Weibo is Chinese for Microblog, Adding a Million New Users a Month

…by comparison, it took Twitter nearly 30 months to attract the same number of users.

China’s version of Twitter is Sina’s Weibo. Currently the leading microbloging site, Weibo is experiencing phenomenal growth since it started about 10 months ago. Weibo currently has approximately 10 million users, averaging to 1 million new users per month.

More celebrities in China are taking to microblogging to promote themselves. China Daily reports on Sina Weibo’s Top 10 celebrities. And here’s a comparison Twitter vs. Weibo: the most followed users.

Weibo has also indirectly received the official seal of approval from the Chinese government earlier this month by being mentioned in an official White Paper on the Internet -probably due to it’s strict compliance with certain dictates regarding censorship. Weibo can and will delete any comments that are politically critical of the government. A few Twitter-like services had emerged in China before Weibo. Predecessors that include Fanfou, Jiwai, Digu and Twitter were all banned in July, 2009 after ethnic unrest in Xinjiang was blamed, in part, on activists spreading their messages on the Web through Twitter.

It sounds like Weibo has a lot of great features that make it much more popular than Twitter will ever be in China. Much like Twitter in that you can post messages of 140 characters, each one is a word in Chinese so you can say much more – not to mention the fact that Chinese, by its very nature is a much more efficient language. Here are 7 other things Sina Microblog (Weibo) has that Twitter doesn’t.

If you’re really globally hip, there’s even a WordPress plugin that will  Get Your Sina Weibo feed and insert it into your WordPress blog.

Ushi is China’s LinkedIn…

Shanghai-based Ushi was founded by 100 Charter Members who are successful business leaders in China, including partners of the most famous VC firms, investment banks, law firms, and accounting firms, as well as CEOs of advertising agencies, luxury brands, and leading companies in Internet, mobile, renewable energy, travel, hotel, real estate and other industries. As such, Ushi aims to be China’s top platform for business networking, featuring the highest quality community and opening up the highest quality opportunities for members.

Fox Valley’s New North Social Media Breakfast on “Tourism Industry” Features Stephen Kastner… on Panel of Experts, June 15

For more than a decade DesignWise Studios has been promoting Door County’s arts, natural beauty, quiet sports and cultural heritage through various online endeavors including Door County Style, Chefs and Compass Magazines with a strong emphasis on demonstrating the impact of social media.

“At first, there were just eight of us that decided to get together every month to talk about how we were using social media and what worked and what didn’t,” says Abby Gutowski, Public Relations Manager at the Weidert Group in Appleton. “Now, these monthly social media breakfasts have grown to where we have sponsors and 60 to 80 people attending each meeting.”

That was 15 months ago when the New North Social Media Breakfast group (or #nnsmb for those who wish to track it on Twitter) was just beginning. Now, these business learning opportunities have garnered a large following and take place in a variety of different public venues, alternating between Appleton and Green Bay each month. The meetings are true-to-form with “wired” attendees at all levels of experience, posting streaming updates to Facebook and Twitter on their laptops and smart phones while the breakfast meetings are underway.

Stephen J. Kastner

“This is the ‘new model’ in action,” says Stephen Kastner, marketing consultant with DesignWise.Net…works. “Social media is all about spawning and participating in an authentic conversation. It’s a one-to-one-to-many discussion, where clients expect to get direct responses from business leaders. Businesses that pay attention by listening and responding to the continuously flowing thought stream in social media, will be rewarded with meaningful relationships and powerful loyalties.”

Attending these breakfast groups could be more beneficial than earning an AACSB online MBA for your business or to help you create limitless room for advancement with your employer.

Kastner is one of a panel of four experts in the use of social media for marketing that will be speaking on the “Tourism Industry” – the topic of the next NNSMB, taking place in Appleton on Tuesday, June 15 from 8 – 9:30 am at the sponsoring Outagamie County Regional Airport’s (ATW) Public Safety Building.

