It’s all about who you know, right? I know lots of people, but how do lots of people know that I know lots of people? Well, that’s where my latest obsession comes in. Yes, I am fascinated, no, absolutely smitten with social networking. I’ve been dabbling with it for more than a year now when I first joined LinkedIn (thanks to Ed Weaver). Now I have almost 1,000 connections there (mostly with people I don’t really know, but that like to connect with me). More recently, I’ve been experimenting with Myspace, which is less business oriented, but actually a lot more fun (but definitely not as productive). I’ve been suprised at some of the old friends I’ve found on Myspace, and also at the depth of information that people put in their profiles. This opens up a whole new nightmare for HR professionals as well as PR folks, but it’s still awesome in a Reality TV, trailer park kind of way.
Let’s see what I’ve discovered – one guy I went to Journalism school with is now a gay homeless man living in Seatlle that likes to post pictures of himself in diapers. Glad to know his education paid off (he was always a strange one who liked to fart in the middle of the dark room during deadline time, I’ll never forgive him for that). I discovered that ex-professor of mine is into weird sexual stuff involving swings and uncomfortable piercings I found out that a girl my brother used to date is now a professional golfer (I always knew she could kick his butt) and then I received several inappropriate messages from college buddies asking me why it took me, the internet geek, so long to get on the bandwagon (for the record, I thought, and still do think, that it’s really for teenagers. I’m just doing research).
But the real question – how can this form of communication be monetized? Myspace is charging a helluva lot for advertising these days. I see that the upcoming move "Date Movie" is offering a "Pimp my Profile" contest (clever, but slightly overplayed IMO). So advertising inventory is definitely there. But I can’t help but think that this type of advertising won’t pay off in the long run. It’s untargeted and aiming at a community that really doesn’t want to be advertised too.
For natural search marketers, there are implications in social networking that can’t be ignored, such as the possibility of a ton of links from a ton of people. Linkbaiters, set your hooks.
And then there is the viral marketers who are salivating. It’s amazing that I seem to see the same quizzes over and over on different profiles.
I think I really need to learn the space more – and not just from a user perspective, but from a professional standpoint as well. I think that I could really get into the marketing of social networking. I love the sociological aspect of it, and it’s addictive nature makes reality television look like the Maclaughlin report in terms of stickiness.
Got a profile, let me know. I promise you I’ll be your friend.