Social Media – Past, Present and Future

Here’s what I learned from Steve Sarner, VP of Marketing at Tagged and a longtime thought leader in social space, in an interview with Mike Wolpert, host of Social Jumpstart TV about the past, present, and future social media and social discovery.


Friendster was the first social network to speak of. It could have been what Facebook is today, if they’d been able to figure out how to keep the site up, but they were overwhelmed by traffic. It was a technical failure. Sarner says they had “lightning in a bottle, beyond even their wildest imaginations.” After watching this happen a bunch of other players jumped on the bandwagon, especially in Silicon Valley, and there was a big explosion.

The founders of Tagged were Stanford physics PhD candidates in their twenties who had gone to Harvard. They saw MySpace happening for music and adults, and they saw another kid from Harvard named Mark starting something for college students (a little thing called Facebook). Tagged was originally going to be for high school students. After MySpace and Facebook opened up to all the age demographics in 2005/2006, Tagged opened up to everyone too and entered the race of trying to be the world’s social network.

Sarner believes that Facebook gained the momentum it did in 2005/2006 because it was a beautifully, eloquently done site that was able to lead people into social networking in a clean-cut way. MySpace was too confusing for the masses, and also became overwhelmed by capacity issues. Facebook was more structured, and it had quicker functionality and well-designed technical elements. These strengths have obviously continued to serve Facebook well.

LinkedIn entered the scene as the place for professional friends and professional networks. Some of the other networks, like foursquare, emerged to utilize geographical strengths.

In 2007/2008, Tagged pivoted in a new direction. They decided that most of the networks are for people you already know-Facebook for friends, MySpace for music friends, LinkedIn for professional friends, foursquare for people you know in your area. Tagged decided it would be the network for meeting new friends. They have been serving this niche since, finding new ways and developing new features to help you find brand-new friends online who you wouldn’t find by following your existing friend networks. Some people use Tagged for dating, some for social games, and some for shared interests. Tagged represents a different use case-you may have 2000 friends, and you may use different photos, choose different entertainment, and focus on different interests than you would with a network of people you already know. It’s about being social and fun in a more public way.


The present reality of social media is this: the social brand is more important than ever. People need to find you, so you need to be on these networks. That’s a fact.

Sarner has this advice for overwhelmed business owners: Getting started is half the battle. Consistency is really important, and you have to put a little time and effort into this. What’s required is sweat equity-intellect, time, and energy. But it will get easier as soon as you get started. Social media is here to stay, and it will become even more meaningful in the long term. It’s not that hard, and with a little guidance and practice, you can get fabulous results.

Getting on social media is not just crucial for prospects and new sales. Social media also offers immediate feedback so you can solve problems earlier. Somebody might walk out of your store upset, and you don’t know it, unless you’re on social media. If you are, you can respond immediately-this is a chance to solve the problem. It’s also a chance to change the conversation about your business, be a part of it, and even help write it. If you use it well, you can demonstrate that you’re a great business, and get free market research out of it, which is a powerful thing.

It all starts with listening. A business owner can begin by listening to what’s going on on social media before getting involved. A lot of businesses miss this boat, because they think they need to push their message out. In fact, what you need to do is step back and listen. Only jump in where you can add value; don’t do it just to say “Look at me.” Make a worthwhile contribution by fixing an issue, solving a problem, or being involved on a higher level.

Word-of-mouth is the most valuable type of marketing, but learning it and understanding how to harness the power of it is the tricky part. Social media is the place to learn.


Sarner sees us moving toward a place where even more of the old systems, like the old broadcast model of advertising, will be falling down. He predicts another huge privacy blowup with Facebook, because of the new social readers they’re using that broadcast what users are reading and looking at. There will definitely be more bumps along the road.