Joining Kastner will be Kim Sipploa, Marketing Manager, ATW (@ATWairport), Trina Sankey, Senior Project Manager, Travel Guard (@TravelGuard and http://www.worldsunluckiesttraveler.com) and Dick Knapinski, Director of Corporate Communications, EAA (@EAAUpdate and http://www.eaa.org). They will explain how they utilize social media to connect with travelers, publicize events and increase revenue.

The New North Social Media Breakfast is provided to business professionals, both experienced and newcomers to social media, at no cost. Also, due to high interest, the New North Social Media Breakfast is implementing a new online RSVP system. To sign up for a breakfast, interested parties simply search “New North Social Media Breakfast” on EventBrite.com and order a free ticket.

The Breakfast was founded in March 2009 by Dana VanDen Heuvel of Marketing Savant in partnership with Weidert Group, Inc. and Element. The group, consisting of Fox Valley professionals, meets monthly to discuss how social media is impacting their businesses. More information can be found at The New North Social Media Breakfast Ning group at http://newnorthsmb.ning.com.

The world in 2054… Targeted Advertising and Location-based Ads

“Originally, the whole idea, from a script point of view, was that the advertisements would recognize you – not only recognize you, but recognize your state of mind,” says Jeff Boortz, the creative director and creative lead on the “Minority Report” ads. Once upon a time there were only five media types: TV, radio, billboards, magazines and newspapers.

 

That’s the scene in “Minority Report“, the 2002 futuristic thriller in which Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderson is walking through a shopping mall. With the help of contemporary advertisers like Guinness, Bulgari, Lexus, Reebok, Nokia, Pepsi-Cola’s Aquafina and a “think tank” of MIT futurists, director Steven Spielberg and production designer Alex McDowell painted a fascinating picture of what advertising might look like in 2054. Iris-recognition targets the advertisements directly to John Anderson’s personal preferences… just like Facebook, Google and Yahoo. The future is here now.

“Targeted advertising today is based entirely on keywords, but in the future it will be based on a deeper understanding of the specific personality, desires, and needs of each consumer,” says Ray Kurzweil.

Yahoo calls them “Interest-based Ads” – and now they give you the option of opting out of the behavioral targeting and categories that they have already opted you into.

On March 13, 2010 Facebook overtook Google as the world’s number one Web site… and with an average user time of more than 55 minutes.

“If the 2000s was the Google decade, then the 2010s will be the Facebook decade,says Steve Rubel, Director of Insights for Edelman Digital, a division of Edelman – the world’s largest independent PR firm. “As with the last 10 years, this era will unleash an avalanche of change for media companies and advertisers. You can see the writing on the wall, pun intended.”

Facebook already knows an incredible amount of each user’s highly specific demographic details, because users are continuously telling each other who they are. With more than 500 million users it has the audience and  the knowledge to sell targeted advertising that can pinpoint viewers by age, gender, special interests and a number of other selectable measures.

And… over 100 million of those FB users are accessing via handheld devices, Facebook will soon follow Twitter by adding location-based technologies to the mix.

“Location is Everything,” was once a maxim reserved exclusively for the real estate market;  now it’s about the Internet.

I predict that within a year SEO experts will rephrase British real estate developer Harold Samuel‘s famous quote about property to say, “There are three things you need in regard to Search Engine Optimization, these are: location, location, and location.”

Advertising is undergoing a rapid and dramatic shift toward location-based targeting. Social networking services like BrightKite, Loopt, Foursquare and Gowalla provide users with GPS-aware devices, to check-in, rate and add tips that other users can reference when in unfamiliar territory.

“There’s a lot of attention being focused on location-based services and mobile social networks right now, and for good reason,” Sam Altman, Co-Founder and CEO of Loopt. “These applications represent the future of social media. They’re expanding our circle of friends online and offline. They’re changing how we meet people. They’re affecting where we go and why. They’re forging important connections between our online networks and real life.”

