What drives social networking?

What causes people to participate in social networks? Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’s new book Groundswell (must purchase soon) may have the answer. Here’s are eight drivers of participation in social media, capsulized from that book. This is only a partial list, but a pretty good start.

Keeping up friendships. Facebook is about connecting with people you know, to find out what’s going on with them.

Making new friends. We’ve all heard stories of people hooking up on social networks. According to Forrester’s consumer surveys, one in five online singles has viewed or participated in online dating in the past year.

Succumbing to social pressure from existing friends. People in the groundswell want their friends there, too. Your friends, your daughter, or your golf buddies are emailing you right now, asking you to join them.

Paying it forward. Having seen that a site is useful, you may be moved to contribute.

The altruistic impulse. This is Flickr cofounder Caterina Fake’s “culture of generosity.” It’s what made Wikipedia possible. People just want to help.

The prurient impulse. People are sexy, entertaining, and stupid. All that is on display in an endless parade of exhibitionism.

The creative impulse. If you’re a photographer, a writer, or a videographer, the Web is the perfect place to show your work.

The validation impulse. People who post information on Yahoo! Answers, for example, would like to be seen as knowledgeable experts.

The affinity impulse. If your bowling league, your PTA, or your fellow Red Sox fans have connected online, you can join and connect with people who share your interests.

Bernoff adds this note of caution (marketers, take heed): “Respect this diversity. Keep it in mind as you set up your social applications. Assuming everyone wants the same thing as you do — or as each other — is a big mistake.”

Via @bobcarlton.

Now playing: Broken Social Scene – KC Accidental
via FoxyTunes

Monday musings: social network economics, free and legal news pics, the future of marketing, etc.

Decided to take the day off to decompress from a couple of stressful weeks (while campus is quiet for spring break). And also, to try to get some writing done, because it seems I get more writing done at home than at the office. But guess what? Not a bit of writing yet. Too busy trying to keep the RSS feeds pruned, and straightening up the blogroll. (Thanks, debunkd., for the motivation.) Now, if I could just get motivated to finish off my story for the summer issue of Missouri S&T Magazine.

Anyway, on to the musings. And these may have to keep you for a while, as I’m going afk from Wednesday afternoon until the weekend. So, if you don’t hear from me until next week, that’s why.

  • Social networks: a business model? Not so much. Lots of bloggers are talking about this Economist article about the business value of social networks. (Hat tip to Buzz Canuck, who breaks down the main points of the Economist article — namely, that the social network is a bad business model.) Conversation Agent also offers commentary, and a clip from Jerry Maguire.

    The Economist argues that “it is entirely conceivable that social networking, like web-mail, will never make oodles of money,” but says social networking’s true value because may lie in “its enormous utility.”

    Social networking has made explicit the connections between people, so that a thriving ecosystem of small programs can exploit this “social graph” to enable friends to interact via games, greetings, video clips and so on.

    If only the myriad networks would tear down their “walled gardens” and open up to the rest of the interconnected world.

    The problem with today’s social networks is that they are often closed to the outside web. … [T]hey are reluctant to become equally open towards their users, because the networks’ lofty valuations depend on maximising their page views—so they maintain a tight grip on their users’ information, to ensure that they keep coming back. As a result, avid internet users often maintain separate accounts on several social networks, instant-messaging services, photo-sharing and blogging sites, and usually cannot even send simple messages from one to the other. They must invite the same friends to each service separately. It is a drag.

    Surely some enterprising entrepreneur will find a solution. SocialThing, perhaps?

  • Free and legal news photos for bloggers. GigaOM reports that San Francisco-based PicApp is making copyright news photos available free of charge to bloggers.

    The photos are displayed in a flash media file and can be embedded on any web page, just like YouTube. PicApp makes money off contextual advertising it embeds in the photos, and in turn shares it with the photo agencies. The new service is a sign of how tough things are in the stock photography business, where new and low cost competitors are emerging thick and fast, and challenging the old dogs like Getty Images.

  • The United States of Google. BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis examines how an open-source mindset, a philosophy of transparency, and a better understanding of empowerment and interconnectedness could improve government. For example:

    Government officials and agencies should blog. This ethic of openness should go beyond official documents and files. Openness should be part of the work habit of government officials and conversation with constituents should be an ethic of government. The open blog is merely a tool and a symbol for this — and a more efficient tool, I’ll add, than individual letters and phone calls.

  • The future of marketing and advertising — a good (and funny) slide presentation by Paul Isakson, via the Marketing and Strategy Innovation Blog.
  • Simplicity. Via Eliacin Rosario-Cruz via Twitter.
  • Moving toward two-way marketing. This piece in The Buzz Bin talks about how listening, customer feedback, etc., have become more important in traditional marketing.
  • State of the news media: gloomy. Still. PRWeek summarizes the Project for Excellence in Journalism‘s 2008 report on the news business.
  • Be like the Internet (Slideshare). Slides from a SXSW presentation by Lane Becker and Thor Muller of Get Satisfaction, all about business success in the Internet age. Via Communication Nation.
  • Three Internet careers that soon won’t exist. Interesting thought piece from Steve Rubel.
  • Of course, now it’s only 29 years and 50 weeks before the Internet ends. Because I’m two weeks late in posting this.

Now playing: Michael Franti & Spearhead (Yell Fire!) – I Know I’m Not Alone
via FoxyTunes

Friday Five: Spring cleaning edition

Ah, spring. When a young blogger’s fancy turns to uncluttering his Google Reader, or at least his starred items.

