Future Of Social Networks presentation from SXSW

I had the honor of presenting at the SXSW conference last Saturday, on the topic “The Future Of Social Networks”. I’ve embedded the slides below, and you can also access them on SlideShare.

Below the slides I’ve included a quick synopsis, including examples of what the future will look like. I’d also like to get your ideas of what you think the experience will be like if/when your identity, contacts, and social activities are ubiquitous.

Update: Some additional resources include a Twitter feed of the proceedings and notes from Amy Sample Ward.

Thesis: Social networks will be like air.

Description: Your friends, your family, the people you care about, the people like you, will be available anywhere and anytime that you need them.

Examples: (Accompanying screenshots are in the slideshow.)

  • Shopping: When buying something on Amazon, you’ll be able to filter reviews to see those from friends, or chat with your music-loving friends to get advice on which headphones are best. (Slides 5-6)
  • Events: At conferences, you’ll be able to find friends or people with similar interests who are in the same session with you. (Slide 7)
  • Mobile: Apps on devices like iPhone will recognize when friends have the same app downloaded too, and invite them to play games, interact with content, etc. (Slide 8)
  • TV: Twitter streams were integrated into Current TV’s presidential debates coverage. Integra5 is building a platform that will enable friends (via Facebook Connect) to chat with each other right on the TV screen via PC or mobile. (Slides 9-10)
  • Enterprise: Salesforce.com integrates Facebook profiles into customer records, while Lotus Notes shows the LinkedIn profile of an email sender. (Slide 11)

I welcome any additional ideas that you may have about what it will mean to have social networks be like air in your life. Feel free to include them in the comments below, or to email them to me at charlene (at) altimetergroup (dot) com.


  1. An excerpt from my posting, The Maze of Social Platforms (http://twurl.nl/3krfa6):
    However, I find it’s all not all sunny in Land of SocialMe. Some nagging questions, which I’m still seeking satisfactory answers:
    1. Why social networking sites don’t offer us facility to easily back-up the social contents we’ve generated?
    2. Once a social platform ceased to exist, what will happen to all the generated social data? Does the social platform operators have the rights to ’sell’ the data?
    3. Who is the rightful owners of the contents we’ve generated on social platforms? We’re using the social services for free and in return, we’re surrendering our rights to the contents we’ve generated. Is this worth surrendering our privacy?

    With social networks becoming air in our life, we need equivalents of EPA, Greenpeace, Al Gore, etc. for check-and-balance.

  2. Hello YH Lim,
    hello from Germany. First I must sincerely apologize for not writing in perfect English.
    Everything is accompanied by rules and policies.E.g. years ago there were no trading rules and nowadays we have so many policies and laws in trading. What I want to say is that socail networking is at the beginning of establishment like trading was years ago. But nowadays we have some rules which are related to overall ethical core behaviours. So if social networking will be a big topic in future than rules will adopt automatically by experience.
    I completely agree with you that we have to take care about rules and protection. By supporting networks more rules will follow. In Germany we have the Basic Constitutional Law with basic right for everybody in our state. And companies are creating policies for corporate networking. Maybe there will be more laws and policies in future?

  3. Hello, thanks for sharing this deck. Since i could not hear you, i might have misunderstood slide 17 but there is actually one thing i do not fully agree with. The Twitter circle is included in the Address Book one and i think it should have been the other way round. To my point of view Twitter is the first web service that enables me to be in contact with people beyond my address book. Actually at least 2/3 of them are not even in my address book. And i think this is where Twitter is magical. You discover people through common interests in an easy, straightforward and very open manner. It may sound simple but this is actually the first time i can live this experience at such a scale (and i’ve been on the web since 96). Even Facebook does not enable that. Facebook is all about my friends, the “historical” ones with whom i can share intimacy. Twitter is about creating a new dimension to your social life. And i think that’s why Facebook real-time web solution through the status evolution is not yet up to Twitter’s own solution but that’s another subject. :)
    Sebastien Levaillant

  4. Dear former boss, mobile is also interesting when you integrate GPS data with socnet apps – it can facilitate physical meetups, where real relationships & deals happen. On your Enterprise point, also note that Microsoft CRM also provides company and contact information with the free (basic tier) SalesView plug-in.

