There is an interesting series of three parts over at Techcrunch about Social Networks – past, present and future.
The article about the past of social networks mainly summarises how „social networking“ has always been present starting with chat sites like „the well“ and later compuserve, etc.
The article about the present gives an overview of the last 8 to 10 years, from Plaxo and Friendster to Facebook. Here are some snippets:
Enter Facebook. It had grown stratospherically from 2004-2007 to 100 million users, which actually was slightly smaller in December 2007 then MySpace was. Facebook was everything that MySpace wasn’t. It was: up-market, exclusive, urban, elite, aesthetically pleasing, ad-free and users were verified. MySpace was: scantily dressed, teenaged, middle-America, design chaos and on ad steroids.
What was the major difference between MySpace and Facebook?
But the critical distinction in the direction of both companies was that while MySpace was putting up moats to keep outside companies from innovating and making money off their backs, Facebook took the opposite approach. It launched open API’s and created a platform whereby third-party developers could come build any app they wanted and Facebook didn’t even want (yet) to take any money from them to do so.
He also writes about Twitter:
But what is magic about Twitter is that it is real time. In most instances news is now breaking on Twitter and then being picked up by news organizations.
At the end of this part, he mentions mobile social networking becoming the next big thing.
I know that in 2010 it seems ridiculous to say anything other than “Facebook has won—the war is over” and I know that it feels that way right now. Facebook is so dominant it is astounding. In a complete return to where we all began with AOL—the world is “closed” again as Facebook has become this generation’s walled garden. When you’re on Facebook you’re not on the Internet
Here are the 8 trends as an overview:
1. The Social Graph Will Become Portable
2. We Will Form Around “True” Social Networks
3. Privacy Issues Will Continue to Cause Problems
4. Social Networking Will Become Pervasive
5. Third-Party Tools Will Embed Social Features in Websites
6. Social Networking (like the web) Will Split Into Layers
7. Social Chaos Will Create New Business Opportunities
8. Facebook Will Not be the Only Dominant Player
Now how is that: you just purchased new shoes from Zappos, books from Amazon or anything else from the mall nearby. Wouldn’t you just love to tell everyone about whatever you bought with your credit card? No? Yes? If so, here is the perfect social network for you: Blippy. Mindsproutmarketing explains the new kid on the block:
In a nutshell, Blippy is a service that lets members automatically share their credit card transactions as they make them. Not only will members see the amount of your purchase, but they’ll also be privy to the place of purchase and items included in the transaction.
I am just not sure, why anyone would want to do this? Nevermind data privacy or simply modesty about one’s purchases. How about data security?
According to a 2009 study conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research, there were 10 million victims of identity theft in 2008 in the United States. Nearly half, or 43 percent, of all identity theft observed was through stolen wallets and physical paperwork, whereas online methods had accounted for only 11 percent. However unsettling these figures are they haven’t stopped the thousands of people who are clammering to become members of Blippy. Founders insist that their state-of-the-art encryption will protect data from being stolen or reused.
So what is it good for?
Instead of gasping at prices or snickering at purchases, members are actually exchanging details about great finds and super bargains. Even more common, is discovering places to shop that are off the beaten path and alerting others to special discounts to be found. Blippy can really be described as something similar to a tweet-feed based on shopping.
Along these same lines, stores could alert shoppers about local deals and make recommendations based on items previously purchased. Marketing firms could review spending habits to understand consumers and deliver targeted products and services that would be more appealing to them.
In the meantime, trend experts predict that Blippy is the next big thing. Giving the world a sneak peek inside your wallet is definitely a way to channel discussion on spending habits and connect with other people with similar interests by way of spend pattern.
Somehow I am not convinced. Consumers in the US might be willing to share their purchase history. It is the nation of credit cards (and credit crisis for that matter), but I can’t see that kind of social network take off, at least not anywhere else. Not everything that can be done, should be done or is a good idea.
From a marketers perspective, it seems to be a fantastic idea. Many companies are very eager to get their hands on information on spending patterns well beyond their own product range. So I assume that the business idea of blippy is very much focused on reselling the data of the social network participants. But this is, of course, just my 2 cents.
Twitter has become very popular. More than one million people are tweeting, some are updating their status many times a day. Many people have started using it as an instant messaging tool at the same time. Works fine, and you can even use it seamlessly on the go, on your mobile phone.
But since twitter started having their problems more frequently, people have started to complain. Of course it’s a bummer, if you can’t update your status (even though I can happily pass on quite a few of the statusses some people publish all the time). And it’s even worse if you’re depending on the IM feature of twitter. But heck, if you need a better IM tool, get skype, msn, icq or any of those!
So far, twitter does not take any money for their services, nor is there any advertising financing it. I really do wonder how they make their money? Is it just with the inbound SMS messages? Do they actually include a margin on top of what you need to pay for SMS anyway? I wouldn’t know, because I am sending my twitter SMS from Germany to the UK (where the only twitter number in Europe is available) and I wouldn’t know how much regular SMS would cost in contrast to the twitter SMS.
My question is: can/should you really complain so loudely about the failures of a free service? If their business model was already advertising financed, or if they would charge for their services, I could understand all those people complaining.
But this way, I think people should rather use and enjoy it, while it works, and if it doesn’t, be patient. In Germany, we have an expression saying: „einem geschenkten Gaul schaut man nicht ins Maul“. (Means, basically: if someone gives you a horse as a present, don’t bother checking for its health.)
I missed the blogpost „social media will be like air“ by Charlene Li in March. But before not mentioning it at all, I’ll rather blog about it late. The article is about the fact that social media, especially the communities/social networks that make up these media plattforms, will be be ubiquitous in a few years. The son of my boss once asked, how people managed to access the internet before computers were invented. A rather smart question, once you think about it.
In a few years kids will ask us, why we used so many different platforms to socially engage with one another online. (And why we used platforms in the first place). Similar to why they will ask us, why we needed stationary big machines with huge screens to access the internet.
4)A business model where social influence defines marketing value. Todayâ€™s advertising models donâ€™t work on social networking sites â€“ thatâ€™s because simply targeting better on profile or social graph details is still the same old media model of CPM and CPC pricing. Whatâ€™s missing is marketing value based on how valuable I am in the context of my influence. For example, Steve Rubel is a highly influential person because he is an authority on social media, the people in his social graph tend to interested in his views, and they in turn have a great deal of authority as well. (Several people came up to me after the speech and said that this is similar to a „PageRank of people“, a very easy way to crystallize the idea.)
There are discussions about the future of your „typical target group“ already going on. The idea of establishing a „PageRank of people“ seems to be a viable solution. Discriminating it may be, but it provides a good indication of who to target – or should we rather call it: speak to?
The end result is that marketers will need to shift the way they approach communities. Static advertising is no longer viable. The solution is collaboration. Marketers will need to tap these emerging social operating systems to build meaningful connections through their sites and others before competitors do.
Engaging in „social networking“ with your brand/product advocates will be is a crucial part of the media mix. I just wonder, when this insight will have found its way into marketing plans of most companies?
Just a quick tip for everyone interested in anything happening with social networking: Jeremiah Owyang publishes a weekly digest on social networking news around the net. You can find all digests under the tag „digest“ on his site. Well worth bookmarking/subscribing to.