The blurry lines between social and public sharing

Today I received an email from the developer of Wander, an app that is discontinued as of from today. Can happen, the app did not manage to come up with a valid business model.

What is interesting though is that he introduces a new app at the same time – Planett – that builds on the content of the app of Wander. And that made me wonder what this means for the valuing of trust and the blurry lines between social sharing and public sharing in and out of context.

For those who don’t know the Wander app, it had a nice concept. You met with a random like person around the world, mostly someone far away in South-Korea or Japan, and for a week you share your daily life with that person. Not your very personal life, but more the things you do, the interested places you pass by in your hometown, etc. A great way to get a sense of the life of a local in a strange city.

Planett now is taking the pictures and experiences from these wander chats as content for explorations of cities. Only the pictures that are ‘shared socially’ during the chat so they say, so in principle nothing wrong should be wrong there. And also, it should deliver some nice local guides of course. The app is making it into a game with assignments so the chance you bump into a picture you made is low.

My wonder though – and my feeling – is that taking these pictures out of context, is not right. Not because it is legally not right, or even rationally. But it feels different. A picture shared in a private conversation made public at that moment feels more private if it is shared outside the context of the conversation.

Elaborate on that last sentence. The perception changes. In the heat of the conversation it can be public. Outside that heat the public becomes private. Or at least less public. This is an interesting concept that I also experience with Instagram, the moment it became more public. It is more a proof that we need a new kind of literacy for the post digital world we live in.

The mobile framing of Facebook

Now we have had the IPO of Facebook we can expect a mature mobile client at last. That is my theory at least; Facebook have been waiting with the serious mobile client to boost the stocks value after IPO. The current apps are so bad, Facebook should be able to do so much better and should be able to dedicate teams to it, especially because it is so crucial for the success of Facebook.I think there are two important factors of Facebook mobile that will be addressed. A true mobile client, and a advertising model that is successful.

On the first aspect. We see that all old skool web companies are struggling with the mobile world. Google as most important example. They did however upgraded their latest version of + which is a step forward. They should however focus on a discover and search function in the mobile environment, close to their core.

But this post is not on Google. Back to Facebook. I expect they created a dedicated team that rebuild the facebook experience in the mobile context. They bought enough brains for that. And things as app stores are just some smoke curtains of the stuff we could expect. Integration of Glancee like ubiquitous social connection and discovery is more in line of the new mobile strategy.

That connects to the second part of their mobile leapfrogging strategy; solving the business model based on advertising. Putting ads in the app or even in the stream is too lame. And will alienate users. It should be smarter. More relevant. A model of sponsored localized and social relevant content is more likely. Capitalizing on the interest graph as RWW mentioned here. Combined with a new interaction model where notifications are key and predictive routings will lead. I think it could well be that all the profile knowledge Facebook has of the one user combined with the brands will lead to an app that provides you with knowledge on latent demand and tailored to your situational context that will fit one person needs.

Of course is the model a sponsored one. As brand you will be able to connect your offerings to profiles that are not only based on segmentation but also on context. Just like now, the building of more complete data profiles is the core activity of Facebook.
A smart notification system will be the main communication form. Permission disruptive notification; only the information you need, with a bit extra. Combined with the social radar function.

Facebook mobile will try to offer a second screen experience on your real-life activities, from watching shows online to shopping around.
The hardest part will be to create model that is not too disruptive, and even more important to create a model for brands to understand what happens and how they should leverage. Just like the current advertising in a non dialogue way is far from effective, it is in the mobile context very important to do it right.

And as we can expect from Facebook; the first iterations can be wrong and provoking. Being connected to the stock market will make them a bit more cautious. There lies some danger, because Facebook needs the mobile success badly.

Setting of the social layer

A lot is said on the possible future of Google+. It seems hard to add a lot to it. On the other hand, we can now see the dust come down a bit and see where it could heading. Possibly it will turn out to be rather different, but well, lets share some thoughts here, based on some deeper drivers that emerges.

Social is becoming a natural part of all services and products that are designed now and in the coming future. In that sense I agree on the views of Roger McNamee. The talk is highly quoted as “social is over”, but that is not the right sentiment. Social is not over, social is not a separate entity anymore, it has become part of everything. That is exactly what we see in the business context happening; social as mean to get in touch with your clients and build on trust and activation is now becoming running business.

