Archive for the ‘Future of Social Web’ Category

As Brands Continue to ‘Pollinate’ the Social Web, Expect Corporate Websites to Aggregate


Brands are pollinating the social web with easy-to-share features like Sharethis. As conversations splinter across the web, brands must prepare to aggregate those same conversations on their corporate website. As a result, the trusted conversations will centralize back on product pages.

[Trusted conversations have fragmented to the social web –shifting the balance of power to communities]

Social Pollination: Brands Currently Spreading to Communities

  • Why: Brands are trying to let their corporate and social content spread to many different communities in Facebook, Twitter, Email and others.
  • Examples: Any blog post, press release, or product page that encourages readers to share the content to other locations.   Any brand created Facebook fan page, flickr account, or Twitter account.
  • Risks: Letting content spread to other locations causes some angst, as brand managers now must monitor content and discussions elsewhere on the web.  The command+control mentality of “our corporate website is central” no longer holds true as people can share content using browser features like social bookmarking tool Delicious, or sharing links in Facebook.
  • Vendors: A variety of tools have appeared such as sharethisaddtoanyaddthis and others.  Incumbent players include: email, Facebook, Twitter, and Delicious that encourage content to be shared within those communities.

[To regain trust, corporate websites will look more like a collection of real-time customer discussions –not just product pitches]

Social Aggregation: Corporate Websites to Centralize Discussions

  • Why: Conversations and content have fragmented and distributed on the web, as a result, corporate websites are generally irrelevant.  Expect brands to start to centralize these discussions on or near their corporate website in order to bring trust and relevance back to the corporate website.
  • Early Examples: There’s a few examples that we can start to analyze, they include:
    • Any corporate blog that frequently discusses recent topics or industry news is a manual version of this.
    • Early examples include Sun aggregating technorati blog mentions of any product to their product pages –even if it’s negative. I’m having a hard time find that example now, they may have removed that from their website.
    • IBM’s hosted thousands of developers at a conference called Impact. They aggregated event tweets in this twitterfall.
    • Zappos aggregates all Twitter mentions of it’s brand on this aggregation page.
    • Perhaps the most mature example is Kinaxis, a supply chain management software company, has aggregated news of it’s industry at Manufacturing Central.
  • Future Deployments: Expect brands to at first create a lightly branded version of these discussions, on the topics of industry, or around mentions of any product.
    • Data and Content: The aggregation will need to pull in data and either sort by recency or relevancy or other prioritization pattern like Techmeme.
    • Location: Brands will likely create a seperate site or microsite for events or products that does this, as they get bolder, expect them to aggregate direct on product pages.
    • Branding: At first this will be lightly branded, but then will soon integrate directly with look and feeld or corporate site as this mainstreams.
  • Risks:  Brands will have a difficult time finding all the relevant content.  Secondly, while it makes sense to filter out off-topic, spam, and hate speech, the natural tendency will be to filter out negative reviews.  Expect there to be customer backlash as their complaints are not publicly aggregated on the corporate web pages.  Internally, expect social advocates to battle with brand preservationists who don’t want negative reviews on product pages.
  • Vendors:  A variety of vendors will appear to serve this need:
    • The toolsets have not yet emerged, however we should expect a series of startups to appear that offer this or spinoffs from Friendfeed (a logical first mover) and eventually a form of a Facebook embed.
    • A second set of players could be any of the aforementioned pollinators (sharethis) and potentially listening vendors like Radian6, Buzzlogic, or any data house like Technorati, Delicious or Get Glue (read my take).
    • Community platform vendors and CMS vendors like Vignette, Interwoven, Documentum with social features will likely launch modules or features that provide these aggregation pieces, or partner with the above.
    • Expect innovative agencies like Federated Media who conducted ‘sponsored aggregation’ of “Exectweets” for Microsoft to pioneer this with brands and technology partners. Update: CrispinPorterBogusky is already experimenting

Today, brands are trying to keep up with consumers as they self-connect to each other on social sites.  Clearly, many companies aren’t even ready to participate with communities where they already exist, so only a few sophisticated companies will be prepared for this next future evolution of corporate websites.  Don’t expect aggregation in the advanced forms I suggested to happen till brands are mature in the era of social colonization (read more about the future of the social web), so expect some time for true case examples to occur.

(Also, I’m trying out a new writing style, this time in outline form to break out a set of ideas. Was this helpful?)

Contextual Ads Based Off Social Network Profile: Twitter and Facebook


Things are moving very quickly now, in fact I was pleased to learn about these contextual ads from my new friend Cory O’Brien in SF yesterday.

In my latest report “The Future of the Social Web” we pointed that in the near future we’ll start to see web pages dynamically created based on user profile ID in social networks. Essentially, your corporate, media, or ecommerce site could provide contextual media, content, and advertisement based on users’ info before they login.

