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Social Applications

Social applications combine the attraction of social objects, the power of the social graph, and the natural tendency for people to gather and converse. Because social applications connect, enable, and coordinate the interactions of participants within and across communities and other social networks to which they belong, they offer a straightforward way to realize a powerful business presence on the Social Web. This chapter wraps up Part III with a look at how to define and implement successful social applications.

What Is a Social Application?

Social applications, simply, are software components that facilitate interaction between members of a social network. Social applications are built around social objects— lifestyles, passions, and causes, along with myriad talkworthy smaller objects such as short posts (tweets, for example), photos, videos, and more. Social applications are driven by the connections embodied in the individual social graphs of participants, and as such act as efficient conduits for the spread of information within the network.

Why This Matters in Business

Whether you choose to create a social application of your own or join one that is already in place, the extent to which connections are actively encouraged and can be efficiently managed are important considerations. Look for tools, functions, and processes—along with the ability to build on them or modify them in ways that make it more likely that participants will create connections between themselves. Not only will this result in increased use and “stickiness” of the community or larger social application, it will also help participants create richer social graphs that facilitate content sharing and the general spread of ideas between people

Conclusion

While the benefits of sharing content through social applications like Twitter and YouTube are largely self-evident, there are additional applications for content-sharing social sites. If your business objectives include establishing a position as a thought leader, or if you are looking for collaborative input around early ideas that are appropriate for sharing publicly, consider using applications like Scribd, Google Docs, and Slideshare.

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