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Robert Scoble on Hookflash (teaser)

Robert Scoble asked Trent Johnsen to come down to the Rackspace offices in San Francisco to talk about Hookflash. Co-founder – Erik Lagerway came in via Hookflash from North Vancouver for the meeting. The entire video is much longer 😉 We had a great time, thanks Robert!

Sign up for Hookflash for the New iPad

Hookflash at Innovation Showcase / Enterprise Connect


Innovation Showcase - Enterprise Connect - March 27 2012

Hookflash CEO – Trent Johnsen, will join Dave Michels for Innovation Showcase (on the keynote stage – part of Enterprise Connect), in Orlando on Tuesday March 27, 2012.

Hookflash Party – Feb 29th

Be there or be square!  RSVP – Trent@hookflash.com

Some Thoughts on Effective Social Networking

I feel that, as a blogger and an active member of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, I can’t end 2009 without providing some perspective on social networking. Throughout the past year, social networking continued to gain popularity and became one of the hottest topics both at private parties and at communications industry events and forums. Along with mobile communications, video and maybe a couple other technologies, it is likely to become one of the most powerful trends straddling the consumer and business worlds – creating opportunities as well as challenges.

A lot has been said about social networking, so I will focus on just three issues: growing variety of social networking site members; increasing networking overload, and integration of communications with social networking. First of all, I think we need to remember that, as the name suggests, this is a “social” phenomenon. Therefore, we should expect to see the same kind of variety in social networking as we see in society in general, and should not expect members of a particular social network to act the same way or have the same interests and preferences. As social networking becomes increasingly popular and further penetrates the masses, member variety is also likely to increase. This trend will have implications for marketers, recruiters and everyone looking to leverage social networks for business purposes.

On one hand, the growing pool of participants will create a larger audience for disseminating various types of company or product information, recruiting, or soliciting feedback on specific topics or issues. On the other hand, unless members are properly segmented into sub-groups based on interests or other profile characteristics, there will be quite a bit of “noise” and “clutter” on these sites and limited opportunities for targeted messages.
In my opinion, Twitter will be much more appealing if one could more effectively segment its following or the people he/she follows and have the possibility to view and broadcast messages in a more targeted way. Similarly, although Facebook allows members to become “fans” of this or “members” of that, this feature has a limited impact on how status updates or postings are disseminated and viewed by others. I personally like LinkedIn and the possibility to join various interest groups with their own discussion boards, news and recruiting sections, etc.

Here follow a couple of charts from a survey we recently conducted at Frost & Sullivan that illustrate how the demographic profile of our respondents correlates with their use of different social networking sites. What seems obvious is that Facebook has one of the most varied user demographics and, I believe, this fact is strongly correlated with the size of its membership (as well as its structure and nature of its applications).

Social networking survey respondents by location
Social networking survey respondents by location

Social networking survey respondents by ethnicity
Social networking survey respondents by ethnicity

Social networking survey respondents by income
Social networking survey respondents by income

I believe that, eventually, some consolidation will be needed in the social networking space, especially as social networking sites’ membership grows. I am already experiencing some networking overload with friends and business contacts trying to connect with me on more than 3 sites. While I see different value in Facebook (mostly for connecting with friends), LinkedIn (mostly used for business purposes), and Twitter (a completely different value proposition, altogether), I do not seem to be able to also maintain a presence on Hi5 and have not even explored other sites like MySpace or Bebo, for example.

Another issue I wish to touch upon is the idea of integrating communications and presence with social networking sites. It seems like a no-brainer that people who wish to socialize with others, would also wish to communicate with them more directly and/or using different media (in addition to the direct messaging service available on most sites). It is interesting to see the results of our survey in the charts below.

Integration of communications with social networking
Integration of communications with social networking

These results seem to prove that some people would, indeed, greatly appreciate the opportunity to communicate with their social networking contacts via chat, voice, video or conferencing, but the fact that some are not interested in having any new communication capabilities available to them is significant as well. Over a quarter of Facebook members, for example, are not interested in conferencing, telephony or video, which, in my opinion, is again due to the greater variety of members, some of which obviously prefer to share opinions, pictures, etc., without engaging in direct interactions. Similarly, the majority of survey respondents seem to value instant messaging and chat the most. My interpretation is that it is the least invasive, maybe also the fastest and most convenient of the suggested communication tools. Surprisingly, voice and video appear to have a very similar appeal to our respondents, which may be due to the growing popularity of video and the fact that those willing to engage in a live conversation are equally willing to see the other party.

I believe that, in 2010, we will witness some very interesting developments in social networking. One of the most significant ones will be the increasing adoption of social networking tools in the enterprise space. Business social networking tools will need to have some different capabilities in order to be effective. Obviously, security will be key. Further membership segmentation and ability to target messages and postings to specific user groups will be important as well. Finally, integration of advanced communications and collaboration capabilities will eventually turn business social networking platforms into major productivity enhancement tools.

While I do expect to see a movement from outside in – either consumer social networking platforms becoming transformed and adopted in the business space or business platforms being created in a way imitating consumer ones, I also expect to see a lot of business applications integrating with consumer social networking sites from inside out – through mashups of enterprise UC interfaces with social networking ones, for example, for more effective communications and collaboration with individuals outside the organization.

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