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Beyond Google+: From Circles to Echo Chambers

One of the most fascinating aspects about the launch of Google+ is the way it reframes how we, as individuals, interact with our communities. As Brian Solis so rightly points out, the initial Facebook model of creating a single social graph of up to 5000 friends must now be compared to a series of what Google+ calls ‘circles’ that expand and contract as we pass through various life stages, jobs, relationships and experiences in our lives.

This contrast is very instructive as to the future, and is particularly important for brands trying to engage with their customer communities. By now, most brands have overcome their reticence to participate in social media, and exhausted their knee-jerk reaction to buy their way to a sizable social footprint that is at least comparable to their competitors. But the challenges continue to arise.

This new reframing, just as Twitter emerged after Facebook, and Google+ after Twitter, we will see more social platforms emerge that will become increasingly sophisticated and nuanjced in their expression of how individiuals prefer to relate to each other.  Ultimately, it’s possible that these platforms themselves will be designed as templates that the users themselves can customize in terms of the best way to express their community and experience of life.

What this means for brands is significant. It is already challenging to engage and maintain the interest of your customers in real time across multiple platforms, especially as many brands are still fighting the inertia that inevitably comes with hierarchical structures designed with control in mind. But now, as the social business marketplace becomes increasingly fragmented and more and more micro-communities, specific to a variety of media (Path, Instagram) start to emerge, brands face the prospect of reaching an increasing number of specific audiences, conversations and communities all in real time.

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