WSS09: Jeremiah Oywang on the Future of the Social Web

May
5
2009
  • Jeremiah Oywang is a Forrester researcher and writes the Web Strategist blog. This content is somewhat covered in his blog post The Five Eras of the Social Web.
  • Took a plane with a school teacher from Texas who told him about the generational gap with her students
    • Kids can’t read her handwriting in cursive because they’re used to fonts
    • Didn’t do homework until it was online and web-based
    • Answer questions they don’t know with “IDK” (I Don’t Know)
  • User adoption of Social Networks
    • Social Technographics Ladder
      • Creators: create opinions and put them online to share, sometimes don’t read other content
      • Critics: love or hate, no grey area. Critic something created by a Creator
      • Collectors: technology and organizational nuts who want everything in their place
      • Joiners: take part and join
        • 2007: 23%
        • 2008: 35%
      • Spectators: read things
        • 2007: 48%
        • 2008: 69%
      • Inactives: cannot be reached by social technologies at all
        • 2007: 44%
        • 2008: 25%
      • See Social Technographics presentation on Forrester Groundswell blog
    • Age is a major driver of adoption
      • Creators skew to younger, Inactives to older, everyone else gradually shifting in-between
      • It’s not necessarily a period of life thing: younger people now will likely continue to create as they get older
    • History:
      • First occurrences of companies using channels to connect with customers in 2004 (Robert Scoble at Microsoft, 2004)
      • Yahoo acquires Flickr in March 2005
      • Technorati State of the Blogosphere, March 2005
      • Tim O’Reilly coins “Web 2.0″ in August 2005
      • Google acquires YouTube for $1.65b in October 2006
      • Twitter at SXSW, 2007
      • Facebook launches Platform, May 2007
      • OpenSocial launches, October 2007
      • Demand buys Pluck, $75m
      • Various acquisitions, 2008
      • Facebook launches Connect, December 2008
  • The Five Eras
    • Era 1: Relationships
      • People connect to each other and share things
      • The first social network was AOL
      • MySpace is a mature social network in the Era of Relationships
      • Information spreads around the globe — earthquake info on Twitter before official news sources
    • Era 2: Social Functionality
      • Social networks become Operating Systems
      • Build third party apps on top of communities
      • Google Docs is social functionality (hard to collaborate and share in Word)
      • Primarily in 2007 with the launch of Facebook Platform
      • Enables people to collaborate in ways they couldn’t have before
      • Brands will soon sponsor popular apps (iLike, TripAdvisor, etc.)
      • Expect even Solitaire apps to be social
      • More eCommerce in social networks
      • Surprising: we haven’t seen Craigslist or eBay in Facebook [not actually true: eBay Marketplace App on Facebook]
      • Linkedin allows selected third party developers to create apps for their community
      • CPI (Cost Per Install) is a new form of advertising that has emerged
      • iLike was a standalone application, but its collective power within Facebook and MySpace made its external site irrelevant
      • Developers fear social networks’ ability to make constant changes to protocols and terms of use
    • Era 3: Social Colonization
      • Wherever you go, your friends come with you
      • Everyone has an entourage
      • Happens online and IRL
      • Your Twitter friends go everywhere you go through your tweets
      • Google OpenStack, OpenID, Facebook Connect, Sign-in With Twitter, etc. are powering this
      • Facebook ‘eyebrow’ bar across the top of pages brings your Facebook social context onto third party sites (who recommend this? who has read it?)
        • This makes traditional marketing irrelevant since people can ignore it and base everything on their friends
      • DiggBar does the same
      • Surfing the web won’t be lonely anymore
      • Any website can be social even if brands choose not to participate
      • 4% – 8% of Japanese consumers use their mobile phones to talk
      • Social networks are going to aggregate information and cut into the email marketing industry
        • It’s the new ‘social inbox’ where all of the information about your peers is gathered
        • Will look more and more like email (and vice versa)
      • Traditional brand marketing will loose way to recommendations from friends and colleagues
      • Corporate websites fragment to join the communities
      • Question: isn’t this what Microsoft tried with Passport?
        • People are already using Facebook and they trust it. Microsoft didn’t have a lot of users at the time and so they didn’t have established trust.
    • Era 4: Social Context
      • Federated identities go with you everywhere you go online
      • Some parts of your profile can be exposed to other websites or devices
      • Relevant content comes to you
        • Surfing the web, TV, etc. will decrease
      • Minority Report: customized ads delivered to you as you walk through stores (more likely just online… for now)
      • Activity feeds, GPS, status updates (Twitter, Facebook), mobile devices, XRDF, Social TV are powering this
      • Location Based Services will thrive on this (especially things like Latitude, Foursquare, etc.)
      • Websites will be optimized to drive relevant content to you specifically
        • Serve products I’m interested in above things I’m not rather than on popularity, etc.
