This battle isn’t about “single sign-on” – it’s about the payload that comes with it (friend networks, personal data, maybe more), it’s about the developer communities, usability and ownership. It’s very important to the future of our user experience online and it’s a fascinating study in contrasts.
The importance was further embedded in my mind after I finished a stellar presentation from the folks at Razorfish where they envision the potential for social graphs for brands. As they put it:
We believe that portable social graphs coming from Facebook, MySpace, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are going to transform how consumers interact with digital technology and each other. Marketers and web product managers must take notice today.
So what does this mean for Brand Managers?
In my eyes, Social Graphs have the potential to be one of the biggest influences on our Digital Strategies for years to come.
But don’t just take my word for it. Consider what Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang outlined as key takeaways from the Razorfish presentation.
- The social graph, when linked with traditional websites will radically change how we find, research, purchase, and support products.
- Reviews, ratings, and critiques about products will become more relevant as you can start to get information from your own network.
- Soon, social technologies will be pervasive and will impact every website –even if they choose not to participate
- Brands, and their interactive marketing agencies, are starting to include social elements in all aspects of their marketing efforts.
Consider these opportunities for brands that Razorfish outlined:
- Key influencer identification: Brands make a lot of guesses today to determine influencers. But imagine the potential if you could easily see the number of Twitter followers a person has, the number of Facebook groups they belong to and the number of posts they do on their blog.
- Product suggestions through profile scraping: Amazon gets a lot of praise for their product recommendations. But consider how much more powerful these reco’s would be if they could also use all the information listed in your online profiles.
- See reviews from people you know: Pretty self explanatory. I’d much rather see reviews from my circle of friends & co-workers than wade through hundreds of reviews from strangers.
- Consult your friends at the point of purchase: If your Social Graph is connected to an eCommerce engine, you could instantly ask your friends for advice on a purchase without leaving the buying process.
Obviously the potential of Social Graphs should not be debated. Instead, the debate should be on which format offers the biggest opportunity for Brand Managers. Should we side with one format? Or should we offer consumers both sign-ins as part of our digital brand experiences? Or should we sit on the sidelines and see what consumers decide? Or should we use our influence as brands (and holders of marketing budgets) to force the companies to work together to create a common Social Graph for the entire web?
What do you think?
NOTE: For another interesting take on social graphs, you should read the thoughts of Louis Gray of Google Friend Connect.
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