As social networking moves towards its first decade of existence, it may seem to many people that social networking is tapped out and that there is no more virgin territory to explore in social networking. In the eyes of some critics, social networking will just be all about fine tuning rather than actual innovation. To all the critics, we just have one word to say: nonsense. The truth is social networking, if understood properly, is almost an inexhaustible pool of creativity. In fact, social networking is a form of crowdsourcing. Think about it. What are the most popular social networking sites? Facebook and Twitter right? When you look at Facebook and Twitter from a crowdsourcing point of view, you could see that these platforms are works of genius. There’s no other ways to describe it. Let’s take a look at Facebook. Facebook works with your inherent sense of grabbing attention from other people. Most people have a deep innate need to be noticed and appreciated by other people. This is part of what makes us human. Using this psychological hook, Facebook gives you a set of tools which you can then use to gain attention from other people. The more attention you get, the more content you make. The more content you make, the more attention you get from your friends. The more friends you recruit, the more content they make. Do you see where this is headed? It’s exponential and almost limitless. That’s how powerful Facebook’s platform is and that is the essence of effective social networking. Underlying all that, however, is an even more powerful truth. The users of Facebook and Twitter themselves, through their behavior, prompt certain innovations that enable the social network to grow and proliferate even more.
Here are just the top three trends that ensure that social networking is not just good for a decade but good for a long time to come.
1. Prediction Tools
Prediction tools are nothing new online, in fact, they have been around since web 1.0; in the days of Amazon and Yahoo. What makes a social network based prediction tools very interesting is that they are based on the actual content posted by the people on these networks. For example, face recognition is and important prediction tool because it helps you recruit more people, get noticed by many and recruit their own network. Another important prediction tool is your preferences. Take up Facebook’s favorite books feature. The moment you put in a favorite book, Facebook will look at other associations people have made with that particular book. As a result, it makes your job easier as to figure out which books that you have read and which you would recommend. This results in easier content generation. The easier people generate content on Facebook, the richer Facebook gets.
2. Association Detection
Facebook gets its power from its ability to drag people from offline networks to become members of an online network. Classically, this was done through email. When you let Facebook access your address book, it will run the sophisticated algorithm to figure out who you’ve done business with in the past and whom you’ve communicated with in the past then send them an invitation to join Facebook. As you can tell, this is quite basic. Facebook has become even more sophisticated because it now allows you to use your interactions within Facebook to make predictions as to who you are probably friends with. This results in a fast exploding network of social connections.
3. Interest Targeting
One of the biggest hurdles with social network websites is how making money off these platforms. Many of Facebook’s haters point to the fact that advertising on Facebook is similar to looking at a poster at Starbucks while you’retalking with your friends. The main reason you walked into that place is to talk with your friends and hang out. Looking at a poster or an advertisement is an afterthought. According to this line of thinking, chances are you wouldn’t buy. Facebook has evolved to the point that the best thing to advertise on Facebook is not the actual direct sale but actually getting people to click on a Facebook fan page so that these people will give these companies that take out these ads permission to communicate with them. In other words, relationship marketing. This is different from branding, direct sales and impression marketing. This is an explosive territory for Facebook to explore.