Trends: Impacts Of The Era of Social Colonization –Every Webpage to be Social

One of the key findings from the very popular report The Future of the Social Web (which has been translated into over a dozen languages by the community) is that identity technologies like Facebook Connect, OpenID, as well as existing identities will soon colonize the web, making every webpage a social experience even if they don’t choose to participate.

[Soon, every product page and webpage will be a social experience even if brands don’t choose to participate]

Although the identity space is still in it’s adolescence, many of the vendors agree on the direction to head, but not exactly how to get there. Secondly, there’s many different groups coming together from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and the third party OpenID foundation that are trying to make their specific requirements work with each other.

Once the different parties representing the identity systems agree on the specifics and start to implement we’ll still need to see a transport method that will allow these identities to appear on any webpage:

How Every Page Could Be a Social Experience

• Connective APIs. Expect to at the highest level technologies like Facebook Connect and OpenStack to allow third party sites to connect with websites without users having to give up their login credentials or personal information essentially bypassing the annoying registration page.
• Social inlays and overlays. At the next level, expect social networks to create ‘overlay’ experiences so their social experience will traverse every webpage. If you currently click on a link within Facebook to a third party site it will open inside the Facebook experience. We also see this with Digg, with it’s “Digg Bar” experience.
• Browsers to add social functionality. Expect every browser to provide a social experience. Finally, at the next level, expect pervasive technologies like browsers to start to become social. Expect Google’s Chrome to allow your Gmail contacts to share their experiences on every webpage and product you visit. In fact, startups like GetGlue are already experimenting with aggregating reviews from a person’s network using Firefox plugins.
• Birth of the Social Inbox. In the most radical future, content will start to appear on a new type of aggregation webpage that resembles both email and newspages. I’m watching vendors like Friendfeed to aggregate public and some private data, expect Facebook and Google Wave to present unique new experiences we’ve not seen yet. As people interact socially with others on the internet, expect social networks to aggregate the colonization creating a new type of ‘Social Inbox’ (more on that soon). Expect to see Microsoft Live, Yahoo Mail, Gmail/Google Wave start to merge with social networks, birthing a new type of communication and collaboration platform. Why does this matter? because fragments of the corporate websites will be aggregated into these platforms, in a social context.

[As a result, people will lean on the opinions and experiences of their trusted network diminishing traditional marketing efforts]

Key Impact: A Shift to Customer Opinion Over Corporate Messaging
More importantly, this means that your customers will be able to rely on their immediate friends and trusted network to make decisions not just nameless customer reviews like on Amazon from folks you don’t know. This means they will also start to rely more on each other for reviews not the marketing created by brands. This also applies to the real world not just online, as people can access digital devices on mobile social networks to find out which stores, restaurants and activities their trusted network prefers.

Power continues to shift to the participants, and away from irrelevant corporate websites.


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Trends: Impacts Of The Era of Social Colonization Every Webpage to be Social http://bit.ly/aAJ9c by @jowyang


67 Replies to “Trends: Impacts Of The Era of Social Colonization –Every Webpage to be Social”

  1. Another great post Owyang!
    I definitely see the merit of social colonization as it would provide users with more trust worthy information of products and services, not to mention convenience!

    However, a conversation I had with my friend last weekend sparked my curiosity about the trade-off between these benefits and privacy. Facebook Beacon got burned hard when they tried this a few years ago. I think there are a lot of people out there, who would like to remain anonymous and do everything they can to do this (from deleting cookies to purchasing a future prospective service that would keep their clients information private).

    Do you think there needs to be an outside regulation (i hate to say this… but from the government? :[) to enforce companies to respect people’s choice in how much information they would like to share?

    Also, do you think this movement would give much more power to the trusted 3rd party influencers (i.e influential bloggers like yourself)? :]

  2. BK

    The only way this will work is if: 1) Users are informed up front about how this will work 2) it’s all opt-in.

    Yes, expect the government to pay more attention, just as they’ve started to examine sponsored conversations and other WOM marketing.

  3. Interesting concept. So what would a company do (or could they do) to ensure that the conversation stays on the corporate website? Start a forum on their own site? Or should they do nothing and just let the conversation flow where it will?

    There are already laws against companies sharing information gathered about customers for specific purposes (such as fulfilling an order, or sending a newsletter). It wouldn’t be a stretch to extend these laws to online social networks. Always amazes me when people agree to let Facebook share their info with everyone, but won’t let a store share the same info with anyone. Doesn’t make sense.

