Social Media Brain Cramps (video)

I was stuck in traffic and had not moved for nearly an hour.
I was quite bored.
I had a thought.
This is a dangerous combination.

Prediction: A Paradigm Shift in Social Media Sharing

By Neicole Crepeau, Contributing {grow} Columnist

Google + Circles has finally provided sharing in the way that most people want. Even Google may not realize the avalanche of changes it has started, though. Google’s implementation of Circles will usher in a new paradigm for sharing: one where we no longer focus on where we want to share but instead focus on who we want to share with.

The current state

Right now, when you share content you pick the network you want to share to. You click a Tweet or Retweet button to share to Twitter, click a Facebook Like, etc. This is because social sharing began with social networks–locations where people congregate online.

Some of your contacts operate mainly in one location, say Facebook or Twitter but you’re probably connected with other contacts across multiple locations. And still other contacts are mainly accessible via email or text messaging. To reach all of the people you’d like to reach with a piece of content, you have to make the effort to go to each network and share or use a tool such as Hootsuite or ping.fm to share across multiple sites.  If you want to share selectively within each site, such as to only certain LinkedIn groups and Facebook friends, it becomes even more time-consuming and difficult. Even in the third-party tools, there is poor support for sharing to select Lists, pages, or groups.

Circles and Lists will let you focus on people

Now, Facebook, Twitter, and others will be forced to catch up with the Google + model (though Facebook could have been leading the change). Facebook will follow suit and add Circle-like capabilities. (Breaking news–Between drafting this post and publishing, Facebook announced changes in their Lists and sharing features to begin matching Google Plus.) Expect Twitter to enhance their List feature in response, as well.

As each social network implements a rich user experience and feature set equivalent to Google + Circles, it will be easier to focus on who you want to share with. While you will still need to go to each social network to share, you will be able to more easily select groups of people within each network that you want to share with.

Instead of having a choice of sharing publically or to friends-only on Facebook, you’ll easily be able to share to selected groups, such as Work Colleagues or Gamer Friends. Similarly, you’ll be able to tweet at your list of Gamers in order to share selected tweets and content just to the people most likely to be interested in that information.

Thus, at first, you will have two-step process of choosing where you want to share and then who you want to share with.

What we need are Enhanced Share buttons

Google Plus will likely lead the way in providing a Share button for websites that lets you select the Circle you want to share with right from the button. (Breaking news–Google Plus just announced on 8/24 that they are enabling sharing via the +1 button–and the ability to select the Circles you want to share with.)

Shortly after that, I predict Facebook, Twitter, and others will add the ability, so that you can target your sharing to specific groups of people in their network, as well.

Evolution – Third party tools consolidate circles across platforms

Before long, though, third party tools will enable you to consolidate your Circles/Lists across platforms. (And if you’re a VC, contact me and we can talk about being the first of these tools!)  You’ll be able to create meta-circles that let you define your different social groups, ala Google + Circles. However, you won’t have to worry about whether your contacts are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Using these third-party tools (unless Google, itself, decides to build it), you’ll be able to authenticate with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., and then assign your contacts from across these networks into Circles or groups. You can build your Professional contacts, your Best Friends and Family group, your Gamers group, etc. People may reside in more than one circle, of course, so that Joe is in both your Best Friends and your Gamers group.

Similarly, you’ll be able to use Circles to segment your audience. If you have followers on Twitter or fan of your Facebook page, you’ll be able to group them into segments, such as Product Managers or Marketers, Small Business CEOs, Bloggers or Consultants, and so on. Again, people may reside in more than one Circle and you may have contact with them via more than one social network.

Retweet, Like, and other buttons are replaced

At first, people will use these third-party tools to share to their meta-Circles. Instead of going to each social network and sharing a piece of content within it, you will be able to simply use the third-party application. For example, Feedly might build in this ability and you can share content to your meta-Circles from it. You’ll select the Gamers or Bloggers circle to share your content to. The application will then use the Facebook, Google +, Twitter and other APIs to find the appropriate Lists or Circle in each social network and share your content just to those audiences within each network.

You won’t have to think about where your audience and contacts are. You will only have to think about who you want to share with.

Then, one or the other of these third-party tools will create a single Share button that publishers can put on their website. With this button, you can share to your contacts just by clicking the button and selecting the circle of people you want to share with.

Share with Circles Paradigm

Your content will then be shared with the correct groups of people on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and whatever other networks you’re active in. You won’t ever have to think about where your audience lives. All you’ll have to think about is who you are targeting with this content or status update.

And that’s the paradigm shift we can expect in the next one to two years!

Neicole Crepeau a blogger at Coherent Social Media and the creator of CurateXpress, a content curation tool. She works at Coherent Interactive on social media, website design, mobile apps, & marketing. Connect with Neicole on Twitter at @neicolec

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