Archive for the 'Social Networking' Category


Ambient Intimacy

Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy Creative Director, has written an article on Brand Republic’s website about Facebook and brands.

Rory describes Facebook’s newsfeed and status Twitter-like functionality as ‘semi-addressable’, where ‘the message is not addressed to specifically named individuals.’

I prefer to describe this form of communication as Ambient Intimacy, as coined by Leisa Reichelt on her blog back in March.

In and of itself, a single Twitter feed is meaningless and mundane, but as a continuous ambient trickle of statements about a person’s daily life it can be initimate, personal and insightful. It’s one of the main reasons everyone had such an affinity to Princess Diana. So many column inches were filled with her daily life that we all felt we knew her and had an affinity towards her despite never having physically met her.

This level of communication will become very important, but only as part of a larger set of social communication tools. Were you to have an important sporting event such as a tennis Grand Slam, and have a selection of athletes taking part in the event utilizing Ambient Intimacy in the run up to it, you’d get a very personal view of those people’s fears and hopes which would generate interest into the lead up to that bigger event and an affinity with those athletes.


social networks are walled gardens

The continuing success of Facebook cannot be ignored and it will continue to have mass user adoption at a consumer level for many months, even years, to come. As I mentioned in another post, BooksOnCampus is a website that requires you to login before being able to access the site.
walled garden
When Facebook starts using this identity system as a widget the potential will be for it to become what Microsoft Passport never was. For further insights into Facebook be sure to check out the Inside Facebook blog.

The implication is that Facebook could eclipse OpenID adoption and become the online identity solution. There’s just one problem…currently Google can’t search inside Facebook.

Facebook = Blackhole, Whirlpool, Vortex.

Facebook is a closed garden with one way doors. Data in, but no data out. It’s true that Facebook have opened up their API to developers, but none of the content produced within Facebook’s pages can get out and be indexed or referenced by another company or social network. With so many companies, startups, ecommerce companies building widgets for this platform did anyone stop to consider that they’re not letting data flow out? Matt Dickman agrees, watch his video. Here’s what we should be concerned about:

1) My non-Facebook friends can’t see what I’m doing. If I link to Facebook, you have to register and sign up. That sucks.

2) After I’ve setup my profile, I should have the ability to make my profile public and let folks see the elements I want.

3) What about my network? data? Profile? I want to export those. (Same thing to LinkedIn). The rolodex of today has an important field “friends”. I want to be able to export my network to other systems and applications.

4) As far as I know Facebook doesn’t have RSS…

Facebook (and whichever network follows suit) has a huge opportunity to not just be an application platform, but to be a true identity system for the entire network. Before we start jumping up and down, giving Facebook all of our data, and building our company widgets in Facebook should we first think about whether this is a black hole?

The smaller, more niche social networks or services such as Plaxo and others are building as open a platform as possible, enabling import, export and inter-change across the entire internet and enabling any search engine to find the content you’ve chosen to make public…will the long tail of competitors to Facebook eventually provide a better system to Facebook’s?


where next for Social Networking?

A new report by Research & Markets called ‘The Rise of Social Networking: Trends, Challenges and Strategies’ has been published.

One of the most interesting aspects concerning the current attention Facebook has received is the difference in take up of social networking sites on a country by country basis – particularly in Europe.

Whilst the UK leads the field with more than 1 in 3 internet users registering with Facebook, Germany and Italy are far behind. This makes blanket-wide social networking solutions for EMEA less useful than targeted national digital solutions.

On the back of this, Jeremiah Owyang has an interesting post in which he predicts what he believes is going to be happening in the social networking space soon:

  1. Facebook will launch an Identity widget that can be embeded on to any blog or webpage. This will allow only those who have registered on Facebook to leave a comment. Many high profile blogs will do this to avoid nasty anonymous comments. Here’s an example of a website that requires a Facebook login. It also highlights how Facebook Applications don’t need to sit inside Facebook – Thanks to Jay for the link.
  2. The data collected from these widgets enables Facebook to erode the small marketshare that Attention trackers and MyBlogLog are creating.
  3. Facebook will have faster adoption that Open ID, as the consumer users will drive it.
  4. MySpace will open their platform and enable development with their APIs, all in response to Facebook. Developers will have instances in both networks, and there will be many logins; Myspace, Facebook, and the applications themselves.
  5. White Label social networks will start to offer ability to share data with other networks. Some will never adopt this as their corporate clients want walled gardens around their brand. Additional thoughts by Marc Canter.
  6. Google Groups (SocialStream – demo & specific details – Just check out the makeup of the team!!) and others will launch next generation community sites. These won’t be the generic bulletin boards that we’re accustomed to, but will take shape as widgetized and customized communities, using APIs. More importantly, they will bring new ways to interact across networks. Google studied over 39 social networks and funded Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute research in this area.
  7. Christopher, at Slate magazine, thinks Facebook IS the platform. I happen to concur with Jeremiah Owyang that other platforms will evolve – as he comments, there’s too much at stake.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Brands work with Facebook. I haven’t seen all that much activity as yet. Apart from Redbull which was pointless marketing hype, there isn’t any advertiser which has truly tapped into the potential Facebook offers. MySpace seems to have been crawling with advertising and branded site pages for sometime now – to the detriment of its success.

