The Future of Social Media Has Already Been Written…

Posted on April 20, 2009. Filed under: Online Interactive Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Future of Social Media Has Already Been Written…by Charlene Li and other Forrester Social Media Industry Researchers a year ago in fact.

No its actually not that anti-climatic, but as corny as it sounds: the future is now, or at least that’s what it seems if you go back to March of 2008 and read what was presented by Charlene Li (Twitter Profile/Blog). Charlene Li is to the Social Media Industry what Felipe Korzenny is to Hispanic Marketing. Over a year ago the culmination her research at Forrester allowed her the insight to predict the Future of Social Networks one year before Facebook or MySpace could even begin to tread its waters. The relevant insight she provided a year ago is definitely shaping the current events of the last several weeks.

The two most undeniable are outlined below:

Universal Identity

  • Federation (OpenID approach)
  • A few major players will serve as major federation focal points
    • Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, Plaxo (Now a partner in MySpace’s MySpaceID Project), etc.
  • All players must realize that they can grow the market faster/better by working together
    • Data Portability Group is the beginning

Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web

‘We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:

  • Ownership of their own personal information, including:
    • their own profile data
    • the list of people they are connected to
    • the activity stream of content they create;
  • Control of whether and how such personal information is shared with others; and
  • Freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites.’”

Both MySpace and Facebook are beginning to compete as the dominant provider of what will conceivably be widely used Universal Identity profiles. Most recently as part of an all out attempt to regain momentum MySpace has implemented a MyspaceID feature to allow the MySpace fans of artists or celebrities to share user profile information with other networks where that same artist also has a following. Besides providing greater functionality to MySpace’s edge in the online music community, this could restart MySpace’s stagnant web traffic. As a social utility, Facebook seemed to have this in its sights for quite some time. Facebook’s steps toward this started with Beacon in 2007, and after an onslaught of privacy complaints, Facebook re-attempted with Connect in 2008. Connect allows a user to voluntarily provide their information to websites they visit to retrieve information about their network in order to provide users with recommendations or information based upon what that user’s Facebook friend’s have purchased, written a review, etc. Previously, if you were logged into Facebook and visited an affiliate’s website, Beacon cookies would alert Facebook to automatically publish an update that a user could approve and publish as a profile update.

The difference between the two Facebook ID models is important and embodied by the Bill of Right Users of Social Web. Connect requires a user to opt-in, while Beacon did not and only after the fact did its surveillance reveal itself. Connect allows a user to define which websites can retrieve information and what ancillary profile information that website can access. The first major partnership that Facebook Connect has cemented is with to be able to post ratings, reviews and other information of its users through Facebook Stream (Facebook’s new Twitter-like status homepage). Another important step toward Universal ID is that the privacy that has encouraged Facebook users to share their lives on the social is now optional. Facebook now allows users to open up their profiles to the entire social network, but not search engines. Another facet of Facebook’s evolution is the voting taking place from April 16th to 23rd on the new Terms of Service (TOS) inspired by the response collected during the 30-day public comment period that Facebook implemented to address the backlash from its previously infringing TOS. If that weren’t enough Facebook’s about-face on its TOS was followed by the installation of a senior attorney from the ACLU as the new Facebook Director of Public Policy to help consider the privacy of its users as it matures.

Now this year from a SXSW-based pulpit, Charlene Li gave a more concrete picture of the functionality that will be provided by the Future of Social Networks (2009) based on her work at her independent consultancy: the Altimeter Group. However beyond the functionality provided by the future of social networks, the social media industry at large is increasingly being demanded to mature into the revenue-producing businesses that mass consumer marketers would like to tap.


Concise Industry Coverage

My next post will explain how Facebook is currently positioned to surprise the social media skeptics with an advertising revenue model that will revolutionize social network advertising.

Note: I’m trying something new. In order to produce more digestible posts, I am separating what I would publish as part of one blog post into several smaller editions. I hope you appreciate this shorter format. I would greatly appreciate and welcome any feedback!

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