lifestreaming apps.If there's a hot new social media trend happening, you can bet that companies are trying to find a way to use it too. It happened of course with blogging, it happened with Twitter, and it is now happening with FriendFeed and other
UPDATE: On August 16, 2008 ReadWriteWeb was sent a letter from the lawyers of a company named Fricken, which states that Fricken owns a trademark for the term 'brandstream'. Accordingly we acknowledge here that Pheedo did not coin the term, as we initially thought.
Indeed RSS vendor Pheedo has coined a neat term for this: brandstreaming [Update: Brian Solis notes in the comments that Pheedo probably didn't coin it]. Pheedo defines a brandstream as "a consistent flow of content created by a brand".
To back up its case for brands using lifestreaming tools, Pheedo points to a recent Universal McCann report stating that content consumption outside of websites has increased 153% in the last 9 months. Overall, 53% of online users are consuming content outside of a publisher's site - through the use of widgets, RSS readers, social networks and mobile devices.
Those are incredible stats, which put into stark focus the need for companies to engage with users outside of their own website. As our own Alex Iskold wrote last week, companies should do this not just by using APIs, but making use of all the major consumer web platforms.
Can Companies Really Use Lifestreaming?
Alex didn't mention FriendFeed in his post, perhaps because FriendFeed and other lifestreaming apps are relatively new to the Internet scene. But Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang, who follows how companies use social media more than most, has been looking into how brands will use FriendFeed. He discusses the concept of the "Social Media Press Release" (SMPR), which he defines as more than just a company announcement - it also "provides links and assets to social media: blogs, images, videos, tags, etc." He cites Ford's Social Media Press Release room called "Digital Snippets" as one example.
But let's step back a moment and look at brandstreaming from the user's point of view. It's fairly obvious why companies want to get their brand out into social media sites like Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and then wrap it up into feeds. It's to get their brand out beyond their website, to engage users and entice them into discussions about their products. But what's the motivation for users to subscribe to those 'brandstreams'?
Realistically, brandstreaming is probably going to work best for consumer brands that have a high lifestyle appeal. Ford would fit into that category, although it's not a beloved consumer brand like say Apple or Sony. I did a search around FriendFeed tonight to see if I could find an official presence from Apple, Sony, Coca-Cola and a few other popular brands. But so far at least, those popular consumer brands aren't doing much brandstreaming.
One early adopter company though is the online music service Pandora. Lucia Willow, the Pandora Community Manager, has nabbed a presence for Pandora on many of the trendy social media places. She left this list in the comments to Jeremiah Owyang's post mentioned above:http://friendfeed.com/pandoraradio
http://twitter.com/pandora_radio (which Lucia says has been "a *fantastic* resource for us")
Pandora's FriendFeed site has about 70 people subscribed to it so far. Lucia admitted that Pandora is just testing it, and by the looks of the recent activity it's being used in much the same way that Pandora is successfully using Twitter - to communicate with its user base and encourage them to use Pandora.
Cisco's Advertising BrandStream
Another example of brandstreaming is Cisco. In the post linked above, Pheedo sings the virtues of brandstreaming as a way for companies to get their brands in front of consumers, but also as a new kind of advertising tool.
Pheedo ran an ad campaign for Cisco which, in their words, was "designed as an integrated Social Media ad network campaign with the goals of driving 1) traffic, 2) newsletter sign-ups, and 3) RSS subscriptions." The Cisco brandstream included video, press releases, customer stories and product updates. [disclosure: Pheedo has run some RSS ads for RWW, via FM Publishing. It's possible that the Cisco campaign was one of them, but I am not sure]
Clearly it's early days for this so-called brandstreaming. Whether people will want to subscribe to brands in lifestreaming apps like FriendFeed is a question still to be answered. I can see the attraction for consumer brands with a cult following, like Apple. Other brands, including the likes of Ford and Cisco, will probably struggle to interest consumers in highly social apps like FriendFeed.
Let us know in the comments any examples you've come across of companies 'brandstreaming'. Do you think it will work for most companies, or is it yet another social media trend that you'd prefer companies to keep their fingers out of?