[In the Future, The Era of Social Context Will Serve Personalized Content, Media, and Ads to Users based on their Social Networking Information]

Here’s an early example of a contextualized advertising campaign from VW (by agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, read more about the modernist campaign) that’s intended to help prospects find the right model based on their preferences. Please note this isn’t yet the full entry into the era of social functionality as users have to manually submit their login info or user name (like this Twitter example below) and just examines recent tweets. When the era of social context matures, it will look beyond just profile info, but also behavioral data, friend data, location, and content analysis of explicit and implicit data.

Type 1: Context Ad based off of opt-in Twitter profile.

Above Ad: Enter your Twitter name to see a product recommendation

Type 2: Contextual Ad based off of Facebook profile.
Corey also pointed me in the direction of a second “Meet the VWs” Facebook app that asks users to opt in to analyze their profile and then recommends products based off simple profile info. Read the pros and cons from the smart folks at the Future of Ads of this Facebook advertising effort.

This Facebook App scanned my Facebook Profile to Suggest two products
Above image: Facebook recommended these products to me on the VW fan page

Future Expectations:
Expect social context to impact not just ads, but many websites in the future. Also, expect the accuracy to increase as social and behavioral data starts to merge.

Facebook, Twitter, have a tremendous amount of explicit and more importantly, implicit data that could serve up information about users, yet we should expect years of refinement for these engines to truly be accurate. Interestingly, the Twitter ad suggested I’d like the Jetta, yet the Facebook app suggested a Rabbit and Beetle, which I find funny as I’d never drive a Beetle, that’s really not me at all.

In the future, these ads, media, or recommendations should be more intelligent and also find friends with similar cars, or people with similar traits to me that I don’t know and suggest products. As user ID start to federate and connect with other such as Open ID and Facebook Connect, we should expect a higher degree of accuracy.

Then, users may choose to opt-in to expose parts of their identity as they surf the web on trusted sites to receive a contextual experience. For example, I may trust Amazon, eBay and Google search to expose my identity in exchange for a more personalized experience.

We should also expect a rash of privacy concerns and user backlashes to happen, even if they opt in, we’re just scratching the surface here. I have so much more to write on the topic of social context, but it’s 3am and I need to go back to bed, so I’ll save it for a future blog post.

Key Takeaways

  • The above ads are simple experiments of how context can be served up through social data
  • Expect this contextual content not to be limited to just ads, but also on media sites, ecommerce, corporate sites, and TV
  • Expect digital content to be contextual –even without express content of the users
  • During the early years, expect privacy concerns to overwhelm brands, causing them to rethink this approach
  • Although it will take years to perfect, expect context to increase CTR, and therefore the cost of ads
  • What did the Twitter ad and Facebook page recommend to you? Were they accurate recommendations?

    Trends: Impacts Of The Era of Social Colonization –Every Webpage to be Social


    One of the key findings from the very popular report The Future of the Social Web (which has been translated into over a dozen languages by the community) is that identity technologies like Facebook Connect, OpenID, as well as existing identities will soon colonize the web, making every webpage a social experience –even if they don’t choose to participate.

    [Soon, every product page and webpage will be a social experience –even if brands don’t choose to participate]

    Although the identity space is still in it’s adolescence, many of the vendors agree on the direction to head, but not exactly how to get there. Secondly, there’s many different groups coming together from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and the third party OpenID foundation that are trying to make their specific requirements work with each other.

    Once the different parties representing the identity systems agree on the specifics and start to implement we’ll still need to see a transport method that will allow these identities to appear on any webpage:

    How Every Page Could Be a Social Experience

    Connective APIs. Expect to at the highest level technologies like Facebook Connect and OpenStack to allow third party sites to connect with websites –without users having to give up their login credentials or personal information –essentially bypassing the annoying registration page.
    Social inlays and overlays. At the next level, expect social networks to create ‘overlay’ experiences so their social experience will traverse every webpage. If you currently click on a link within Facebook to a third party site it will open inside the Facebook experience. We also see this with Digg, with it’s “Digg Bar” experience.
    Browsers to add social functionality. Expect every browser to provide a social experience. Finally, at the next level, expect pervasive technologies like browsers to start to become social. Expect Google’s Chrome to allow your Gmail contacts to share their experiences on every webpage and product you visit. In fact, startups like GetGlue are already experimenting with aggregating reviews from a person’s network using Firefox plugins.
    Birth of the Social Inbox. In the most radical future, content will start to appear on a new type of aggregation webpage that resembles both email and newspages. I’m watching vendors like Friendfeed to aggregate public and some private data, expect Facebook and Google Wave to present unique new experiences we’ve not seen yet. As people interact socially with others on the internet, expect social networks to aggregate the colonization creating a new type of ‘Social Inbox’ (more on that soon). Expect to see Microsoft Live, Yahoo Mail, Gmail/Google Wave start to merge with social networks, birthing a new type of communication and collaboration platform. Why does this matter? because fragments of the corporate websites will be aggregated into these platforms, in a social context.

