Getting Social


There are, apparently, 200 million tweets a day. Given that Twitter claims 200 million active users that seems a modest output, it is true, but the Twitterati have a disproportionate reach because large numbers of people – many of them lazy journalists – follow other people’s trending topics without contributing themselves.
YouTube users download close to 150 billion minutes of video a month, the equivalent of four million television channels. Every minute of every day another 13 hours of content is uploaded to the archive: surprisingly not all of it features cats in washing machines.
But the daddy of all social networks is surely Facebook. It now has around 750 million active users, and some authorities believe it will hit a billion next year. Given that the ITU reckons there are two billion internet users worldwide, that means half of us will soon be sharing the minutiae of our lives. There are already 30 million Facebook users in the UK, including, I have to confess, me.
The wonderfully named research group Kissmetrics has determined that the average Facebook user has 130 friends. I have just checked and I have 141 so I am just a touch on the promiscuous side. Aleksandr the meerkat has more than a million friends.
That same average user spends 700 minutes a month on the site, with 50% checking it on any given day. We can assume that Aleksandr, or his assistants, are included in that number. In a wonderful reversal of the old joke about the man who checks the obituary columns in the Daily Telegraph and, if he is not there, gets dressed, the research says that 48% of 18 to 34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up, with 28% doing it before they get out of bed.
At the other end of the day, social networking is one of the most common multi-screen activities: people are watching television and at the same time commenting – on the programme and on anything else – to their friends. Finding creative ways of linking social media to broadcast programmes is one of the challenges of our time.
It is, then, entirely right and proper that the star keynote speaker at IBC next month should be Joanna Shields, the EMEA chief executive for Facebook. I am sure she will have some thought provoking ideas on the future direction of electronic media and I very much look forward to hearing her speak.
And that would be the premature end of this column, were it not for a grade one crackpot situation which is about to blow up.
Last month, regular readers will recall, I pointed out that the very nice people at Avid had been forced into the circumlocution that it had “been awarded a significant contract to supply production and distribution kit and expertise to the broadcast of a major sporting event in London next year”. I suggested then that there was a world of difference between ambush marketing and sensible, factual communication.
I have before me a document called IOC social media, blogging and internet guidelines for participants and other accredited persons at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Note to editor and publisher: this is freely available for download from olympic.org and was not obtained by clandestine means. You do not need to clear your diaries for an appearance before a Commons select committee.
The document is a fascinating read, for the spectacularly wrong-headed attitude to social media that the International Olympic Committee seems to adopt. It says, for instance “The IOC encourages participants to post comments on social media platforms”, which sounds good, but then it says “they must not report on competition or comment on the activities of other participants”.
So Rebecca Adlington can talk about her swim but not mention her good friend Jo Jackson, for example. And woe betide her if the two of them slip out for a MacDonalds in Stratford Market (other burgers are available): mentioning that on Facebook would be commenting on the activities of other participants, and “the accreditation of any person may be withdrawn without notice… for purposes of ensuring compliance with these guidelines”.
My absolute favourite section of this document is on page two. Athletes will be pleased to note that they “may use the word ‘Olympic’ on their postings, blog or tweets”, but “participants and other accredited persons must not use the Olympic Symbol”.
We can safely assume that, given my age and lack of athletic ability, I will never qualify for an Olympic Games. But if I did, I am certain I would want a picture on my Facebook profile of me in front of the five rings, the city logo and anything else that says I was there.
Maybe the keen discipline of successful athletes means they can comfortably forego such frivolous use of their time. And maybe the 17,000 athletes expected for the major sporting event in London next summer will be from the half of the world that does not regularly use Facebook.

Tags: iss056 | twitter | social networking | facebook | linked in | N/A
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