We mature in our use of online relations. We see that people, youngsters up front, are becoming professional in the dividing our sharing habits to different levels of online relations. We understand that not everyone is attached the same and it to trust. The rise of private networks is a clear sign, as is the use of private functions in existing networks like groups of closed accounts in Twitter.

The way we communicate is also going to a new phase. We are more selective in sending out and receiving anonymous messages, and we have built a layered messaging habit with private chats in realtime, private messaging to people in our own network and publishing opinions to shape our personal brand.

These three elements are happening for some time now. The existing social platforms (Twitter and Facebook as most important ones) are continuous trying to redesign and introducing new functions to address this developments. And you see that Google+ is using its advantage to start from scratch building up this new social layer and revamping the existing services.

In that, Google could really leverage from the existing fundaments. The hardest part will be to keep focus on the essence of these elements in rolling out the new Google of the second decade, always the hardest part to migrate from existing products.
But the other platforms have even a harder job there of course. Facebook will try to catch up with an enhanced friend listing system. Twitter will bring more coherence in the lists and private accounts.

The coming year, or maybe better; half a year, the different platforms will stand next to each other and creating somewhat sharper profiles. Facebook will be (stay) the private friends network for the masses to share thoughts with friends and find nice stuff for your day to day life. The messaging center will be better organized and extended, maybe even with a simple calendar for instance, to fit all the needs for your private communications.
Twitter will remain and become even more the platform for the latest news, realtime sharing of events with impact, from incidents to big live events in real or on TV for instance. It will be more and more the platform for ad hoc and topic related communications and losing the day to day hangout function.
Google+ will become the serious and professional thoughts-sharing platform. What Twitter was the first years. But also integrating services like Quora. If you are looking for information and advice on stuff Google+ will be your source. It will take that role from Twitter, and it will also take a part of the hangout function dividing it with Facebook.

In the meanwhile the battlefield of the platforms is going on, on the deeper level. Who will be building the best functioning social layer. Facebook have an advantage with the Like and Connect system, but Google has its search-profiles and can grow easily in a social backbone too. If Twitter can team up with Apple it will be a serious competitor in that field too.

When the platforms are closing by creating their dominant profile platforms the challenge (still) will be for businesses to get in touch with the customers. Be part of the conversation is essential for a modern organization, and they have to be present on different platforms. The way the platforms will service that need in respect of the user, will define the shape of the social layer in the coming years.

Closing the circles to build conscious communities

Tons of reviews and thoughts on Google+ are published already, positive and negative, believing in its success as much as believing it will not succeed. Hard to predict. I’m not gonna review the service or predict the future for now. But one aspect is interesting to pinpoint. Google+ is really leveraging on the trend towards more closed communities, or maybe better put as the new conscious communities.

At Reboot 2008 I presented some thoughts on ‘virtual gated communities‘. I was thinking at that moment we would transform the new communities to more closed groups based on shared values, and was thinking how to connect to these more closed communities. In the end it took some more time to move into this more closed circles. In facebook lists it is possible, and in Twitter lists and private accounts are signs people feel the need sometime to talk more privately. Services like Path and Instagram are more private by default, based on the concept of ‘strong bonds’. And now we have Google+ of course.

It looks like this presentation of a year ago is directly linked to the design of the new service of Google. It is a great exploration on the models of making different layers of social friendships, just like real life. Google did choose with Plus to make a different approach. It is remarkable how fast the service is adapted by the users.

There are still a lot of user interface issues to solve in Google+. The whole process to create the circles should be more smart and fluent. And the mental model from invisible circles in the stream have to be plain intuitive and transparent. Than we can build the conscious communities we want to use to communicate. And of course it need more integration with other services. I have stated here before that the message center function of Facebook will be more important in the competition with Google. As we hangout more and more in the social networks messaging will be more in our known circles. If Google+ will succeed in a fluid creation of the circles and integrating this with the other services, they can leap the new landscape of the platform Internet. We will see if a kind of BondRank will be the new EdgeRank and PageRank.

Facebook of course did some strong construction work with the like-ecosystem, and with the huge installed base will be a strong player. But the war of the ecosystems has just started. Google+ will be a serious player, just as Apple with Twitter will be, and Facebook still stay. Combining sharing with no barriers with powerful messaging on different layers will be the key. In that sense it looks like Google chose the right angle.

