How to Monetise Social Media?

Last.fm announced last week it is to begin charging for live streaming of music content for consumers outside of the UK, US and Germany. Users outside these three countries will pay 3 euros a month to listen to Last.fm Radio, the site’s streaming music service. The company has been clear this is simply a business decision as it doesn’t cover its cost through standard advertising models outside of these 3 territories. Within the UK, US and Germany Last.fm Last.fm can cover its licensing costs through advertisement revenue using its existing sales force.

The announcement of the plans sparked a uproar in the social community with many bloggers quoted by the BBC as being against the plans.

“A word of the wise: if this charge ever comes to the UK, I’ll be ditching my subscription immediately. Right now, you’re just making Spotify look more and more attractive,” said blog poster StudleyUK.

To be clear, Last.fm have not shown any inclination to introduce a similar model in the UK and have stated they have no need to as their ad funded model works quite well, but I suppose you never know what might happen if their trialsin other countries are a success.   I have to say I agree with StudleyUK, I already prefer Spotify to last.fm for Internet music streaming and there is no way I would be paying for Last.fm whilst Spotify remains free.

This is a major challenge facing all social tools on the market at the moment.  As traditional ad models become a thing of the past and the number of social utilities entering the market increases, how do their owners produce a revenue stream without charging for membership?  Twitter has a similar problem and has hinted they may begin charging for corporate accounts. 

CPM based ad models, or anything untargeted are a no go, other than for a simple quick win, and start charging for membership and your users will be off to the nearest competitor in an heartbeat.  Facebook are doing well with their flexible targeted CPC model but not all social utilities have the luxury of so much user information.  All of a sudden in the complex digital world we live in, millions of users isn’t going to be the ticket to a large valuation it used to be.  Smart investors are going to need more convincing on revenue models before parting with their cash.

Why Social Media Works

I always wondered why I did it.  Spent lots of my own personal time, picking blog topics, writing and rewriting blog posts, working on my blogs design, updating twitter, joining Facebook groups.  I always figured it had something to do with a sense of belonging, and connection with like minded people, but was never quite sure.  It turns out the answer was out there all along, adda.

Nope, not the snake, but the apparent reason behind our engagements on social networks (and in real life).  Introduced to me by a post on business two zero, and billed by them as the reason twitter exists, and will survive, adda is “a form of intellectual exchange among members of the same socio-economic strata” according to the wikipedia definition.  A sharing of information between like minded individuals with common interests.

The only thing Ive got to work on now is making sure my exchanges are intellectual and Im there!

It makes sense though.  Loads of social tools survive, and thrive, when common logic suggests they shouldn’t.  Facebook for example, on the face of it shouldn’t really work.  And were you to describe its basic functions to a non user and explain how addicted some people are they would be amazed at its success.  Twitter too, many people don’t get it, but yet it is going from strength to strength and will continue to do so, all because of adda.

Skittles Social Experiment Part 3

In support of my theory on skittles social media experiment today, the confectionary brand redirected their homepage to the wikipedia page about their brand.  After Monday’s twitter shennanigans and yesterday’s Facebook redirection they moved on to wikipedia today.  This falls in with my thoughts on this week being a testing period for them but who knows what tomorrow holds!

skittles-wikipedia-homepage

Skittles Social Media Trial Continues

Skittles have continued their social media/viral buzz marketing testing by today redirecting their homepage to the skittles Facebook group.

skittles-facebook-experiment

Some reports (notably here) have this as a reaction to the defamatory tweets which were being plastered across the homepage during the twitter trial, I beg to differ.  The guys at skittles had to know that by allowing people access to their homepage they were going to get jokers who were going to get a kick out of writing “skittles suck” or much harsher words and seeing them displayed for all to see.  I don’t believe a multinational brand wouldn’t have thought about this.  But the fact is, most tweets were present for less than 30 seconds and so they didn’t get much air time really.

I believe the guys at skittles are still in a testing period and they probably always planned a test with the Facebook page as part of the trial.  After all, there have been occurrences in twitter downtime of it being redirected to a Wikipedia page about skittles.  They are obviously undertaking a larger social experiment than just what we saw with the twitter search.  What exactly they are playing at, and whether it is anything more than a viral marketing exercise, I don’t know.  Hopefully things will become clearer in the coming days and weeks.

Skittles’ Twitter Experiment – Lots of Buzz, But What Next?

The twitter world has been buzzing today due to a social media experiment by confectionary brand Skittles.  Skittles.com was handed over to the twitter community when the website was redirected to a twitter search page for the phrase “skittles”.  Cue thousands of twitter uses tweeting the phrase to get their 20 seconds of fame on the skittles homepage; hundreds of bloggers (like me!) were posting their thoughts on the social experiment, some good, and some bad.

skittles-twitter-trendSome believed it was a clear example of a company “not getting it”.  Social Media is about engagement right?  You should be listening, thinking, and engaging the community surely? Not just displaying a load of random tweets that include your brand name?

Some were complimenting skittles.  For trying something new, for experimenting with twitter and social media.  After all the world of twitter was buzzing with skittles mentions, every other tweet mentioned skittles and surely that counts for something right?  Well I doubt it is going to sell many extra bags of sweets, but I can’t remember the last time I mentioned or thought about skittles, so there something gained from the stunt.

Whether you believe the move to be a success or not depends, as always, how you define success.  If the aim of the exercise was to put something out there, in the aim of getting some exposure and trying something new, then it is a clear success.  Brand wise, the only harm came from the spammers and comedians who chose post less than complimentary words about skittle and revel in the irony of the statements appearing on skittles.com.

skittles-twitter-experiment

If the objective was to sell more skittles, well, hmmm….I’m not sure it could be deemed a success.

But the bigger question for me is what next for skittles?  They have gained all the buzz which came from the experiment.  But surely the homepage isn’t going to stay like that for an extended period?  It’s not much of a user experience!  It’s not even been done in an aesthetically pleasing way.

So where does skittles take it next? Do they have another stunt lined up? Are they going to use any of the posts they have received today for further activity?

The Buzz was great, loads of exposure for the brand, if only within the twitter community.  They also gain a bit of kudos for having the balls to pull such a stunt and doubtless they will go into numerous presentations as an example of twitter usage, but without something more to follow it up, this will only last so long. Buzz and the viral impact of marketing only last so long, so where next skittles?  What else have you got in store for us?