Insight 12: What’s on your digital agenda in 2012? Two of 10 – Portable Friends

Portable friends? What do I mean by portable friends? Well, quite simply, its the result of now vice-like integration of social interactions into your contacts.

In its simplest form, it’s the ability to see your most recent social networking interactions with your friends within your address book. In its most complex form, it’s the ability to seamlessly share, broadcast and receive social activities and marketing-incentivised offers with friends to peers.

You’re probably already seeing a simple version of this when you sign up to a new web-service. Connect your email, Twitter or Facebook accounts and watch the service return friends from these networks who are already on this service. The system may also recommend people who may be connected to friends of friends who you may also know.

More than just connections

Portable friends will take on a much more “actionable” meaning in 2012 though, way beyond just connecting people, thanks entirely to the growth in mobile social networking.

The earliest example of this is the latest Windows Phone and its address book (Windows Mobile call this the “People Hub”). Assuming you have already connected your social accounts to the phone, the phone is then able to list and group your interactions with your address book friends, it will list their latest posts and actions and locations where they are doing things.

The opportunities this presents are incredible. Imagine the power of a scenario where Friend 3 is automatically notified of Friend 2’s location check-in, which in itself was incentivised by a deal sent to Friend 1 and shared to their network. A call or SMS made to Friend 2 reminds Friend 1 that there is a check-in money off deal at Retailer X.

At the moment, as a result of the use of independent social network apps, mobile social interactions are asynchronous – they only happen when you open the app up. The social integration of your address book in 2012 will bring a whole new, seamless dimension to mobile social networking.

The impact

As we move to more seamless, mobile sharing experiences, it’s going to be more crucial than ever for brands to have to understand their fan’s mobile and social networking habits (through the use of things like Forrester’s Mobile Technographics profile for example). Brands need to understand how they can provide fans with the means, material (and incentives) to interact with your brand when they are out and about so that branded messages and actions are carried with the seamless interactions between friends.

This also brings with it a significant concern around reputation management – think very carefully how you are going to gear yourself up for mobile monitoring – an area that has being almost entirely untouched by social media monitoring tools for many technical and privacy reasons. Will your existing tools be able to track mentions on all your social channels (especially location-based ones), will you be able to reliably access all your Facebook check-ins and how will you be able to map identify your new, mobile influencers?

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