Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of research into Social Media and the rapidly evolving landscape of social networking, data portability etc. What I’ve discovered is quite amazing and exciting. The timing of my research couldn’t have been any better, because there were two major product introductions this past week that will affect business marketing in social media well into the future.
Walls are crumbling: Those who remember the Cold War know how symbolic it was when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Once the wall came down it was impossible for the Soviet Union to stop anything. In the same way, social networking sites have been developing as empires onto themselves with walls all around them. For example, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn all require new logins, passwords and a completely new effort at building a network. This is cumbersome and a barrier to maximizing a users social media experience.
The greater disadvantage of these walls is in the fact that your social activities are not seamlessly integrated within your social network. The existence of walls segments and disjoints your ubiquitous off-line network and isolates and keeps from view your online social activities. For example, you may have submitted a cool post on StumbleUpon, uploaded a cool family video, written a review on Amazon or just joined a restaurant review club online. Your social network will have no idea – unless you deliberately make an effort to communicate these activities. In my opinion this takes away a lot of the energy out of social media participation.
That is why over the past week or Facebook and MySpace have announced that they will now allow data portability. Essentially with the new Facebook Connect initiative developers will be allowed to make applications that will allow the user to take their social network identity to any partner website. This means you can share more of your online experience with your social network. I cannot possibly sit here and try to imagine all the variations of possibilities, just as it was impossible for anyone to know how Berliners were going to take advantage of the fall of the wall. This is not limited to Facebook either, both MySpace and Yahoo have announced their own versions of similar platforms.
Social Networking on Any Site: With the proliferation of social networking I’ve long been wanting to convert my static HTML website into a social network of its own. I want visitors to be write comments, share the page with friends, allow me to network with their friends online etc. Well, now the technology is here to help me do this. Google, earlier this week introduced Friend Connect. This is how Google describes the technology on its webpage: “Google Friend Connect lets you grow traffic by easily adding social features to your website. With just a few snippets of code, you get more people engaging more deeply with your site.”
Watch this video to understand what the technology can do for you:
Currently Friend Connect appears to be by invitation only. I’ve signed up for a preview release and you can do that same if you’d like.
What this all means is that social media marketing is just getting started and what I see on the horizon gets me pretty excited. It is especially exciting for business like ours. After all ours is a fundamentally relationship based business, and social media is built around relationships.
Image: Shared from “Spoon” under the creative commons license.