Altman tells the Wall Street Journal that he calls the set of all places that you go (and information about when you go, for how long, who with, etc.) your Life Graph. The rise in popularity of location-based social networking goes hand-in-hand with the ubiquity of hand-held devices like the Android, iPhone and Blackberry – smart phones that have the ability to determine a user’s current location by employing GPS or cellular tower triangulation.

Steve Rubel says, “Websites will become less important over time. They will be primarily transactional and/or utilitarian. Brands will shift more of their dollars and resources to creating a robust presence where people already are and figure out how to use them to build relationships.”

Here at DesignWise Studios we are continuing to shift with the times as evidenced by our own CMS-driven Web site… not to mention our focus on social media, video production and now, location-based technology. Here’s one last provocative question: Have you seen your own spectacular Web site as displayed on a hand held device? The experience might be chilling. Our design team is also tech-savy in that regard… Contact us if you are ready to enter the 21st century.

“Life is change. How it differs from the rocks.” – Jefferson Airplane

Online News Eclipses Print in Popularity Says Latest Pew Survey on the Media

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life project says the Internet has surpassed newspapers and radio in popularity as a news platform on a typical day and now ranks just behind TV.

Even more interesting, Pew says news is becoming social, “For instance, more than 8 in 10 online news consumers get or share links in emails.”

The report states, “To a great extent, people’s experience of news, especially on the internet, is becoming a shared social experience as people swap links in emails, post news stories on their social networking site feeds, highlight news stories in their Tweets, and haggle over the meaning of events in discussion threads.”

The report discusses two significant technological trends that have influenced news consumption behavior:

  • First, the advent of social media like social networking sites and blogs has helped the news become a social experience in fresh ways for consumers. People use their social networks and social networking technology to filter, assess, and react to news.
  • Second, the ascent of mobile connectivity via smart phones has turned news gathering and news awareness into an anytime, anywhere affair for a segment of avid news watchers.

“The process Americans use to get news is based on foraging and opportunism. They seem to access news when the spirit moves them or they have a chance to check up on headlines,” says the report. “At the same time, gathering the news is not entirely an open-ended exploration for consumers, even online where there are limitless possibilities for exploring news.”

Most people say they use between two and five news sources when online, and two thirds say they don’t have a single favorite. Only 21 percent say they routinely rely on just one site for their news and information. Moreover, many do not have strong loyalty to particular online sources. When asked whether they have a favorite online news source, the majority of online news users (65%) say they do not.

The most popular topics are the weather, national events and health. Nearly half said they’s like to see more coverage of scientific news and discoveries and 41 percent wanted more news on religion and spirituality.

The report explains that 80% of American adults have cell phones today, and 37% of them go online from their phones. The impact of this new mobile technology on news gathering is unmistakable.  One quarter (26%) of all Americans say they get some form of news via cell phone today–that amounts to 33% of cell phone owners.

Despite the fact that it’s easier to keep up with the news today, the Pew Report says Americans still feel overwhelmed. Fully 70% agreed with that statement: “The amount of news and information available from different sources today is overwhelming.” Some 25% “completely agreed” with that statement and 45% “mostly agreed.”

Creating e-Books for Kindle and Other Forms of Merged New Media

The shift from ink and paper to the digital realm is simultaneously taking place on at least seven major platforms and tons of electronic devices created and promoted by developers like Amazon, Apple, Google and Sony. I suggest taking a look at Calibre in order to get an overview of the current status of e-book reading and publishing.

The site explains, “Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books” …but, it is a lot more than a cataloging tool, in that it will also convert your e-books into whatever format you require, then connect and upload them to your specific e-reader.

Listed among the top e-book source formats are some familiar and perhaps some new file types that include: LIT, MOBI, EPUB, HTML, PRC, RTF, PDB, TXT and PDF. Calibre output formats include: EPUB, FB2, OEB, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PML, RB, PDF, TCR, TXT and PRC. Are you overwhelmed yet?

