John’s being doing some good thinking recently on the Social Object idea.
In particular, I like his challenge to the otherwise utterly brilliant Hugh Mcleod: social activity is the glue and the engine of social networks; social objects can help stimulate/facilitate social activity but they aren’t the heart of most social networks.
One way of seeing why this is important is to consider what most folk interested in Word of Mouth marketing are measuring: the WoM behaviour that derives from their own actions rather than the rather bigger and more important Word of Mouth that was there before (what an economist might call “endogenous” word of mouth – generated by the system alone not by the influence of any external factors). It’s part and parcel of our assumption that it’s what we marketing bunnies do that shapes the world…it’s hard to shake this self-importance off, isn’t it?
That said, think the Social Object idea remains our best description yet of not just how New Marketing Communication works but also of the old stuff (Smash Martians, anyone?)
PS check out the – super slim – Mark II version of the Hughtrain here