Welcome to the era of Guessperimentation

This is a guest post by Marit Woody:

Guessing and experimenting. That is what I do for a living. Of course not without a strategic plan and I try to keep guesses qualified. But it all comes down to trial and error, with a crucial new twist to it: once guesses and theories are empirically tested, methods, tools and truths have already changed again.

I use the new opportunities for communicating that companies like Twingly, GoogleFacebookTwitter and others offer in services like Google WaveTwingly Channels and Twingly live. What those companies do is in fact guessperimenting. They won’t wait for a product to be booringly perfect before letting people use it. Instead they put something they’ve guessperimented on out there for users to try, talk about, help develop and bring new ideas into. Things don’t come with a user manual anymore, because what use would it be when you don’t know how the users will make use of the product? It’s actually easier for a company to just put stuff out there for people to try than to wait and spend years in developing the ultimate product.

So what qualities make people and companies successful in guessperimenting? I suppose that a well executed trend analysis combined with a lot of feeling is a great way to start. A good knowledge of your trade theory to lean on, yet still beeing fearless and not tied down by old truths and traditions of the industry. And creativity of course. Didn’t I just describe a jazz musician? Guessperimenting and improvising his or her way to reach new highs.

For people working in PR, advertising and other kinds of communication, social media and the real time web has indeed meant a lot has changed. I, for instance, believe it means the end of using target audiences as one of the bases of communication. Read more (in Swedish) here . We need to guessperiment our way to make our clients reach out and we need our clients to be courageous and have faith in us while doing so. More importantly, we need to make sure the individual finds what he or she is looking for. Because what consumers do today is they seek information and form their own groups and opinions around a subject or a brand. If I’m looking to buy a new mobile phone it’s easier for a mobile phone company to find me through what I seek, than trying to pin point what type of person would be likely to want a new mobile phone. That’s why it’s completely outdated to be talking about target groups or target audiences.

Traditional media and the music industry are also guessperimenting big time right now. They should have started sooner. What will happen to services like Spotify now that artists complain about not getting paid properly and therefore withdraw their tracks? Spotify will have to guessperiment some more. And will Rupert Murdoch really find more revenue by boycotting Google? He should be adopting the guessperimenting strategy.

The times couldn’t possibly be more exciting and the opportunities are endless. Everyday something new happens and cool services on the web emerge. And the use is completely developed by the users. May the era of guessperimentaion never end!

About:
Marit Woody work as a pr-agent at Greenhill Relations in Stockholm. She has been in the music business for several years before going into PR, and is now specialized in communication on the real time web and in social media.

Guest post: Social media adresses the hierarchy of needs

Judith Wolst is running the blog www.judithwolst.se where she writes about Internet related stuff such as social media, e-commerce & Online PR (well, almost obsessed with the internet :D). Professionaly she works with e-commerce – currently responsible for Online Marketing and Social Media at www.Halens.se.

In this post she describes some of her thoughts about Social Media.

Social media adresses the hierarchy of needs

Us humans have a need to put things into a context, to somehow get a perspective on what is happening around us so the world we live in will becomes easier to understand. Or perhaps perceived to be easier to understand.

People create theories and models about almost everthing, it helps us understand. One that most of us knows about is the hierarchy of needs. Based on ingredients such as food, shelter and self-fulfillment, it helps us to understand why the absence of motivation occurs, when the cornerstones of the pyramid is missing and how this affects us. Maslows pyramid is wildly spread and heavily used.

As humans we are on a quest to put things and events into a context and Social Media is certainly no exception. One could almost say that Social media takes us one step further since it almost DEMANDS a context in order to be understandable…


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Models like the one above – gloriousely named “The Social Media Landscape” or equivalent – are now very common. Various efforts to describe and map the digital conversation are being made but these don´t explain WHY things happen. They do not identify the underlying driving forces.


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Some choose to explain social media like an “ecosystem” (picture above) which is ONE approach and perhaps a reasonably fair comparison?

What I am trying to say is that things change and that many of us are trying hard to pinpoint this change.

Larry Webber (“Marketing to the social web”) describes the market-based transition in the following steps:

  • Step 1: Mass Marketing – arose in the context of national publications, national radio and national television.
  • Step 2: Direct Marketing – the opportunity to communicate via mail, telemarketing and catalog.
  • Step 3: The era of Social Web – is the third period of marketing where customers (and potential customers) are more in control of what they read, hear and watch. Web2.0 technologies that put the individuals in the driver’s seat.

Yes. We can all agree that the platforms and the logic has changed. But it is not because of technology or meth that we are so involved in social media. There must be something else that encourages our passionate communication.

