Is social media, and the data it produces, overvalued? As companies continue to struggle the ROI from their social initiatives, some are starting to suggest that social's impact might have been overestimated.
But social media proponents say not so fast: social media is the digital channel for word-of-mouth, and although word-of-mouth has historically been hard to quantify, its importance is rarely questioned. Which raises an interesting question: instead of talking about social media, should we be talking about word-of-mouth?
Brands love social media, and as evidenced by the number of high-dollar acquisitions of social media monitoring and analytics firms last year, they love the data that social media generates.
And, on the surface, there's a good reason for that: popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter give brands a front-row seat to the collective conversation consumers are having about their products and services. From that conversation, brands may, in theory, be able to gain valuable insights that help them connect with consumers and serve them better.
Pinterest is one of the hottest and fastest-growing social networks in the world, and therefore it's no surprise that a growing number of brands are making the image-centric service a part of their social media strategy.
But up until now, their activities on Pinterest have technically been in violation of the service's rules, which forbade commercial usage.
While men in the U.K. may have a special place in their hearts for Pinterest, the third most popular social network in the United States is widely considered to be a hangout for women.
Brands seem to be on board with this notion. The US Army, for instance, turned to Pinterest when it wanted to reach a female audience online.
One of the many reasons Facebook's share price has fallen substantially in the wake of the company's IPO is that investors are questioning whether the world's largest social network will be able to figure out how to make money from the rapidly growing number of users accessing Facebook through mobile devices.
But another future IPO candidate, Twitter, may have problems too but mobile monetization isn't apparently one.
The New York Times is giving pay wall skeptics reason to reconsider their skepticism. Despite questions about the company's paywall strategy, the daily has managed to lure some 325,000 paying subscribers.
That's good news for a newspaper that some believed might not survive.
There are a lot of skeptics when it comes to whether merchants should use group buying sites like Groupon.
For good reason too: there are enough horror stories to demonstrate that heavy discounting and lots of customers can be a really, really bad combination.
But the viability of group buying sites themselves is increasingly called into question. Groupon, the 800 pound gorilla of the space, went public last year, giving everyone a glimpse into is finances. Finances which showed lots of revenue but heavy losses.
Are we in a new .com bubble? It seems quite likely, but that doesn't
mean that many of today's startups aren't better at generating actual
revenue than their now-defunct counterparts of the late 1990s.
According to venture capitalist, Josh Kopelman, whose First Round
Capital operates seed stage funds, about 60% of the companies in his
firm's portfolio have generated over $250,000 in revenue in the 18
months following their financing. The percentage in 2005: just 21%.
Metrics matter. After all, if you're running a business, it's hard to make good business decisions if you don't have data on which to base them.
Those who run businesses on the web are often blessed with a plethora of metrics, and plenty of tools with which to collect them. But putting metrics to good use requires looking at the right ones, as two popular websites demonstrate.
Yesterday, eBay reported its Q3 2010 earnings.
The good news for investors: PayPal is going strong, with net revenue up 23% year-over-year. The bad news for investors: auction revenue has all but stalled, increasing just three percent year-over-year.