The next generation of the Social Network… in 3D!

I’ve been saying it for quite some time… the next generation social network will take the flat 2 dimensional environment currently available on Facebook and Twitter, and turn it into a 3Dimensional environment that will more closely resemble a real time social experience.

This evolution is already underway as explained by Mark Jeffrey in his most recent article titled “The Return of Real-Time Social Environments” – Mashable. As he mentions there are already apps available that can be used with Facebook and Twitter. These apps can integrate with your existing social networks so that you can invite your friends to share in these experiences. One of these examples is Shaker.

Created as a Facebook app, Shaker lets users enter an environment that resembles a bar. You can see and interact with other avatars that look like mannequins. Users can chat, dance, give other users virtual drinks, see which of your Facebook friends are nearby and invite them to join the fun.

To me this idea is only the beginning, you will eventually see fully blown social networks that are designed from the ground up to have this 3dimensional experience built in. You will also see this evolution continue to develop within the existing social network infrastructure, specially since Facebook and Twitter already have the masses actively participating.

One example that I mentioned in a previous blog post would be for a video content provider like Netflix or a movie studio to create an environment where a member can invite his or her friends to go watch a movie, there would be a virtual movie theater where everybody could join in on the fun. The experience of renting a movie and watching it online can now extend from an individual experience typically had in the home to one that will be online with many other users. This will obviously have to be monetized so each guest will have to pay a fee for their movie ticket. The benefit to the content provider is that the content is delivered once to a group of people who can then share in the experience together. The advantage to the user is that he or she can now have more fun watching that video content with his or her friends.

Similar opportunities and environments can be created for other content providers like game developers, can you imagine playing a role playing game like Doom or Mass Effect where your friends can also join in and play in real time within a virtual Game Room of your favorite social network? The possibilities are endless… More to come as I explore this idea further and come up with more cool ideas for the next Social Network.

Amplify’d from mashable.com
Mark Jeffrey
5 hours ago by Mark Jeffrey


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Max Jeffrey is a serial entrepreneur, podcaster and novelist. He co-founded ThisWeekIn.com, ZeroDegrees, SuperSig and The Palace and is currently writing the sequel to Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant (HarperCollins, 2011).

The last few months have seen an explosive resurgence in real-time environments, last popular in the late ’90s. The interesting thing is that this new zeitgeist seems to have taken root in multiple places within the space of a few short weeks.

I’ve seen this all before: I was one of the founders of an avatar chat company called The Palace, Inc. back in 1995. Although quite popular (10 million users at its peak in 1998), The Palace never found a revenue stream that worked. As Jake Winebaum once told me, Palace was a phenomenon, not a business. He was right. But that was then, and this is now.

The New Real-Time Landscape

Let’s examine a few examples. Avatar-based chat room Shaker took the gold two weeks ago at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Created as a Facebook app, Shaker lets users enter an isometric environment that resembles a bar. You can see and interact with other fully articulated avatars that look like mannequins. Users can chat, dance, give other users virtual drinks, see which of your Facebook friends are nearby and invite them to join the party. There is no “point” to Shaker interaction; it’s simply fun and engaging.

Then, there’s the twin phenomenon of Turntable.fm and Chill.com. Turntable lets you enter a virtual room (again with an avatar) and either DJ yourself or listen to other users select music. Chill is much the same idea, only it showcases YouTube videos or real-time streamed events. The idea behind both is shared media consumption while chatting with friends as you watch or listen together. If you recall the ’90s show Mystery Science Theatre 3000, you’ll know what I mean.

Worlize.com is perhaps the most Palace-like of the real-time spaces. Allowing for custom avatar uploads and creation of user-owned spaces, Worlize has the expressiveness, color and “aliveness” that made the Palace tick. You can invite your friends to join from Facebook or via a tweeted link. Worlize also allows for a few tricks: embedded YouTube windows and a live feed from your webcam as an avatar option.

Google Hangouts mostly centered on video party-lines wherein users could watch YouTube videos together. And with the most recent upgrade to Google+, shared whiteboards and shared desktops were added. Clearly, Google felt that the real-time environment is where the action is.

Real-Time Tech Has Come of Age

So what’s going on here? Why now, and not back then?

One of the largest challenges we faced back in the ‘90s with these environment

But now, Turntable.fm sends me email whenever one of the DJ’s I follow starts spinning virtual vinyl. And with the Facebook and Twitter integration of all these environments, rallying up an online party is not all that difficult anymore — they’re virtual flashmobs.