I Googled on “Social Media” + Psychology and found a very interesting blog post. Its author, Doug Firebaugh, lists seven underlying needs he claims drive our social interactions online.

1. To be Acknowledged
2. To Gain Attention
3. To Be Approved Of
4. To Be Appreciated
5. To Be Acclaimed
6. To Feel Assured
7. To Be A Part Of

Not totally unlike a cocktail party! Or an effort to become a natural part of your middle school class. It constitutes a summary of our efforts to find ourselves and by various methods to express our identity. Quite simply put- our need to communicate.


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And on the Internet, we do this through the written word, audio and video.

Cloud systems and shared content

Yesterday me and Niclas read an article about some Facebook statistics, which showed quite impressive numbers. 250 million registered users is a lot of people and the fact that almost half of them uses the service at least once a day shows that Facebook is a huge actor in the social ecosystem of the web. The rest of the numbers presented is just as impressive.

1 billion photos uploaded per month is more than 380 photos per second. If you assume that each file is 1 MB, which might be a bit low even if we assume that a lot of the files are low resolution, that’s 380 MB of photos each second that is received, processed and stored. 1 TB of photos each 40 minutes, every day, all year long. This is equal of 3 gigabit per second, photos only.

It wouldn’t be completely impossible that the amount of video data uploaded each second is at least half of the photo data uploaded each second. Even though the number of uploaded videos is just one hundredth of the number of uploaded photos the video files from digital cameras quite often can have a very large file size compared to their length. All these videos must also be processed and encoded, and video is much more CPU consuming than simple photos.

As the social networks grow, so does the load on them. What if it was possible to let users connect their accounts with already existing ones on other web services? Imagine being able to hook your photo albums to Flickr or Picasa Web Albums, the video section to your YouTube account and the journal to your already existing blog. Imagine if comments made inside the social network also was visible in the services you hooked your account to?

I really hope this will happen soon!

Twingly Among Top 7 Hottest Web Companies in Sweden

The Twingly Team (although Pontus is missing)

Twingly is one of the top 7 Internet companies in Sweden, according to a study co-published by Swedish weekly magazines Ny Teknik and Affärsvärlden (“New Technology” and “BusinessWorld” in English) . The study lists the top 33 hottest technology-driven companies in Sweden and seven of them (including Twingly) have their primary businesses on the web. The study does not give a ranking among the 33 companies.

It was very brisk this morning, far too cold to be comfortable this late in spring. But the sun was still shining down from a bright blue sky! Ny Teknik (one of the very few magazines that I subscribe to the paper version of) arrived to my door confirming the news that Twingly are among the top 33 hottest tech companies Sweden!

The top web companies in Sweden are according to the study (in alphabetical order):

The companies in the study were selected by the editorial staff att Ny Teknik and Affärsvärlden. Over a hundred companies were reviewed and interviewed in the study. Requirements for the reviewed companies were:

  • To develop a unique product or service
  • Have a large international potential and be a game-changer for their business sector
  • Based in Sweden
  • Be at the most seven years old (started in 2002 or later)
  • Privately owned

Out of the 33 companies, about 23 have external financing summing up to 1,2B SEK ($150M USD). Adjacent to the study, several of the VC companies were also interviewed, most of them stating that they currently have limited activity in early-stage financing. Twingly recieved Series A financing from Servisen in 2007. 

The other 26 top tech companies are (in alphabetical order):

It is an absolute honor and thrill to be selected among the top tech companies in Sweden. Although we’re not even half-way to accomplishing the technology and user-value we envision, receiving this kind of recognition always gives a great feeling!

Memetrackers could be even better with a social filter

Gabe Rivera introduced an editor to his memetrackers earlier this week. From now on, Techmeme and his other sites will not only be edited by an algorithm but also by an human editor.

We think Gabe’s memetrackers are a great way to get news in a really smart way. Algorithms are powerful but the human touch will quite probably make memetrackers even better. But is a staff of editors the future?

Social interaction augmenting memetracking seems to be something even Google is considering. As recently pointed out by VentureBeat, one reason for Google showing strong interest in aquiring Digg could be the possibility of enhancing Google News with Digg’s social filter.

Broadstuff.com wrote an interesting blog post last week about social vs algorithm filtering in news. The conclusion was that Techmeme (in the sense of algorithm filtering) is something really powerful but that Twitter has become another, more social, way to get notified about (and discuss) news. Twitter has the ability to filter both personal and local, but also professional and other highly relevant news for you.

So I am now watching with fascination to see how the Algorithm filter (Techmeme) and the Social Network Filter (Twitter) vie for influence on my (and others’) attention span in the future.