  4. Very thoughtful post my man. Thanks. I agree, since we naturally rank products or experiences higher based on who and how they were recommended to us. It makes sense to extend that to any and all relevant parts of your online brand.

    @jgraziani – Why would you want people to only talk on your corporate website. There are MILLIONS of other people that you should want to have talking about your brand. Free flow my friend, go where the conversation and your customers are .

    My bet is it’s not your homepage.

  5. The spread of social media as mainstream media will continue to drive the adoption of standards such as OpenID in this space. Cannot happen soon enough I think – I dislike having to maintain PW & ID’s in a dozen+ places.

  6. Jess_Sloss, the more time people spend on any website, the more likely they are to see other items/ideas etc., that interest them. More interaction, drives more traffic, drives more sales, and on and on. I’m not saying that it’s the only place a company would want people to talk about them. Obviously, chatter on a lot of websites is even better. 🙂

    Steven Groves, Couldn’t agree with you more! I wish every site would use OpenID.

  7. This is very thoughtful post with context “Social Colonization”. When I was implementing Facebook Connect for “www.shopnics.com”, I found there is lots more value proposition to this. The concept of “every experience is Social” can bring lots of additional value addition. Apart from removing the Registration Page, I am sure that we can create a virtual Social networks and discover new findings everyday.
    I also agree with Jess that this should not be limited to corporate websites, should be anywhere from a blogging sites to a review site.

  8. Thanks for another great post. I’m sure we’re going to see the term Social Colonization being adapted quickly in the blogosphere.

    Another step towards company accountablility at all times.

  9. I think right now marketing’s job is to ship a prototype to some people, get opinions and iterate fast, then just offer great customer service and talk to people a lot.

    In the future I see a product “page” being automatically generated from three perspectives:
    1. information from the company (controlled by company)
    2. customer feedback/ support / buzz tracking gathered from the social web (no control)
    3. number 2. tailored according to your interests and social graph

    @jgraziani there’s a big difference in having Facebook share your data and having a store share your data. It’s the perception of what you get in return that matters. And the perception of what you give away and to whom. If Facebook shares my data with an advertised, I have no idea about it so it does not bother me. If they share my data with an app, I feel like there’s not so much data in there and the app gives me some benefit.

    If a store shares some data with others, I have some preconceptions. The first one is that the store has financial information about me, which I perceive as a huge deal to give away.

    Secondly, I have the perception that the only reason a store would give away my data would be for the purpose of spammy advertising, which I don’t want. It may not be true, but that’s where advertisers have driven us.

    Thirdly, the store has my money, I feel like they got enough from me already for the benefit they gave me. I don’t feel that by letting them use my data I could get some other benefit that’s worth it. And I learned to read the smalltype, so I know there’s not really a free lunch.

    Don’t know if that’s what always happens, it’s what I feel about this difference

  10. Amitav Chak

    Yup, it’s not just corporate webpages, it’s EVERY page on the web. It’s just my focus is very business angled, sometimes I’m myopic.

  11. Dragos, good, you’ve got the vision, esp around the 3 components of aggregation.

    The future product pages will be aggregations of the living conversation. Why? The trusted conversations are already happening on other locations, so to regain that trust, aggregating it closer to the corporate page will bring customers closer.

    The trick is, will brands allow for the trusted negative conversations to bubble up on their product pages? The only company That I’ve known to do this is Sun, who used Technorati to pull in blog post discussing products.

  12. A great post Jeremiah. One of the reasons I love reading your write-ups is because it gives my grey matter a ‘high’ for a while afterwards wondering about the possibilities.

    I think instead of fighting the change or trying to ‘reverse’ it, smart companies should already be thinking about how to leverage this era of social colonization to stay ahead in the race. I envision multiple ways one can do this — and one of them being a radical change in the product development arena. I think the product life cycle and the new product launch process will go through a total makeover from the way we know it today to accomodate the dynamic nature of customer retention and loyalty based on colonization.

  13. Great Post! Probably the earlier ideas of web semantics using the ‘text’ of the web is now morphing into the “id” — as given by Sigmund Freud — of the web. Perhaps we will see a social box as against a thick, heavy client that is today called computers – we might see a SocBook [just my branding] that hooks up all the good stuff that I may be interested in – Wines, Cigars, Movies, Music, etc .. and have the relevant blogs, media, etc. right on it. It might even beep to tell us where Yo Yo Ma will perform next week or when is the next wine tasting in Portugal.

