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Getting a little help from your friends was easy enough for Lennon and McCartney, but in an age of Google Circles, Facebook lists and Twitter followers - it is far from clear what friendship actually means. Worse still, marketers are muddying the waters. Brands used to want to brainwash us - now they want to be our friends. But consider this for a moment. What if social marketing was not about getting your customers to like you on Facebook but rather fixing a much bigger problem? Namely, trust.
Now that it is fashionable to be sociable, those wretched share buttons are turning up everywhere. Read an article, book a flight, buy some shoes, finish a book - you are endlessly encouraged to let other people know. Surely it won’t be long, before they even ask us to tweet about paying our traffic fines. But here’s the problem. Making it easy for people to share is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for social success. People are happy to share things when they feel like it. The real question then, is what motivates them?
Selling out your friends might not seem the best way to nurture your relationships, but if the transaction involves hooking them up with their dream job - they just might forgive you. Top Prospect is an innovative new startup that connects with your existing contact networks on platforms such as LinkedIn, and then allows you to suggest friends for job roles. If they get the job - you get paid a bonus - anywhere between US$5,000 and US$20,000 depending on the role.
Before you get too excited at turning your colleagues into cash, at this stage most of the job roles are in the US, and there is also a heavy tech sector skew. Nevertheless, Top Prospect is an intriguing concept and one of many new services that I predict we will see in the future that enable hyper-connectors to better commercialise their networks.
If you watch technology long enough, you get to see it become socialised. Cyber punk author Gibson said it well - "The Street finds its own uses for things". Networked audiences, powerful image and video capture devices, and simple publishing tools are all adding up to a new social vector. During a recent chat with one of my clients, they observed drily that their new generation of users seemed to be interested in just one thing. Make me famous. Its a trend that has been bubbling for a while. Photo sharing and blog sites used to let everyone know what you and your friends have been doing. Youtube providing a platform for video confessions and gather fans. Teenagers using Myspace to package and promote themselves. Forget social identity and think personal brands.
Interesting piece on Techcrunch today about PhotoBucket - a hosting and publishing service for consumer videos and photos. The have just announced a $10.5 million Series B round with Trinity Ventures, largely on the strength of their 15 million members and their claim to drive drives 2% of total U.S. Internet traffic.
It seems that people have discovered a new hobby - talking about themselves online. And if uploading millions of pages every day about their ordinary lives and loves wasn’t enough – this rising legion of gonzo laureates are demanding their place in the sun. By all acounts, they are getting it. According to studies by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, nearly a third of US internet users read blogs. Eight million of these have created one of their own. The next phase, however, is even more interesting – distributed publicity.
© 2013 Tomorrow Limited