Of social bookmarking, relevance and the needstream.Comments

Yesterday, Julian Baldwin coined the term "needstream" saying:

Basic needs are "needstream" so mainstream doesn't necessarily need to include everyone

I commented that as everyone doesn't need the same thing then everyone's needstream is going to be different and no one service can encompass everyone.

Alexander says that the future focus will be on smaller, more localised social networks and I think Julians' quote goes a long way to explain why - the larger the audience the less relevant things will become. As I have said before, the global conversation will remain - and even grow - but there will be a bipolar existence on the web where people will "drift between the global and local conversations as needed".

Needs and wants

What do we actually "need" on the web? The answer is very little and many, by not even being connected, demonstrate that in personal terms we need nothing. Our jobs may dictate specific needs but once we clock off the internet fuels our wants rather than our needs.

Everyone wants something different - we are the sum of our life experience so have our own individual likes and tastes. These may intersect with those of others at various points but the differences between us are what makes life interesting.

Social bookmarking

Our wants on the web directly reflect our interests and some turn to social bookmarking services to explore those intersections with the wants of others - choose a table, pull up a chair and shout hit me! With only around 20% of the world actually connected and a mere fraction of those using a social bookmarking service the number of available intersections is going to be severely limited.

Social bookmarking is certainly not for the benefit of the content producer. It is designed to assist the consumer in their discovery process but I would argue that it fails. Is this due to incorrect categorisation or tagging, or simply because the social population simply isn't large enough?

Take yesterday's post about MooMag for example which was submitted to StumbleUpon. It's always nice when someone feels a post is worth sharing and it may drive some traffic your way but I have always maintained that this traffic is of incredibly poor quality - those people who hit your site but realise, once they get there, that it's not really of interest to them. They may not read the full post, will likely not follow any internal links, will not subscribe to your RSS feed and in all probability will never return unless they hit the Stumble button and are sent back at random.

Conversion

The aim of any blogger is to convert the casual visitor to a repeat reader, subscriber or even evangelist but in the context of this post the true measure of conversion would be the number of click-throughs to the MooMag site.

Fortunately, I had been looking at the incoming and outgoing stats recorded by MyBlogLog so knew how many visitors had clicked on the outgoing link to MooMag prior to the post being Stumbled. In the period after there was only one click-through and there is no guarantee that this was from a StumbleUpon user. If we assume that this click was a StumbleUpon user then the conversion rate was only 1.2% - there were 83 visits from the stumbled share.

To me this illustrates that the already limited intersections we share with others are incredibly vague meaning that the percentage of truly useful intersections is going to be minute. We may share broad interests but they don't bear much fruit when we get down to specifics and makes we question the role of social bookmarking. If the conversion rates are so low when we have a reasonably limited set of people using these services what are they going to drop to once the adoption rates increase?

Your thoughts

What do you gain from social bookmarking services either as a content producer or as a consumer?

Of social bookmarking, relevance and the needstream.

Social bookmarking for social media.

A while back I asked why Digg did not have a category for social media. It seemed ironic that the most popular social bookmarking site did not cater for its own ilk.

While I received a couple of positive comments on the blog it was a completely different matter on Digg itself; I was essentially lambasted for even making such a suggestion - a typical example of the negative posting and burying that people have been critical of recently.

It appears that a shift away from Digg is occurring in certain circles and, as this new blog has more of a focus on social media I felt it was time to make a move myself.

Where to go?

It is very much flavour of the month to create just another Digg clone so finding other alternatives seemed a challenge.

One site I have been using for a while is Sphinn which is solely devoted to the sharing and rating of social media based content. Users have been complaining of spam recently but the quality content far outweighs the dross.

There has been quite a buzz forming around Mixx with reports emerging that the site has a good atmosphere without any of the snobbery that occurs on Digg. It also comes highly recommended by bloggers like SarahMatthew and Corvida. I signed up.

I has also become disillusioned with the Sphere "related content" system. I don't know if its a question of the depth of its indexed content but it is very rare that I have found anything useful through it. This was highlighted yesterday when looking for specific content but getting back results purely because they had a word buried somewhere within the post - there seems to be context checking.

I had stopped using it (perhaps due to the issue that Scoble was discussing) but I am now making a conscious effort to make better use if FriendFeed as a way to find, share and comment on new content.

Changes

All of this means that there have been a few changes to the post footer on the blog. I had to recently removed the link to Twit This as the site appears to be down. Now, gone are Digg and Sphere, in their place are Mixx and Sphinn and the order has been adjusted.

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Social bookmarking for social media.