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Social Media is Just Getting Started

social media

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.

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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.

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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.

Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.



  1. Vicki Moore

    May 15, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I just signed up. I wish I knew how to answer the questions so that I’ll be considered. It was like going to a job interview the very first time and not quite knowing what to say.

  2. Chris Shouse

    May 15, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I signed up too but my blog is so new I have no data. Hope they choose me though that would be fun to have on your blog:)

  3. Trace

    May 15, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Interestingly enough, Facebook has just banned Google FriendConnect…. they are citing privacy reasons and there is also the fact that they launched their own version called Facebook Connect a few days ago….so while the move is towards openness and communication among and between networks …. at the end of the day there are still business models that don’t see eye to eye…

  4. Carson

    May 15, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I love it. Pulling the conversation into the frontier, rather than inside the fences. I’m not sure how facebook will fare, many have already signed their lives over to Google accounts. Their stuff is just so cool. FB may lose it’s luster anyway, and it can’t/wont be the only one left standing.

    Social media is about fun and meaningful connections, but most of all it’s about bragging (and spying). “This is who I know and this is what I’ve discovered”

    I like to spread what I find online, but do I share it in my reader, twitter it, stumble it? All 3? I want to converge this effort, because as of now, it’s a little chore. Open Social seems to be the perfect tool.

    But then again I would like to separate my personal life from my business life… Am I destined to share my relationships and my music interest with my boss, clients, or vendors? … Should I even worry about it?

    I’m not necessarily convinced that this is going to change the world or anything, but it will for people who like to aggregate and spread information… which isn’t everyone.

  5. Andy Kaufman

    May 15, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Carson- “I like to spread what I find online, but do I share it in my reader, twitter it, stumble it? All 3? I want to converge this effort, because as of now, it’s a little chore.” is doing an excellent job of aggregating these activities, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

  6. Kevin Boer

    May 15, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Looks like a very promising tool. From a strict business point of view (channeling Jeff Brown here) I can see some immediate benefits in terms of referrals:

    a) Jon (a past client of mine) and Betty are friends. Betty comes across my site from a Google search and see that Jon is a registered member. Presto! Instant credibility for me.
    b) Betty joins my site and leaves a comment for Jon: “Can’t believe you didn’t tell me about this guy earlier! We’re thinking of buying!” That comment ends up in her feed over at Facebook … or at least theoretically, once Facebook and Google figure out how to cooperate…

  7. Jayson

    May 15, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Great article. Friend Connect seems like a nice addition for many websites. We’re certainly only in the beginning of what social networking will eventually become – IMO.

    Trace has a good point – businesses may not openly allow the exchange of information, especially when it’s a fight for market share and revenue.

  8. Brad Coy

    May 15, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    > Andy is doing an excellent job of aggregating these activities, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

    Me too on the recommend. That’s the first thing I though of when I read this. It’s very simple and effective. Let’s see if it catches on.

    Great find on the Friend Connect Shailesh. Looking forward to seeing how this works to bring things together.

  9. Morgan

    May 15, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    the problem with friend connect is:

    1. the site using it doesn’t own the data – google does – so you’re essentially channeling users to Google so they can leverage their data for their advertisers (not ideal)

    2. you don’t have detailed access to the information to leverage for your business. you can have community you just can’t know much about them which makes it difficult to leverage the benefits of said community on your site.

    that said, with friend connect being banned by facebook look for google to find ways to open up the data transparency so that they aren’t so greedy (or is it evil?)

  10. Jim Duncan

    May 16, 2008 at 5:53 am

    The parallels between the MLS/listing aggregator debate and the FriendConnect/Facebook/etc. debate are stunning.

    It’s not just social media and it’s not just MLS data – it’s information and how who is going to control it.

  11. Veronique

    May 16, 2008 at 9:16 am

    That’s really cool. I guess the more important thing here is that google is continuing to grow, not just trying to be a one or two trick pony. While I do thing social media and networks will continue to grow, I don’t think we’ll see another myspace or facebook for a while. A lot of people might say twitter is going to be the next myspace, but it seems like much more of a novelty site given its limited content. Maybe that’s what draws so many people, but I’m more interested in how big companies, like google in this story, is trying to grow and expand its reach.

    Great post.

  12. Shailesh Ghimire

    May 16, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Morgan – good points. For a site like mine though who owns the date isn’t important necessarily. I want to connect with people who may be interested in doing business with me. Hence, if I can be introduced or referred to via an on site social network then I can take it a step further towards a close. At PQ time I’ll collect the data I need and it will be mine.

    Trace – it’s interesting that Facebook is not giving Google access – I guess there is a turf war going on there.

    Carson – I’m with yo on that – I don’t know if I want to have all my worlds interconnected. Kind of like George Costanza problem.

  13. Jim

    May 26, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    BrightKite is another “invitation only” social network site and appears to be turning into an elitist group. I’ve tried for weeks to get in, no response from them. I’m not sure who determines who “is good enough” to get into some of these groups, but it smacks of bigotry to me.

    BrightKite Not for Everyone

  14. Chris Shouse

    May 26, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Jim I have three invites to brightkite send me your email and I will send you one:)

  15. Chris Shouse

    May 26, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Oh sorry my email is

  16. Jay Thompson

    May 26, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Jim –

    With all due respect, BrightKite is still in Beta. I’m not sure that it’s fair to label them as bigots. Using an “invitation only” system is pretty common during a beta-only phase of roll out.

    Google’s Gmail began as invitation only. It’s a way for a new company/service to control the volume of users in the beginning. Otherwise they would likely be flooded with requests, their servers overwhelmed and then people would start writing about how much they suck — killing the network/project before if ever got off the ground or gained any traction.

    Sorry that you haven’t gotten a response from them for weeks. I suspect tens of thousands haven’t either. Not that that makes it right, but I can understand why they are starting off as invite only.

    I just sent you an invite to BrightKite.

  17. Jim

    May 28, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    “I’m not sure that it’s fair to label them as bigots.”

    I didn’t. Read my post. I said it SMACKS OF bigotry. In other words, it gives the impression of that. Bad image to give out, IMO. I have recieved an invite from someone else, but thanks anyway.

    “Invitation only” roll outs make sense, if you handle them right. I don’t think these people did. No response for weeks is ridiculous. Anyway, I’ll play along with them for now. But I’m not impressed. Support is slow and spotty too. Nice design, but interface is confusing. I suspect we’ll see if they get their act together or self-distruct soon enough.

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