  5. Nice presentation. Identity portability is a big deal. It would be great if all the competing identity plays could agree on a core open standard, so they all become compatible. That would enable people, businesses and services to choose the flavor that worked best for them.

  6. Charlene, thanks for sharing the presentation and your views. Like your work in Groundswell, I think you have hit on some important issues around data portability, registration and openness of networks. It would have been great to hear the presentation, but there is just one element I’d like to add. I agree with your points about why social ad’s may not work. We’ve built something to promote more of a business-consumer conversation, which means businesses can promote products and services by talking with customers – rather than “advertising TO customers”. Might this have a better outcome?

  7. All excellent points. The current Facebook TOS discussion is precisely in this area, especially about the rights and ownership of the content created by members. But be careful that you draw the distinction between privacy and permissions. We give permission to the sites to use the content/data in certain ways, and yes, it is a tradeoff, but one that people are in general comfortable making.
    The greatest check and balance will be people themselves, and interestingly, it will continually evolve as our comfort levels with what is OK/not OK evolves.

  8. You are so totally right! I’ll be changing that slide in the future. Thanks for the insight!

  9. Dear Awesome Former Direct Report: Mobile IS an essential part of the social graph, but I took out that entire section because of time constraints! I’m particularly interested in the analytical tools that arise from geolocation data, like Sense Networks.
    I’ll have to check into the Microsoft CRM – does it provide linkage into the existing social networks? Sounds interesting if it does. If only they would enable it for Outlook!

  10. The main players are all moving S L O W L Y towards a standard roughly around OpenID, but it only goes so far in terms of the basics. Things like OAuth will help also in terms of giving authorization to tap into identity, contacts, and activity without having to norm the data and give up control.

  11. It’s absolutely the sea change that needs to take place, otherwise companies will find themselves yelling at a wall. When you’re ready to share what you’re building, I’d love to see it.

  12. On a similar note, identity portability has an important connection to interaction feedback loops. For example, I only am reading your reply to my comment because I accidentally clicked a link to this post via my Google toolbar history button. There need to be better services that connect relevant data and interactions to individuals. For example, I would’ve love to have received an email or Tweet or some kind of notification that you had replied to my comment. In this isolated case, that’s why I use the Disqus comment system. But the issue is much bigger.

  13. Topics and links for my FIR report into show #432- March 19, 2009

    Today I sent over to Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson my usual weekly report into For Immediate Release. In my actual report, I said I’d post the links to the reports that I was talking about in the report. They…

  14. Thanks for sharing Charlene. You did a great job with it ~ for sure. Along with Glenn, I’d love to hear your position on where social meets mobile. As a mobile innovator, our company QWASI is always looking for ways to connect the disconnected. When we realize we’re always on the go, connection really is difficult without a mobile device. We’re helping our clients understand these trends and the new wave of ubiquitous computing where mobile phones will play a key role. Hope to make it to SXSW next year. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  15. Just dropping a line to let you kbow how much I enjoyed your article. Cheers for sharing.

  16. Very useful points in this article – very nice posting.

  17. Charlene
    We haven’t met (yet) but I am the CEO of HeadMix which is the new platform for Blue Shirt Nation which you featured as one of your case studies in Groundswell
    Anyway I wanted to say despite not being able to make SXSW this year, that it was great to be able to see and hear your presentation anyway. I see you just touched briefly on social networks in the enterprise . Have you thought about the challenge of Twitter to Outlook? I have given the presentation “Outlook vs Twitter: who wins the war inside the enterprise?” (http://bit.ly/3ueiMq) which is deliberately provocative.
    Do you think Twitter presents a real threat to internal corporate communications?

  18. Today social network should made on specific topics by which only that kind of people are visit there and explain their idea and get some benefits from it.