At Twitter, the human touch from many people is the social filter. The question is if memetrackers would’nt be even better with something similar. Probably they would, is the answer. We think memetrackers could be improved with the help of both algorithms and many enthusiastic people. And we think Gabe is on the right path when he now introduces an editor to his memetrackers.

In the future, when there’s memetrackers for all topics for all your interests, it’ll probably be social filters and not hired professional editors. But the first step is taken and we have only seen very little of the potential in memetrackers.

The Microblogging Phenomenon Retweet

We’ve seen it more and more lately: the “retweet”-phenomenon at Twitter. It’s used when someone wants to highlight an interesting tweet to others. We blogged about a Youtube-meme last week and retweet is in many cases nothing less than a powerful way to spread memes virally. Or, like Kristofer Mencák explains it:

It is a phenomenon that spreads a meme faster to new networks through weak ties. Basically, novel information reaches further and faster through these weak ties within the network as a whole.

For a marketer, this adds another dimension to the talking in the microblogosphere. Like Kristofer also pointed out in his blog post, a retweet actually shows what people are willing to spread to each other:

I think the monitoring of microblogs in general is important, but monitoring retweets adds an extra dimension, as it is basically monitoring memes that have proved themselves as having viral potential. These can spread – good or bad!

There are more interesting phenomenas at Twitter, like for example hashtags. Hashtags have been helped by 3rd-part services like Summize (now Twitter Search), and in the same way, the “retweet”-phenomenon gets a lot of help by services like Friendfeed and Facebook. For instance, when Robert Scoble retweets something, not only his Twitter-followers but also his Friendfeed-followers and his Facebook-friends get notified. This way, the message gets further spreading, which makes the phenomenon even stronger.

And like Jeremiah Owyang wrote in a comment on his great blog post on the same topic, retweets could be a better way to monitoring influence in the microblogosphere than links (which it is in blogs, generally).

In blogs, we’d used to say that ‘links’ were the most valuable aspect.

Now it’s retweets.

Master thesis on visual blog search interface

Hi! My name is Daniel Svensson and I am currently doing my master thesis in Computer Science Engineering. The purpose of this master thesis is to create a visual search interface for the Twingly Blog Search engine. A short explanation:

Incorporating visual elements such as screen shots in the search results can improve the search experience by giving the user more information in a quicker manner than a regular text based search result does. This type of interface especially aides users that are not looking for a particular blog but rather a particular type of blog.

The goal is to create an interface that focuses on usability and that encourages the type of browsing which is not available in text based search engines.

If you would like to learn more about my project you are welcome to visit my blog “Interactive Visualization of Blog Search,” where I post daily documenting the progress of the project.

The future of Blog Reading is Personalized Conversation Tracking

Twingly is a search engine for blogs. Search is the most common tool for combatting information overflow, but we are also working on providing a personalized experience and tools emphazising discovery rather than search.

RSS readers provide updates for groups of blogs in a very streamlined fashion. Most readers use a form of interaction similar to how we read email, with an inbox and folders providing to organization and focus.

The problem of information overflow exists in both environments. As the volume of incoming messages climb, each message takes on less and less value to the user. The effort required to sift through the stream of information seems to be exponential to the number of unread messages.

RSS readers suffers from more irregular use than email clients. In periods of high activity, the user adds lots of blogs in order to always have something interesting to read. In a period of less activity this accumulates quickly into infobesity.

While email clients such as GMail group individual messages into conversations to combat information overflow, this has not been seen in RSS readers. Instead, memetrackers such as Techmeme.com and the Swedish Knuff.se has been very useful to provide an overview of what blogs are talking about.

Twingly will be able to provide you with the same overview of the conversations going on in the blogosphere, but based on a selection of blogs that you care about. You will always find anything interesting to read without the threat of being overrun by thousands of unread blog posts.

We love Amsterdam

Parallelly with our launch last week Martin and I (Anton) exhibited The Next Web in Amsterdam, one of Europes coolest web 2.0-conferences. With speakers like Robert Scoble, Kevin Rose and Chris Saad it was awesome. A lot of interesting people, talks, startups (like Twingly!) and Diggnation broadcasted direct from the scene. We are definitely happy with The Next Web visit. See you next year!

Tending to our trip to Amsterdam De Telegraaf, a large newspaper in the Netherlands, have launched Twingly on their site! They have one of the better implementations of the widget (if you ask me) and the blogosphere in Netherland seems to be pretty happy with it!

From Amsterdam with love 🙂

/Anton

Some pictures from The Next Web (you’ll find many more here):


Photo: ©Pieter Baert


Photo: Anne Helmond


Photo: Charles Nouÿrit