Magazine article CRM Magazine

The 5 Phases of Social Experience: The Social Web Is about to Evolve-Again. Are You Ready to Evolve, Too?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The 5 Phases of Social Experience: The Social Web Is about to Evolve-Again. Are You Ready to Evolve, Too?

Article excerpt

THE SOCIAL EXPERIENCE is disjointed because consumers have separate identities in each social network. But social is about to evolve into a simple set of technologies that enable a portable identity, empowering a consumer to maintain her identity and making any Web experience and many in-store experiences a social event. This will radically change how we know business. This social experience will see five eras:

1. Era of Social Relationships: We've already reached maturity with this stage. It took off in the 1990s with people connected to each other using simple profiles and "friending" features to share information, discussions, and media. It is the foundation of the changes to come.

2. Era of Social Functionality: Although not yet mature, we entered this phase in 2007. Today's social networks have evolved into platforms that support social interactive applications and provide new meaning and utility to communities. Most of these applications appear to be disposable, and we've yet to tap into the true business functionality of applications such as e-commerce and workplace productivity. Even when maturity arises with this era, consumers will share their experiences but won't connect them across networks. Among U.S. consumers who visit MySpace, Facebook, or LinkedIn at least monthly, 42 percent juggle at least two social network IDs. And 63 percent are also in discussion forums with yet another ID. This creates friction for consumers who must manage multiplying personal information and username/ password combinations. It's hard to keep track of connections when your contacts may be in Facebook, MyT Space, LinkedIn, Ning, Twitter, or a hundred other places.

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3. Era of Social Colonization: Technologies like OpenID will let individuals traverse the Internet with their social connections along for the ride. The boundaries of social networks and traditional sites will blur, making every site a social experience--even if they don't choose to participate. New browsers and identity technologies will let consumers choose to surf the Web and see what sites their friends have visited--and what they thought of the information there. …

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