Social Media Madness — The Sweet 16, Part 2

With NCAA March Madness on the horizon, I felt it only appropriate to put together a Social Media Madness bracket in the hopes of answering: Who is, or who will become, the king of social media? Is it Facebook? Twitter? Or is it a “Cinderella Player” like Livemocha?

We’re down to the Sweet 16. Last time, we discussed Region 1. This week, we’ll review the Region 1 winners and losers and preview this week’s Region 2 matchups. For each company, I’ll list their strengths (key wins) and weaknesses (key losses), and point out how your company or brand can leverage these social media offerings.

Social Media Bracket

Region 1 Results

Facebook(1) vs. Yammer(4): Facebook mopped the floor with its brand new baby brother (Yammer is a social network for business). We’ll see if Yammer has the last laugh in time.

Delicious(2) vs. Orkut(3): Orkut may have won this matchup a few years back, but they appear to be evolving into a niche player (Brazil and India); Delicious had the hot hand and narrowly escaped with a win. Delicious’ celebration could be short lived, as they now face the tournament’s top overall seed, Facebook.

Region 2 Matchups

Please let me know who you think should win these matchups (via a comment below, e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook’s Bracket Builder App), as it will be factored into the final decision. Thanks to everyone for the immense response so far! Below are write-ups on why each of these four companies have made it this far into the tournament.

Wikipedia(1) vs. Hi5(4)

Digg(2) vs. Hulu(3)


Some argue Wikipedia started the open source and social sharing revolution. Despite naysayers, studies have shown that Wikipedia is as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica.

Key Wins: Almost pervasively the number one search result in Google for any topic or public figure related search query. As a result of Wikipedia’s success, Encyclopedia Britannica recently adopted a hybrid of the Wikipedia model.

Key Losses: The technology isn’t the most user friendly. It would be difficult for the general Internet population to quickly and easily figure out how to thoroughly update and edit; perhaps this is by design. Just like with DMOZ a few years back, the people who have earned editor status have too much power and they love to use it. For the longest time, CNET’s Tom Merritt, Molly Wood, and Jason Howell were scrubbed by editors. Are you kidding? Wikipedia also makes a habit of blacklisting blogs. For niche topics, the accuracy can be less than reliable.

Business Use: You need to know what is written about your company and make appropriate, non-hyperbolic edits. If you can optimize for search, all the better.

Coach: CEO Jimmy Wales founded the company (along with Larry Sanger) in January 2001, and is based in San Francisco.


Digg is a social bookmarking site. After content is submitted other people “Digg” what they like best. Stories that receive enough Diggs are promoted to the front page.

Key Wins: Attracts at least 236 million visitors annually, according to Compete. Founder Kevin Rose was on the cover of BusinessWeek.

Key Losses: Have faced a user revolt as a result of some companies gaming the system. BusinessWeek reported that Digg lost $4 million on $6.4 million of revenue in the first three quarters of 2008.

Business Use: Don’t try to game the system. This will end poorly. Follow what your customers/readers find of most interest and adjust product/services/content accordingly.

Coach: CEO Jay Adelson is based out of Digg’s San Francisco headquarters.


Hulu is NBC Universal and News Corporation’s online video joint venture. The site focuses exclusively on professional content and serves the video within an embedded player on Hulu.

Key wins: Advertising brand recall is higher in Hulu than on traditional TV networks as a result McDonald’s, BestBuy, HP, ALPO, etc. have made large media buys. One reason is they tell the user there will be a 30-second commercial and shows the seconds counting down. Avoids the Tivo/DVR issue. Hulu served about 221 million streams to about 7.5 million unique visitors in November, up from 206 million videos and 9 million unique visitors in October.

Key losses: Hulu may turn out to be the Napster of online video viewing. They’re victims of their own success as entertainment providers crack the privacy whip.

Business Use: Achieves great brand recall and awareness for companies willing to get creative.

Coach: CEO Jason Kilar spent almost a decade at before heading up this Los Angeles-based venture.


Hi5 is a social network site similar to Facebook, Orkut, and MySpace. According to comScore, in 2008 hi5 was the third most popular social networking site in terms of monthly unique visitors. Ranked as a top 20 Web site globally and the number one social network in more than 30 countries across Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Available in 37 languages.

Key wins: As of February, hi5 claims to have more than 80 million active members, which is up from 60 million in December. Hi5 claims to be number one in the Spanish speaking community.

Key losses: For how successful hi5 has been they do not get much press — primarily due to it’s limited U.S. market share. In Thailand, where they have a solid market share, users are starting to use Facebook, even though Facebook isn’t specifically tailored for the Thai market. Is this a sign of things to come?

Business Use: It’s very important for global companies to test and play in the Latin and Asian markets, where hi5 has significant market share.

Coach: Privately held firm is steered by founder and CEO Ramu Yalamanchi out of San Francisco.

Next time: Social Media Madness continues with Region 2 results, and Region 3 matchups.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies New York March 23-27 at the Hilton New York. The only major search marketing conference and expo on the East Coast, SES New York will be packed with more than 70 sessions, plus more than 150 exhibitors, networking events, parties, and training days.

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