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It's diet time. I suspect social networks will be going on a low fat diet, seeking more meaning, utility and value.
Suppose you could segment your ever-expanding social network into a more digestible subset of social influence? Imagine if a subset of your peer influence network could reconstitute for very specific reasons.
Now what if you could survey this unique subset to get their rapid response on a specific subject. Or maybe this subset dynamically generates into a unique social graph based on the context of the site you're currently visiting. Taking it one step further, what if you could instant message your subset right from the third party site to tap into their influence you trust most at the point of purchase. Pretty interesting. Powerful. More valued I think.
A recent post by Alisa Leonard-Hansen on data portability got me thinking about all this. Alisa notes how sending my social graph to a third party site, say Amazon, turns Amazon into a social brand. So if I could instantly tap into my unique subset of peer influence for a book recommendation, it’s good for me and good for Amazon. Seller of books. Alisa talks further about this on the Mashable blog and how Facebook Connect is working it. Or not. Alisa contends, and I agree, that Facebook needs to see that their real bounty is stacked high in the rich user data they cultivate from being a communications platform. And not a content site. So if I allow Facebook to send my info over to Amazon, every one wins on the shared revenue deal. Even me. Amazon gives me reward credits for letting them use my peer influence.
So I was giving more thought on how the people I connect with, at any level of the relationship, could help me make a decision if they're aligned with me right.
For starters, my social network is the tapestry of people I weave into it. Some are "A-Listers" whom I already benefit from their heavy lifting aggregation of stuff. Then there's other people who are just really smart in certain things, like how to hack my blog to expand the graphic header. And, of course, my genuine Tweetup beer friends. The point being, if a relevant subset of my social influencers could help inform a specific action task, I just might buy the right dooshersnoozle.
I kind of look at this whole thing like an ever-flowing open bazaar of marketers, merchants and people you really, really trust. Each has a unique offer:
For starters, there are the mass Markets of social influence. I let this market flow of ideas, books and interesting stuff wash over me. Keep me soaked with what's happening. If I see some of them show up on my "network of friends" on Amazon, I could be influenced by their book recommendations.
Then there are the Merchants of Authority. These are the "go to" experts you talk to about hacking your blog. You might even give them money. In a recent post on the /message blog, Stowe Boyd chimes in on influence authority. Stowe points out that all too often celebrity is mistaken for authority in the hierarchical socialsphere. Authority in any subject, irregardless of celebrity. Simple math: celebrities have a fan base. It's quantifiable. Niche experts don’t have the congregation. But if I’m looking to buy a boat, I want to hear from someone I trust and who knows that a Jib is not half of the JibJab.
115 Tennessee Shad and 34 Chrome Blue | landbigfish
And finally there's the refuge of Confidants. People you trust. Your local Tweetup crew. This is the emotional pinnacle of social influence. The level where you risk, and gain, the most. Where the heart is. I'm going to explore some of that contextual text scanning stuff that recognizes the nuance that segments "I like that advice." with the Merchant influencers while, "Are you okay man?" moves into the much revered Confidants slot. So if I want the bags removed from below my eyes, I’m going trust my Confidants for that surgeon purchase.
Kate Niederhoffer over on the Abacus Social blog asked a diverse group of researchers to share their thoughts on the future of measurement. A key consensus among the group was "the need to substantially advance our understanding of individuals and the meaningful connections they have."
I'm going to check out some of the things that will make data portability meaningful. After all, data portability is merely the vehicle. What rides in it is where the real value hits the road.
I'll be lured to where my world graphs to where its traveling. This is the valued currency of social capital. Or soon will be.