Summary and notes from AIMIA event: Social media and user generated content


This morning I moderated an AIMIA event on social media and user generated. It was extremely interesting. In the interests of getting this review up I’ll just post very lightly edited notes that I took during the event – you’ll have to make sense of them yourselves. Full details on the event here.

Forum agenda:

• Professional media vs. User generated content

• Social networking vs. Social Media

• The future of Social Networking

Social media and user generated content


Francisco Cordero, General Manager, Australia and NZ at Bebo Inc

Michela Ledwidge, Managing Director, MOD Films

Dominique Hind, General Manager, Mark.

Andrew Cordwell, Director of Sales, Fox Interactive Media

Moderated by:

Ross Dawson, Chairman, Future Exploration Network

Summary thoughts

What struck me the most was how richly the exact topic of social media and user generated content was addressed. What can be seen as buzzwords ended up being precisely about how users created and engaged with increasingly professional content, primarily video, in a social network context. In fact Bebo explicitly describes itself as social media rather than a social network, as it has shifted over the last year or so to be primarily a forum for rich video content.

I have long been deeply interested in crowdsourcing of movie-making (content and funding), having written before about the future of documentaries, A Swarm of Angels and similar topics. I found what Michela Ledwidge of MOD films had to say fantastically interesting – she is clearly on the leading edge of this. The name of her company comes from how mods are the foundation of the gaming industry, with users increasingly coming up with the latest modifications that make the games they play even more interesting. She wants to apply the same idea to films. I had already come across most of the things she mentioned, but not IndieGogo, a crowdsourcing site for independent film-making, a social network that creates extraordinary things by bringing together resources. While I know Blender, the open source 3D animation tool, and in fact spent a Saturday playing with it once, I didn’t know they’ve created completely open source films (animations) that anyone can pull apart and recreate any way they want. These are Pixar-quality films that anyone can modify or work on. I find that extraordinary.

Overall social networks are becoming places for rich content creation, and that’s a great thing. They are also absolutely where people will go to and find content. Content exists in social networks. It’s alive, or should be, and in a way social networks and content are one of the best combinations there is, tapping latent creativity among and between us.

Notes from the event


What was missing from YouTube was social network behind that. So how can we bring great content into the site and have conversations around that. YouTube was having trouble getting content from content providers, partly due to technology platform issues. Bebo said that the content providers could serve their own videos, and keep 100% of the revenues. Kate Modern was launched by Bebo, got 100 million views, won five BAFTAs, did Sofia’s Diary program with Endemol. This was when Bebo started to describe themselves as social media rather than a social network. The volume of video interests the brands. If you’re trying to deliver content, it’s far easier to do that in a social context. Brands can now create great content and engage audiences with a smaller budget than for TV. There is a deep level of product integration in the program. The Gap Year selected 6 Bebo users on the basis of video interviews, and sent them together on a six month trip around the world, engaging their audience as they went. The programming has been sold to commercial TV as well.


Bedroom broadcasters. Everyone can do their own film. Lesson One: get your systems scalable before you launch. Celtic Rangers run a broad-based social network.

The most exciting thing lately is how much you can do within your browser, such as live streaming with Ustream. Apparently YouTube is pulling back from introducing live streaming due to the cost and difficulty, and also from video editing. Onyx is an open source video mixer. TubeMogul enables cross-posting of video across platforms. IndieGogo is a movie crowdsourcing tool to get funds and contribution. Three examples include Blender open source 3D modelling film. They have created two open source films, including Big Bucks Bunny, of which every aspect is available and open for editing. A Swarm of Angels. MOD is designing a plug-in system to build and use elements of video content. Did recent event at Writers Festival to provide remixable words and content that was remixed by the audience.


Where does social marketing fit in a marketing context? How much do you spend and how do you do it? Consumers are sceptical – they expect advertising and branding

Five characters of social marketing.

The Confused: It’s an interesting place to be BUT I don’t really know why I’m here.

The Hopeful: I don’t know how,BUT I hope it is effective. Throw it out there and hope it sticks.

The Experimenter: I need to know how this works and have to be involved, regardless of the impact.

The Participant.

The Insightful. It just makes sense, fish where the fish are.

Five social network marketing take-outs

Absolute relevance

Community – understand your audience


Creative – don’t make it look like an ad



MySpace is a mass media brand. 21% of the Australian Internet population is on MySpace. 68% of MySpace users are 18 years and over, and the average age is increasing. MySpace is organising events for mothers to discuss topics of common interest. From Establishment Media to Engagement Media. Six ways that MySpace can connect advertisers to their audience:

Display Media. Serve relevant ads based on user profiles.

MySpaceTV. Recently launched. Get external content and also made for MySpace content. Either ads or product placement.

Brand Communities. Create spaces to access relevant communities. In Australia have done 50 communities for clients.

Sponsorships. Local groups and communities.

Global deals. Run across all the MySpace properties globally.

Events. MySpace runs an event every week in Australia. From parties to film launches Take people offline and bring them back.

In UK 45% of 18-24 year old if they had 15 minutes spare they would spend it on social networks rather than any other media.

Questions and discussion

Will there be niche social networks?

Bebo is the only network on both Open Social and Facebook

Single login/ ID – when will it happen?

Need to iterate – have to try things and see what develops from that. Just taking existing content and putting it into a social network can act as a seed. Trial and set yourself up for failure. The beauty of a social network is that you can ask people how to do it better. However you can’t just leave it. You need a maintenance budget as well as a setup budget, even if the maintenance budget is 30% of the total.

Shift to 3D – best examples are where you can’t do things well in 2D. For example DJing, or showing effects of climate change. The existing sites are unlikely to shift to 3D. Gaming could shift into mainstream and social networks.

Widgets are exploding. Comscore is tracking widgets.

What are new metrics? Time spent and content served is more important than page views. Issue is achieving client objectives rather than . Looking at noise and measuring sentiment. Siggraph has anonymized audiences, but will start to introduce fingerprinting of content.

Can do for lower cost than TVCs, but can sell content to TV channels. Michela says quality content isn’t going away. Quality of crowdsourcing material is fantastic.

The MySpace movie Road Trip is funded by both sponsors and MySpace. Bebo is now into its sixth large production, in which it puts its own money, usually with others. Disappointed that content providers are not keen to take 100% of advertising revenue.

Silicon Valley ventures are starting to shift to LA because that’s where the content is. The producer controls content on Bebo.

MySpace had 29 politicians on before the federal election. They had to educate the politicians about understanding how to respond. People are still talking whether you’re monitoring it or responding or not.

Nike showing full video of dance trials.

MOD Films’ money is on the convergence of games and films. Creating gaming mods is the best entrée into the industry. This is going to happen in films.

Having apps means that the social networks don’t need to create their own content.

Education of clients is critical, as is internal training at agencies.

MySpace will be looking at more local markets, and will launch MySpace Music. We will be making more content available whether we get sponsors or not.

Will learn from darknets – criminal networks.