The Great Social Experiment – #3 owwww, i’m u’r biggest fan

REPOST from original series started on back in September of 2007

It has been a while since I last wrote about the Great Social Experiment. I hate when work gets in the way of your blogging. But back at it I am.

The Social Experiment has been rolling along, picking up a little steam here and there. the first big test is going to happen next week. I am going to pre-release some info through social networks, and then push the press release through conventional media. We shall see how it works.

The last time I had indicated I would write about the use of language in social networking. Other people have talked about this topic more eloquently than I have so I will touch on it ever so briefly and move on to something that I got to thinking about in the last few weeks that got me a lot more excited.

Give me a hi5. Will you be my fan, or my friend. Are you married, in a relationship, or did you just break up? Do you have a crush list? I know that most of these sites are more heavily consumer focused. I get it. But please, even in my consumer life I demand a little more sophistication in how we relate to each other.

In fact the way that MySpace makes me interact with it has made me decide I don’t want to use that account any more. I mean do I really want to be browsing around – seeing adds for singles when my wife comes into the room? And most of the time it was just spam anyway.

Now for what I have been thinking about over the last two weeks:

Social Network Classifications
I got introduced to Flock a while back, but the article over at PGreenblog got me to check it out in more depth recently. First of all, great job guys. Elegantly simple with hints of fruitiness. First set up your accounts and services. Then when you open up the left bar you can view the people you are connected with through your various networks and what have been up to. You can blog, or upload pictures from the browser and post through your publisher of choice.


(this picture was uploaded to Flickr from Flock, and I dragged it to my WordPress blog from the media bar)

You can choose to have the media bar on and view the latest pictures and videos from your contacts. I am not that much of a media freak and it takes up more space than I want, so I have it turned off in general. I like the fact that the feed reader comes pre-loaded with a feed from The Onion.

Obviously with all of the news coming out of Google and their Open Social APIs the whole world of social networking is going to change. But, Flock was there first. And I think they have a good chance of staying there. Sure Google has everyone wanting to write to their APIs. But, will that really stop them from writing to Facebook’s APIs, or Flock’s?

All of this brings me to the topic of social network classifications. Flock technically speaking is not a social network but it is an aggregator of social networks.

These pull together feeds from other profiles and sites, keep track of what you and your contacts are doing. Great examples of this are: Flock (as I mentioned already), Plaxo, and Pownce. Somewhat Frank has a great list.

Connector Sites
These sites connect people, groups, networks, make suggestions based on profile information. The best example is LinkedIn, but obviously Facebook, and I have to admit MySpace wasn’t bad at it (before I cut them off). But the problem is always about SPAM. And no it isn’t only about the more prurient sites. There are plenty of people who want to get to know you because they want to sell you things. Which I understand is what using the social networking is good for. But come on, how many times can I ignore the request for joining the under water basket group. Enough is enough.

Feeder Sites
These sites feed data that is then used in other sites. Typically media based, examples would be YouTube, Flickr, Google Maps, iLike and ThinkFree Docs. While many people use the sites themselves to view the media, a lot [most?] of the media is viewed through the use of embed codes people use within their blog or website to push out their favorite stuff to their network.

Publisher Sites
These “sites” are where people come for their entertainment or information. Twitter, Jaiku, and obviously YouTube, ThinkFree Docs, Flickr, etc.

My advice to get the best bang for your buck in using social networking for business:

1. Start with the sites that best do contacts. Most of the other sites allow you to add your contacts from Yahoo or Gmail. Through Plaxo I was able to synchronize my Outlook, Yahoo, and Gmail contact information. I am sure you could probably do the same through other tools, but…

2. Connect with others. Expand your network – LinkedIn gives you suggestions of people you might want to connect to. Twitter lets you follow the people who follow the people you follow.

3. Get your aggregator sites going. Make sure that all of your feeds are coming into your aggregator sites. But, make sure that you don’t get into the mirror effect where aggregator sites are also feeding aggregators sites (hmm is it possible to get into an infinite feedback loop where your article gets replicated over and over again?).

4. Publish away. Get involved. Don’t just sit on the sidelines. But don’t just talk about your stuff. People get bored by that easily (ok, I might be a little guilty of that but…). But also the line between being involved within the community and SPAMMING is easily crossed when you focus too much on what you are trying to push.

By the way, check out the new Plaxo Pulse widget on the right hand side. What do you think? And of course the ThinkFree Docs embed code from my profile.

Here is where to find me:

ThinkFree Docs
Plaxo Pulse

Previous blog articles in this series:

Can you digg it? I knew that you could – The Great Social Experiment

The Great Social Experiment – #1 Getting Started

The Great Social Experiment #2 – Will You Be My Friend

Future blog articles in this series:

The Great Social Experiment – How has it gone?

And the round table discussion:

  1. Did I devote enough time to the exercise? More to the point, where should social networking be placed in terms of marketing priorities? Does this change for companies that are more or less mature?
  2. How should we be judging the outcomes from social networking activities? Are there tools you recommend?
  3. Is social networking the right tool for the tests I created? Are my expectations of social networking in line with what it can do? What is social networking best geared to address?
  4. How much of getting social networking to work is the contacts you bring with you? How aggressive should one be in reaching out to new contacts? Should I, for instance, try to befriend Chris Anderson even after I have composed a note meant to appeal to what he is interested in?
  5. How can I build better mechanisms into the framework to increase feedback?

Oh and don’t forget to use the social networking tools below to share and enjoy – part of the experiment right?



One Response

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