The Daily Social on the cold hand of marketing

I’ve said it before, and now it’s been said much more succinctly by Shane at The Daily Social (disclaimer, I write for them too): marketing may be Social Software’s undoing.

In the same way that pop-up ads are the bain of webspace, corporate infiltration into community-led (and community-driven) online environments utterly undermine the trust that users have in the interactions that occur there. And as trust is the only commodity available in cyberspace, and more and more advertisers are choosing to don personas (or blatantly buy opinion leaders) to spread corporate-owned words, their activities may spell doom for social software.

Before I go any further, I think Shane’s post does a good job of summarising how I feel:

Faking it has never been so easy and it isn’t limited to social networking, there are fake blogs too.

Is this spam or a playful way to engage with a new medium? Do marketing driven pages ‘poison the well’ of online communities or are users smart enough to tune them out? Do celebrity members help legitimise these spaces, even if it’s obvious that they take no part in administering the page? And will this behaviour damage the growth of online communities – still in their infancy despite the millions of members – by convincing potential newcomers that the whole thing is fake and a waste of time?

I suspect that what we’ll see is a constant series of niche communities splintering away from the larger ones then expanding before they too are abandoned. But this is hardly ideal – a series of derelict MySpaces littering the internet fits nobody’s idea of a connected world.

He’s right, you know.

But as evil as taking advantage of someone’s trust is, perhaps this is how the Internet will evolve, and we’ll witness communities of a manageable size, say 150 people each.

Arguably, this doesn’t necessarily mean doom for some of the larger online social brokers. The Internet itself may splinter into the oft-referred to Internets, with, for example, a 3D virtual world paradigm housing thousands of little 150-person communities (hey, wait a minute…) .

Regardless of my stray into future-thought, I’m in complete agreement with Shane on this matter. I’ve even said so in public before, when Sony tried to pull the wool over people’s eyes with their terrible pre-Christmas PSP campaign. William’s got another example in the comments to Shane’s piece. Makes you want to shake your fistand say arrrrrrrrrgggggghhhh.

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~ by aleks on January 15, 2007.

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