Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • Wikipedia Gets Its 3 Millionth Article
  • If Twitter Was a Village
  • FCC Starts on Twitter and Blogging
  • Marketers Start to See Benefits of Social Media

Wikipedia Gets Its 3 Millionth Article

One of the most widely used websites on the Internet, Wikipedia, has gained its 3 millionth English article. The online encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone has an astonishing 13 million articles total in more than 250 languages. In fact, 78% of all articles on Wikipedia are in languages other than English.

Another site in the Wikimedia family is the Wikimedia Commons, which is a free repository that is used widely by Wikipedia authors, is on pace to have its 5 millionth image uploaded by the end of August 2009.

These usage numbers indicate a spectacular adoption rate for this form of Social Media. Wikipedia is routinely the best place to find information for breaking news as it happens and is a growing store of knowledge for reference material, even though not everything in Wikipedia is "expert" material, as we all know.

If Twitter Was a Village

If you were to take the entire population of Twitter, which now consists of millions of users from all different walks of life, and boil it down to 100 people -- what would the population look like? Luckily, the InforamationIsBeautiful blog gives us some insight on Twitters' user base. Of these 100 people, 5 of them would be known as loud mouths who create 75% of all the Twitter conversations. Twenty people would be dead because they have not tweeted at all, and 50 users would be lazy, whereby they have not tweeted at all in the past week.

What does this say about Twitter and its users? First off, the Twitter abandonment rate is very high. If 20% of users on the service ever send out a tweet, Twitter isn't a very sticky place to converse. Also, Twitter is ruled by a very vocal and chatty (and well named) "loud mouths," who then get re-tweeted as the day goes on.

The same study says that 40% of tweets are pointless babble. While the signal to noise ratio on Twitter is definitely high, 40% is rather high, to me. How would you rate your tweet stream? Do you think the generalities put forth in the study are accurate? Please leave a comment below and let's discuss!

FCC Starts on Twitter and Blogging

In an effort to communicate and gain feedback on their proposed US National Broadband Plan, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a Twitter account and blog. Rather than relying upon conventional press releases and normal PR-type communiques, the FCC wants to embrace their audience with a two-way conversation to help apply the feedback to their plan on an ongoing basis.

Certain companies and industries have already left comments and dialogue on the FCC's new web sites, including telecom companies, lobbyists and technology companies.

It is a positive development to see a government agency trying to engage the public in this new way. Many governments in Western Europe have used social media to engage in authentic conversations and the US agencies have some ground to make up in this arena.

With national broadband affecting so many folks, the topic is a good one to start blogging and tweeting about. Our telecom infrastructure lags behind other developed nations and folks in rural areas have limited broadband options, so the FCC has a lot of work to do in bringing these disparate groups together to make a difference in nationwide broadband build-out.

Marketers Start to See Benefits of Social Media

A recent study shows that marketers feel they are having more influence on business decisions since they've started using social media. Of those who responded, 61% see their marketing as more influential. What is causing all this optimism from marketers? Their early adoption of social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. These new tools are enabling marketers to talk directly to customers and give social media users direct knowledge of products and services.

It seems the marketing community is starting to figure out what we in social media have been preaching: by being direct and authentic with your audience, your message will be more warmly received. Also, marketers are finally learning to be asymmetric with their communications by finding ways to take feedback and customer comments back to product teams. It's a fact in customer service -- even if you have a complaint and are very upset, just being listened to will make a difference to the customer with a complaint.

It appears marketers are catching on to these ideas, for all our benefit!