Wednesday, December 15

Social Networking will become a common feature & integrating it with ecommerce

I am the latest entrant to the social & business networking in India - But social networking is not going to remain as some special feature as the new generation web is turning into more writable / community driven web by the introduction of blogging and wikis. Social or business networking is also as such a remix of the existing tools and applying them more logically and innovatively - for example :

- Guest Book (existed on personal sites)
- Messaging / Private Messaging (Instant Messaging features)
- Friends List (Instant messaging features)
- Friends of Friend (new application introduction)
- Invite Friends (existed as refer this site)
- Networks (newsgroups and special interest groups / yahoo groups)
- Discussions (existed in community blogs / slashdot)

These features will come across as a standard features and can be applied practically anywhere - think community - think networking. The facitlities and features that were available through different mediums yesterday will now be available today through a single social / business networking panel.This thought is reflected by online DVD rental leader Netflix Inc. who is putting social networking on its website.

Integration of social networking on ecommerce sites seems to be wise decision also. For example, if goes social , instead of having auto generated link of 'people who read this book also purchased these books' , I could simply link with person who has bought that book may be make him/her my buddy and get recommended not only in the related book category but altogether different subject / different book. I would not only be on for buying books but also for other reasons and even if most of the people will be eating resources , if Amazon could convert get even 10% serious customers who would buy or help buy product it translates into an additional income. And what amazon has to do for this ? nothing... they simply have to provide a platform. If Google ads can work on , social networking can also work with ecommerce sites.

Already our buying decisions are based on peer reviews and experience. If you are thinking about buying a digital camera, where do you go ? . You would most probably hit google, find links to online brochures and if you are little bit more search engine savvy you will find product review portals and read what others have to say about different cameras, features and their recommendations. This is all at different places. Want to know more - hit comments, email authors, email friends and so on. But what if a social network for digitial photographer existed. You would just search around the archives, locate discussion related to camera which you have zeroed upon and if you were unsatisfied, you would post a new discussion or connect with some network member who seems to be more knowledgeable about the digital cameras.

However, having a social network on distributor's or reseller's ecommerce portal is OK, but having public discussion of some vendor say SONY is tough. Would they allow comments promoting competition or criticism, most probably not and nobody would like to be sued like Kottke. Again it would create difficulties for big brands ego clash with ecommerce site and its users. Big brands would surely not like public criticism or feedback at point of sale websites. Then moderation would come into the picture. There could also be a problem by spamming the social network or creating mischief through falsification and misleading the users through paid social networks who would pay per recommendation and there are some people who are screwing with Google Ads.

The future is messy, but social :-)