Tag Archives: social networks

back to the biz of social networking

A while back I wrote about the buzz & the biz of social networking based on an article in the MIT Tech Review.

There’s another one today in the Review, and although some advertising models seem to be interesting (play game on facebook, points get translated into credit for shoes), it’s a good reminder that we’re still in a fairly new game (one which we don’t quite know how to play yet) – let’s just say, there’s room for development:)

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the buzz and the biz of social networking

The buzz… of course there’s a buzz around it and it’s been there for a while. Last year of undergrad I worked on a group project setting up a business plan. We pitched our web 2.0 WikiGlobe idea (to be honest, very similar to Mark Evan and co.s’ PlanetEye I was excited to see that). I remember pitching it to VCs (this was all for fun) in Nov 06 and then again in March 07 at the Wes Nicol National comp. – I actually rigged the Nov. one by first asking the people in my class who was on Facebook – only a handful at the time, but I told them to all lift their hands up when I asked the crowd (sneaky, i know;) Anyways, when we pitched the idea, of course, none of the VCs in the room had any idea what Facebook was and were shocked when they saw everyone’s hand go up (hahaha.. so clever of me!) Anyways, point being. I’d never have to explain anything about that now. It’s the rage.

But, the business. Oh right… money! How often have you ever clicked on an ad on Facebook. Exactly. Even with all that information on each of us, it’s a tough business out there selling advertisements, simply because it’s annoying for the users.

MIT Technology Review has a great (albeit long) read on the business behind it with interesting figures on online ad spending etc. Their point – we still haven’t cracked the code yet on how this business will exactly turn a profit, but we can’t stop. The people won’t stop moving into the web 2.0 world, so the advertisers will be there. The time to get creative on money making business models is now.

And maybe this is just the eco nut coming out but I’m fed up with the BUY BUY BUY!!! advertising. But I know the reality is our economy runs on me buying crap. But instead of meaningless, in your face ads, my personal view would be something similar to this:

Marc Canter has a few ideas. Canter, who cofounded ­MacroMedia, is now CEO of the company that produces the social-networking tool PeopleAggregator, which aims to allow communities, tools, search engines, and the rest of Web 2.0 to interconnect in one giant open mesh. He imagines ads of all kinds making up only about a third of revenue, with profits coming from a “long tail” of sources–from Craig’s List-style marketplaces to on-demand music downloads to branded apparel to ad-free premium services.

At least i get something out of it.

This was an interesting part of it though. Look at this graph. The black line in particular…

Hmm… you’re complaining that you’re not making any money and you’re investing in probably the most saturated of all markets in the world. Take a look outside! The balance of power will one day shift to the emerging economies and we’re playing a very egocentric game. Social networking is not just for the rich. It’s becoming a phenomenon around the world and no doubt, picking up speed..

But, then again.. do I really want our BUY BUY BUY! attitude crossing over to the emerging? Well, it already has I guess and there’ll be little stopping it.

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Rapleaf changed their privacy policy

Wow. There are amazing benefits in being part of the blogging world.

Update on the last posts about social network privacy: RapLeaf has changed their opt-out policy.

Read their blog about how they’re changing their privacy policies. (Note the part on opt-outs)

In retrospect, this doesn’t make sense, as highlighted by Matt Roberts. Since we’re already removing information off the Rapleaf.com site when we get an email, we should just delete the information. So we amended our privacy policy to make it much easier to get out of Rapleaf’s system if you want to.

You know what? Still can’t say I like their business model but I do give them props for being transparent. Their blog post is even entitled: Start-ups, privacy, and being wrong. You can’t really hide in the blogosphere I guess. This change in policy made me realize the power bloggers actually have. I knew the bigger bloggers have more say, but who knew that little old me could instigate something too? (Well…through Matt I guess) Matthew Ingram has a post on it as well.
On a personal note:

Just had my first sauna in Jyväskylä. It was beautiful..small serene lake in the middle of nowhere. There’s nothing more refreshing than getting steamy from a hot sauna and jumping in a cold lake:) Reminds me of home.