    [As a result, people will lean on the opinions and experiences of their trusted network –diminishing traditional marketing efforts]

    Key Impact: A Shift to Customer Opinion Over Corporate Messaging
    More importantly, this means that your customers will be able to rely on their immediate friends and trusted network to make decisions –not just nameless customer reviews like on Amazon from folks you don’t know. This means they will also start to rely more on each other for reviews –not the marketing created by brands. This also applies to the real world –not just online, as people can access digital devices on mobile social networks to find out which stores, restaurants and activities their trusted network prefers.

    Power continues to shift to the participants, and away from irrelevant corporate websites.

    If this post was helpful, please tweet it by copying and pasting into Twitter:

    Trends: Impacts Of The Era of Social Colonization –Every Webpage to be Social by @jowyang

    Get Glue Enters Into The Era of Social Colonization


    Video: see Get Glue’s demo reel, embedded above.

    Summary: Young startup Get Glue is the early steps of how every product and website will be social –impacting recommendations and marketing. It ushers us into the early steps of the Era of Social Colonization, the third era of five in the evolution of the social web.

    [Get Glue is an early example of the Era of Social Colonization –a state when every product, services, and object can have social reviews by people you know]

    Last week I spent time with small Get Glue team on a briefing, they were recommended to me from former colleague Charlene Li, so if she suggests something, I’m going to quickly follow up. It’s rare that I would dedicate a blog post to a company from a briefing, but this one is significant.

    Get Glue is meta social network, meaning it aggregates the explicit and implicit behaviors of other social networks. Example: If you leave ratings about products on different websites, it will start to aggregate it to one page. What does this mean? It means that Get Glue can aggregate the opinions of your friends about nearly any product.

    Early example shows significant impacts to brands

    • Early example, yet not maturity: Although this is focused on media, movie, music, gadgets and more, expect it to grow it’s scope to include services, restaurants, and even enterprise products.
    • Barriers to mainstream adoption It requires users to use a Firefox plugin to enable, so it’s only reaching a limited number of people –and they have to be active in social networks.
    • Recommendations will be aggregated: Soon, every product, webpage, and service will be rated by your friends, and the information will easily be aggregated into one location. Silos break down, as Get Glue is pilfering the reviews from thousands of sites to create a unique database with all the social data.
    • Significant impacts to marketers: You cannot stop this, and marketing as we know it will have to switch to a focus on social recommendations.

    Video: Highlevel of the Five Eras of the Future of the Social Web


    If you’re seeing this in your email subscriptions or feedreader, click on this link to access this post and see video.

    Thanks to Blake Cahill from Visible Technologies for spending 6 minutes to interview me on the highlights of the social web. I’m on heavy travel now presenting this research to brands, conferences (I’m at Calgary’s Web Strategy Summit right now) and head to Amsterdam next week. I’ll be at Portland’s Internet Strategy Forum Summit on July 23rd, hope to see you there.

    If you haven’t figured it out, the Five Eras of the Social Web are a roadmap that you should factor into your product roadmap (vendor side) and social strategy (brand side) You should have already dove into the era of social relationships, experimenting with era of social functionality, and thinking about the coming era of Social Colonization.

    Want to learn more? Media Post has done a great summary, as well as CRM Magazine. Here’s the post that kicked it off, and a subsequent post showing examples of the five eras, thanks Blake

    Update: I’ll be presenting this research at the CNS Conference in Amsterdam next week, and at LinkedIn, and likely Microsoft.

    Running List of the Five Eras of The Social Web


    This week’s post on the Future of the Social Web has created a tremendous amount of discussion –and I’m thankful for all the voices that chimed in. I’m going to create this post to track the eras as they appear, obviously this is going to take a few years, but hey, I’m not going anywhere.

    Keep in mind that there’s a difference between an era starting, vs becoming mature, so read how I denote the differences below.

    Running List of the Five Eras of The Social Web
    For details on this report, access the high level blog post, or if you’re a client, access the full report on the Forrester site.

    Era of Social Relationships (started 1995, matured in 2003-2007)
    This era is mature.

    • AOL, 1995
    • eCircles, 2001
    • MySpace, Facebook, Twitter

    Era of Social Functionality (started 2007, matures in 2010-2012)
    These are prelimnary examples, but are not examples of maturity, as we’ve not seen true useful utilities to improve business.

    Era of Social Colonization (started 2009, matures in 2011)
    These are prelimnary examples, but are not examples of maturity when your entire digital experience is social.

    Era of Social Context (starts in 2010, matures in 2012)
    This era is certainly not in maturity, but we can see some early examples of demographic scraping.

    • There are no current examples

    Era of Social Commerce (starts in 2011, matures in 2013)
    These are prelimnary examples, such as Techcrunch’s crunchpad, but it’s not a true example of a crowd created, spec’d product.

    • There are no current examples

    As you see examples, please leave a comment, describe why you think it belongs and which era, I’ll credit you as appropriate.