Monday, February 18, 2008

Social Notworking Sites

As we try to develop more effective and better targeted advertising, the "social networking" sites leap out as the new frontier. Yes there is a ready-made self-defined expression of particular individual likes and dislikes. But two questions, both mentioned here recently, mitigate the potential benefit:
  1. Do we have permission to use the data?
  2. Will your target actually notice the ads?
So relating the two questions we have a third, even if they notice, will they be positively inclined to follow through?

Regardless of whether they are useful for marketers, the question remains about whether they are of net benefit to society as a whole. The legendary Freakonomics blog asks

Two little words — “social networking” — have become a giant buzzphrase over the past couple of years, what with the worldwide march of Facebook and headline-ready stories about Web-assisted suicides. So what’s the net effect of social networking?

However, the sort of people who tend to be asked those questions, the self-proclaimed and industry-acclaimed gurus of the new world economy, they are surely those who who would tend to say the potential benefits outweigh the costs. I would agree.

But I still think the "site of the month" (last year MySpace, this year Facebook, next year LinkedIn, whatever) has very risky growth potential. Perhaps the future could be in individually hosted personally tailored networked sites. A bit like this one.

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