Social Media Madness — The Sweet 16

‘Tis the season of college basketball. In less than a month, corporate America will suffer a $4 billion dollar loss in productivity as a consequence of workers ardently filling out basketball brackets for the office March Madness pool, according to a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a job counseling firm in Chicago.

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

I’ve broken it down into four regions. Rather than start with 64 teams (companies), I’ve taken the liberty of narrowing it down to the Sweet 16. I’ll list each company’s key wins (strengths) and key losses (weaknesses) and point out how your company or brand can leverage these social media offerings.

Sweet 16

Region 1 Region 2 Region 3 Region 4
1. Facebook 1. Wikipedia 1. YouTube 1. Twitter
2. Delicious 2. Digg 2. MySpace 2. LinkedIn
3. Orkut 3. Hulu 3. FriendFeed 3. Flickr
4. Yammer 4. Hi5 4. Livemocha 4. Bebo

Region One Matchups

Facebook (1) vs. Yammer (4)

Delicious (2) vs. Orkut (3)

I invite you to let me know in the comments who you believe should win these matchups, as it will be factored into the final decision. Also feel free to debate who should or shouldn’t have made the Sweet 16. But first, let’s see why each of these four companies were invited to the tournament.

Facebook logo

This is today’s social media goliath. After opening its network up beyond college students in late 2006, Facebook has quickly risen to the top, which is why it’s the overall number one seed and the favorite to win it all.

Key Wins: Status Updates and Photo Tagging allow users to easily stay connected throughout the day. Facebook is the most-used photo-sharing platform in the world, having more activity than all other photo sites (Ofoto, Flickr, Snapfish, etc.) combined. Facebook Connect allows users to use their Facebook login on various sites (e.g., CNET) to post comments and reviews. They have 175 million users in 170 countries in 35 different languages.

Key Losses: The poorly handled releases of some new product offerings like Beacon haven’t helped assuage privacy concerns. Beacon follows user purchase behaviors around the Web and in one instance alerted a girlfriend that her boyfriend had purchased an engagement ring on Amazon. Blocked by Syria and Iran. Still struggling to find a sound revenue model.

Business Use: Setting up fan and group pages is a good way for loyal users to engage and take ownership of your brand. Victoria’s Secret has more than1 million fans and Barack Obama has close to 5.5 million fans.

Coach: CEO Mark Zuckerberg is only 24 years old and has this Palo Alto company valuation at around $3.75 billion (down from $15 billion).

Delicious logo

Delicious is a social bookmarking Web site. It’s used to store bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too.

Key wins: Got rid of the hard-to-remember URL. Tags allow you to organize and remember your bookmarks, which is a much more flexible system than folders. Acquired by Yahoo in 2005 for an estimated $10-$15 million.

Key losses: Founder Joshua Schachter left January 12 to join Google.

Business Use: Easy for employees in the same department to keep track of relevant sites and articles. Also for content and entertainment producers it’s an easy way to determine which articles/postings the general public finds most relevant.

Coach: Managed by Yahoo, Sunnyvale, California.

Orkut Logo

Orkut is a social networking service that is run by Google and named after its creator, Turkish Google engineer Orkut Buyukkokten.

Key wins: Dominates the social network market share for Latin America, in particular Brazil. It’s also arguably the most popular social network in India and the second most visited site.

Key losses: Over dependent on Brazil (58 percent of its users). Not contributing much revenue to Google, which is looking to eliminate underperforming business units.

Business Use: Great play for companies heavy in Latin and South America.

Coach: Owned by Google, Mountain View, California. In August 2008 announced that Orkut hosting would be moved from California to Brazil.

Yammer Logo

Yammer is often described as the internal social network for businesses, or the Twitter for business. It’s the self-professed water cooler, allowing employees to update other employees about articles and events (free bagels in kitchen), which is much more efficient and effective than e-mail. It allows e-mail to be saved for items that require a response and eliminates cc: abuse.

Key wins: Cisco, Xerox, and Hewlett-Packard all use it to help increase conversation and communication between employees while reducing meetings. Access is limited by company e-mail address.

Key losses: Is this really increasing business productivity or simply adding one more inbox that employees need to check?

Business Use: Sign-up is easy and free. Rather than answer the Twitter question “What are you doing?” employees answer the question “What are you working on?”

Coach: PayPal co-founder David Sacks, West Hollywood, California; originally built as an internal tool for Geni — it was so effective that they made it public in 2008.

Next time: The Social Media Madness continues.

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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