Tweets, Pokes And Uploads: Watching Social Media’s Growth In Real-Time

Twenty hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, nearly a million blog posts each day, 600,000 new members of Facebook and around four million tweets via Twitter every 24 hours – some social media numbers are quite hard to fathom. 

Not sure if Gary Hayes’s real-time counter makes things easier but it does offer another way to watch the dials whizzing round.

 – Is Social Media A Fad? Apparently Not

The Pope, Sarah Silverman and another Google Ads Fail

“Sell The Vatican, Feed The World,” comedian Sarah Silverman urges in a three minute Papal pounding routine currently doing good business on YouTube.

It’s not for the easily offended, replete with the f-word and drawings of male-genitalia. And it’s unlikely to go down a storm in the Catholic community.


“Any involvement in the holocaust, bygone,” she assures the current Pope as part of her would-be deal making. For a finishing gambit she tells him: “If you sell the Vatican to feed the world you will get crazy pussy.”

So when the in-vision contextual adverts include ‘Book Vatican tours’ and ‘Papal audience’ you’ve got to put it down as another Google Ads fail.

Google Ads. FAIL

The 2010 YouTube Election Has Just Begun

Tim Montgomerie and the Conservative Home team were quickly out of the traps on Tuesday night with a video response to Gordon Brown’s “cuts, cuts, cuts” speech at the TUC.

Slickly and quickly made, uploaded onto YouTube and embedded across the right-wing blogosphere (and here!), it’s the shape of things to come – from all sides of the political spectrum.

It’s easy to forget that the digital world looked very different last time around.

But remember that when the 2005 General Election campaign kicked off, YouTube was barely a month old.

Just as significant, it wasn’t until June of that year that broadband overtook dial-up as the most common means of accessing the internet in UK homes.

We just weren’t ready for it.

Fast forward four and half years, throw in the lessons from last year’s Obama-McCain contest in the US and it’s clear that video with bite and purpose – embeddable and spreadable – will become an election staple.

Ron Wood Bee Sting Returns To YouTube

It’s back, but for how long? This clip was removed a couple of times earlier this week by Newport Television, the company that controls ABC affiliate WSYR-TV 9.

Enjoy it while you can…

Ron Wood, Anchorman: Stung On YouTube
‘Motherf*$&£ing Bee.’ The Anchorman’s Sting

Ron Wood, Anchorman: Stung On YouTube

ron_wood_abc_anchormanA local newsman exits his offices on a bright and sunny day in Syracuse, New York, and delivers the latest headlines.

He heads towards the camera but, perhaps 30 seconds in, he gets stung by a bee. Not one to brush the incident to one side, he reacts. Inevitably, it is an expletive-ridden reaction:

F***ing bee on me. A f***ing bee just bit me. A f***ing bee just stung me. Look, a f***ing bee stung me. Look, I got stung by a bee. Motherf***er!

Bizarrely, he finishes it all by asking “anybody hurt?” before returning to his mark for take two.

Yesterday I embedded a YouTube video of the clip on this blog because:

  1. I can’t quite leave the silly season behind even if it is no longer August
  2. It was very funny

But within hours of it going up, the video was removed from YouTube. Removed at the behest of Newport Television, a TV holding company which includes among the channels it runs an ABC affiliate called WSYR-TV 9, employers of anchorman Ron Wood (pictured).

It’s not the first time Newport has gone after copies of this clip on YouTube – an earlier upload has gone from this Esquire page.

Why has Newport acted in such a heavy-handed way?

Because the clip reflects badly on the news channel and its anchor? Hardly, Wood is simply reacting as many of us would. Because it is foul-mouthed? Perhaps, but nothing a little bleeping can’t sort out. Because Newport owns the rights? Surely not.

At best a clip like this raises the profile of the station and its star anchorman – it extends the reach.

At worst? Well, I’m not sure there is much of a downside. It’s hardly denting the company’s revenues. And if it really was an issue about rights, why isn’t the clip now on the WSYR-TV website?

UPDATE 5 Sep: Video has turned up again, but for how long? Enjoy it while you can:

‘Motherf*$&£ing Bee.’ The Anchorman’s Sting
Chris Brown, JK Wedding Entrance Dance And Unintended Consequences

Chris Brown, JK Wedding Entrance Dance And Unintended Consequences

The trouble with applying offline rules to online business is that you fail to account for new models. The music industry has fought perhaps the longest, and most misguided, battle of this sort.

In an effort to protect what has historically been its cash cow (the album) the industry has vigorously gone after illegal downloaders, sharers, rippers and burners. Legally and morally, it’s not difficult to side with the musicians and their masters. But logically?

Look what can happen when someone illegal rips a tune. Take the amazingly popular – and funny – JK Wedding Entrance Dance.

Featuring Chris Brown’s Forever, the video has now been watched more than 22 million times. By the middle of the summer, Brown’s single reached number four on the iTunes singles chart and number three on Amazon’s best selling MP3 list – and it has continued to sell steadily ever since. That’s over a year since its official release.


It is arguable whether either the music industry or the artist deserve this kind of luck, but luck they have had.