  14. The article is fantastic. I agree that at a point in time the Web will be a singular social experience. Where the online experience will not be based on you searching for information but that information being presented to you. Where it’s only the information that you care about interacting with; whether it’s a new product line, a vacation package, a job proposal, a friend request, etc.

  15. Ramon

    Good, you’re thinking, ready for the next bit? In the future, humans seeking websites as destinations will change –info will come to us rather than us going to it.

  16. “The trick is, will brands allow for the trusted negative conversations to bubble up on their product pages?”

    Actually, TellShell was probably the first experiment in an open community. It went poorly though the conversation found there was dynamic, including some critical comments about Shell as well as supportive comments. Enough participants thought it censored the conversation that an alternative tellshell.org was developed.

  17. Hi Jeremiah,

    Excellent post!
    I really love the concept of “social colonization”, even though any form of colonization has a social impact.
    I suppose it’s the same as “social media”…

    Anyway, another great benefit of this shift is that companies will finally get rid of their many local websites. Some companies have over hundreds of different websites in order to reflect their “proximity”. Isn’t THAT a waste of valuable resources?!
    Though they use the local language, most of the content is just replicated and does not really take into consideration the local culture, and more important the people they’re supposed to be connected with. This new shift will not only help people make better decisions but it will allow companies to better understand their markets by becoming more customer centric. It will also transform the way companies allocate their budgets and time, producing more relevant content.

    Another huge benefit is that we will finally get rid of this archaic communication model called email!!!

  18. Although I see the validity of your projections for the future of social media and its impact on the overarching strategy for both consumers and business, I disagree with your conclusion that “people will lean on the opinions and experiences of their trusted network –diminishing traditional marketing efforts”. First, word of mouth recommendations have always been a part of business strategy, particularly in the service sector. When seeking a doctor or a plumber, are you really going to look to the Yellow Pages or other marketing materials to make a selection. The answer is probably no, you will ask a neighbor or family member. Social media allows us to extend the concept of neighbor and provides a wider range of opinions. The danger here is information overload. Too many opinions and too many recommendations can paralyze a consumer.

    Second, marketing does not create a need for a product. Marketing promotes a previously discovered need among consumers and seeks to exploit a company’s answer that fills this need. Good marketers will monitor social media, like any other part of the external environment, so suss out changes, attitudes to products and services, and new needs to be filled. If used properly, marketers will actually sharpen marketing techniques by being better able to project responses to products prior to their release and develop products that answer the need. This research can now be done more accurately, and less expensively than traditional marketing research efforts which rely on sampling of a small portion of the population. I think that traditional marketing research efforts will diminish, but that actual marketing efforts will increase, be more targeted, and more effective. Marketers will use social media in a variety of fashions, including the potential to pose as consumers and offer opinions and influence buyer perception by adjusting their methods and message to better fit what is perceived by the consumer.

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  20. Then eventually Social Media will take over part of Tokyo…

    The social experience will continue to become a growing force and evolve into a dominant trend, but it won’t blanket the user experience. 1) it would cease to add value to the customer experience 2) the “$5,000 paint job on a $500 car,” effect – too much for some pages. Some sights are simply insightful or informative and don’t need all the social bells and whistles

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  23. Expect every browser to provide a social experience. Finally, at the next level, expect pervasive collector-solar.com technologies like browsers to start to become social. Expect Google’s Chrome to allow your Gmail contacts to share their experiences on every webpage and product you visit. In fact

  24. Excelleny article Jeremiah. I for one am looking forward to the possible “socialization” of the browser. For example, when I visit a website there would be a “sticky note” that lets me see who of my contacts have been there, why and what they thought. Though excellent from a consumer perspective it could be companies biggest challenge. Word of mouth will once again become the champion in the marketing area. Thanks for the great post!

  25. I don't thing that keeping the conversation on coroprate site is important. In my opininon you have to work hard to build community around your business on major social networking websites(FB, Twitter…). It doesn't matter where do the customers hear and talk about your company, all that matters is that they do talk about you.

  26. Type your comment here.and there is nothing we can do about it. Brands had better get on board ASAP or be lost in the clutter of the static web.

  27. Type your comment here.and there is nothing we can do about it. Brands had better get on board ASAP or be lost in the clutter of the static web.

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