Social Web Awareness and Usage – How to Improve it?

Posted on March 24, 2008
Filed Under Musings, Social Web, Strategy | Comments Off on Social Web Awareness and Usage – How to Improve it?

Aunt Mabel from Peoria?  Her space is not myspace.  And her face is in a book of recipes or bird feeding tips, not poking her super friends on facebook.  Nearly everyone’s heard of facebook and myspace, but most people are not using these sites.  Really.

But, keep marketing and sharing and soon everyone will discover the joys of being social online, yes?  With over 2,000 web 2.0 and social-genre sites vying for mind share, it is a crowded field in which surprisingly everyone can win.

Hmmmmm…. can win? Most of the people I know think twitter is a sound made by birds, rather than a popular web 2.0 site. But winning can (notice I don’t say will) be accomplished.  Among the social website winners will be the ones that got first & got lucky, sure.  But the other winners will be the ones who started small, low-or-no-budget, and grabbed their niche.  Some of these potential winners are still being launched, as the barrier to entry to create a social site keeps dropping terms of both cost and technology. 

Assume the average human brain already has remembered, say, 1,000 existing brand names for automobiles, computers, soap, banks, designer clothes, etc.  If so, then another 2,000 new web 2.0 brands are pretty much battling our organic memory capacity as much as battling each other, yes?  But a boating enthuasiast only has to remember a few sites such as, and not the other 2,000+ general and niche communities vying for her attention.  A dog-owner enthusiast only has to remember dogster, and not catster and all those websites for other species.

And as you probably know, the winners will also be the ones who blend into the social fabric, with widgets, social apps, voting buttons to embed in blogs, and perhaps a solid social media campaign. Maybe this post is a little rambling from the title question, but maybe there is an answer. Awareness improves with usage (by more people who share with others), and usage increases due to the awareness of social sites by the Aunt Ednas & Aunt Mabels out there.  One supporting aspect of this growth cycle is improvement in the usefulness and ease-of-use of the communities.

But, as someone who loudly writes that it’s not cool to overly do online-social activity as a substitute for offline-social interaction, I see us rubbing up against the attention paradox.  Everyone is pushing us to stretch the online attention envelope, and the sound of the birds I hear right now becomes real solace, pulling me offline to go jogging, to relax, instead of doing the rather unnatural act of channeling my social time & activities through the tips of ten fingers (… and into the keyboard… over to some web server).  Sometimes we can all feel too lazy to type. What will help online social growth is the same old same old – improvement of the platform – but also… something that better integrates this interaction with the rest of offline life.  Can we have a hands-free social networking technology, perhaps some sort of real-time social tagging via spoken words at a party?  How about microblogging (tweeting!) our location selectively as we travel, involving something other than typing in a cryptic message while perhaps driving a car into an airport?  We’ll get there, and you’ll find out about some of these types of improvements here via Chief Social Officer posts.[post-writing update: the sound of nature did in fact pull me out for a jog after drafting the post, followed by some real-world socializing.]



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