    One social network cannot and will not be all things to all people, just as MySpace was and then wasn’t THE place to virtually hang out.


Facebook applications

Tony over at Teknision has an update to a post his partner in crime Gabor posted a month or so ago that’s worth reading. In it they both discuss and refine the types of application that are currently being built on Facebook.

I’ve been in a load of discussions at work with people who want to create Facebook applications for clients and the 3 types Teknision have formulated are a good way of describing the current state of play.

However, I’m not sure they go far enough and they also don’t mention the types of application (For Facebook, For the Desktop and For the Web).

The popularity of these applications are really interesting, particularly if you take Teknision’s views on board. Whilst the most popular application for Facebook has just tipped 8.1million, the most popular application for your Desktop, the Facebook toolbar for Firefox, has only 161,000 and for the Web, Jobster has been downloaded a total of 33,000 times.

These figures go to show how confused and untapped the Facebook application landscape is and explains why brands have been slow to create their own branded applications for Facebook…so far.


10 Facebook apps you may have missed

automatically pulls in the artists from the Favourite Music section of
your profile and alerts you when they’re playing your city. Also
creates decent aggregation pages around each band, pulling in videos
from YouTube and lists from

Eating – A neat little app from restaurant review site menuism,
enabling you to share your dining experiences and discover new
eateries. Slightly let down by a North American bias (no, I don’t want
to travel to London, Ontario for my evening meal…)

Flixster – nice integration of the movie site of the same name (reviewed here) which pulls in your existing ratings (something iLike
would do well to get sorted), shows what your friends have been
watching and provides access to the fiendishly addictive Never-Ending
Movie Quiz.

Friend Stats
– creates a page of lists and charts visualising aggregate data on your
facebook chums. So, now I know that the majority of my friends are
liberal graduates who like music and drinking, watching Lost, listening
to Muse and reading John Steinbeck…

– like The Guardian Weekend magazine Q&A feature (only with a
slightly smaller readership), Interview asks you a stream of
user-submitted questions which you can then add to your profile,
letting everyone know how witty and erudite you are.

– expose your bookshelf to your friends, detailing what you’ve read,
what you’re reading now and what’s next on your list. You can find
books by author, title or ISBN or import your Amazon wishlist. Once
added, you can rate, review or recommend each title and find others who
have read it.

– share your favourite YouTube videos with your friends without leaving
the comfort of Facebook. A slick interface and the option to import
your favourites from YouTube are the icing on the cake.

TV Shows

– release your inner Nick Horby and rank your favourite TV shows.
There’s 15,760 titles in the database, delivering fairly decent
recommendations based on your list. The app also includes TV news and
listings for the US, the UK, Canada and Australia.

Where I’ve Been
– colour code a map of the world according to where you’ve lived,
visited and want to visit. Turns out I’m not that well travelled after
encourages users to ask and answer yes/no questions on any conceivable
topic. Strangely addictive although liable to quickly give away your
moral and political leanings.

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KickApps – White Label Social Network

I think most on these lists will have heard of Ning. A smaller, younger offering has appeared called KickApps. KickApps powers over 3000 social networking sites compared to Nings 67,000+, yet KickApps appears to offer the stronger solution.

The overall KickApps experience is thorough. Nothing obvious is left out. White label sites have a full choice of 13 features; profiles, guest books, video and feeds are some of the options. The backend is simple to use and smart at the same time. The moderation of videos option doesn’t just present the uploaded video; numerous screenshots are automatically generated to immediately give a reviewer a good idea of what is contained in each video.

Widget embedding support is extensive and delivered complete with DNS masked domain; users never link to KickApps itself, the specific domain is always presented in the embedding code. It’s a small thing but one that defines KickApps in comparison to Ning.

KickApps also offers an open API and developer kit. Blum told me that whilst most sites simply use the features offered, a number of high level users have implemented the API on their sites, delivering a custom solution.KickApps comes in two flavors and the difference between the two only comes down to advertising. Free users get full range of functionality with KickApps taking a part of each site for advertising. This doesn’t prevent free users from advertising themselves, simply a portion of each site must include a KickApps ads. The paid version is perhaps remarkably not sold on a licensed basis, KickApps charges a CPM rate per site served, meaning that less successful sites pay a lower rate. Blum believes that this model is fairer in that sites pay proportionality to their success, and therefore everyone wins; it therefore becomes in KickApps best interest to offer the best possible platform and experience to maximise revenue.Overall it’s a great offering. Strictly from a publishers view point the ability to keep your own domain on top of the white label service is compelling, and the feature set is remarkably easy to use and set up. The company has numerous existing deals and officially announced a tie up with Vibe Magazine yesterday.


Monetizing consumer created content

With YouTube now owned by Google, how long will it be before Joe Bloggs- that crazy guy who’s actually creating the content people go to YouTube to watch – realizes that their content and the time they’ve taken to create it, is worth something… Continue reading ‘Monetizing consumer created content’

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