Mimicking Behavior Of Cliques Within An Online Social Network

June 26, 2008

On Thursday afternoon (tomorrow) we are planning on releasing we released a new feature for our social networking site that extends an interactive capability into the functionality associated with customizable subgroupings of contacts (or “cliques”). Previously, a clique within our social network was strictly an informal organization that a member could group with the intent of sending content to the clique with one…well…mouse click.

Now, we’ve designed our clique functionality to be far more interactive and more representative of real world cliques. here’s what we’ve done:

Cliques Can Be Formed And Named With Or Without The Members Knowledge: Some members of real world cliques know the names of the cliques of which they are members. but often times, others have names for these informal social circles that the members are unaware of. Members have always been able to name their informal subgroupings of contacts but now cliques can be identified as being Formal or Secret. Members of formal cliques are like real life clubs – someone organizes members and everyone knows that they are members.  They are also free to interact with other clique members within  the club structure or outside of it.

Communication With Member Cliques Is Natural And Easy: In real life, social groups naturally form with a minimum of friction for some benefit. Members can already quickly build cliques from subgroupings of their contacts.  We’ll now add a tab to the messaging interface that will show all of the cliques that a member has created. These cliques will be available to address messages to the respective members of the clique. You’ll simply address the message with a doubleclick from the list of previosly related subgroupings.  

Messages to clique members can have documents, media, or virtual folders attached to them just like any regular public or private message. However, messages to cliques will be sent to individual members of that clique.

Responses to clique messages will either be visible to the entire clique or only to the clique owner depending on the desired configuration.  A clique of professional colleagues, family, of friends may be configured such that responses are visible to all while cliques of customers might be configured for direct responses to the clique “owner”.

Cliques differ from the usual web 2.0 social networking idea of groups. First, cliques will form naturally and be driven by the groups of members themselves rather than having members form aroud some fixed idea or concept.  Like tags for web 2.0 information, the dynamic cliques formed and named by others will help to provide a basic form of metadata about how others view a given member and is outside that member’s control.  Again, like tags, this may aggregate into something interesting in conjunction with the member’s social interaction, activities, and participation in more formal groups.

Stay tuned.

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