We’ve all seen it. Companies are advertising on television or through their own websites and when they say they have a Facebook page or Twitter account, they’re taking you to that service. You’re no longer centralizing that conversation. It’s going to be impossible for you to tie it all back together. Wouldn’t your community managers prefer to have one central area to respond to critics, supporters and your customers? Have you ever felt that you’re slowly losing opportunities to really connect with your customers in an engaging way?
This past Tuesday, the team from Echo held a press conference in San Francisco at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) where they announced something new to help create better engagement. They called it e2 and it’s their new real-time stream server that’s designed to “make it easier for developers to build powerful real-time apps.” No longer a commenting system like you would enjoy with Disqus or Livefyre, judging from the announcement made this week, the company has slightly pivoted to being a content curation company that will take the conversations you’re having on the Internet and placing it right in your very own website.
Don’t leave your business out. They also want to participate.
One thing to note at first glance is that Echo and their e2 stream server is not meant for the individual consumer. Rather, they’re catering to the publishers – the businesses that are interested in having more detailed and lengthy conversations about topics of interest and their products. Echo founder, Khris Loux (@khris), was on stage talking about how there was going to be a revolution in the way websites are participating in the conversation (my words, not his). As ReadWriteWeb notes, Mr. Loux notes “In the ways that print gave way to TV, static pages will give way…“, which is a good step in evolving the way we really think about our website presence.
In the beginning of the Internet age, we all put up websites and know people who could pop open Photoshop, create one from scratch and then build it out using HTML/CSS. Then it start to evolve a bit with more rich media like videos and audio being embedded onto the site. Soon we included search bars and newsletter signup forms – and who could forget the all-time favorite guestbook, huh? Social media soon came afterwards and companies wanted to show that they had a presence there and now we’re throwing conversations and the community away from our site and to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But why? Don’t treat your website like some might with an aging piece of furniture – revive that piece of work and make your community revolve around it, not the other way around.
People can still be social on your website
So this new revolution is upon us. No longer do we need to tell people that they need to be fans of our brands on Facebook or follow us on Twitter – it can all be right on the brand’s website. It’s the start of what some might consider to be great social integration with your website. Now, make no mistake that your brand could pay a developer either in-house or outsourced and then leverage the APIs of the major social networks, or you could take a look at someone who is easily supplying this feed to your website. It seems that what Echo is capable of is really merging feeds relating to your brand into your website.
Here are some key problems identified by Echo in leading to the release of E2 that today’s brands want from social media and the Internet
- Control of the user experience
- Control of the branding on their site
- Ability to mix social streams with their own data sets
- Ownership of the revenue flow from their content
- Access to Twitter scale real-time infrastructure for their own data
And it seems companies are already getting that through Echo’s E2 platform. Why? Echo said that they’re realizing that they’ve found a solution to overcome challenges that brands are facing, namely: legacy CMS platforms that can’t handle the new age technology and social scope, websites becoming ancient (more desire to conduct business on social sites) and monetization going to social networks.
So with all of this being said about brands these days, what’s the one thing we can do to make sure that social and websites become one?
Announcing Echo’s real-time server stream
Brands now will have a voice in the social scene. Echo’s new E2 product consists of four main things: the world’s first real-time as a service (or RTaaS as I’m going to coin it) offering to scale real-time applications, open source Rich User Interface components to create real-time experiences on a page (bingo!), public access to the Echo Developer Forum, and even an app store for customers to discover real-time apps.
Why is this useful? Because Echo is giving the power to the publishers to take back their websites and community without just simply leaving it in the hands of third-parties who may or may not have restrictions on data portability. In fact, this was probably the reason…once you have people become fans of yours on Facebook or follow you on Twitter, YouTube or the like, the information no longer is your own – those subscribers/fans/friends are now housed in that social network’s database. It’s also isolated away from your website, which should always be touted as the de facto place for anyone to go if they have questions or want to know more about what you do.
Publishers are on board & have done something great with it.
One great case study that was shared during the press conference came from Sports Illustrated in showing off their website that they did for the 2010 World Cup. What they did was build out a section to capture the conversation surrounding the World Cup right on their own website. They didn’t leverage just an RSS feed or tell people where to go to look for photos about the games or even link elsewhere just for the top stories. They essentially built themselves a social dashboard so people could find out all the news about the World Cup and be engaged and react to it – all in real-time.
Another case study was from Interscope Records/Universal Music Group that was done for teen sensation Greyson Chance after he was signed by Ellen DeGeneres’ new label. This new website features login capabilities where anyone with a Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or Google account can log in and post their thoughts about the singer on the site. The latest news section on this site is not from press releases, but from Greyson’s tweets and as soon as their published, fans can comment and “like” the tweet right from the website – there’s no need to go straight to Facebook or Twitter. To keep with engagement, Interscope seems to also be utilizing some game mechanics as well by giving top billing to the top fans – seems like it takes place all because if you’re actively engaged, your name will go on the site with credit and acclaim. Suffice it to say, the conversation is definitely not leaving the Interscope site.
Is there an echo in here?
Now that there’s a way to connect your site with your social community, will you be thinking more about leaving people on third-party social networks or bringing them back to your own site?