Beta testing: Flavors.me

This afternoon I’ve been playing with and testing Flavors.me, which was pointed out to me by designer Simon Ianson.

The service is currently in private beta but once launched aims to help you create “an elegant website using personal content from around the internet”, ie. help you bring a selection of your social media presences under one roof and for it to look nice. The latter I think is the point as much as the former. The company are citing possible uses as:

  • personal home pages
  • life streaming
  • splash and microsites
  • celebrity fan pages
  • commercial promotion
  • brand marketing

From what I understand the service is being built by Jack Zerby, designer director at Vimeo and his partner in crime Jonathan Marcus, but I should emphasise that the project is not affiliated with Vimeo.

Pages on the site aren’t yet public and unfortunately the demo video (also see it here) isn’t shareable, not sure if that’s purposeful, but I can share this video made by someone else who has tested things out:

And here’s a pic of my test, which took me about 30 minutes to put together – but only because I decided to play with the font colours and background design, and was enjoying things a bit too much. In reality you could get something functional up in about 2 minutes and something more to your tastes up in about 5-10 minutes.

My Flavor.me page

During my experimentation I came across a few minor bugs and the team were impressively quick to respond. From Simon’s experience as well, they seem very keen to get the service right, which is fantastic.

What I like is that it’s simple, brings things together, and does what-it-says-on-the-tin as the results generally look good (although some of the pre-selected colour schemes don’t work for all content). I can see how it could be popular as a personal webpage or the starting point for a celebrity fan site, gathering all the pieces of social media presence together.

However, at the moment there are only six social media services that can be added to your Flavor.me site – Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo, Tumblr, Facebook and Last.fm. Whilst these do cover a wide variety of possible intents and users, it will be interesting to see how the team balance the design of Flavor.me with the desire of users to have more services included.

Simon also pointed out, and I agree, that being able to add your own domain to the service would add great value to the proposition (although, noted, this does add technical complexity). So instead of the URL http://flavor.me/user/kcorrick it could resolve to kathryncorrick.co.uk (or whatever).

I’m not also not sure that as the service currently stands would be something that could withstand the rigours of brand management and marketing: the fonts – whilst funky – are still fairly limited, and only one image can be uploaded, which for a brand would introduce interesting questions regarding logos (it still always comes down to logos, unfortunately).

But I’m sure there is much to come, given that the service I tried is in beta and de-bug mode put together with the obvious keenness by the team to get things right.

UPDATE 19/10/2009: Jack from Flavors.me has been in touch and responded to some of my queries above. Watch this space.

The social media influence myth?

If you begin to hang around social media types who are trying to understand the dynamics of social media, influencers and influence get mentioned a lot, as do nodes. This is particularly so discussions lean towards social media’s role within the marketing, advertising and PR mix. (On which note see the slide show by John V Wiltshire in last week’s recommended reads)

So I was interested to read this post by Anthony Mayfield entitled “How advertising distorts brand marketing” and his corresponding slide show (below).

My summary: influence can be a flighty thing.

Anthony also pointed me in the direction of friend Alan Patrick’s site (always nice when that happens), and his outlining of two reports that have recently come out about Twitter and influence, which is also worth your attention if you’re fed up of the LOTS OF FOLLOWERS = LOTS OF INFLUENCE mentality.

And, by, the by, when it comes to measuring influence on Twitter a combination of the tools Twitalyzer and Twitter Grader will probably give you a good a picture as any for free.

UPDATE 10/09/2009: See also Mark Earls post on this topic – Free gift: influence and how things really spread

Is social media a fad?

If you are looking for a summary of why social media is currently considered de rigeur look no further than this video by Socialnomics. The video aims to answer the question: “Is social media a fad?”. It neatly summarises recent statistical data (with a bias to the US) and the extent to which social media is being used across the web and web connected devices. It’s definitely worth watching and I shall be using it in my next training class to kick things off.

As Kara Swisher points out, it’s slick, but social media is “more like a financial dud so far”.

This is a viral video to promote a site (and book of the same title) regarding how social media “transforms the way we live and do business”, yet there are few references to the trickier questions of finance and business. Whilst social media services themselves are gathering huge audiences very few people have managed to make the sums add up. Watching the video new to the subject you might also presume that social media is a new phenomenon that’s sprung up in the last few years, not something older than the web itself*.

To answer the question “is social media a fad?”, it’s worth taking time to understand Gartner’s hype cycle. This is used by the company to estimate how long technologies and trends will take to reach maturity, and help organisations decide when to adopt. Their cycle has five phases:

  1. Technology trigger
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations
  3. Trough of Disillusionment
  4. Slope of Enlightenment
  5. Plateau of Productivity

Below is the graph by Gartner for emerging technologies, taken from their latest report, courtesy of We Are Social. It shows how different elements of the social media phenomenons mentioned in the Socialnomics video are in different stages of the hype cycle.

Particularly worth noting is that e-book readers (like the Kindle) are currently at the peak of inflated expectations, whilst wikis are on the slope of enlightenment.

Source: We Are Social
Source: We Are Social

So whilst social media may be statistically more than a fad, and that certain elements are possibly coming towards the end of the hype cycle, the video glosses over that what makes media social. Media is made social not by technologies or websites but by people. As Mark Earls points out:

People not things shape fashions.

Notes
* For example, the discussion forum, Usenet, used internet technologies that pre-date the web.

UPDATE 24/08/2009: This review about the video over at ZDNet is worth a read too.