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Follow up: Rapleaf, Finland and reflectors

Ok, so a few hours after my last two posts I have follow ups:

1. First and foremost- go to Matt Roberts‘ blog to read about his email correspondence adventures with Rapleaf when he tried to opt-out.

2.My good Finnish friend read my email and called right away to straighten me out on a couple things. Aside from laughing and being somewhat annoyed that I published her washroom on the internet, here were some of her comments:

-the allowance hasn’t moved for 14 years, so based on what the gov’t money is supposed to cover (i.e. living expenses while studying), it doesn’t anymore. I get it – we just have totally different government social systems (not to mention values towards youth and education)

-students don’t usually recycle – not too convenient (I beg to differ…) but families always do

Oh and one more thing that I forgot to mention:

It’s illegal to walk in the dark (majority of the day, if not the entire day in the winter) without reflectors on. It has to be out of your pocket, on your bag or something.

C’est tout.

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Social networks? Meh, privacy shmivacy

Finally got internet in my little flat yesterday… so hopefully after this week of orientation, more posts will be flowing.

Getting back to my feeds though (thank god for internet – I can’t read Finnish so there’s not a lot of choice in terms of printed news). Started reading the wikinomics blog and came across some scary stuff in one post about a new company called Rapleaf.

There’s a great article in the NY Times today (which I think is originally from C-Net) about the rise of a little company called Rapleaf. With Facebook backer and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel behind them, Rapleaf has search technology that enables them, given only a mere email address, to scour social networking and other sites to create a composite of the person which could include everything from physical address to political affiliation to what applications the person has downloaded.

Thankfully, or so it seems, they don’t share the email addresses they have with anyone, or any companies. But what they do do is sell this information to anyone/ any company that comes to them with an email address.

In other words, if you sign up for an email newsletter the company that runs the site can quickly, and easily, learn almost everything about you that is available on the web… which in the age of social networking is quite a bit. It’s hard to see this not morphing into a scandal and/or mess someday…

Here’s a little bit from the Times article:

The privately held start-up, whose investors include Facebook-backer and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, runs two consumer Web sites: Rapleaf.com, a people search engine that lets you retrieve the name, age and social-network affiliations of anyone, as long as you have his or her e-mail address… By collecting these e-mail addresses, Rapleaf has already amassed a database of 50 million profiles, which might include a person’s age, birth date, physical address, alma mater, friends, favorite books and music, political affiliations, as well as how long that person has been online, which social networks he frequents, and what applications he’s downloaded.

Scary no? I know that’s what marketers are supposed to do (I’ve even been on that side!) but at the same time, as a user, don’t you want to think that they at least have to try really hard to dig that deep? ZoomInfo is one company doing that (compiling your internet presence) but it only scours the net on more reputable business sites. Rapleaf on the other hand, is searching the private, more personal social networks – a little bit different I’d say. One site is made to help business people do background checks or help sales people define the org charts (perhaps that’s painting too rosy of a picture) while the other one finds a lot more private information (i.e. meant for friends) of a person and sells it to anyone. Does this mean that even though you have limited settings on your facebook, Rapleaf can find you?

Another thing, who exactly are they selling this information to? We’re in a whole different ballgame when we take info from networks that consist of many young grade schoolers. Creepy.

The guys at Rapleaf claim that they’re “the only email-based reputation system”. In some respect I see where they’re coming from…but spammers etc. aren’t necessarily going to put those addresses on social networks.

However, just tried my “me@janeporter.ca”. Nothing on me pops up – but there’s this message :Hey, we haven’t seen this email before. We’ll have more information for you very soon. Either come back in an hour or click email and we’ll email you when the results are ready.

Still think it’s creepy and made for creepy marketers.

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