      • Registration pages will go away
      • Search results will serve content based on social relevance to you
      • Plaxo bought by Comcast so they can build a personalized TV service for you
        • The 1ft screen is mobile (1ft away from you), 2ft screen is your laptop, 10ft screen is the TV
        • The 1ft and 2ft screens are already very connected — 10ft is the ‘last mile’
      • A new form of ‘social contract’ will appear so that consumers can choose to share their information in exchange for improved experiences
        • The more you share, the more you’ll get back
        • Various levels of increasingly personal information: Preferences > Behavioural > Social context > Location-based > Community context
    • Era 5: Social Commerce
      • Communities define products
      • CrunchPad from TechCrunch
        • Arrington asked the community to help him build a better touchpad that boots into a browser
        • Product has evolved and is likely going to come to market (latest update)
      • Social CRM, OAuth, SalesForce, embracing technologies, VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) systems are driving this
        • VRM tools will allow communities to define products and have companies bid on building them
        • SalesForce and Twitter are now working together to provide Customer Support by Twitter
      • Sites like Etsy are good examples: artists selling their own products and the community driving what they produce
      • Communities will be in the driver’s seat when it comes to buying
      • Social networks will become CRM systems (and eventually VRM)
      • PR Agencies will appear that represent communities rather than brands (e.g.: representing a community of mountain bike enthusiasts in Boulder, CO to a mountain bike company)
    • Question: what can we do to get our websites ready for the change?
      • SEO will start to act on social metadata as well as search data (what do your trusted friends say on this topic?). Brands need to encourage friends to share information and build the repository of data. Hashtags in Twitter is humans speaking machine language to teach the system. In the future it will pick up on its own. Turn the most popular content on your website into widgets and let them share and spread it (fish where the fish are). (see providers like WidgetBox).
  • Impacts and Risks
    • Corporate websites will become aggregation tools for what the community is discussing (catalyst: activity streams)
    • eCommerce will include social rankings from people you actually know (catalyst: portable social graph)
    • Facebook lock in will become Facebook friends everywhere (catalyst: portable identity)
    • Mobile devices become location-based through context (catalyst: identity systems)
    • Phone address books become dial social network address (catalyst: identity and social graph)
    • Celebrity endorsements become micro-celebrity endorsements (catalyst: niche communities)
    • PR firms represent communities instead of brands (catalyst: empowered communities)
    • Implicit “friending” goes away as we have a single social graph (catalyst: portable identities)
    • Challenges:
      • Social media burn out
      • Legal and privacy
      • Noise from ‘ambient intimacy’ (pokes, tweets, gestures, etc.)
      • Extremism (as communities segment, they’re less exposed to new ideas)
  • Recommendations
    • Focus on your most vocal advocates
    • Marketers need to evolve from email campaigns and broadcast advertising to social
    • Marketeres must focus on ‘pull’ as opt-in metrics replace conversions
    • Prepare internal culture for these shifts, starting from the top down
      • Getting line of business folks to let go and realize the community is in control
  • For a copy of this upcoming report: http://forrester.com/future
  • Question: how can we help clients get ready?
    • Start experimenting with multiple log-in systems now. Add inventory of content and advertising so there’s enough to contextualize and display. Modify templates to support more dynamic display of data. Include recommendation systems into design specs now. Sun aggregates good and bad blog posts about their products through Technorati now.
  • Question: we have a lot of privacy concerns now. Will people become more willing to release information as we progress? We’re seeing the opposite now.
    • Consumer products and everyday lifestyle products will shift. People are already exposing more of themselves on Twitter now. Certain info (employment, medical, financial) will stay private.
  • Question: will Twitter have a future or fade away?
    • Growth rates are tremendous but at 10m users it’s still small and overhyped. They haven’t started their monetization engines and are focused on growth. They need to innovate quickly because their core features are easily replicable by other sites. They could be a CRM system but they aren’t mature enough yet.
  • Question: what’s the next big media bubble beyond Twitter?
    • There isn’t anything out there yet that’s clear. FriendFeed seems to be a popular item among early adopters, but the toolset is very difficult and Facebook could make it obsolete by becoming better at aggregation.
  • Question: the face of SEO will obviously be changing. It’s machines interpreting people now, so how will it evolve?
    • That’s a whole other research report. It will start with pulling more social information definitely. This impacts every vertical on the web, but we’re not clear yet how.
  • Question: there’s an upcoming clash of address books between Google Contacts, Plaxo (though regarded as spammy), etc. How will that go?
    • Federated IDs will go a long way toward this. The major players have all added OpenID support except for Facebook, though they’re now funding the OpenID organization. You have a single persona with multiple facets (business, friends, family, etc.), which you have to choose to expose to different providers. A single federated ID will allow you to maintain all of that. It will happen on the 2ft screen, then the 1ft, then the 10ft.
  • Question: will the gap with the inactives continue to widen?
    • Inactives are decreasing every year (and becoming Spectators at least). Reading social material is becoming unavoidable and it might drop as low as 10% in 2009.
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