Why Facebook messaging will be a gmail killer after all

Today Facebook announced a new messaging platform. I see a lot of cynic reviews. All this reviews are blinded by the idea that Facebook was to announce a Gmail killer. I think one aspect is overlooked; the changing messaging behaviour of new generations.

Of course seen by the bare functionalities the messaging platform does not offer new functionality above combinations of Gmail and Google Talk.
But what is really different is the context of messaging. Tnis new platforms sits in a social context, a place where you are communicating in realtime with friends, putting up to speed with the lifes of people you follow. There you need sometimes different levels of communication. Just like DM in Twitter is a strong communiciation channel.

I believe that a Facebook messaging platform can take an important role in our day-to-day communication with friends. It will be therefor more a competitor for DM, chat and ping, text/sms than it will be for gmail.
But if your are honest, do you know how hard it is to reach the millenial with email?

Update: I just watched this video of Facebook explaining the system. With somewhat more focus on the messaging make easy, but I still think the social realtime context is the strongest element.

Mobile as next step in connecting the world to Facebook

Coming Wednesday (November 3rd) Facebook will have an event on mobile. There are many speculations on the expected news, in that sense these events are becoming as hot as those of Apple, from new mobile apps to a Facebook phone. I’m not gonna predict, but I can think what would be interesting. As Facebook does all the time; it will look for a solution that connect the world to Facebook.

Mobile is important for Facebook and will be more important in locking in people to the service. The integration with voice can be interesting in an mobile environment, now they are partnering with Skype. So let’s say; you get a call icon with every post to directly call that one using the technology of Skype. Every account is automatically hooked up to Skype. You don’t need a Skype account (or telephone number anymore), your Facebook identity is your entrance to voice communication. In that sense Facebook will add 500 million accounts to Skype, with whom they joined forces.

I don’t think it is necessary for Facebook to offer their own phone. In contrary, good apps for all platforms where Skype is integrated will be enough to change the way we call today. The weakest point for using Skype as replacement for normal telephone use is the lack of installed base. Not all your friends are on Skype, and Skype is not active all the time. Roaming between mobile and facebook accounts with skype will change that perception.

I think it could be really exciting to see what Facebook will introduce. If it will be the backward integration of Skype it could be as game changing as the social graph tools to connect the world to Facebook.

Can we expect Google Groups?

This week a very interesting presentation by Paul Adams of Google was published on Slideshare called The Real Life Social Network. He nailed some trends in social media on real behavior. It was all over the blogosphere already. It reminds me of my presentation on virtual gated communities at Reboot 11 in 2008. One of the things I was thinking about back then was the way we would create groups with different levels of privacy. It will be very interesting if the presented visions of Adams are translated into a new social approach by Google, just like the rumor that was spread this week by former CTO of Google. Interesting to see how Google are trying to use another angle to confront facebook, with a differentiation in groups. Another thought I had is still valid: can we have interoperability in these groups between different providers?

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Sociale media leren organisaties menselijk worden

Interessant antwoord op een vraag uit de zaal bij SXSW lees ik op de posterous blog van @erwblo:

Vraag via twitter, iemand die bij een verzekeraar werkt en zicht afvraagt hoe hij zich interessanter kan maken. Advies van Christina: ‘Spreek je klanten aan alsof het mensen zijn’. Applaus uit de zaal.

En dat is natuurlijk helemaal waar. En het zou zo maar kunnen dat onder invloed van de opkomst van social media en tools als Twitter organisaties gaan ontdekken dat ze op een menselijke manier moeten communiceren met hun klanten en prospects om interessant te zijn.
Continue reading Sociale media leren organisaties menselijk worden

Onbalans in communities

Jeroen Mirck postte gisteren hoe hij zijn Twitter-koppeling met de wie-wat-waar-functie van Hyves heeft uitgezet omdat hij klachten kreeg over het vervuilen door zijn tweets. Omdat hij relatief zoveel twittert worden de overzichten van hyves-vrienden ondergesneeuwd door zijn tweets.

Ik heb ditzelfde signaal weleens gehad. Niet in Hyves, maar in Plaxo. Ik word regelmatig aangesproken door niet twitterrelaties die mijn tweets in Plaxo zien, waarbij vaak gekscherend wordt gezegd dat die wel heel dominant zijn. Nog niet tot directe klachten gekomen, maar ik maar besloten preventief te handelen. 

Continue reading Onbalans in communities