mexico desert. The jump itself is an incredible achievement that broke three world records, but there’s one record he broke that had almost nothing to do with the flight and fall itself: Most Simultaenous YouTube viewers.

The entire event was live-streamed on YouTube, and notably, did not have a television broadcast in the United States. The livestream broke YouTube records, attracting 8 million viewers and a record number of comments. I know I watched live on YouTube.

The magnitude of this event is huge in the world of social media. With this event, it seems like YouTube has been able to completely unseat television. I know my grandparents were glued to their television during the moon landing just as I was glued to YouTube 43 years later. The implication is huge: Our social media sites are starting to replace traditional pathways of consuming media. For instance, I don’t remember the last time I watched anything on cable, but I’ve been watching Modern Family regularly on Hulu+.

I think this means that in the very near future, the advertising firm you see in a show like Mad Men will be completely replaced by social media marketing companies. Magazine ads and TV commercials are being gradually replaced by Tweets and YouTube commercials. It’s been happening gradually and consistently over the past few years, but the realization that Red Bull eschewed a TV broadcast (at least in the US) to go for YouTube exclusivity was a glimpse at a very-near future, and it was astounding.

Kidney Exchanged for Apple iPad 2

The phrase, “that’s going to cost me an arm and a leg,” typically means something is going to cost a large sum of money. For 17-year-old Zheng, a high school freshman in China, that expression took on a more literal meaning…only a Kidney.

Zheng really wanted an iPad 2, but didn’t have enough money so he did the unthinkable and sold his kidney. I’ll repeat that. He sold his his kidney. The majority of student’s would save up for this kind of purchase but Zheng couldn’t wait. After coming in contact with a kidney-selling agent on the internet he decided that risking his life for 20,000 yen ($3K USD) was a pretty great deal. Zheng had the operation, received his money and returned home with more than one new Apple gadget.

Photo: MyChinaViews.com

His mother became very suspicious and reported her son to authorities, ultimately exposing Zheng’s secret kidney transplant.The hospital Zheng claims to have had his surgery at is denying any connection to the 17-year-old and authorities haven’t been able to contact any one involved in the organ transplant fiasco.

It seems Zheng is getting the last laugh here as he enjoys his new toys. After reading this article I wondered how many illegal organ transplants go unreported? Who are the recipients of these organs? Are the iphone mobile applications worth it? How far would you go to get what you wanted? I just hope Zheng doesn’t find another organ-selling agent online and another part of his body to sell in a year when his Apple gadgets are out of date.

The Next Web: Chinese student reportedly sells his kidney to buy an iPad 2

Steve Jobs Takes Medical Leave

The day after Steve Jobs announced that he was taking a medical leave, Apple’s stock fell 2.25%. This is the second time in 2 years that he has taken a medical leave, and Apple’s stock has dropped significantly both times. So, what does this mean for Apple? The consequences might not be bad short-term, but this could effect the company in a few years from.

As the anticipated release of the iPad 2 and the new iPhone in a few months, the plans for those new devices are likely developed and ready to go. What about the innovation of new products? It appears that the public has little faith in Apple without the man behind the brand, Steve Jobs.

When new products are announced, many wonder who will present them if Jobs is not in the picture. People are infatuated by his notorious presentations; he is known to hypnotize his audience. Losing the product presentation  aspect of Apple could leave some people uninterested.

Apple is such a large company that it seems hard to believe that losing one person, even if it’s the face of Apple, could impact sales so drastically. Many tech guru’s are certain that the creation of new Apple products will succeed on their own, but it appears that the public likes the security of seeing Steve Jobs take part in all aspects of Apple products.

It’s hard to predict how the absence of Steve Jobs will directly impact the company in the long-run, but it appears that consumers of the brand have consistently little faith in Apple without him.

How the Mac App Store Will Advance the Social Media Agenda

I’m sure you’ve heard by now about the app store that Apple has launched for Macs. It allows you to run your favorites iPhone apps right on your desktop. They have managed to take the brilliant “I always have something to entertain me” mentality of the iPhone, and put it where you want it most, on your computer, where most of us spend our days. Now I personally came up with idea months ago while sitting in my room wishing I could play Angry Birds on my Mac, but I guess that’s beside the point. With the new App store for the Mac you can now spend your free time playing Sudoku, or tweeting about this and that, or even planning your week’s outfits using the Dress Assistant App.

Now, apart from the frivolities offered by the numerous apps available, there is also excitement amongst social media enthusiasts everywhere. This new Apple creation offers the next significant advancement of the social media agenda. They now, or soon will, take all your favorite sites and social media pages, and make them stationary on your desktop. Once there they will come alive and turn your computer into a living organism; constantly updating and breathing all of the social media you love. It will become a friend, that tells you everything you want to know when you want to know it. You will not be able to live without it.

This preposition, from a marketing standpoint, offers advertisers an ideal scenario. Consider this:  You are sitting at your computer at work, it has been a long day, and you have settled into the work/surf-the-web part of your day. You have your work computer set up with all of your favorite pages, in app form, scattered across your desktop. Needing a break, you decide to sit back and watch all of these pages deliver to you any and all information you want to know. You relax as you find comfort in the latest funny tweet from Steve Martin , or a reassuring Facebook post from your mother, and you are once again at peace.

Now, as an advertiser, this presents you with an opportunity to create content for these apps and have them delivered to a curious, and captive audience at all times of the day, and at locations, (like at work for example) that you normally couldn’t reach them. Also, the Mac Apps offer another benefit; they offer the customizability, and specificity of iPhone apps without the limitations that the small phone has. I know, for me personally, I hate the ads on my phone for two reasons: first, they always show up at the most inopportune times, and second, they take up half of my screen. It is for these reasons, along with the fact that the screen is too small to do much meaningful web browsing, that I refuse to follow any of the links in the ads. This shouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem with the Mac Apps, just as long as they don’t make me sit through 20 second, full page, ads for a weight loss drug while I’m waiting for Angry Birds to load.

The Mac App store is truly a genius idea that will, like the apps on the iPhone, change the way we interact with the world, and the way the world interacts with us. It’s still in it’s infancy but I know that it will expand rapidly, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.