Social aggregator sites

There are currently a bunch of aggregator sites that are causing buzz. Plaxo Pulse, Tabber, SocialThing. I’m not sure this is the way forward, more of a stepping stone to Web 3.0 little bits everywhere (they look too much like personal portals to me). Here’s a response to an discussion on the topic that I…

There are currently a bunch of aggregator sites that are causing buzz. Plaxo Pulse, Tabber, SocialThing. I’m not sure this is the way forward, more of a stepping stone to Web 3.0 little bits everywhere (they look too much like personal portals to me). Here’s a response to an discussion on the topic that I wrote for LinkedIn:

Hi, my research and observations:

Some people want their landing page to be the fansite and that’s all. They like a music station -say JJJ here in Sydney – and don’t want to see or hear about anything else. They are fully tribed up to that brand and extremely loyal. They are also protective of their identity and reputation and use different email addresses, usernames and information to hide/manage their identity.

Others want full personalisation – little bits from their favourite RSS and content sites. Think iGoogle or MyYahoo with widgets showing content from each social network. They are comfortable with streams of information coming at them from whatever devices, in whatever timeframe they want. ie. full streaming of testimonials (status updates) to their cellphone 24×7 .

Aggregators are similiar except they work best with low activity large networks or high active small ones. For example, I follow around 700 on Twitter and have 400 Facebook friends – I find most aggregators to be a soup. The challenge for Aggregators will be meeting the primary need of SNs – PURPOSE – effectively. I might log into Facebook at home for fun, and LinkedIn at work for business. Each meets my mood. Aggregators ignore mood mostly!

Lastly are topic based landing pages – pulling in latest News from current affairs sites AND latest discussions on blogs or forums re: News. Again, these are often mood based, we feel like reading the News first thing in the morning but in the evening we log into Facebook to play Scrabulous.

I think there will always be a form of “dine in” networking, where we want the ambience and look and feel of that network for the mood it evokes. Same as going to the cinema perhaps – sure we can watch the movie at home, but the cinema meets OTHER needs. Aggregators meet the “take out” needs – quick catch up, fast food/media snacking. But at the moment they seem too much like a portal – somewhere you arrive and then click through to another site. Or else (if all the content is brought to the aggregator) as though we are one step removed from the network itself. Again, depends on mood and appetite for content consumption.

On a final note, social network aggregation around various media has to do with friends – I’d like to see what my friends have done on MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube. Topic based aggregation is less about friends and more to do with content – what have people said about a holiday destination, a restaurant and what is the buzz in the blogosphere (TechMeme) or geo-based News.

Hope this helps! 🙂

I dunno, it’s like people are completely discounting look-and-feel and useability these days *puzzled* and assuming all we want are fast updates in a bland page/stream. A little too much of the developers doing “give me a nice simple command line interface” and their obsession with RSS readers, and not enough of a designer saying “let me make this place a compelling addictive beautiful place to be”. Sociability is deeper than any of that stuff, anyhow!

I don’t want to copy and past the whole question re: his research papers as it was privately emailed but basically the guy asked about:

1. Clubbing different SN’s sites like Orkut, Facebook and MySpace or
2. Clubbing different flavors of SN’s sites like Social Network, Social News, Health portal, Travel portal, e-shopping, etc which would give the user access to everything possible on a SN through just one portal.

The question about the two SN aggregators came about because of my response on a Q&A on LinkedIn (trying to give you background here) re: business models of social networks and the impact social aggregators might have on them:

Actually, loyalty is extremely high in the primary social networks. Its the secondary ones that lose out…

link below is a brief blog post based on an article I wrote for Investor Weekly (not available online). The media snacker version for revenue streams: Standard/Premium subscriptions, Premium Content/Pixel Products, Advertising, Merchandising (more Webkinz less WoW t-shirts), Sponsorship, Revenue Share of real world products, Monetize UGC (flow on from Pixel Products/Virtual Goods but member created), and so on.

Note: that the networks we know in America and Australia (MySpace and Facebook) use primarily Advertising models and do badly (about $2.17 per member per year for MySpace). South Korea’s Cyworld (60million members) and the millions of kids in Habbo don’t have advertising but make substantially more from the other revenue streams.

