Frictionless Sharing is the future of social web

Frictionless Sharing is old news that becomes new again, thanks to Facebook launching Open Graph few years ago and Timeline last fall. In 2007, Facebook attempted a similar concept with its Beacon program. However the project backfired on Facebook and it was forced to shut it down, due to major backlash over privacy concerns. Then last fall, Facebook launched Open Graph, which basically allows users post activities from around the web to Facebook in real-time.

The model relies on how Facebook applications integrate directly with the content on the web. For instance users could share the songs they listened to on Spotify or the article they read on the Washington Post on their Facebook Timeline, once they agreed to the integration. Also recently Facebook has changed its privacy settings allowing users to choose whom to share the posts with. This model is different than the Beacon project in terms of privacy settings and also in terms of how it is initiated. While Facebook Beacon posted people’s online activities automatically without their permission, this new model lets the users decide which application to share and with whom, giving people more control over their social web activities.

Previously consumers had to manually post and curate their online activities on Facebook. Today it is a more streamlined method of sharing and a new way to make suggestions and take advice from friends. For brands, it’s a form of free advertising and a way to start a social discussion surrounding their product offering. By automating the interaction, the apps appear more useful than the user normally has time to originate.

A study done by “Beyond- Rethinking Digital” shows that frictionless sharing is here to stay, which is understandable due to the growing number of apps used and social media activities. But it will need to be refined to address much of consumer’s concerns regarding privacy and with accuracy.  The study also shows that segmenting the social networks into disparate friend groups to selectively share content is likely to catch on, and that sharing will expand to include transactions as well as life events and personal achievements to define a new action-oriented sharing culture.  The future sharing would be more focused on reaching a personal milestone. Lastly the study shows that the personal motivations for sharing content has been the same all long, with the top 3 motivations for sharing content are to inform your friends, express a point of view and humor.

It is obvious that the social web is fueled by people’s expectancy of a desired outcome (Expectancy theory) versus a survival motivation.  Frictionless sharing has been driven by people’s need for achievement, affiliation and control/power.  The apps posting action buttons beyond “Like” such as  “Listening”, “Reading” or “Watching”, appeal to the consumer’s need for accomplishments and flaunting their achievements to their friends. Similarly some of these action buttons would also address their needs for belonging and affiliation within their group of friends.  Both needs have been always the reasons behind the success of the social networks evolution. With additional achievement badges and buttons, consumers might also strive for uniqueness as they show off different type of activities and accomplishments of unique personal goals.

Today social networks are offering the consumers a better sense of control over their privacy. Consumers can choose whom to share which apps with on Facebook Timeline. This was lacking few years ago when Facebook launched the Beacon Project. The new privacy settings meet the consumer’s need for power and control over their social activities.

As it stands today, frictionless sharing is growing in adaptation, as more consumers perceive the value in an automated curation that meet the aforementioned needs for achievement and affiliation. Moving forward, the model should continue to grow, especially as apps and social networks improve their products to address the consumer’s needs for uniqueness and power. It thus seems likely that frictionless sharing will be the way of the social web that meets the consumer’s needs in every aspect of their lives.

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Copyright 2009-2013 Rasha Proctor