Five online social behavior trends and what they mean for you [WidgetWebExpo notes]

Eyal Magen is Co-Founder and CEO of Gigya, a widget distribution network. These are notes on his Keynote talk at WidgetWebExpo London ‘08.

Social Graph Platform Wars
Image by davemc500hats via Flickr

Today is new area of broadcasting. People are messaging each other all the time, and you’re measured by the number of Facebook Friends/Twitter followers, etc. Everybody is a player, a TV station that broadcasts itself to the world all the time.

What’s the best and most successful widget ever? YouTube player, it’s just insanely popular with the people.

Trend #1 – Public Up, Private down.

Default method of delivery of Facebook gifts is “public”. I as a gift giver, want my friends to know that I gave someone a virtual gift. Link: Jeremy Liew blog, LightSpeed Ventures

  • In 2008 we’re seeing a huge jump in usage of Facebook for greeting friends on their birthday.
  • Wall posts, it’s a new form of “semi-public” conversations. The message is intended for one person, but anyone can read it.

The advice is to Make Widgets Social, add some capabilities to allow friends to follow what you’re doing.

Trend #2 – Stalking

Urban dictionary – Facebook stalk.


Portals -> Search -> News feeds. With news feeds, we’re seeing a new paradigm in social networks of online world. So the idea is to make users add data.

Trend #3 – Ambient Awareness

Broadcast, Broadcast, Broadcast. There are two ways to do this: active (users need to do something) and inactive (automatic inclusion into your news feed).

Trend #4 – Self Expression

6 billion widgets views, per category:

self expression : heart-of-stone
Image by cheeky needle via Flickr
  • ~40% – Just for fun
    ~20% – Media
    ~15% – Flash Toys
    ~8% – Utilities
    ~5% – Other
    < 5% – Video
    < 5% – Polls
    < 5% – Music
    < 5% – Communities
    < 5% – Games

How to make widgets more personal? Allow people to somehow customize it. Even changing colors mean a lot to people. Simpler the customization, the better.

The widget on average stays on page for 200 page views. The more personal and customize the widget, they stay above the average.

Trend #5 – Light Weight Relationships

Sociologist say that a person can have about 150 meaningful relationships in persons life – Dunbar’s number. How to make people say something, without having to say anything?

Thanks to.......
Image by ken mccown via Flickr

What’s the #1 comment on MySpace? “Thanks for the add”. People thanking others for thanking them for addition as a friend.

Invites and Packaged Messages – people don’t have anything to say to others, so invites and funny things are great for not having to tell anything to anyone. You can also create packaged message, sponsored gift, pre-written message, etc. If you can do this, people will use your widget more often.

The Future – Beyond the Walled gardens

With the help of Data portability and Open Social, Google Friend Connect and similar approaches, widgets will allow you to connect your friends with your site.

You can then build social applications on your site where people can engage with friends on your site.

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