Changing perspectives on social networks

Changing perspectives on social networks

Little I write about these days stirs as much feedback as my columns on the emerging social media market, the convergence of blog tools, search, social networks, and syndication technologies.
Over the past six months, I’ve moved from being a skeptic of social networks to a cautious blogger, and now an enthusiastic advocate of social media. Indeed, social media is a disruptive force that is fundamentally changing communications on every facet.
Clearly, I’m not the only one who’s changing perspectives. After my June 14 column, “Social networks and my big ‘a-ha,'” I heard from a couple of readers who shared their insights on social software. And I must say, I was a bit surprised by their views. Not because I don’t share them, but because I was pretty certain I was standing alone. Apparently not.
A colleague and I . . . were wondering out loud about [Pluck’s] business model and it hit us almost simultaneously: they keep track of what we search and then use it as deep and accurate marketing intelligence.
“Not sure where it will head, but I only have to think of all those bar-coded tabs on my wife’s key chain. She gets a better price than someone without the tag, butmdash;and it’s a very subtle one—those prices generally reserved for ‘frequent shoppers’ have been nudging upward ever so slightly. If her buying patterns shift along with other frequent shoppers, the retailer has only to look at the data. Spotting trends should be pretty easy.
“It might be something of a reflection of my conservatism. I’ve nothing to hide and if someone collecting data will help me in the longer run (better products, more choices, better prices, etc.), sign me up.”

These comments struck me because they are so diametrically opposed to the cries I’m used to hearing from privacy advocates, so much the opposite of those who despise marketing in every form. And this is not a lone voice. Read on:
“Controlled social network-based contact mechanisms (e.g., Spoke, LinkedIn) offer a viable alternative to ‘interruption- based’ marketing approaches. As the more effective world moves further towards ‘permission-based’ methods, social networks offer a vehicle for arms-length contact that was previously missing, untapped, or unwieldy.
“So, while the current practice of using Spoke, LinkedIn, et al., is rather slow and slightly tortured, I am willing to invest reasonable time and energy to learn how to make it work. I’ll bet that my useful ‘connect rate’ is currently higher going through social networks than via untargeted e-mail or similar traditional marketing techniques.”

Social media, it appears, is changing more than just media. Could it be that it is ushering in a new acceptance of direct marketing? Now that’s a sea change.

End notes

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JVC said it will soon ship its first CD receiver with a built-in HD Radio tuner. The KD-SHX900 includes AM and FM broadcasting. The HD Radio technology makes AM stations sound more like FM broadcasts, and FM stations deliver sound comparable to compact discs, JVC said. Currently there are more than 300 licensed HD radio stations, the company added. The KD-SHX900, which will be compatible with Sirius Satellite Receivers, will be available by the end of July for about $850.
Apple, AMD and IBM announce quarterly earnings this week, with Sun and Gateway expected to announce their earnings a week later. The summer months usually mean a slowdown in the IT hardware space, but most analysts think things are better than this time last year. Check out the story here —

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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 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.
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