14 Jun Social networks and my big a-ha
Readers of DEMOletter know that I’ve written regularly about so- called social networks, services such as LinkedIn, Spoke, and Google’s Orkut. These columns have run under titles such as “I’m LinkedIn – Now What,” and they have questioned the value of these networks to both user and investor. I wasn’t being critical, really; I just didn’t see a clear and viable business model for these services.
But in recent weeks, I’ve experienced one “a-ha” moment after another, and now you can count me among the social network advocates, if not the unabashed cheerleaders.
A-ha #1: As I was updating my Orkut profile, I realized that social networks, at least in some iterations, are the perfect platform for targeted advertising. After all, I describe myself in great detail: my hobbies, my political leaning, my favorite activities. Not only had I become a clearly defined and valuable target for marketers, but I also identify with a circle of friends (or groups or tribes, depending on which service you use) who share these interests. Marketing dollars effectively targeted to me can have an amplifying effect throughout my network.
A-ha #2: Perhaps this is a blinding flash of the obvious, but business relationships open doors. That is the theory behind Spoke and LinkedIn, of course. You use business relationships to ease the way into new business scenarios. Guarded and protected relationships are more valuable than freely available relationships, and as the novelty of social networks wears off, members are becoming much more cautious about those with whom they share networks. As this occurs, the value of a membership in a social network increases.
That is, effectively, what has happened over the past couple of months. We are linking less, but linking better. And as a result, the referrals along these linked lines are more successful, because there is a real, rather than tenuous, relationship among the links. And that’s worth paying for.
A-ha #3: This was the big one: Relationships are a new media type. In fact, it is relationships that bring context to communications. When social networks are combined with new media such as blogs, that media is annotated and amplified. The collective community responds to and recommends ideas. I can use the references of like-minded business and social relationships as a filter on the media I consume. In effect, relationships combined with new publishing tools create a new social media. This idea of social media is complex, and one I’m just beginning to fully understand. But you can bet I’ll be writing and thinking about it much more over the summer. And I’m counting on the community of readers of DEMOletter to help shape and inform these thoughts.
I’d love to get your feedback. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The summer may be known as a slow time, but not for Force10 Networks. The start-up pulled in close to $75 million in “mezzanine” round funding. Force10, which focuses on the benefits of 10 Gigabit Ethernet for switching and routing, received investments from Crosslink Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Worldview Technology Partners. Among the company’s recent spate of high-profile clients are the Department of Homeland Security and NASA. Force10 hopes to claim its piece of what one research firm is projecting to be a $2.4 billion market by 2008 . . . RealNetworks and Starz Encore Group, of the Starz channel fame, are joining forces to bring movies to high-speed Internet users. The premium subscription service, which costs $12.95 per month, lets users download movies to their PCs or entertainment centers over broadband connections. The service requires either RealVideo10 or RealPlayer, and access to the library of hundreds of movies is unlimited. The companies say the movies take about 20 minutes to download. Go to http://www.starz.com for more . . . eBay ranked as the most trusted commerce site for privacy in a recent survey. TRUSTe, an Internet “privacy seal” organization, paired with the Ponemon Institute to rank the Web’s top sites. American Express, Procter & Gamble, Amazon, HP and the U.S. Postal Service were also in the top tier of trusted companies. According to the study, Internet companies, banks and health care organizations were among the most trusted categories. The study also asked about concerns over information gathering over the Web. The response indicated that identity theft was the biggest worry followed by spam. More about the survey can be found at http://www.truste.com/about/ebay_trusted_privacy.html
The search is under way to find the 50 products that will launch at DEMOmobile 2004, September 8-10, 2004, in La Jolla, California. DEMOmobile is a high-visibility launch platform that will set your company on the path to success. It’s the best venue for positioning new mobile and wireless products and establishing strategic relationships with the players who will lead you to success. The conference’s stringent selection process and excellent reputation serves as an endorsement for your product as it comes to market. DEMO events have helped companies like Palm, Handspring, IBM Pervasive Computing, Logitech, Mirra, Tapwave, Macromedia – even Microsoft – launch their products, create critical business relationships, and sell to thought- leading early adopters. DEMOmobile 2003 demonstrators benefited from more than 162 million media impressions before, during, and long after the event.
Visit: http://www.idgexecforums.com/demonstrate/tour/indexdemo2.html to learn more and complete an online application.
September 8-10, 2004
Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
La Jolla, CA
Chris Shipley is the executive producer of NetworkWorld’s DEMO Conferences, Editor of DEMOletter and a technology industry analyst for nearly 20 years. She can be reached at email@example.com. Shipley, has covered the personal technology business since 1984 and is regarded as one of the top analysts covering the technology industry today. Shipley has worked as a writer and editor for variety of technology consumer magazines, including PC Week, PC Magazine, PC/Computing, and InfoWorld, US Magazine and Working Woman. She has written two books on communications and Internet technology, has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence, and was named the #1 newsletter editor by Marketing Computers for two years in a row. To subscribe to DEMOletter please visit: http://www.idgexecforums.com/demoletter/index.html.
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