The business of social is the business of sharing. Research the business model for any social networking company, and you will see that its goal is to sell services to others based on the social sharing of its users. Facebook has Likes, Twitter has tweets, and Pinterest has pins. They are all a form of sharing—an activity the sites monetize in the form of advertising, promotions, and marketing services. But there are other services that can be built on top of sharing. I will review two in this chapter. Neither has to do with people sharing ideas, opinions, wants, or needs. They have to do with people sharing things and things sharing data. And they point the way for how to build businesses based on social machines, a topic we delve into in Chapter 11.
People Sharing Things
As I write this, a new crop of start-ups are getting funded that focus on enabling what sounds like a fancy new collective behavior called collaborative consumption. In reality, it’s just an easier way of allowing people and organizations to rent, lend, swap, and/or barter things they already own. It is billed as a way for owners to maximize their return on investment of an asset by expanding usage beyond just their own. It could be a house, a boat, a car, a tool, or even your skills or schedule. For customers it’s a way to gain access to things/assets they don’t own and pay for only what they use. Of course, this idea is not new in any real sense. People have been doing this sort of thing ...