Monday, April 19, 2010

What's Up With Social Gaming?

Social games, for those who don't know, are the apps clogging up your news feed with stories of people finding lonely brown cows and ordering hits on their friends. Farmville, Mob Wars, poker games and countless other interactive games are being played at all times between friends over various social networks and on smartphones. These comprise the incredibly popular and constantly expanding niche of social games.

There are now several companies, websites and forums dedicated to social gaming. It's a niche industry that has breathed new life into the recession riddled silicon valley region. This sector is now creating jobs and coders from big video and computer game companies are jumping ship to work for or start their own social gaming start-ups. This may sound counterintuitive but CNET's article "Why The Explosion of Social Games Excites Veteran Developers" explains the phenomenon quite well. Developers can move from working years on a project to weeks or months in an industry that generated over three quarters of a billion dollars last year.

While all the money social games are making is all well and good, it doesn't explain their popularity. It also doesn't explain where these users are coming from. According to a survey, the results of which are laid out in's article "Who's Playing Social Games?" the average social gamer is a 43 year old woman. This shatters the high school boy stereotype of gamers. Social games aren't meant for the hardcore gamers having LAN parties and drinking mountain dew til 4 am, in fact it seems like they're geared towards those gamers' mothers. They provide a casual five minute escape when the gamer logs into his or her facebook. Also, a lot of social games are focused on socializing with friends more than competing.

Personally, I'm not a social gamer. I don't have a fake farm, nor do I belong to a facebook "family." I understand the addictive nature of these games though, which is one reason why I steer clear. I'm easily distracted enough, tilling strawberries and finding cows of all colors and sizes would only push my school and work further away from completion.

My thoughts on other people's thoughts on social gaming:

Does Social Media Make Money?

With every company large and small jumping on the social media bandwagon, there have to be reasons for investing in it other than "everyone else was doing it." All of those businesses want to see how social media, like any other marketing initiative, affects their bottom line. This has proven to be very difficult however, because conversations and interaction are very hard to quantify in numeric terms.

A few good suggestions I read about determining the ROI of social media are not to look at it in dollars and cents that it produced. Social media does give you a snapshot of how consumers feel about your products and gives them an outlet to voice any concerns. This is all data that companies used to have to pay market researchers to collect through surveys and focus groups and now it is coming directly to their blogs and websites. Saving money on market research and being able to gauge how consumers view your products for free is a huge ROI.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Your Living Profile: The Future Of Social Media

Social media has exploded in popularity in the past 5 or so years. You can use it to keep track and, more importantly, broadcast to the internet all your likes, dislikes and thoughts. Your facebook captures who you are, your twitter keeps people up to date on your thoughts, foursquare tells everyone where you are and how often you go there. In the future, our opportunity for interaction with social media will only continue to increase. With the growing popularity of mobile applications and the incorporation of location tracking methods such as GPS or RFID, it could be possible to know not only what your contact/friend/follower is thinking but where they are. This is definitely interesting and progressive from a data collection and marketing viewpoint, but at what point does it become too much? This line will definitely come up in the near future as social media progresses.

There will also be an increase in demand for people who have the skills to manage all of these social media outlets. Publicists and PR personnel will have to be social media gurus, to keep their clients constantly on our radar. Marketing departments without full-time social media workers will be left in the dust.

Overall, I only see social media getting more portable, more instant and more monetized in the future.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Online Startups- A How To

If you start an online business, there are two things that are vital to its success. One is getting people to your site, and two is keeping them there. The first goal is addressed by search engine optimization or SEO for short. This is exactly what it sounds like, in order for your site to succeed, it needs to come up as high as possible in the search results because people aren't out there searching for you, they're searching for a particular product or service. Think about the last web search you did, did you make it past halfway down the first page of results, let alone to the second? My guess is probably not. This is why it is so important for startups to come up quickly, everyone knows the big names but a startup may offer a better or cheaper product that nobody knows about.

Once you get traffic to your website, the most important thing to do is keep people there to ultimately spend money. In order to do this, you have to know what people are and aren't clicking and why. Several sites such as google analytics track different stats and even let you run different versions of your website to determine which is the best, most engaging layout. I think that is the most interesting but also possibly the most confusing feature. What if a person gets one site layout the first five times they visit and then a new one on the sixth try? That could confuse and turn away a repeat visitor so I think that's a double edged sword.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Online Presence

After reading social networking has its perks and several other articles on online identities one thought came to mind: be careful what you put online. Recruiters are actively looking at your presence online to make you more than just a name on a resume. What they find could possibly come back to haunt you. Where this becomes more and more apparent as you get older is facebook. Half of my friends, and myself have hidden pictures and name changing is becoming more and more popular as people look for jobs. On that same token, your online presence can help you if you take time to ensure that it presents you well.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Instant Collaboration

This sounds almost too good to be true. The ability to interact with entire teams, regardless of location at any time and instantly would revolutionize any team-based industry. I'm sure every business traveler would love to use these services instead of dealing with airport security, traffic and all other hassles associated with traveling. I have a feeling that the service Yuugu is only the first of many and that big companies will start developing proprietary systems to avoid service fees.

Applying this same system to government doesn't sound as revolutionary as it does for business, however. Isn't the idea that we are all invited to participate in government anyways? Will commenting on a congressman's blog or messageboard garner anymore attention than writing a letter? Sure it's easier and more convenient but I have a feeling the congressional interns of Government 2.0 will replace "responding" to concerned citizens letters with equally thoughtful responses to these comments.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Can You Hire Me Now?

Verizon has built its brand on its network. Its size and reliability has turned them into the most successful wireless company in the world. Your own personal brand will take more than that.

LinkedIn and other professional networking can definitely be useful tools especially for initial meetings. Quick lookups can definitely help cure awkward silences during interview and Q&A is essentially an online brainstorm. These can help both job seekers and companies.

I agree a lot with the Fast Company article, "It's Not Just Who You Know." Companies will only hold you as dear as distant facebook friends until you've made a more personal connection. I can't see people getting jobs solely because of their vast network or their ability to network. Your credentials and personality do that, it's only a value added.