I’ve been using a number of different social networking sites recently – LinkedIn, MySpace, Flickr, AIM Pages, Digg, Netscape, YouTube, Yelp, Netflix. With every one of them, I face the same problem. When I join, I’m all by lonesome. (Except for my good buddy Tom.) I’m staring at a big, blank “Friends” page that screams “you’re a loser”.
For every application, I have to re-create my list of friends. If I forget to invite someone (even if they’re a user of that service), I don’t get access to their content. When I meet someone new, I have to add them to various sites. And if I have a falling out with someone, I have to remember to get rid of them everywhere.
This is despite the fact that I maintain a master list of friends that every one of these applications could leverage – my buddy list.
When I sign up for a new application, say YouTube, I should be able to tell YouTube that my AIM Screename is johndoe32. YouTube can then find out from AIM who else on my buddy list is a YouTube user and automatically show me their content based on the permission settings they’ve applied to the content.
YouTube could also incorporate their AIM presence as I’m browsing through content. If I see a video from a friend that I like, I can IM them right from that page.
If I want, YouTube could also use AIM to alert me of new videos posted by my friends.
This is a huge win, win, win:
- Users benefit from streamlined friend management and easier access to communities.
- Applications benefit by lowering the barrier to entry, making it much easier to adopt new products. Startups can get to market faster because they can offload the work of managing user relationships. Applications also benefit from the alerts on the IM platform.
- The IM platform benefits with increased distribution and visibility on the application sites.