A few short months ago, Facebook changed the online landscape by introducing like buttons & social plugins. In a flash, Facebook’s domain moved beyond the 500+ million users of its site, stretching its tentacles into 100’s of thousands of other sites. No longer was liking something confined to Facebook, but Facebook users could now define their interests throughout the web from ESPN to IMDB to menwhoknit.com.
Facebook made the first move, but in true little brother style, Twitter hurried to catch up. Twitter released Tweet buttons that enable Twitter users to not only share their favorite content on their favorite social network but to also follow authors and companies directly from content. Authors no longer have to shamelessly plug “Follow Me” on their sites. Tweet buttons enable the content itself to make the request to follow.
The impact of Twitter buttons is barely a pothole to Facebook social plugins’ meteoric crater, but Tweet buttons are another link in a chain of events converging social networks with objects.
Foursquare, itself a much larger link, enables users to connect with their physical environment. As users check into physical locations and share with their Foursquare, Facebook , & Twitter connections, the social network moves beyond the realm of the cloud into the physical. Add to Foursquare buttons takes the reverse approach of linking tips, recommendations, and addresses online to physical locations.With Add to Foursquare buttons, users can read about a hike in South Sister online or users can read a rave review of Secret Society on toprestaurants.com and add it as a to do on Foursquare. Foursquare buttons link conceptual activities and recommended behaviors to a list on Foursquare.
Users navigating the web can now like their favorite band, tweet an upcoming tour date, follow the band, and add crowdsurfing at the band’s upcoming concert at the Roseland from one article on Rolling Stone. If this isn’t the beginning of the internet of things (online, physical, and conceptual), I don’t know what is. Social gaming is a natural introduction to managing likes and interests online, and the logical next step is managing physical things: refrigerators, tv’s, cars, power grids. Exciting times to come for sure.
From an online advertisers perspective, the evolution of targeting is beginning to emerge:
- Mass media: targeting anyone and everyone with the greatest reach possible (perfect when the world only has 3 channels)
- Contextual: looking to sell basketball shoes? Sports Illustrated magazine & the local sports radio station makes sense
- Intent: Yahoo revolutionizes the world by offering advertisers a chance to target users based on specific queries
- Interests: Facebook advertising allows advertisers an additional layer of targeting – reach users who like your product, a competitors product, an activity…
- Behavior (online): advertisers can target users based on their history online
- Behavior (offline): logical next step for Foursquare to adapt the Safeway Club card model and create an ad network to target users based on their behavior offline (e.g. target moms by hitting users who regularly visit daycares)
Scary privacy concerns or not, everyone is creating a profile of themselves through Google, Facebook, Foursquare, and their online and offline behavior. As advertisers, we need to work on figuring out the way to best identify and target these specific profiles.