Top 10 Takeaways From Graphing Social West

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Graphing SocialLast week I attended Graphing Social Patterns West and reported on the sessions that took place down in San Diego. It was a great event with lots of content.

After a bit of reflection, these are my top 10 takeaways from the event.

  1. Hollywood and Video Game Players were MIA. I went through the attendee list and could not find anyone in attendance from traditional media or big gaming companies like Disney/ABC, NBC Universal, CBS, Activision, EA etc. The only person from a traditional media company was a developer from Condenast. Given the amount of time people are spending on these social networks and the growth of social gaming, the social networks are perhaps some of the biggest competitive threats and opportunities for traditional media. I was shocked by the chasm between the techies and the media.
  2. The social application space has gotten big fast and will get a lot bigger. Over the past 8 months, the Facebook application space has exploded and real companies have emerged to take advantage of the space. This is only going to get bigger as OpenSocial opens up more networks and data portability finally starts being a reality.
  3. Social objects are at the center of healthy micro-communities. I had not thought about this before, but social networks are not just about looking at each other, talking to each other and helping each other. Social objects like books, movies, cars, etc. are powerful mechanisms for building networks that link together people who don’t know each other.
  4. OpenSocial apps will grow rapidly in next six months. For the past few months, OpenSocial has been in a development mode. In the coming weeks, it will be released at MySpace an other places opening up huge new markets.
  5. MySpace will get Facebook like functionality. I got this from listening to what seemed to be a subtle conversation about the differences in the platforms and concerns by the Facebook app developers that MySpace had been self expression oriented and that Facebook had been communication oriented. Whether true or not, it seems that the effect of the open APIs will be to make all of the social networks more alike through the integration of third party applications that plug functionality gaps. No one talked about this explicitly, but when I brought it up with some of the leading developers I would get knowing smiles, but no comments.
  6. There’s money to be made, and advertising is only part of it. Virtual goods and virtual currencies are a very important part of the social business model. Advertising will play a big role, but it’s not the only way to monetize the communities that are being built by these applications.
  7. Social shopping is coming soon. Facebook will add credit card functionality and with it will come social shopping. Look for this to emerge later this year.
  8. Social networks are a powerful new force for fund raising. Beth Kanter showed that she could use social networking and social media to raise $200,000. The Obama campaign seems to be using it to raise huge amounts of money. Every organization that needs to raise money should be paying attention.
  9. We need better data. The data we get now is ok, but we need more if we are going to be able to learn and drive innovation systematically. We need data beyond page views. We need data that reflects on not just users, but also social objects.
  10. Social application development is a learnable skill. Stanford is teaching it and I’m sure other schools will too. Stanford was able to teach students to develop 50 applications and learned a lot by sharing experiences. This means that others can do this too. This is good news for traditional media as their content can be at the center of the social object, and a good social object is the basis for the good application. It’s also good news for organizations that need to raise money or that want to use social networking to build their relationships with other stakeholders.

[tags]gspwest08, graphing social, takeaways[/tags]

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