Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: April 26, 2009

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I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.

I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my take, and click link to dive in for more.

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Web Strategy Summary
For once, this week has some actual strategic news: Google’s intent to bypass closed social networks by creating public profiles are aligned with it’s strategy. MySpace is undergoing some leadership changes, in order to win back the media’s attention, they’ll need to quickly innovate. Following the executive turnover we’re seeing all over the industry, Hi5 follows suit.


Strategy: Google to circumvent social networks
This is an important gesture in the world of social networks. Google has launched a profile feature that allows people to create profiles in exchange for influence on search results page. As you know, social networks are comprised of profiles and people connecting to each other. This strategy enables Google to build a ‘non-social network’ that rather than focus on a destination, instead lives on the open web. This is aligned with Google’s open strategy towards the web. Given their large user base, this will likely be successful, my question however is simple: what took so long?

Leadership: MySpace names Owen Vean Natta as CEO
News Corp’s MySpace has been doing the executive cleanse, having removed a handful of leadership now including Chris DeWolfe. This move, likely in response to the daunting growth and buzz of Facebook, and the potential fall out from the Google deal. While MySpace has been innovating with media, music, and catering to small businesses, they’ve not caught the eye of the market as the innovative player. Brands shouldn’t walk away from MySpace, they’ve still a thriving community, and this new leadership could offer innovation –although expect it to takes months to emerge. I’ve requested numbers from MySpace, to evaluate their current capabilities.

Leadership: Hi5 appoints new CEO of axe swings
Hi5, a very quickly growing social network with 60mm users missed it’s opportunity to monetize that growth resulting in layoffs that cut deep in this social network. They’ve now appointed Bill Gossman as the CEO, who has connections with their investors. Former CEO Ramu Yalamanchi, will step to a Chief Product role with a focus on operations.

Culture: Silicon Valley Social Media Deployed in Iraq
Cultures are often defined on how the common people are allowed to communicate and share their voices. Silicon Valley leaders or founders from Twitter, Meetup, Hocast, and YouTube assemble in Iraq to share expertise and discuss how social tools can improve the local situation.

Security: Cybergangs crowdsource thugs
Not uncommon, but social networking tools can be used to steal people’s identity, financial info, or release harmful code. Cybergangs are employing crowd created mobs to break captcha codes, a brute force tactic to get into people’s personal info.

Verticals: Social network for the beautiful…only
Modelfeed is a social network for the beautiful, and is in line with social networks being created for every possible vertical. What’s next? How about a social network for the fugly.

Deals: Mzinga lands Playboy
This large media company will try it’s hand to let the community of 6 million users to it’s website to engage by participating in voting, sharing, and discussions. Mzinga scored well in my recent Wave for moderation –which could come in handy for a large, and ‘passionate’ community.

Features: Facebook continues to emulate Twitter
Facebook made motions to buy Twitter, but the deal didn’t go through, Facebook can easily replicate the features, and has done so with text based updates that you can now receive on your mobile phone. This is an example of social colonization.

Research: Social Networks used by Marketers
This research, (I can’t vouch for the methodolgy) suggests that many marketers are using social networking tools, with a focus on Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs. Overall, these numbers look high, but it depends on how the questions were posed, and over what time period.

Hype: Twitter growth numbers misleading
Twitter is overhyped, and although they’ve received mainstream attention, it doesn’t account for true recurring users on a monthly or weekly basis. Visitors to the site don’t account for registrations –nor can it truly count for global and client based activity such as tweetdeck. The true Twitter usage numbers are allusive –although it’s clear, it has media attention.

App: When did you join Twitter?
For kicks: this little application tells you when you joined Twitter. It says I joined in Dec 2006, and at the time, I felt I was behind the early adopter curve.

Personal: On the road
This is the first time I’ve done a weekly update on me, let me know if you think I should continue this. I’ve been on the road for the last 5 out of 6 weeks, I got back at midnight last night from Forrester’s marketing forum in Orlando. While I find my work enjoyable, at the same time it’s exhausting. I do look forward to these quiet moments on the weekend where I can really think about where the industry is headed. It’s moving so incredibly fast, I find that aggregation, and a quiet hour every weekend is very important to do. On Monday, my report “future of the social web” launches. Stay tuned. Next week I go to IBM’s Impact event, then to Calgary to speak at the Web Strategy conference.


Submit: I’m listening. If you’re a social network, or widget company, I want to know of your news, send me an email, or leave a comment below. Help me stay up to date but first, read how to score your announcements.

Hungry For Social Networking Stats? Then you should see my collection of Social Networks Stats for 2008 and 2009. Bookmark them, then share it with others as I continue to update it.