Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: Dec 5, 2007

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Web Strategy Summary: What you need to know
Facebook withdraws the Beacon feature to make it more of an opt-in capability, users continue to revolt and backlash from media is heavy. Six Apart sells it’s Live Journal to Russian company, and RockYou takes claim for top widget producer. Target had a case of Astroturfing as they unauthentically encouraged customers to ‘secretly’ spread the brand word. More reports and formal research is being done in this space, signifying the staying power, and perhaps a shift from TV to web advertising dollars.


Revolt: Facebook’s Beacon rejected and dialed down (Update: and now opt out)
Facebook scales back it’s aggressive information gathering and respects users time by letting users opt-in for many Beacon features. Much of this started with a groundswell like petition with MoveOn, most think of it as creepy rather than clever. News sources suggest that Facebook will have to scale it back as privacy concerns continue to swell. This is a great example of how the market has responded using social media to products, yet Facebook should have tested it with key users first. (Update: Just this morning Beacon can be completely opt-out by users, here’s how to opt out)

Astroturfing: Target accused of being unethical
There’s a conversation brewing in Twitter, blogs (and here), and the press regarding Target’s “Rounders” program. Apparently, Target encouraged brand fans to ‘secretly’ promote their brand to others. When one student called out Target as being unethical, the response was quickly withdrawn, and then deleted from the Facebook page.

Acquisition: SUP acquires 6A’s Live Journal
Congrats to Russia’s SUP (pronounced “Soup”) team for the recent acquisition of Six Apart’s Live journal product. I was recently briefed by the team and learned that the Live Journal audience is heavily used by Russian audience (25%).

Web Usage: Stats of Social Networks
Great graphic from Comscore shows the top websites in the social sphere. Ranking by Overall headcount: MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, Windows, Webshots. In terms of growth: AIM pages, Digg, LinkedIn, Flickr, Facebook. It’s interesting to see Reunon and Classmates having steady growth rates, could they be at their peak? Also good to note that Blogger and Six Apart continually have steady growth.

Media: MySpace creates Marketplace for artists
Not entirely a new concept, popular media social network provides artists an opportunity to buy and sell music on MySpace, using their new Transmissions platform.

Research: The Segmentation of Social Networks
Great diagram from RRW on the different types of social networks from MySpace, LinkedIn, to Facebook. I’m often asked “Will Facebook kill MySpace” I have to remind people these are different networks that serve different purposes and audiences –although there is some overlap. Download the full PDF of the report from their website.

Sociology: Online relationships and connections ancient
Human want to connect, and now we have the tools to do this from around the globe, but is this something really new? Daniela also exposes her network, and questions if they are truly are friends, what say you?

Widgets: Developer team RockYou claims top spot
The applications that sit on top of the Facebook platform are highly competitive. Recently, Rock You claimed top spot over Slide via traffic in this press release. I’m hoping to spend times with both teams to understand their different offerings. I do have to question though, is traffic really the measurement to tout?

Value: Facebook is not worth $15 Billlion
Mashable lays down 10 15 reasons why Facebook is not worth $15 billion, really this editorial cites several weaknesses of the product, and takes a look at market research. I didn’t see any mentions of the off-the-chart growth rates that the company is having for registrations. We should all know that tools come and go, but the one thing that remains constant is strategy.

Authorities: Fighting crime, but bad for children?
I’m hearing of more reports of law enforcers using the internet to fight crimes, such as the New Zealand police in this small story. Yet, lawmakers strike out at MySpace and Live Journal, hoping to ban it from children. Ironic?


Need to be on this list?

Although I’ve been doing this digest for a while, I’ve recently become an analyst covering this space, so I need to know what’s happening. If I missed any stories (or if your company is doing something cool in this space) leave a comment.

Lastly, someone in the industry mentioned to me that “Jeremiah, everyones following your tweets and blog”. I responded “When you look closer, it’s actually the other way around…I’m watching you”