Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Social Media Bubble - Web £2.0

The more I think about it the more the current social media buzz and pre-revenue investment activity has worrying parallels to the dot.com bubble bursting. Add to that businesses spending time and resource on social media without a strategy or purpose and I think there is potential for another burst.

Many businesses including Twitter (don't forget it is a business) have operated for substantial times with huge net loss to gain market share. Large scale investments (Twitter are rumoured to have received $55m in investment) in pre-revenue Internet businesses to gain market share was one of the main pre-cursors to the dot.com bubble bursting and I believe that many social media start ups and service providers who are pre-revenue are precariously placed.

Look at video streaming start up Floobs, great name and great service but they are rumoured to be filing for bankruptcy despite signing up major Spanish football clubs.

There is also momentum towards paid for content on the web, which will inevitably have an impact on social media. The NY Times becomes the latest news and media company to start charging for content - showing that monetisation is critical to the future of web 2.0. Moreover, the Mirror becomes the latest newspaper has recently blocked a news aggregator from linking to its site and it is all about protecting revenue.

In addition organisations are re-thinking what they allow people to access via their networks. For example Oxford Uni bans Spotify from its network. This will not please the owners (or investors) who rely on advertising to fund the royalty licences to make the service legal.

So if Twitter fails to sufficiently monetise without alienating all of its dedicated users then this may be the tipping point for another .com decline. There are also other signs of a bubble under pressure: ebay sales are in decline: google is facing challenges on its Adwords platform in the ECJ and Twitter user registration growth has a slight dip.

The push must be to monetize web 2.0 so that the platforms we know and love are maintained and innovation is fostered and keeps developing.

Monetisation and revenue protection is critical to the maintenance of Web 2.0 and the move to Web 3.0 and the Internet of things. Which is why I am coining the phrase Web£2.0 or Web $2.0.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Social Media Service Levels

Today twitter was unavailable for a noticeable amount of time simply diverting users to a whale saying "Over Capacity"

The fact that the service was unavailable for a period of time actually trended on the site immediately after under the hashtag #whentwitterwasdown.

This made me think of service levels and in particualr uptime availability for certain software applications. Twitter is imminently about to commercialise its service and for me this changes the relationship with its users with regard to the level of service expected.

Should there be guaranteed uptimes for example. If a business relies on social media services, particularly online marketing firms what service levels do they promise their clients and is this reflected in the levels provided by Social Media Platforms.

Moreover, if you are an advertiser who has paid for prime time social media exposure and the service is unavailable what is your remedy. If there are no service levels then there is no remedy for the downtime. Normally service credits are offered but is this really good enough compensation?

Continuity and availability are the key for most businesses that rely on software as a service provided via the Internet. Of which Twitter and Facebook are two such examples.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Social Media to co-ordinate class legal actions?

This week I have been thinking about social media in the legal services arena.

Whilst the parallels and opportunities for an intellectual property and IT lawyer such as myself are easy to identify there are so many areas of law such as litigation where the opportunities of social media are lost on many.

For example one of the most lucrative areas for law firms is advising and prosecuting class action litigation or "class suit" litigation in the US and I think social media could transform this area.

Wikepedia sums up class actions more succinctly here but it means suing on behalf of a number of people who have been wronged in the same way by the same defendant. Or they all have the same complaint of the same defendant which has caused them loss. The coal miners in the UK is one example of class action with 30,000 claimants suing the government.

Firstly, social media could be used by law firms to identify claimants who have similar complaints thus creating the class and increasing the number of clients it is representing. This could be facilitated by setting up groups on facebook or using trending applications in twitter to identify people having conversations about similar problems.

Secondly, social media could be a way of disseminating non-confidential updates or case progress to a large number of people in a collaborative way. As a by-product a group of claimants on a social media platform may have the effect of acting as a support group for like minded people who have suffered the same loss or damage.

There will of course be risks with this kind of transparency but various social media platforms allow for different levels of accessibility although management of these could be burdensome.

Interesting times.