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The Future of Social Networks

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"""The Future of…"" is a series of reports designed to give you insight into some of today’s biggest topics. We sift through all the noise and account for all the buzzwords to uncover the fundamental trends that will affect your organization over the next few years. This 43-page report will give you a handle on the rapidly-evolving world of Social Networking, uncover five fundamental trends that are shaping the space, so you can identify new opportunities, ideas, and innovations for your organization. This Report Contains * 5 fundamental trends around social networks that will affect your business * Over 15 thought-provoking questions to help you identify opportunities for your own business * Insight into the major topics and keywords you need to know to gain fluency in the world of social networks * “Companies to watch”: A list of players that are defining the cutting-edge in this space * Resources and links to help you learn more"

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                                                                                          the future of social networks

                       The Future of… is a series designed to give you, the reader, insight    © 2005–08, Future Think LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies.

                       into some of today’s biggest topics. We sift through all the noise to   futurethink clients may make one attributed copy or slide of each figure contained herein. Additional reproduction is
                       uncover the fundamental trends that will affect your organization       strictly prohibited. For additional reproduction rights and usage information, go to www.getfuturethink.com. Information
                       over the next few years.                                                is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. To purchase
    Futurist Reports                                                                           reprints of this document, please email productsupport@getfuturethink.com.

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                                                    TABLE OF CONTENTS   TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                          

                                                                         Welcome to the Social Web
                                                                         pg 6-15

               With so much talk about                                   TREND 1
                                                                         Show Them the Money

         social networking, it’s hard to                                 pg 16-29

separate fact from fiction. For many,                                    TREND 2

     it’s a daunting task to figure out                                  Social Networks Can Work Hard Too
                                                                         pg 28-41
      what to do in the space. In this
                                                                         TREND 3
    report, we’ll uncover some of the                                    A Map for Management

major happenings and current trends                                      pg 42-55

            in social networking, giving                                 TREND 4

        you a better understanding of                                    The Web Browser & Email Get a Social Makeover
                                                                         pg 56-67
             where the space is headed
                                                                         TREND 5
          in the next 18 –  months.                                    A Smarter, Social, Semantic Web
                                                                         pg 68-79

    W W W .. G E T F U T U R E T H II N K .. C O M
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                                 Social networks are online communities that allow users
                                 to create a web presence, manage their identities, and

                WELCOME TO       stay connected to friends and colleagues. Social networks like
                                 Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn are among the most popular
                THE SOCIAL WEB   destinations on the web, with millions of users from around the
                                 globe signing up daily. These sites are quickly evolving from
                                 mere public profiles into platforms for communication, creativity,
                                 advertising, and even commerce.

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8                                                    INTRODUCTION                                                            

                                                     WHAT DOES IT DO? The main center of activity on any
                                                     social network is a user’s profile page, which serves as a hub

                                                     for managing public identity, relationships, and other social
                                                     information. Vibrant communication tools allow members

                                                     to email and instant message, form groups around causes
                                                     and common interests, share pictures and video clips, plan

                                                     events, and engage each other at every level, from viral online

                                                     games to supporting presidential candidates in the upcoming
                                                     U.S. election.

                                                     While major services such as MySpace™ and Facebook™
                                                     grab the majority of media attention, there are hundreds of

                                                     smaller, more specialized networks for business, professional
                                                     associations, shared hobbies, passions, and backgrounds.

                                                     Though social networks gained popularity and attention with
                                                     the younger, internet-savvy generations (“net natives”), social

                                                     networking sites are increasingly attracting traffic from older
                                                     populations, and new networks are sprouting up to cater ex-

                                                     clusively to users of various age groups across the spectrum.

                                                     Major global companies have started to take notice and ex-
                                                     plore options for communicating with users within the social

 global literacy
                                                     networking space.

                                                     There’s a lot to keep up with, and you have a right to be

                                                     skeptical about their long-term usefulness. But social net-
                                                     works won’t be disappearing in the near future. It’s important

                                                     to arm yourself with information about them, and to under-
                                                     stand how they will (or will not) affect your future.

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10                                                                           11

1     SOCIAL NETWORKING 101                                    INTRODUCTION           INTRODUCTION      SOCIAL NETWORKING 101                                       1

     1 MILLION USERS                                                                  0 MILLION USERS
     Though it’s not a social network in the traditional sense, Twitter will play     Like MySpace, Facebook allows users to create highly customizable
     an important role in the growth of social networking into the future. Twitter    pages on which they can post news, photos, blogs, video, and music.
     is a free service that allows users to send updates (“tweets”), which are        Facebook users, however, congregate in groups and networks – based
     text-based posts up to 140 characters in length, to the Twitter website          on geography, education, work, and interests. There are over 55,000
     via SMS (short message service), instant messaging, or other third party         official networks on Facebook (geographic, academic, and professional),
     applications.                                                                    and hundreds of thousands of “groups” (which anyone can create
                                                                                      around various causes, hobbies, and interests). Facebook also serves
                                                                                      as a dynamic platform upon which third-party developers can build ap-
                                                                                      plications. There are over 15,000 third-party applications on Facebook,
                                                                                      and about 95% of Facebook users have used at least one application.

     LinkedIn is a popular business-oriented network, with more than 19
     million experienced professionals from around the world representing 150
     industries. Users create professionally-focused profiles, citing their career
     interests, work history, and academic history in lieu of personal
                                                                                      110 MILLION USERS
     photographs and favorite movies.                                                 MySpace has more than 300 million profiles (some users have
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