If by Social Aggregator you mean Plaxo Pulse, SocialThing, Tabber etc, that’s a whole different ballgame. If you mean Web 3.0, ditto. If you mean aggregating other content in a major SN (YouTube and Flickr plugins in Facebook), then the same models appply.

Hope this helps.

Silkcharm blog: ROI and social network business models

Is this stuff interesting to you guys? Or should I keep it on LinkedIn? Heh.

I’ll do a review of aggregators during the week – though Tabber currently stand out – any
preference for others I should look at? Which social aggregators do YOU use?

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  1. Hi Laurel,

    Yes, it is interesting, keep the posts up! Put them on your blog where you control the content and distribution, not just on LinkedIn (where they control the content and distribution).


  2. Well hon, yes and no. Many people feel more secure on LinkedIn as they feel they have less visibility to the “Invisible Audience”. I am therefore wary of taking content and placing it publicly. Nobody has rights to everything, no matter what some of the dataportability guys might think. 🙂

  3. “Hon”?

    That feeling of security may be a false feeling.

    In response to your query “Is this stuff interesting to you guys? Or should I keep it on LinkedIn? Heh”, my point was that (if you are comfortable doing so) it would be great to do so more public than just on linked in (and condensing the conversation into a blog post/analysis). This is because I thought the content was good and as Ben Barren said if its not in my Google Reader, then I don’t see it.


  4. “hon” – term of endearment for leaving a message on bloggy. 🙂

    That feeling of security shouldn’t be a false feeling. There are a handful – no more than a few hundred- in the echo chamber that spin on and on about RSS feeders.The rest of the world keeps “what goes on Facebook stays on Facebook” approach. A world that incidentally didn’t care about Facebook Beacon, and privacy, whereas the echo chamber did. Be careful who you follow, Techmeme is not the barometer for social network attitudes! 🙂

    I’ve had discussions with Chris Saad and others about dataportability. Don’t get me wrong, dataportability is important. But no more so than civic privacy. It’s like CC creative commons – some people think creative commons means you can use the content anywhere, anytime, anyhow you like. And it doesn’t. Ditto portable data: just because it’s portable doesn’t mean it should be public.

    I’ve just got back from teaching social media in Saudi Arabia to Arabic women. Issues of gated communities and controlling our content is paramount for the women there. Something that Ben Barren – who used to fill his blog with pictures of undressed women – may not understand.

    I brought the discussion out to my blog, but I won’t name the LinkedIn person or quote him directly. If he wanted the discussion public, he would’ve made it so, no? And for the record, a bunch of Web 2.0 people asked me to remove early screenshots of Facebook once they realised I had posted them up publicly. So I yet again learnt the lesson that what is ‘popular’ in theory, is not in practice.

    What a minefield we traverse… 🙂

  5. Very useful posting. Not sure whether aggregation is Web 3.0 or not. To me this takes us more down the road to me me even though it may enable the communication of meme.

  6. yeah that’s exactly what I meant by being a personal portal and not web 3.0. But I think it’s a stepping stone because it gets users thinking- how can I pull my interests into ONE location? Why do I have to have multiple FRIENDS lists? Why can’t I update my status just once? What happens if I pull in private data to a public site? (eg Tabber, you can see SilkCharm stuff without logging in).

    And most importantly, we start to lift the veil on the invisible audience.

    N.B. the ‘me me’ aspect is what turns me personally off aggregators.

  7. And I thought the next big change to qualify a web version increment would semantic web 🙂
    I agree with you on the context bit but I find a lot of value in knowing all about what my friends are doing in one place. It was very difficult following them on 10 different places.
    I would like you to add FriendFeed to your aggregator review list.

  8. @sachendra I signed up for FriendFeed yesterday. I know I’m slow… 😛 Who else do I need to include withoutlooking like a real goose for forgetting them?

    I want one that lets me tag my friends (Twitter doesn’t) so I can can quickly check feeds for “colleagues”, “competitors”, “stalk-this-hottie”, “family”, “important”, “not-important” and so on. With 700+ on Twitter and 400+ on Facebook it’s unmanageable in a non-discerning aggregator 🙁

  9. @Laurel: You make a great point. Do let me know if you come across one that lets you tag friends.
    Maybe we should send this feature request to guys at various aggregators you’re reviewing. Maybe run a twitter poll to gather user feedback and use that to backup the new feature.

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