One of the largest challenges we faced back in the ‘90s with these environments was getting people to show up at the same time. I can’t tell you how many times I saw a Palace avatar materialize, look around at the empty room and dematerialize — only to have someone else materialize minutes later. There was no way to synchronize people’s participation.

We also faced significant technical challenges back then. The Palace and its competitors required hefty standalone clients or huge Netscape plugins crowbarred into the browser. The frequent changing of avatars, room art and real-time games meant a central server needed to coordinate a large flow of information. The “lag,” as it came to be known, destroyed the illusion of being in a space with other people. Now bandwidth is cheap, content delivery networks deliver art assets quickly, and Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds have pointed the way to solutions once unimaginable.

Lastly, real-time business models have changed significantly over the years. We had three choices with the Palace: charge for the software (nobody wanted to pay because “everything’s free on the Internet!”), charge for registration codes and “extras” (same objection) or charge for advertising. In the ‘90s, however, successful advertising on webpages was akin to sorcery, let alone advertising inside this weird little universe of speech balloons and downloadable clients. We couldn’t convince anyone to advertise at volume.

But again: that was then, and this is now. Zynga and others have shown that the purchase of in-world virtual products to “pimp” your farm, castle, mafia hideout or avatar is a highly lucrative business. Chill is already experimenting with “appointment viewing” of real-time net shows. Recently, the company experimented with This Week In Venture Capital. Finally, I profess that I’ve increased my iTunes purchases thanks to all the new music I’ve discovered within Turntable.fm rooms.

Why Now?

Back to the original question: Why is now the right time for real-time? Why has it grabbed the collective imagination at this exact moment? Simply, it is the last great frontier in social media. It is the logical extension of an already powerful trend.

We’ve been heading this way for some time. First we had Geocities — basically static shrines to this or that topic. Then we had static profiles in Ryze and Friendster and MySpace. Better, but still stale over time. Then Facebook and Twitter materialized, making near-synchronous feeds ubiquitous. It wasn’t quite real-time, but edging in that direction.

Now we’ve finally arrived — real-time is the latest social space. The technology is there and, at last, the right psychology is in place that will make these services explode. And I, for one, welcome our new avatar overlords.

Read more at mashable.com

 

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The Social Soap Box: Social Media Gets Older

Can you believe the average age of a twitter user is 39 years old?!
Most people you ask would say, there’s no way! … twitter is for the younger kids – the Gen Y, or Millennials as they call them… but not so fast. The infographic below indicates that most social media users are between the age of 35-44, with a 25% share of all social media use.

Read on for more great statistics!

Thank you @autumntt for putting together this great article!

Amplify’d from newsroom.cisco.com

The Social Soap Box: Social Media Gets Older

Autumn Truong
July 28 , 2011

Social media has only been around a decade, but the folks who frequent sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are getting older. 

A recent survey conducted by Pew Internet revealed that the average age of a user of social networking sites is 38, a big increase from the average age of 33 just three years ago. To boot, over half of all adult Internet users are now over the age of 35. The Pew research also revealed that Facebook users in particular are 43 percent more likely than other Internet users and more than three times as likely as non-Internet users to feel most people can be trusted.

I asked Peter Kim, chief strategy officer at Dachis Group, a research and consultancy firm focused on social business, to share his thoughts:

“Many sites are seeing current growth from this older demographic. Early on, companies could dismiss the need for social strategy by claiming that social networks were better suited for youth. Now, there should be no doubt left that social channels are critical for both business to consumer and employee to employee communications.

As companies shift to social business, they will need to come to terms with the realities of engagement. Trust is paramount and built through direct engagement; yet most companies are not staffed to scale up quickly in social channels. Thus the changes in corporate communications and marketing will be slow to manifest publicly. But they’ll become the basis of long-term competitive advantage for those who get it right.

What this means: companies must consider their readiness for social business. Is the organization siloed or networked? Is the culture closed or collaborative? Are the right tools being used to facilitate communications and connections?

Look to companies like Ford and Target that are shifting on the leading edge of these changes.”

Net-net: The population is aging, so it makes sense that users of social networks are getting older, too. Here’s a fairly recent infographic that gives a good breakdown of how the various age groups interact online.