Amazon provides the Digital Text Platform for authors wishing to publish e-books for their Kindle wireless reading device. Learn all about using it in the DTP Forum. Amazon DTP supports several document formats for uploading and conversion (HTML, Microsoft Word (.doc), plain text (.txt) and Adobe PDF). Amazon DTP also fully supports eBooks created in the .mobi format if they are unencrypted. You can use Calibre or the free MobiPocket Creator and upload the resulting mobi file.

While some people think the Kindle spells the beginning of the end for publishers, and some authors are happy about being able to sidestep the middlemen by publishing directly on Kindle, readers are generally delighted at all of the convenient features the Kindle provides.

One of my most recent goals has been to develop a mixed-media publication that combines text and video. Adobe’s Acrobat 9 Pro now supports embedding videos into PDFs. I am creating my first experimental documents merging animated cartoons made in Xtranormal… to be included in a CD. The videos will be set to autorun when you open the page that they reside on. The mpeg4 videos, scaled down to hand-held device size (480 x 360), are the smallest file size and universally compatible with mac, unix, beos and windows.

LINKS:
Consumer Electronic Show 2010: Top 10 new e-book readers

Walking the walk… from passive to active media design

Since I can no longer give advice that I am not applying directly to my own work, I have installed WordPress and am now proceeding to develop my own DesignWise.net social media consultation Website as an ongoing work-in-progress. Equipping my clients with the capacity to easily communicate is now fundamental to providing an effective and empowering marketing strategy. A recent New York Times article talks about the latest findings in a Forrester Research report…

Nearly a quarter of American adults who use the Internet are “creators,” Forrester says, which means that they “write blogs, upload original audio or video, or post stories online.”

I am recalling @Pistachio at the Montreal Webcom in November 2008, explaining one key value of Twitter to… “Surround you with motivating people” and “Flatten hierarchy.”

gulliver1

Now, it’s all about the rise of Lilliputians and the fall of Gullivers. Don Bartholomew, aka metricsman says, “Numerous studies have shown people don’t trust what they read in the media, they trust each other.  I believe it was Hauser and Katz who coined the term you are what you measure in 1998.”

The Forrester report mentioned above explains that, “half of online adults now belong to social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, a 46 percent growth rate year-over-year.” And explains further that adults 35 and older are now the fastest growing demographic group, “Four of five adults of all ages now use social media, including blogs, social networks and review sites, in some form at least monthly; half visit social networking sites.”

My own integrative design theories have expanded to include the impact of social media and content creation on what was formerly a studio art form – the creation of static HTML Websites. With the shift from passive to active media, I have become less a designer and more a coach, teaching my clients how to enter into the world of inbound advertising. As metricsman agrees, it is no longer effective to measure site traffic and impressions when there is a raging dialogue taking place in locations far too numerous to measure or evaluate. He offers a new model of measurement:

Exposure – to what degree have we created exposure to content and message?

Engagement – who, how and where are people interacting/engaging with our content?

Influence – the degree to which exposure and engagement have influenced perceptions and attitudes

Action – as a result of the PR/social media effort, what actions if any has the target taken?”

As this new “active media” continues define and refine itself, marketing and public relations is no longer about simply having a great Website… it’s about having a large social footprint and an active voice in the ongoing dialogue. It’s also about  listening as well as speaking, tracking what is being said about you, about your products and about your focal points.

In 2006 I started another shift in my own creative strategies, working to become a filmmaker and video journalist. It was apparent to me then and has now proven to be true, that video production is the emerging pathway to new media communications. I just completed the first stages of a client-funded documentary film-making project on Door County’s Midsummer’s Music Festival that is also simultaneously re purposed as social video marketing. You are invited to join in that conversation at my DesignWise Studios, filmmaker and video production Website.