Saturday, September 8, 2007

How social can you get?

All of a sudden there seem to be more social networks than you can shake a stick at. Social networks for kids in high school, social networks for college kids... ok so that's not news. How about a social network for euro trash, a social network for boomers, a social network for 18-30 year old disabled people, social network for people who like corsets... if you can think of it, there is probably a social network you can join for it.

Exactly what is a "social network"? I sure don't know. The folks over at Facebook seem to be trying to distance themselves from the concept. They are NOT a social network any more. According to the Guardian "the site is simply a utility, a communications tool, and a social graph that maps the real world actions of its users".

If you believe Facebook is a trend setter - I sure do - then its worth paying attention to how they are positioning themselves. Is "social network" yesterday's label? I think it may be.

Social networks have a stigma of being a place where young kids "hang out and party". That's not what this all this social stuff is about.

NetFlix just made an interesting announcement in an updated terms of use email they sent out this week. Here is part of what it said:

Effective this weekend, we're improving our Netflix Friends feature so you can enjoy:
  • Seeing your Friends' Friends - including their 5-star movies as well as their nickname, city and state.
  • Saving reviewers and other members of the Netflix Community as "Favorites."
  • A new Community home page that shows your Friends (and Favorites) rating and review activity, as well as other ways to discover movies Community members have enjoyed.
That's a lot of "friends" stuff in a terms of service upgrade. The point?

The point is that social must become a part of the fabric of any web property or application that wants to stay current. Netflix is making their rent-a-movie experience a more social experience. Social is about sharing, discussing and discovering with friends and that will start happening everywhere you go. It's not about joining a network, its about being able to share, compare and collaborate where you are. That's social.

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