As the media industry obsesses over paywalls and micropayments, it would do well to look at the story of Chris Brown and the JK Wedding Entrance Dance.

(UPDATE: Some interesting analysis of the JK Wedding Entrance Dance phenomenon from the Official Google Blog. Clearly Google – owner of YouTube – has an agenda but it’s interesting stuff nonetheless: I now pronounce you monetized)
Free is just another cover price
What Chris Brown’s YouTube Apology Tells Us About New Media
What if the business model for news ain’t broke?

When Is The Best Time To Publish Online?

Larry Weber thinks he knows.

In his latest book Sticks & Stones: How Digital Business Reputations Are Created Over Time and Lost in a Click, the co-founder of PR giant Weber Shandwick says that if you are posting a video to YouTube, do it at 9pm EST.

That’s a rather anti-social 2am in London, and 3am across much of continental Europe.

Weber explains:

Your video will be up for European viewers to watch before they go off to work or school and you’ll catch the eye of US viewers winding up their weekend web activities.

So there you go. Simple.

I can’t vouch for the success of Weber’s magic hour but it does point to a shifting pattern in internet consumption habits.

In the (not too distant) past, successful pick-up meant posting in office hours. The logic was simple – most of us were online most of the time Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

Indeed, at Channel 4 News the race is still on to get the nightly Snowmail out before 5pm.

Miss the slot (and we often did) and not only would you get complaints the following day from people picking up an out-of-date ‘what’s coming up on the show’ newsletter, you’d also see a significant reduction in click-throughs.

Even across the working week, some days are better than others. When we launched in the late 1990s we discovered that an email newsletter sent out on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday would generate more traffic than one sent on a Monday or Friday.

And then there are the daily spikes. Lunchtime and towards the end of the working day still register – the latter enjoys the double-whammy of not only being the end of the European work-day but lunchtime on the east coast of the US.

Much of the above still holds true, but now we’re online across more hours of the day, seven days a week the old assumptions are being tested. 

Nevertheless, 9pm EST? I’d like some proof.

Which Is The Second Largest Search Site After Google? (Clue: It’s Not Yahoo!)

Which Is The Second Largest Search Site After Google? (Clue: It’s Not Yahoo!)

And for those who are thinking quizically, “It can’t be Microsoft Bing, can it?” you’re right, it can’t be.

The truth is that the biggest search rival to Google is … Google. In the guise of YouTube, that is.

Of course YouTube isn’t a search engine – it doesn’t bring back results from the web at large. Nevertheless, the video sharing site logs more searches per month than Yahoo!

This may be obvious to some of you but it was only when reading the recently published Sticks & Stones: How Digital Business Reputations Are Created Over Time and Lost in a Click by Larry Weber (he of PR behemoth Weber Shandwick) that the point struck home.

In the book, Weber cites ComScore numbers. And this is what he found: 

  • Google logs 7.6bn searches per month
  • YouTube logs 2.6bn
  • Yahoo! logs 2.4bn 

(Incidentally, MySpace and Facebook log 600m and 200m respectively.)

As Weber notes:

Considering that YouTube went live … in February 2005, it’s achieved an incredible record of growth in a very short time.

But in a couple of respects the numbers are worrying. First, they suggest that nobody does video searching well. Instead people are going to the source.

Second, this volume of search logs is indicative of YouTube’s quasi-monopoly of web video.

Of course it has competitors and some other video sharing sites, notably Dailymotion, have significant market share while others, like Vimeo, are growing fast.

But YouTube remains the go-to site for video – and it has morphed into a video search engine/destination in one.

Tracking Obama’s Global Appeal, YouTube-Style

One of the by-products of social media is that it reaches people and places in the sort of numbers conventional platforms cannot reach. Let’s call it the Heineken effect.

So Flickr has become the go-to place for pictures, Twitter for news and views, YouTube for video.

If you want to be seen or heard in difficult to reach places, you need to be on the social media platforms that have hit critical mass. Or at least link from those sites.

Some fascinating number-crunching from Micah Sifry, blogging on the Personal Democracy Forum techPresident, provides first hand evidence of this phenomenon.

Using publicly available YouTube usage metrics, Sifry has tracked the popularity of various speeches made by US President Barack Obama.

Here’s a snapshot:


Just like the US President, you need to stop being precious about your own content. Make it available, make it embeddable and extend your reach.

 – What Chris Brown’s YouTube Apology Tells Us About New Media
 – G20, YouTube And The Three Phases of Amateur Video

What We Learned About Online Video This Week

From YouTube to the iPlayer via newspaper sites offering moving pictures, the digital landscape for video already looks well-established.

But four years on from the moment we went from Dial-up Britain to Broadband Britain, we still have much to learn.

In my latest contribution to I look at five lessons from the last seven days. Namely:

1. If you build it they will come…
(…provided you build something elegant and easy to use. And then market it like crazy.)
2. Don’t do video unless you’re adding value
3. You can’t control the message
4. Brands love YouTube
5. Death is a good career move online too

More on each here: Five lessons from a week in online video

What Chris Brown’s YouTube Apology Tells Us About New Media
The Independent Adds Video. Why?