Twitter, Product Placement, Web Usage and Social Media as a Term

Once again, I am shocked to find that another week has passed by and I’ve yet to post to the blog. Sorry folks – I know I’m getting slack here. Friday just keeps creeping up on me! So, I’m going to put together a round up of stories that caught my eye this week.

Ashton Beats CNN on Twitter

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that pretty-boy prankster, Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN to see who could reach a million Twitter followers first. Ashton won. What makes this story interesting, as Andrew Cherwenka said on HuffingtonPost, is that the Hollywood heartthrob really does get new media.

Quoting, Cherwenka, His livecast during the race – a continuous live video stream over the internet – was an engaged conversation. He read followers’ tweets on air, asked questions, and actively engaged his audience using Twitter. He linked us to YouTube clips and his chosen charity, http://www.malarianomore.org. He advanced his next cause, fighting human trafficking.

PR pros take note. This is how Twitter should be used. It’s not an RSS feed. It’s not some dark abyss of stream of consciousness. It’s about connecting with people and integrating other social media channels to enhance that connection.

“We can and will create our media”, Kutcher said in his victory speech on ustream.tv. “We can and will broadcast our media. We can and will censor our own media ourselves. We are over a million”.

Kutcher’s audience is now far greater than just the million people on Twitter. And, certainly celebs using Twitter is just as self-serving as any brand engaging the tool. However, the fact that Kutcher is using Twitter to support genuine charitable efforts, I do think some props are deserved here.

NBC Takes Product Placement to Lousy Depths

If you thought seeing the unearthly beautiful Salma Hayek hawking McDonald’s McFlurries on 30 Rock in February was ridiculous, wait until you see Subway’s placement in the NBC series, Chuck in which the show’s main character actually sings the five dollar foot long tag line. There was a time when product placement was a subtle art — something that PR pros and entertainment producers really worked at to ensure it was an almost subliminal connection that fit within the characters and storylines. This just feels so out of place and so clearly “bought” it turns me off the product.

And, yes, I know NBC and McD’s deny any compensation for the McFlurry bit – but if you believe that, I’ve got a friend in Nigeria who is a prince and needs a few hundred thousand dollars to get out of the country…

Mashable Releases The Web in Numbers Report

The folks at Mashable pulled together some terrific social media usage stats that will blow your mind. Here are some highlights:

In March, YouTube reached 100 million monthly viewers in the US. 6.3 billion videos were viewed on the site.

Hulu, is also growing fast, but not nearly as fast as YouTube. In March alone, YouTube has grown almost two Hulus in size.

According to some calculations, YouTube will serve 75 billion video streams to 375 million unique visitors in 2009.

Facebook has grown from 100 million to 200 million users in less than 8 months. If it were a country, it would be bigger than Brazil.

Facebook’s traffic has grown immensely in one year’s period, especially in Europe where it grew 314%. According to comScore, it has grown a staggering 2,721% in Italy from February 2008 to February 2009. In other European countries, its growth was also immense: 999% in Spain, 607% in Belgium, 518% in France, 499% in Switzerland.

AdAge Doesn’t Like the Term Social Media – but for the Wrong Reasons

Josh Bernoff at Adage this week argued against the “media” part of “social media” as a term.

Now, he makes a fair point in some respects in that “media” is traditionally considered to be “one-way.” But, he really gets is wrong when he says that social networking and video-sharing sites are not “media.” He recommends “social web” or “social Internet.”

Personally, I’ve always disliked the term simply because the entire web is “social media.” It’s all about using this new form of media to socialize, share, communicate and collaborate with others. So, “social web” is even more redundant than media! (At first, everyone was calling it “new media” but it’s only going to be “new” for so long, so someone started using the word “social.”)

Here’s where I think Josh is off-base. These social communities online are the media today. If you read my blog at all, you know I often say, “today the customer is the media.” This is true. Whether on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter, the idea is to share your brand’s story with the influencers who are going to report/share that story with others. That makes them the media.

I’d also argue that Josh is missing the mark in his statement about traditional media being one-way because that just isn’t so anymore. Every reporter worth their salt is on Twitter and Facebook engaging their viewers or readers in two-way conversations. And, Josh’s own article on AdAge has several reader comments – which is itself a two-way exchange between media/reporter and reader.

The simple fact is the web has changed the game and no matter what you want to call it – the old media definitions no longer apply.

Okay, that’s it for now. I think the Atlanta pollen count is off the charts today because even sitting here in my home with windows closed shut, my face feels like it’s gonna explode! So, I’m going to slip away into a Claritin haze now. Have a great weekend, folks!

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