Pay Attention Marketers: The “Facebook Killer” May Be the Web Itself

by Teresa Valdez Klein on August 6, 2007

Wired’s Scott Gilbertson has an excellent point about Facebook: it’s a walled garden. Personal data goes in, and it doesn’t come out.

He’s not the first to complain, nor is he the first person to propose a solution. But I liked the way he articulated the next step in the process of opening the Web:

For the last couple of weeks, Wired News tried to roll its own Facebook using free web tools and widgets.
We came close, but we ultimately failed. We were able to recreate maybe 90 percent of Facebook’s functionality, but not the most important part — a way to link people and declare the nature of the relationship…

At this point, “friend” relationships remain unique to the social networks. The web still lacks a generalized way to convey relationships between people’s identities on the internet. The absence of this secret sauce — an underlying framework that connects “friends” and establishes trust relationships between peers — is what gave rise to social networks in the first place. While we’ve largely outgrown the limitations of closed platforms (take e-mail or the web itself), no one has stepped forward with an open solution to managing your friends on the internet at large.

Marketers need to pay attention to this growing demand for an underlying infrastructure on the Web that allows friends to indicate how they know one another and link themselves together via their own web properties. Once such a format emerges and is widely used across blogs, video sharing sites and other applications, the entire Web will become a playground for those who want to conduct extremely targeted, human-to-human marketing campaigns.

The future of marketing belongs to those who can begin to adapt to that new best practice now, not when the long-anticipated “friend” standard emerges.

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1 Blog Business Summit » Why the Best is Yet to Come With Business Blogs 08.29.07 at 5:30 pm

[...] Facebook is a great tool for online community building, but the long-term future of online communities rests with the ability for bloggers and site owners to link their sites together via a “friend standard.” This is what I meant when I said that the Facebook killer may be the Web itself. [...]

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