Supernova Mixer in SF: “Social Graph for Fun and Profit”

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Thanks to Kevin Werbach who invited me to lead a roundtable at Wharton West (yes, the business school) in San Francisco last night. The topic, “Social Graph for Fun and Profit” was intended to let the attendees engage, shout, argue, and come to agreement on how we can address this new world. If you’re not familiar with the social graph, here’s how I explain the social graph to executives.

I agree with Kevin, there are so many ideas, not everyone agrees with everything. Present were many CEOs, VCs, Analyst, Entrepreneurs, Googlers, Bloggers, Consultants, and quite a few folks from Adaptive Path.

Elliott Ng attended my session, and shared his viewpoints on how the future will be amorphous, layered, interconnected, and fragmented. Rene Blodgett, who loved my clothing choices for the evening, also shared that we’re having a shift with the Advertising & Marketing Sea Change. Ted Shelton posts that his favorite comment was Advertising is transactional. Brian Solis took some great event photos (I’ll add more to this link list as they emerge)


In my session (there were two) I lead the discussion around three topic areas, and asked the attendees to give their opinions, we worked together and answered the following questions:

How can the Social Graph by “leveraged” to increase member attraction?
The audience said:

  • Clean up experience.
  • Email inbox is shifting to SoNet Inbox.
  • Members “punish” spammy app devs.
  • Niches are ok, segmentation better than mass.
  • Need to prevent site becoming ‘over popular’ so it doesn’t dilute.
  • Improved Infrastructure (API/Standards/DP)
  • Option for a premium service sans advertisements
  • Make ads part of the social experience
  • Members can define the ads they want (see blyk, which gets good CTR)
  • Teens may be a fickle audience
  • How can Social Networks monetize?
    The audience said:

  • Challenging, if it becomes like ‘air’ (like consumer email)
  • Point: the tertiary parties around the social network will monetize
  • LinkedIn is a utility, the value add is more than pure social networking
  • Different ways to monetize:
  • Advertising
  • Download media sales
  • Subscription
  • Premium Services
  • eCommerce
  • Market Research
  • Specialized Content (Tiered content “NIN”)
  • Value added services for niche audiences
  • Marketing Services
  • Infrastructure (B2B)
  • What is the future of social networks?
    The good people said:

  • A few big players “the highlander” or
  • Will be many small niche contents
  • Digital Lifestyle Aggregation
  • Focus on ‘people’ –not so much content
  • Teens drive adoption
  • Geography and culture shapes communities
  • Social circles (a different type of culture) shapes communities
  • Device Dependent Social Networks (mobile cultures adopt differently)
  • Device “in”-dependent as well.
  • Aggregated Social Networks with control will occur
  • If you want to learn more about Forrester’s perspective on the future of social networks, read Charlene’s master post on how Social Networks will be like air.

    Conclusion:
    We certainly did not solve any industry problems, but plastered quite a few options folks should be thinking about. Not everyone agreed on every topic, so it was a very active ‘live wiki’ type of event.

    Thanks Kevin and Wharton for hosting a great event.