Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Social Network 'Assimilation'

Star Trek fans are familiar with the infamous Borg psuedo-race of cybernetic organisms. They operate solely toward the fulfilling of one purpose: to "add the biological and technological distinctiveness of other species to their own" in pursuit of perfection. This is achieved through forced assimilation, a process which transforms individuals and technology into Borg, enhancing, and simultaneously controlling, individuals by implanting or appending synthetic components.

It seems like social networks are quickly becoming 'borg like' as hives of existence and assimilating unsuspecting humans away from the real world and into the virtual realm. If it hasn't happened to you already, "you will be assimilated."

I was at a dinner party with a group of friends and while I was having a pleasant conversation with one of the guests, I couldn't help but notice how his full attention turned to his smartphone mid-conversation. Instead of actually enjoying the dinner party, it appeared that it was more important to update his Facebook page to inform his "friends" how much he was enjoying the dinner party.

It seems that the splintering of the web by the many mobile devices that are connected to the internet has facilitated this migration to virtual fulfillment. What will be the impact on our society where individuals live through their social network at the expense of their 'real' network? Many of us have hundreds of friends on Facebook, in real life, we don't have nearly that many 'friends.'

Clearly for advertisers, this is a tremendous opportunity. Not only can we associate a brand with an image, we can find out by social network user profiles and postings who associates themselves with that image. The main disconnect is the advertisement or social network presence is often promoting something in the 'real world.' As we have seen sometimes there is a significant disconnect between the social network world and the 'real' world.

One example, is when individuals paint a false picture of their real existence within the social network. I've seen social network walls and postings that would suggest an individual is an expert in a particular past time but in reality they are novices. The social network misinformation, in this scenario, could be misleading to advertisers.

Either way, it is clear that the social network is growing into a collective of information that is impossible to ignore from an advertising perspective. As the Borg would say, "Resistance is Futile."