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Wednesday 10 October 2007

Show Me The Bunny

I was mentioning today about trying to get my head around the aspect of Social Networking called the Social Graph, known as Facebook's 'secret sauce', and reviewing what's in my Reader I came across this neat summary from Dave McClure on TechCrunch
Here are seven major aspects of Facebook you can use to increase the visibility of your startup, business, product or service:
  1. Set Up Your Graph: Profiles & Privacy
  2. Make Connections: Networks, Groups & Events
  3. The Need for Feed: Your [Shared] Social Activity Stream
  4. Share Your Content: Share & People-Tag Your Stories & Media
  5. App to the Future: The Facebook Platform, APIs, & Applications
  6. Pay to Play: Ad Networks, Sponsored Stories, & Paid Distribution
  7. Show Me The Bunny: Gifts, Points, & Virtual Currency
He goes into detail on those aspects. What Dave means when he talks Bunny, though, isn't what you might think — it's something new:

There are 3 major types of virtual goods: decorative, functional, and behavioral. Decorative goods are those primarily geared towards self expression. Functional goods are those that meaningfully alter your user experience. For example, a suit of armor in World of Warcraft that confers a special advantage to you would be a functional virtual good. Behavioral virtual goods are graphical icons that capture some sort of social interaction. This is the type that is most prevalent on Facebook today. Virtual gifts are the best known example of this category of virtual good.

Two of the top 10 Facebook apps, X Me and SuperPoke!, are essentially just interaction tools. In the X Me screenshot above right, each of the icons – whether it be Love, Punch, or Kiss – is an encapsulation of a specific social interaction. Though it may not be purposeful, these types of casual apps are training users to understand how to interact with virtual goods. I can easily see how these apps become platforms that launch broader virtual currency systems. For example, expanding this app to allow users to attach custom graphics to their custom actions would create a new, rare class of virtual objects.

I was just looking at Amnesty's great new web campaign, UnSubscribe (Hat tip: David Wilcox, he has a report of the launch). it's all about attempting to exploit the Social Graph. Really great design and lots of stuff in there. They don't even forget valuable things like email sigs. They have video and sign-up widgets.

Couple of things though:

1. It doesn't actually chart results. What is the impact of web campaigning? What has Amnesty already achieved?

I think the Number Ten web petitions shows some of the limits here, the potential for cynicism, although I'm sure you do have an effect (I know you do from experience) but it would help to show this, to demonstrate the impact somehow.

2. All the widgets are with WidgetBox and they have a very irritating method whereby you can't just get the embed code. You have to select your platform then it does it for you and a post magically appears (which I don't want). YouTube usually gives you the code option.

One very real reason why this is more than annoying is because if you auto-ping that's the post content which will appear in feeds - their headline choice etc. and none of your surrounding context. It reminded me of using MySpace and especially using Bebo, which has loads of walled gardens. This is also more than annoying campaign-wise as well because I then had to look elsewhere for the embed code for this campaign video.

Here's the sign-up widget (not in it's own post!)

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