Social from the start

I’m a big fan of Josh Bernoff’s idea of "splinternet":

Each new device has its own ad networks, format, and technology. Each new social site has its login and many hide content from search engines.

We call this new world the Splinternet (with a nod to Doc Searls and Rich Tehrani, who used the term before us with a somewhat different meaning). It will splinter the Web as a unified system. The golden age has lasted 15 years. Like all golden ages, it lasted so long we thought it would last forever. But the end is in sight.

Systems (and "Operating" systems, if you want) are becoming "social as well". Borders are blurring quick between operating systems, the web and social media, think about it:
  • April 27th 2009, Jeremiah Owyang, in its "Eras of Social Web" defines an "era" where "Social Networks become like operating systems";
  • July 7th 2009, Google launches Chrome OS, the operating system that lives "in the cloud", in the web. And you know how social the web is becoming for Google, too. (Hint: take a look at Buzz as latest example);
  • April 12th 2010, Microsoft launches KIN Phones with social network integration;
  • April 24th 2010, looks like iPhone OS 4 will have social network integration (Facebook mostly)
  • April 27th 2010, Canonical releases Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx: the new open source operating system that is "social from the start", offering an integration between the user's social networks and the system itself. The user can interact with its peers directly from the desktop;
It looks like, connecting the dots, the social web is becoming the real operating system, realizing the "splinternet" vision.

Is this the future? Is any system really going to be "social from the start" or do you see this more as a fad?

The new Facebook Open Graph: making the whole web social

In the past days, one of the most discussed and interesting news in social media has been Facebook's launch of their "Open Graph". This has strong implications both for consumers and marketers, so I've written a post analyzing how it can be an opportunity for every stakeholder, if handled in the right way.

This is the visual about how it works

Facebook Open Graph

And here (multi-language!) versions of the post:

The way companies generate value is changing

The way way companies generate value is dramatically changing. The shift is so strong and overwhelming that we're almost getting used to it without realizing it. Companies, with a model that lasted until a few years ago, had an objective: buy raw materials and work to build products and services at the lowest price and then selling it with the highest possible margin.

Today something has changed. It's not enough anymore to produce goods and service at a low cost in a replicable way: soon someone - maybe from another part of the world - will easily replicate your offering with lower costs. The real asset of a company has changed. It's not raw materials or work. It's people. And their knowledge. It's everyday more important for companies to stimulate their employees to think creatively about the best way to do their job. Companies won't need just quicker or more economical ways to do it. The might need little evolutions or revolutions in it.

The power of knowledge in this is fundamental. Being able to find an information today is crucial. It's not really very important to "know" something today. With a quick search you can reach almost everything you need. Today it's important to know "where to look for" when you need something.

This is why the "connectors" are crucial today. Connectors, meant as people who can show the right direction to people looking for information, but also connectors meant as technologies that empower people to manage and share their knowledge.

It's so important to look closely at the social web space today from an enterprise point of view, because that is the playground where knowledge management (and sharing) will take place at a larger scale.

I'm very glad I've been invited [disclaimer] to take part to the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0, being held in Milan on June 9th and 10th. This is probably the most important event about how companies can benefit from social technologies inside the organization, focusing on internal processes and elements. Also, the way the Forum is built is interesting: main content and presentation are matched with barcamps for open discussion. I'm looking forward to discuss these topic with some of the brightest minds in this field from all over the world.

How do you feel about the change in the way companies generate value? Do you see the shift towards a new way of working?


This post was published on the We Are Social blog in Italian.

A few days ago, a news rumor came out about Facebook wanting to change one of the expressions that characterize this social network the moste: "Become a Fan".

It looks like (as you might have read) the new expression will be replaced by the classical "Like". A micro change, but surely a meaningful one.

If the change is really rolled out, what will it mean, especially for brands?

  • Less involvement, more action. In my last post I wrote about stairs and ramps in the social web. To say it briefly, on the social web there are simple and direct actions (ramps) and activities that require a more complex interaction, steps of involvement (stairs). Changing the expression, Facebook moves towards ramps. There's even less involvement in a "Like" than in a "Become a fan". Let's expect more clicks for brands;
  • Less involvement, less relevance. It will then be harder for brands to stand out and have more relevance if confronted with the general "noise" generated by other brands that the same target "likes";
  • Real advocates. Real "Fans" will be fewer and they will be those users that really love the brand. The real meaning of "Fan" will get back to its original weigh;
  • More visibility. It will be easier for brands to extend their own "reach" to the target's network of friends and connections. "Like" enables a relationship and makes it easier to share it with friends: brands will be able to reach a wider audience;
  • A more continuous experience. Using the term "Like" also for brands, Facebook creates a continuous experience for the user. The expression isn't dedicated just to brands, but to a universe of content and subjects that people interact with inside the social network. Brands become a more important part of the experience;
  • Like. Considering that the expression is lighter than "Become a fan", it's possible it becomes more credible. It will be easier to believe that a brand is liked by many friends, rather than accept being surrounded by "Fans" of a particular brand. More credibility means more trust and more relationships;
These are just some of the changes that the "Like" might bring to Facebook user experience. They might not be activated in the end, but they indicate clearly that brands belong in a stronger way to the experience. Brands aren't seen anymore (in most cases) as external elements that try to jump into a conversation. They're invited to take part. (The interaction should always add value and not just shout the last offer, obviously.)

What kind of changes do you see in the relationship between brands and Facebook? What do you think about the "Like" instead of the "Become a fan"?

Social stairs or social ramps?

This post was published on the We Are Social blog in Italian.

Do you know when you need to choose between taking the stairs or using an access ramp? Here's why Chatroulette works.

One step back. I think it surely happened to you, on the web, to immediately want something: quickly subscribing to that new social network your friends talked about, downloading a brochure o reading a report. But you didn't. The subscription was too long - you thought -, too many questions just to download a brochure and surely too many clicks just to see the complete version of a public report.

The step to get to the "next level" was too big, considering what you'd get back from it. Like in everyday life, on-line (and especially on the social web) little steps work well. Here's why Coca Cola has 5 million fans on Facebook: a click and it's done. For the same reason, it's easier for post to generate "reactions" rather than "comments": a retweet is more immediate than a comment.

While designing an experience on social web, it's always important to foresee a low entry level: not a high step to go through.
A request for data isn't the best way to start an experience or a conversation. Giving before receiving is a good rule in this sense. Providing several levels of experience, with different benefits, divided from each other only by the request of a few more little interactions is a clever solutions.

The social web is made of stairs... and ramps

Think about Posterous. To subscribe, just insert your e-mail. From that very moment, you can publish. Obviously you'll want to enrich your profile later, but it's not mandatory. A progressive and gradual increase of the involvement.

Have you tried Chatroulette? Be honest, I promise I won't tell. Why does it have so many users? Because interaction is easy, there's no registration, relationship is weak and can be interrupted very easily. A gradual process.

Very often the solution on the social web is building ramps, not stairs.

Have you seen "steps" or "stairs" on the social web? Have you also met "ramps"? (For instance, an hint: Farmville?)

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