To Social Graph or Not to Social Graph. Is that the Question?

Posted on April 12, 2008 by Tony Uphoff

Bit of a gap since my last post. Was inspired by our pal Tim Ferris so didn't post from vacation. Great trip to Hawaii. Fantastic time with family, good weather and got the chance to surf one of the legendary north shore spots Velzyland. Also had the chance to see Bobby Kennedy Jr in action as he was staying at our hotel. Suffice to say he took an "interest" in my wife Linda...but that's for another post.

As many of my friends and colleagues can tell I spent part of my vacation studying the social graph. As Alex Iskolds piece illustrates Mark Zuckerberg didn't invent the concept of the social graph but he may well have created the dominant platform in Facebook.

If anyone is still debating the social graph as a market transition for the web they are wasting their time

The social graph and search are driving the vast majority of consumer web traffic today. The real question is how to make money via the social graph. As usual this is a far tricker question that not even Facebook has answered.

The social graph revolves around community and the power to expand and segment your communities at the same time. Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation applied to your own personal and professional networks. Powerful, sticky, addictive applications that also leverage the power of content co-creation. In this environment however it's not clear how advertising works or whether it will be accepted. Contextual or social advertising models in community sites haven't been met with enthusiasm from users. Beacon has had a very rough introduction and it's future is anything but certain.

This is not a consumer versus B2B issue either. B2B sites that leverage social networking have yet to demonstrate sustainable revenue models, although several are showing promise. So what's the answer? Is the social graph a powerful way of developing community, traffic and engagement still looking for a business model? Or is it simply a matter of time before this traffic is monetized the old fashioned way via traditional online advertising?,

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