Paying Attention

Hurrah the inaugural London Social Media Week is finally here, chock-full of lots of amazing sounding event, such as Social Media in Enterprises – the Elephant in the Room and Local Social Summit: The Science of Social Media, niether of which I can bloody make. Luckily for me, I did manage to get to the second, or #smwldn event over at the IAB this morning which was on a panel session on Social Graph Optimisation.

Now I love my various social graph as much as the next person and I took the title to mean how to make your graph work harder, particularly for brands. Chatting with others after the session, it seemed we all had different ideas and expectations. Some though it would be more akin to search optimsation and other on how to drive more traffic. To be honest, I’m not sure the panel had a unified idea of what was meant by SGO  either. Fortunately this didn’t stop the discussion being  lively, interesting and, occasionally, contentious.

In particular I wa intrigued by the chat around sharing the value that the social graph, a riff that was started when Vincent Sider, Head of Strategy: Social Media, Gaming & Presence of BT (disclosure BT is a Porter Novelli client) kicked off his initial spiel by asking if we were paying attention. I thought this was a slightly passive aggresive dig at everyone in the audience who was blatently keeping one eye on the panel and the other on their iPhone. It turns out I was being sensitive, rather the point ws should we not be paid for attention when it comes to the web?

This point was expanded on further when questions were owned to the floor and Sam Sethi suggested to Trevor Johnson, Head of Strategy and Planning, FaceBook EMEA, that users could potentially get a share of the revenue generated by the ad displayed neatly in contextin our newsfeeds. Apparently this is not the way forward for Facebook and I can’t see any social platform provder looking to incentivise in this manner. I am already rewarded by my social graph platform providers. I provide them with the bare minimum of personal information, in return it let’s me stalk keep in touch with all sorts of people. I actually feel that the transaction of incidental but insightful information, like my godson is progressing well with potty training, might be cheapened if I then made a percentile of a penny for the ad advertising huggies that now shows on my screen.  I know that the current contextual set-up doesn’t work to that granularity, but it will one day and I’m currently exaggerating to make my point.

As it stands, it’s a quid pro quo, and I’m doing fairly well out of the deal. Fortunately there are lots of other people happy to provide far more about the minutiae of their lives to make it worthwhile for Google and Facebook to monetize from ads.

This leads to two questions. Would I share more in an ad free environment that I paid for? Possibly but only if my friends did too and as most of them have a seemingly cavalier approach to their privacy in return for a free platform, I doubt they would. A social graph is only as good as it’s contents and potential to connect when all is said and done. Privacy was breifly discussed and I think that perhaps this is the one event that SMWLDN is lacking. The Facebook rep pointed out that our approach to it is changing as a society without suggesting that Facebook itself might have the tinciest inciest hand in this change to societal mores. Of course all the panel are interested, to some degree, in monetizing the social graph, our social graph.  The second qustions is, what happens if there is an anti-privacy back lash and we all decide to reclaim our information and revert to the old Internet trick of using a nick and not a real name.

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