Social Media ‘Game of Thrones’: Winter Is Coming for Google+

Chris Penn of SHIFT Communications talks digital influence and nerdy maps.

SHIFT Communications of Boston loves maps; CEO Todd Defren commissioned one way back in 2007 in order to survey “the social media landscape” when MySpace was still a thing.

To provide a more accurate view of the social world and its many competing players as they exist today, the company drew on publicly available data to create a Westeros-style map titled “A Song of PR and Social.”

Here it is:
SHIFT Communications Social Media Game of Thrones
A blog post by Christopher Penn, SHIFT’s VP of marketing tech, goes further in comparing MySpace to the fallen Targaryens. The key difference? MySpace has no dragons or other secret weapons up its sleeve…

We spoke to Penn for more insights from this masterpiece of nerd-dom.

What’s your key takeaway?

The big surprise to a lot of people is just how massive some of these overseas networks are; they’re as big as or bigger than the ones we traditionally associate with “social media.” QZone, for example, is a Chinese network that we in Western media don’t think about [but it has 645 MILLION registered users]!

What strategic lessons can we draw from the project?

The overseas networks are “shadowy,” but, depending on how international your client is, they present an opportunity to gain extra leverage instead of being stuck in Western social networks.

For example, a client in finance that isn’t getting the results it wants on Facebook can gain momentum where Western marketers aren’t looking…if the audience is international enough, you could be able to reach a critical mass on an Eastern/African network, then loop that back and pitch the campaign to Mashable, et cetera (thereby circumventing the traditional networks).

At the same time, if you don’t have staff who are fluent or “native” to those networks, this is not going to go well for you.


got data

Above: a graphic ranking the networks by registered users.

A map based on real influence rather than registered user base would look different, right?

The issue is that influence must be measured by what is publicly available, and there’s not a whole lot there [for the international networks].

Those networks that do provide such information (like Twitter) may be seen as having undue influence. With more data, we could make the case that Youku, for example, is gaining clicks and that people should be paying attention. [Youku currently has more than 500 million registered users.]

What’s the bottom line?

The Internet and social media is a global phenomenon. To restrict it to one geographical area and/or language will be increasingly short-sighted as we move forward.

Finally, while Penn didn’t give us his definitive take on the subject, we can give you our opinion: Winter is definitely coming for Google+.