Friday, August 1, 2008

The future of Social Networking – V 3.0

Several studies have shown, that the concept of social networks has existed for several decades. The concept stems from the fact, that people are social beings, and their ability to work in social groups to create value, is their biggest asset. In 1954, J. A. Barnes popularized the term by using it to denote systematic pattern between two nodes. In the early 1990’s Internet was born, and that gave the concept of Social Networks a whole new definition.

Social Networking 1.0, focused mostly on establishing virtual connections between people , creating “Social Graphs”. Last few years have seen an emergence of Social Networking 2.0, where the priority has shifted from Connections between people to Content. We have seen the emergence of rich media sharing, RSS feeds, digital whiteboards, custom API’s, podcasts etc. The future, Social Networking 3.0 however, would see social networking being used as a technology (SNT) rather than a product or a service.

The future of Social Networks would see custom tools (API’s) being built for specific Interest group Networks. For example, a Business Networking Portal like might have a Business Lead Generation Tool, where as a which is a social network for Book lovers, might see a tool to track authors and their recent releases.

Having said that, there are a few tools, which would form the basis for all Social Networks of tomorrow. Here are few TRENDS for Social Networks of tomorrow:

a) Smart Profile (Social or Professional) – Profiles form the introduction of individuals on all networks. Currently none of the social networking sites allow individuals to export their profiles for other networks. In the future, there might be opportunities to export and import profiles between networks.

b) Dynamic Buddy list (Social or Professional) – Segmented buddy lists would also get created. They would be divided in two broad areas, first Social Buddies, second Professional Buddies. Once again these could be imported or exported.

c) Real Time Collaborations – TEXT/VOIP/VIDEO based collaboration tools.

d) Integration with mobile devices – This would be a must for social networks of tomorrow simply because a user spends more time with a mobile device than a laptop or a PC. Also the reach is much higher (in some markets)

e) Ability to create niche stand alone networks – both in the professional and social front. Today, there are very few companies which are offering that. ( offers that for Social Space where as offers that for the professional space)

f) Custom API’s & Widgets – custom API’s - widgets would play a very important role in dressing up a social network of tomorrow. Companies like Facebook and Google (Open Social) have already taken a lead in this area.

g) Media Sharing & Interaction – Real Time Sharing of Rich and Lean media with interaction tools would also dominate the market. Specially in the area of Learning and Education.

Romit Dasgupta
(Director, Globsyn Group)