Update: May 27th 2013 Over a year later, the technology is starting to emerge for facial recognition and APIs.
Ready or not, new technologies will enable strangers to know your social scores even before you shake their hand.
Whether it’s on a job interview, before a meeting, a first date, and as you walk into a store, more disruptive technologies are on the horizon that will enable social data to be easily accessed and viewable in real world situations. Profiling, which has negative connotations in terms of race, law enforcement, and beyond, is commonly used by marketers (and humans sub-consciously) to sort people around us. Yet in our digital and social world, this same profiling technique will be applied to today’s modern world. In fact, this recent story from Wired shows how an unlucky marketer was unable to land a job due to having a low Klout score.
This simulated image illustrates how Google Googles could allow us to easily profile who has the most social capital –without them even knowing.
‘Social Profiling’ Defined, and the Technologies That Will Fuel It
What’s Social Profiling? Digital technologies that enable social data to easily be referenced in public by others using mobile, AR, or other technologies. New technologies are emerging that allow us to overlay digital content on top of the real world, called Augmented Reality, we’re expecting Google to launch their Google Goggles “Project Glass” this summer. Additionally, it’s expected that Apple’s next iPhone will have facial recognition features that will enable us to identify people, and it’s assumed we’ll be able to quickly pull digital content about them.
Don’t Overly Rely on Social Scores –Understand True Influence
Logic tells us that new mobile applications will emerge that will allow digital content about us, in fact, we should expect apps to emerge that instantly allow us to tell one’s Twitter follower count, Klout score, and Facebook fans. But before we jump to conclusions on how this could help us identify ‘influencers’ take Altimeter’s guidance in understanding that these tools don’t fully tell the whole story. In fact, you should first read my colleague Brian Solis’ report on digital influence, which shows why social scores are not telling the full story, as well as see his presentation he gave on this topic.
Social Profiling Will Impact Society, Business, and You.
We should expect that social profiling technologies and techniques will impact us in at least three ways:
1) Digital ‘influence’ scores will emerge in the public real world –like it not. The social dynamics of determining who a dominant member of society could change. The largest male, the richest female, may now rival that of the most ‘influential’ person in the room –and everyone will know it quickly. As a result, a new pecking order in business could emerge that breaks corporate hierarchy, wealth, or attractiveness.
2) Marketers will use this to prioritize and reward influencers. Brands have been attracted to influencers for decades, and now they’ve new tools to segment. Hotels like the Palms are already prioritizing guests with high Klout scores to receive special treatment, this will now cascade to hospitality, retail, and more. Expect those with higher scores to be offered special treatment (here’s a breakdown of how it will happen), whether they take the offers or not.
3) New business models will emerge to offer ‘digital grooming”. Like personal grooming in the bathroom, we’ll now have to prepare for our own digital grooming as we venture into the real world. Expect a new form of digital consultant to emerge that will help professionals manage, prune, and improve their digital self, much how image consultants assist those who want to appear their best.
Get ready for this new world where our digital lives will now be easily displayed around us in the physical world, forever changing the social dynamic in which we play, work, and love.
Update: Jason Falls, respected thought leader, likens Social Profiling to a new form of racism is this counter post.