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What are the limits to the social web?

July 13, 2008

Scour is a new search engine that promises to let users search socially. Here’s what they say: “Search socially and get the most from your favorite search engine!” It also pays you to play, something I have mixed feelings about.

Spongecell Ads promises that it “helps advertisers create display advertising with measurable results. Bring more people to retail sales, entertainment events, trade shows, political rallies, sporting events, or a TV show. Make participation more likely by capturing the excitement you’ve built!”

This is Ditto, the social entertainment guide. “Ditto is a platform for fans to create and browse definitive entertainment lists for the purposes of discovery and debate.” Or, they say: “Ditto aims to do for opinion what Wikipedia did for facts.”

All three of these are extensions of the social web because to work, they need people to engage. And if you read the above, two of the three attempt to get buy in from people through the use of screamers. I personally hate screamers because I think they try too hard. Grammar is really a directional device (period means stop, this ! means speak with excitement). If one thinks they should have a screamer, read the copy first. If it sounds dumb reading it with all that excitement, then take it off. Let people decide for themselves if the copy is exciting.

But screamers aren’t the point. The point is, are there limits to the things people will share?

This isn’t a knock on any of these emerging tools. I think people like to share (see title, my blog). Consider the mindset of the social bookmarker. They think that the things they have found are valid to other people.

“I think you’ll like this because I did.”

That’s the essence of social bookmarkng. And perhaps Scour can play into this and give Google a run for it’s money.

As for the social banner ads, I can understand again the notion of adding more to a banner ad than simply whining ‘click me, touch me, feel me.’ I’ve often thought (and argued) that banner ads shouldn’t even be clickable. They should say, don’t click me, read me. If the banner ads say ‘don’t click me, share me’ it’s not that much different. I’m game to ask people to do something different than click with a banner ad. I think it’s pretty clear that asking them to click isn’t working.

I think we’ll see more tools like this because it’s clear people will share. Are there limits? I think the relative success of tools like this will tell us.

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