Meet Lady Gaga's newest social media toy

The pop star is one of the launch partners for SkyGrid Groups, a tool that brands can use to create on-the-fly social-media aggregators for different events or niche interests that their fans may have.

Lady Gaga--pop star, wearer of meat dresses, Polaroid muse --is one of the launch partners for a new service called SkyGrid Groups, which lets a celebrity, organization, or other brand pull together social-media bits from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr onto a separate aggregated page.

This in itself is not particularly groundbreaking. SkyGrid's hook is that Lady Gaga or anyone else using the free service can quickly create a page for any specific concert or appearance. Then, through a custom interface, she (well, her social media team) can search Twitter or YouTube and automatically add media or the profile pictures of users who have been publicly tweeting about that concert (users can also add themselves, or can remove themselves if they have been added by the brand). The thinking behind this is that the day after a concert, Lady Gaga can tweet out a sort of visual report of the show--who was there, who was tweeting, who was live-streaming videos off their smartphones.

The idea of a brand having an easy way to arbitrarily designate users as some kind of brand ambassadors based on their public tweets and YouTube videos is interesting. It's also pervasive in the same way as Facebook's new "Sponsored Stories," which turns Facebook Places check-ins at businesses into ads for that business that are displayed to users' friends: With SkyGrid Groups, a user tweets something, and a brand can take that public tweet and turn it into part of a message.

Let's say, hypothetically, Starbucks starts using SkyGrid Groups and decides to create a page for people who are using Twitter to complain about needing a cup of coffee, so it searches Twitter through SkyGrid for a few key terms and starts adding away. Their Twitter profile photos get aggregated on the page; Starbucks then sends out a tweet encouraging people to check out the page for the sleepy-eyed hordes, and promotes the tweet through Twitter's advertising program .

It's something that could rattle the usual consumer-rights watchdogs but probably won't stir up any concern among the Lady Gaga fans themselves. The tweets in question are public. It's not all that different from a brand making a Twitter list of people who have professed fandom in a tweet lately.

Product-wise, Groups are a bit of a departure for SkyGrid, which is best known for a mobile news-reading application. But the thinking behind it is the same: The SkyGrid mobile app lets you search for a term or topic and get kept up to speed on it with related headlines. The new SkyGrid groups, should they catch on, will let you sign on to a particular brand- or celebrity-affiliated happening and stay up to date.

The company's vision goes beyond celebrities and consumer marketing, though. One of the other SkyGrid launch partners, for example, is Ushahidi, which uses aggregated mobile messages to map out crisis situations and "crowdsource" the response. It'll be using SkyGrid Groups to create pages for its individual volunteer events.

 

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