  1. The conversation has left the blogosphere and moved into a wide array of other online venues. Tips on how to keep up.
  2. But if you’re still reading blogs (and I sure hope you are), here’s one to follow: HighEdWebTech. Found via Brad Ward.
  3. How to find the best online information sources.
  4. Do you like free stuff? Do you like social media? Do you like to read? Here’s a great deal for you.
  5. Add “watch this video” to your to-do list, and then do it. If you accomplish nothing else today, then you’ll at least have watched a funny video.

Now playing: Warren Zevon – Play It All Night Long
via FoxyTunes

Social networking trends: new players for 2008

Update, March 20, 2008: Joining Dots took the data presented below and put it in graph form, along with further analysis. See the entry Social Networks Long Tail.

top-social-networks-feb.pngRecent research from the web analytics firm Compete turns up some interesting information about the popularity of various social networking sites. Compete’s comparison of social networking traffic from February 2008 and February 2007 shows dramatic growth in up-and-comers like Ning (4803% change) and Twitter (4368%). LinkedIn also experienced a hefty spike in usage (729%). (Click image for the chart showing comparisons by social network.)

Meanwhile, MySpace is still the top social network, but usage actually decreased by 1 percent. Facebook, the No. 2 social network, grew by 77 percent between February 2007 and February 2008, an indication that Facebook’s popularity may be leveling off (as previously suggested on this very blog).

(Hat tip to Jonathan’s blog.)

Now playing: The New Pornographers – Myriad Harbour
via FoxyTunes


squarehead.jpgMost of us were probably too busy monitoring our gadgets to notice, but Monday, March 10, was apparently a day to disconnect from all of our computerized tools and take a break.

“Rewire Your Life Day” was celebrated yesterday by at least one academic. She is Ellen Ernst Kossek, a professor of human-resource management and organizational behavior at Michigan State University. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education news report, the professor did not check email all day, kept her cellphone turned off, and even “went out to lunch with a colleague from another department who, until today, she’d known only via electronic correspondence.”

It’s not a bad idea to get off the grid every once in a while. We could all use a break from technology, don’t you think? Discuss. Or better yet. Don’t discuss. Step away from the computer, turn off your cell phone, and do something non-techie. Go for a walk. Read a book. Listen to music on something other than an iPod.

Now playing: Various Artists – Stay That Way – The Plastic Constellations
via FoxyTunes

Making websites more social

The Buzz Bin has an interesting post about web design that is worth talking about, or at least blogging about. In Tear Down the Web Site, Geoff Livingston makes a strong case for putting social media front and center in our organizations’ online presence.

The brochure approach doesn’t work. We know that. So blogs, podcasts and new social content has been added to the conventional web site, but the conversation is usually buried on sites as a simple link. Why bother? Why not reverse things and make brochure content a simple link, and the social content the heart of the web page?

Many campuses are using social media for student recruitment, solidifying relationships, or promoting special events. Some are also putting their news content into a blog format. Yet too often, these sites are hidden. That’s largely the case at Missouri S&T, even though we do link to one blog from our gateway currently.

Why is it that we hide our social media behind brochureware? Discuss.

Now playing: The Mountain Goats – Lovecraft In Brooklyn
via FoxyTunes

Saturday morning coffee, music, multitasking, social media brain dump

It’s late on a sleep-in Saturday morning. I’m sipping the last of the morning pot of coffee, listening to the mellow, dreamy songs of an indie/electronica band from Osaka called <a

  • href=”http://www.myspace.com/waterfai”>Water Fai* (which suits my mood perfectly), and casually multitasking — catching up on personal and work email, Twitter, RSS, and various blogs and websites. I’m in no rush. This is one of those rare lazy days when I have nowhere to be.

    So, I think I’ll blog about some of the social media stuff on my mind and in my inbox/feeds/etc. For instance:

    • How Twitter can add value. Yesterday, I and some co-workers from Missouri S&T attended the Missouri Association of Publications conference (where our alumni magazine won an award — huzzah!). One of the sessions I attended was about convergence journalism, led by a faculty member of the Missouri School of Journalism’s convergence program. Co-worker (and co-tweeter) Mindy also attended. She’s our department’s go-to social media person. Anyway, one of the storytelling tools students in that program use is Soundslides, which can be used to create audio slideshows. I made a note to check it out when I got back, but Mindy beat me to it and tweeted about it yesterday. I responded, and Brad Ward joined in on the conversation with a link to a nice presentation he made using Soundslides. Then he referred me to a blog post of his from last October about using the tool, with links to three or four other examples. All of this knowledge-sharing via Twitter, in a matter of minutes. Nice.
    • ideasonideas relaunches with a redesign. “The new ‘look,'” explains the site’s Eric Karjaluoto in a post about the relaunch, “represents both a change in direction and a bit of a revised mandate.” Eric says he wants the blog “to be a great resource for those who create communications and continually work to do so more effectively. With the volumes of content out there, I hope that you’ll find your time at ideasonideas helpful and worthwhile.” If the first post since the redesign is any indication, this one might be reading from time to time.
    • There’s a New Conversation is a month-old blog exploring the impact of the book The Cluetrain Manifesto 10 years after its release. (Has it really been 10 years?)
    • Nominations are now open for the EduStyle Awards. Go there and nominate your favorite educational websites. Winners will be honored at the eduWeb Conference in Atlantic City, N.J., in July.
    • mixx has a group for social media mavens. So, all you social media mavens out there, check it out. (I did not join, because a.) I’ve got too many social networks as it is and b.) I fear I’m not enough of a maven.) Tweet via @fsmedia.

    * Water Fai’s style is along the lines of Blonde Redhead and Asobi Seksu, but mellowed like a good shiraz.

    Now playing: Water Fai – Round Pool
    via FoxyTunes