Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fragmented communication channels

My wife wrote an email to me saying she was concerned that we have communications issues. I immediately sent an IM asking her to clarify. She messaged me on Facebook saying not to worry but that sometimes we're not as connected as she'd like. I tweeted her that I love her more than anything. She texted me that she loves me too and was tired after a long day of work. So I leaned over and kissed her good night.
- Brian Babin, Senior Director of Product Manager at Actiance
If you are on any number of social network, I'm sure you can relate to Brian's story.  Especially roughly half of U.S. population who own smartphone will know.  We use different communication channels to talk to different people.  We use email to correspond to get promotions from companies, Facebook to keep up with friends and family, LinkedIn to maintain our virtual Rollerdex of business contacts, Twitter to get and share breaking news in real time, and Pinterest to discover and express yourself with photos.

Not so uncommon in today's world...

This fragmentation has created interesting challenges.  Conversations are happening in different places and depending on the channel type of audience are different.  It's like seeing the early days of cable TV when number of channels started to explode, and viewers got segmented over those channels.  Like MTV attracting younger audience while CNN for older generation, today's social media is getting fragmented to niche user base.

Let's use this blog for example.  Although I'm posting blog entry to Blogger, it gets posted to Facebook Fan Page, @FutureSocialNet and @jaeho9kim Twitter handle, my LinkedIn account and a few occasions it gets picked up by  When people react and create comments, the comments can be submitted on Disqus from, Facebook Fan Page, provided as reply or retweet on my two Twitter handles, LinkedIn account reply or it could be submitted from  Because conversations are fragmented over multiple channels, people are interacting within the fragmented user base not seeing the rest of comments that could be available from other channels.

There are solutions out there that attempts to address this problem from blogger's perspective, like  But it's nowhere close to allowing seamless communications to happen in natural way across multiple communication channel boundaries.

I've talked earlier about how social media fragmentation will continue.  But as social media fragmentation continues to evolve, there will be increasing tension between users looking for right medium to communicate on and the need for content creator (or sender) to aggregate everyone's feedback to start the dialogue that transcends fragmented social media channels.  Some tools are available to address this need, such as Lithium and Bazaarvoice, but they are focused on social marketing and commerce.  I see large opportunity for other new players to start addressing this fragmentation problem.

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