Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: Dec 12, 2007


I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly summary, please send to your busy executives.

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Web Strategy Summary: To know
Busy Week: LinkedIn, Bebo, and Friendster launches their platform the opportunity to build a business platform and expand it’s value is at hand. Facebook withdraws the Beacon feature to make it more of an opt-in capability, although users continue to use website and media starts to simmer.

What it means: Trends
It’s very clear the trend for social networks to become ‘containers’ for ‘widgets’ to be deployed on top of them is at hand. The challenge is that OpenSocial has not arrived and multiple APIs are being delivered. Every community is different, so apps wont adopt consistently regardless. No one has done a great job figuring out how to most effectively monetize, expect more experimentation to occur.

Platform: Friendster launches platform with 180 partners
Boasting over 50 million users, Friendster launches it’s widget application platform with 180 applications, this is clearly a trend as many social networks become ‘containers’ for developers. They’ve also localized the site for Japan, Korean and Chinese. The challenge of course is that there are multiple APIs and datasets for each app.

Platform: Bebo also launches platform
With over 40 million users, Bebo launches it’s platform with many of the same developers from other networks. There are over 40 developers partners announced with this new feature. More from SFGate

Platform: LinkedIn launches platform, new features
LinkedIn, popular business social network launches new homepage, modules, and most importantly a platform that let’s approved third party developers, I’ve done some analysis looking at pros and cons, start there.

Features: MySpace and Facebook offer VoIP
A minor at best ‘partnership’ MySpace and Facebook team up to offer Voice Over IP (free telephone calls) to MySpace members. Huge reach for Skype, and excellent opportunity for MySpace to ‘get into’ the instant messaging space.

Funding: European Social Network for students raises funds
Small (300,000 members) but early Facebook like social network Bahu raises funds, 1 million dollars.

Widgets: Can be an advertising network
I’m hearing more news of widgets (which are deployed to affinity groups) on single networks and even a single widget can be placed on multiple platforms can be a great source of viral advertising. Expect to see more examples of successful widget developers offering advertising packages to brands.

Research: AMA has SoNet stats on shoppers in holiday season

The American Marketing Association (AMA) has released their findings from a recent survey showing the value that buyers have for seasonal shopping, in context of social networking sites.

Measurement: Search terms and Attention for MySpace, Facebook grow
Ask reveals that users queried MySpace very frequently, in fact, the most frequently. Social Networks, at least for ask.com users are top of mind (or hard to find). Compete also has data on ‘time spent’ on social networks; MySpace 6.3 hours per month and Facebook 2.8 hours per month. Lastly, Compete has numbers on the increase in usage of Facebook over the past term.

Blowback: More scrutiny after Facebook’s BeaconGate
In addition to the many critics of last week’s privacy issues of Beacon’s retraction, there’s also speculation that Beacon may have been inflating the web usage numbers.

Growth: 10,000 Application growth in two quarters
Facebook’s amount of applications hits the 10,000 mark. Just opened this summer, the platform has had rapid growth as developers can now launch web products on top of existing communities.

Mobile: Social Network allows singles to flirt
LimeJuice, (watch the entertaining demo) a social network aimed at the mobile medium lets members flirt with each other, and for singles to connect. For the active socialite, these types of technologies are springing up everywhere. A majority of the time, the end result is proximity (location) and profile (interests) matching which results in real-world meeting. More on this evolving industry.

Advertising: Contextual advertising may not be effective
Alex over at RWW gives some analysis on the effective ability of contextual ads in Facebook and other social networks. He draws the conclusion that they are really not that accurate. I’ve had some situations where the ads served as very, very targeted and accurate. (salsa dancing teaching in SF, which is what I like to do and where I live…all in my profile). On the other hand, there’s direct proof it’s not working at all.

Advertising: Against policy, Facebook users advertise
Weblo, a company swimming upstream helps users to advertise based upon their popularity using Facebook profiles. This is just the start, network based buying and selling will increase over time as people connect to online networks.

Messaging Features: Facebook enables messages to be read in email
Messages in Facebook can now be read in email email, this saves users a few extra steps from having to click on each email. I find the timing of this feature release interesting, was it coincidence it was launched after the series of privacy blows they were getting, or was this a tactful way to garner positive press?

What else should be on this list?

It’s my job to be aware of this industry, I cover it as an analyst. Leave a comment if you’ve interesting articles to submit, they may make next week’s digst.

Although I posted this last week, it’s still important, someone in the industry mentioned to me that “Jeremiah, everyones following your tweets and blog”. I responded “When you look closer, it’s actually the other way around…I’m watching you!”