Social: Time to push beyond the web.


Social Networking is the groundswell of this decade. With adoption growing faster than grasp, Facebook, Twitter and many more have glued the mobs to their screens and mobiles. Businesses flock to de-mystify the use of social channels for profit or even just brand image. As people talk, share, tweet and post, patterns of use self-organize, experiences mature and something interesting unfolds: the concept of people sharing vivid experiences in time and places requires more than just web and mobile.

The Social Experience is Confined

The Social Networking experience today is confined to the web. With mobile “companion” experiences, the point of contact remains the computer or handheld device. The interactions are rich, and now include location awareness and rich media. But they still heavily rely on users taking on the entire task of  self-reporting.

This burden of self-report can greatly dilute expression in time and places. A rich social activity report today consists  of a user sharing their location, what they’re doing, who they’re with and including content, such as a photo, at a time very close to the experience itself. Such reports are rare. Instead, more common are detailed “post-experience” or plain “in-experience” reports. The reason is simple.  Interrupting experience to take the time to report is unnatural and in fact reduces the experience itself.   

In a nutshell, the current social networking experience confines us to trade richness for timeliness. And for the average Social Joe, which does not like to spend too much time providing details of an experience, most social activity consists of reporting things that do not truly carry the essence of people, time and place, such as content (links, videos, photos, thoughts, celebrity gossip, etc.)

What do we need? More natural and spontaneous ways of capturing experiences.  Integrating social experiences beyond the web represents a crucial step towards a more natural capture of experiences that reveal the true social nature of people, time and place in engaging ways.

Unleashing:  Outdoor and Physical Experiences

We are social in the way we live and share experiences together. These experiences mostly happen in dynamic contexts, such as while visiting a store, dancing in a club, eating at a restaurant. A true capture of these experiences involves technology and a level of automation which allows seamless, unintrusive, engaging and rich auto-reporting all at the same time. A few examples…

Interactive Club/Lounge Tables

Jennie’s out with some friends. They head to their favorite club. The doorman greets the regulars and seats them in the lounge area. As they sit, their table comes to life. The “digital bar” lights up, and engages you to touch through a delicious selection of cocktails, drinks and other lounge treats. Within seconds of amazement the drinks are ordered. But this gets better.  The “digital bar” puts Jennie & Friends on screen and prompts them to Tweet or post to Facebook. Within seconds, all smiles are on Jennie’s Facebook page and a tweetpic, location and shout out on Twitter. Now that’s accurate activity feeding… Within minutes, Jennie’s phone buzzes. Dave is on his way.

The Virtual Dress-up

You walk into Abercrombie. The famous giant sized frame at the entrance seems to have more glitter. As you make your way through the entrance, the frame comes to life and you suddenly see yourself on screen, wrapped in the latest A&F outfit.  Startled with excitement, you grab your phone, you just have to share this! But wait… the screen calls you up and reads  “Show your friends how good you look in A&F. Touch here…”. A few touches later, the word is out, and your moment of dress-up fame is out on your profile page. Abercrombie flavored, of course…

Automated Sharing

Automated sharing basically means providing a user the ability to share rich activity details with minimal effort. Tagging a product in a store lets your friends know where you’re shopping and what you’re digging. Scanning a 2D code at the museum posts a vignette of the art you admired, with picture, a bit of history and the museum hours. During movie previews,  snapping and sending a 2D tag shown on screen lets your friends know you’re at the movies and what you’re watching, trailer included. 

Opportunity: win-win for users and marketers

Moving social interactions beyond the web shifts control towards the conversation “enabler”. As a user, your ability to easily share is traded for a marketer’s ability to integrate relevant content and brand into your expression. And the trade seems quite fair, since the relevance of your message is also increased. User generated branded conversations, or marketing nirvana.  Time to push beyond the web?

Comments please…  





5 Responses to “Social: Time to push beyond the web.”

  1. My solution is promoting events through social networks, rallying up hundreds of people and rioting in the streets of London(Seattle). problem solved.

  2. 2 Mike

    Was just thinking about something like this. The details of “reporting”, the technical stuff, takes significant time and effort…knowledge too.

    When it becomes automated they’ll be a constant (and rich) “flow” of sights, sounds, people, places, events. As always, the question will be, “what to watch?” and what to participate in…

  3. 3 Celeste

    I’m not sure if I would want all that information about where I’m at and what I’m doing to be automatically published to anywhere. I value my privacy. However if it could be set up to a one button push to automatically publish what I set up to be published of my whereabouts and doings that would be cool.

  4. 4 olgs

    hi nathan,

    awesome post! i really think that you have tapped into a new realm of thinking in social media. it doesn’t feel quite as forced as it does right now. it seamlessly integrates into our every day lives. i love it!


  5. What’s so great about the examples you provided was they can work in a multitude of business models. Buying a car? You’re at the dealership, take it for a test drive, car has a little camera on the dashboard that snaps your photo on your test drive, and when you’re back at the dealership, you can update your facebook, twitter, etc. with your thoughts on the car, complete with a photo.

    More than consumer products, though, I really think this type of marketing has more potential for large events. Following your first example (the interactive bar), that could be a great way to promote festivals and concerts as well. Having fun at the show? Let your friends know right now about that great new band you just saw, complete with links to the band’s site with sample tracks, photos and video.

    We’re already heading in this direction, though it is the consumer that is pushing everyone there. People are already using iPhones/Blackberries/other mobile devices to update their social network status on the fly. I imagine it would cost a pretty penny for a business to make that kind of social interaction easily accessible, but in the long run, I think this type of marketing would have a bigger ROI than your standard advertisements on TV or in print. Amazon showed us the power of user recommendations, and wasn’t hard to see how that carried over to other online stores. It’s going to take some work to convince businesses with actual physical locations to invest in ideas like these, but I think it would be worth it.

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