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January 8, 2009

Social Aggregation: The Next Logical Step In Social Networking

Social media is already an obsolete term – on the web you are either social or dust. No one pays attention to the “me, me, me” tune. The “you, you, you” is losing ground too. What matters today is “us” and how we “share data”, communicate and interact.

The first steps towards a more social Web were made by bookmarking services like reddit, digg, and and by social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and others. The problem with so many bookmarking and networking sites is that the users lose track of their data sooner or later. Today more and more people are looking for solutions for the storm clouds of data and services cluttering their minds.

Social aggregators and social media aggregation services have been designed to organize this chaos. They’ll pull content from different bookmarking and networking sites and organize this data into a single location, creating a “meta profile” page for each user.

Because the systems are somewhat complex, the users are often unable to understand what social aggregators are all about. Some use them as “traffic boosters” believing that being part of such a community and submitting content will somehow boost the Alexa traffic ranks. Other users exploit the linking functionality of the social aggregators believing that the strategy will benefit their search engine positioning or even boost the Google PageRanks of their sites. While these advantages are obviously there, social aggregation has a more in-depth meaning and functionality, but there’s still a long way to go for an aggregation service to truly become a complete platform.

The biggest problem with some of the social sites is that they too are full of “stuff”. Facebook is not an aggregator, as there is no real way to store data – only integrate or communicate with services.

Social aggregation sites like FriendFeed and Profilactic offer still more Twitter like utility that allows us to share our “stuff” with other people, but the stuff we share is not really data so much as snippets of a lifestream. Here we sit, stuffed with meaningless pieces of stuff in most cases, and wondering what or where to put our upcoming stuff.

There is perhaps only one true social aggregation library out there: Secondbrain ( – currently running in beta 2.0). This service has both lifestreaming and content management tools. The social networking aspect is still incomplete, but as the service develops further we can expect more improvement every day.

What many web users still need to understand is that social aggregation is not just a “trend” but a logical step towards Web 3.0. This is the time to join such services and start building authority within the community. Authority will eventually lead to a broader reach and higher social media equity. As to how to build authority… well, that’s another story, but for now just remember: join a social aggregator (my recommendation is Secondbrain, which even has a contest where you could win a MacBook Air), connect with other users and start contributing with quality content.

About the Author: Mihaela Lica, public relations and SEO expert, is the managing partner at Pamil Visions PR. She writes for several popular blogs and represents a number of Silicon Valley and other international startup companies. You can read Mihaela’s personal blog.