Read more at newsroom.cisco.com

 

Social Media and SEO Integration… bing takes the lead from Google!

The future of Search Engine Optimization is clear… your content must now also be “Social”. Bing is making great strides in it’s integration of Facebook likes into it’s search results. The article below describes the impact this will have on the search results as well as it’s implementation within the Bing search engine. Enjoy…

Amplify’d from mashable.com

In its attempt to beat Google on its home turf, Microsoft has doubled down on Facebook to make its Bing search engine more relevant.

The changes are an expansion of last year’s Facebook integration. In the past, Bing delivered modules within search results depicting when your friends liked certain content. It also surfaced Facebook user profiles if you searched a person’s name.

Starting tomorrow though, Bing will display a lot more data from the Facebook Like button and from Facebook profiles. Here’s an overview of Bing’s new integration with Facebook:

Search result annotations: Bing now displays which search results your friends have liked. This is shown with annotations and small thumbnails under any link that your friends has liked.

Surfacing content from Likes: Let’s say Mashable or Cooks.com comes up in one of your searches, and your friends have liked specific articles or recipes from those websites. With Bing’s new Facebook integration, that content will surface right under the Mashable.com or Cooks.com search result. Bing says that this makes it easier to find the “good stuff” within core search.

Ben Parr 13 hours ago by Ben Parr 44

Read more at mashable.com

 

Best Practices for how Brands should market on Facebook

Amplify’d from www.briansolis.com

Why I Don’t Like Your Brand on Facebook

Guest post by Andrew Blakeley. Follow him on Twitter (for exclusive deals and offers!)

I recently undertook a simple Facebook experiment, inspired by a brief Monday morning rant from my boss: “This morning my yoghurt told me to find it on Facebook. It didn’t tell me why, it just told me to find it. Why on Earth would I want to find a yoghurt on Facebook? It’s a yoghurt!”

He was right, of course. As social networks slowly become the default online presence for brands to drive their consumers to, adverts, marketing and packaging has started telling us where to go. However, it hasn’t yet started telling us why to go there.

For my experiment – “Find Us On Facebook” – I vowed to Like every brand that asked me to for one week. I would then blog and analyse the various offerings of each brand, in particular how they were attempting to drive people from the offline world to the online, social, world. Here are the results:

As a marketer, I found the results very disappointing. For an industry the focuses endlessly on providing consumers with “benefits” and “reasons to believe” here was a lot of marketing asking people to take an action, without telling them what they stood to gain from it. In 2011 it’s more or less a given that your brand can be found on Facebook, and consumers know that. What they don’t know is why they should bother.

Read more at www.briansolis.com

 

Convergence of Social Media and Mobile

This is just the beginning of a wave of apps and functionality that will marry the 2 technologies into a seamless integration. The vision of having access to your content anywhere at anytime is being realized!

Amplify’d from bits.blogs.nytimes.com

T-Mobile Adds Free Calling Through Facebook

T-Mobile has 33 million customers in the United States. On Tuesday, the wireless carrier hopes to increase its reach 15-fold with a new application, Bobsled, which lets people call each other free through Facebook.

The service lets any Facebook user, even those outside of the United States, make voice calls to Facebook friends who are on Facebook chat. They can also leave public or private voice messages as wall postings for their friends.

“Even though we are a mobile company, we don’t want to be limited to mobile,” said Brad Duea, a senior vice president at T-Mobile. “We want to be where customers are, and every day, half of the Internet logs into Facebook.”

Read more at bits.blogs.nytimes.com

 

Spotlight on social commerce

Amplify’d from smartblogs.com

By Jesse Stanchak on April 19, 2011 | Comments (3)

This Spotlight on Social Commerce series is brought to you by Bazaarvoice, bringing the power of social commerce to the world’s best brands. Once a month, this blog will focus on the tactics, best practices and trends on the intersection of social media and commerce.

We’ve spent the past six months here at SmartBlog on Social Media looking at different ways companies are using Facebook as a social commerce tool. Right now you can break down Facebook commerce efforts into three major schools:

  1. Companies that blend social recommendations into their e-commerce applications.

  1. Companies that allow users to browse on Facebook, but push shoppers over to their e-commerce platform when the time comes to make an actual purchase.

  1. Companies that allow users to browse and then place an order using their credit card without ever leaving Facebook.

Read more at smartblogs.com