Sarner also thinks that making new strides in social media will get harder before it gets easier. Right now, if you’re a business looking for customers, you have to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. But beyond that, it’s hard to know where else to go in order to use social media in the most effective possible. It all depends on the type and location of your business and the nature of your industry. Geographical sites or review sites might be crucial for one business and not particularly helpful for another. It will be interesting to see where Google+ is going. This is a quickly evolving landscape with a lot of complexity, and business owners need to be on top of it and take advantage of the opportunity. They need to understand what social media offers: an amazing promotional and communication vehicle. Sarner also thinks the complexity level will continue to increase.

Here’s how Tagged sees the challenge facing them: Tagged has 100 million registered users. Facebook has 800 million active users. There are 7 billion people on the planet; 2 billion are connected, and 3 billion will be connected soon. What’s the best way to find the 10 best people you should meet?

Google, Microsoft, and Tagged are all working on future products. When I asked Sarner for a hint about what Tagged is working on, he started talking about shared interests. What if you could use social media to really find like-minded people with similar interests who would be valuable to know? Most of the friendships you already have are based on randomness or proximity. Instead, you could develop friendships based on expertise, business focus, spiritual connection, or another area of shared interest. The most valuable connections are built around what you care about and what you do. There’s so much noise out there, and right now, social media helps you manage it and curate it. The next step will be about cherry-picking the people you should meet.

Communications While Negotiating

How many times have you encountered a situation while negotiating, misunderstood the situation, initially, and then got a different impression of the situation after you had the opportunity to reevaluate it? Its probably occurred more times than you’ve noticed. Why do you think those occurrences happen? In most cases, people are not aware of their communication style. They are not aware of the manner in which they communicate, nor the signals they send out while communicating.

Everyone has a very unique style of communicating. Its almost akin to a special imprint implanted into our DNA.

When negotiating, take notice of the phraseology a person uses. Do they speak with phases, such as, I see what you mean, I hear what you’re saying? The words a person uses, when they speak, give you insight into the way they’re processing thoughts. If you, as a savvy negotiator, are astute enough to recognize the other persons thought process, you can use it to your advantage during the negotiations.

The way to use the processing of information in the mind of the other person can be multifaceted

1. If you want to heighten rapport, use the same phraseology (words) as the other person to explain your presentation.

2. If you want to break rapport, use different phraseology to explain your point (e.g. the other person says, I see what you mean. When you use phraseology to explain a similar point, youre response would be, I hear what you mean.

The fact that two different words were used to convey, basically, the same meaning will cause/create a slight differences in closeness and thus, you will have created a process that says, non verbally, that theres a disconnect. Try it and which the other persons body language. If you observe closely enough, you may notice a slight movement backwards.

The point of raising your perception to a higher level when communicating during a negotiation is to heighten your awareness to the times when you will have an advantage during the negotiations.

Pay attention to the style and means in which people communicate and you will notice your negotiation sessions will start to come to faster and more favorable conclusions.

Negotiation Lessons:

(Note) When negotiating, you should always be aware of everything thats going on in your environment. The greater your awareness, the more aware you will be of possible opportunities that you can take advantage of.

The negotiation lessons are

Take note of the manner in which the other person is communicating

Seek opportunities to bond to or to break the bonding process based on how the other person is communicating, when it is to your advantage to do so

For the next week, play a game with yourself. The game is to take note of as many people and their communication language. This will heighten your awareness prior to getting to the negotiation table and you will find that your more attuned when the time to negotiate occurs.

Thats it for this time, until next time here’s hoping all of your negotiations are happy ones and remember, You’re always negotiating.

Negotiate Is NOT a Dirty Word

To negotiate means to “attempt to come to an agreement on something through discussion and compromise” (Encarta Dictionary). It is something we do everyday in business and in our personal lives, yet we all are not 100% proficient. And for many the word negotiate conjures up negative reactions… it becomes a dirty word. Many people tell us they just don’t like to negotiate.

Because we are not all 100% proficient in negotiating, many people walk away from opportunities because they can’t come to agreement, or they leave money on the table by paying more than they wanted, or their discussions get heated or stalled. Why don’t we excel in something we do every day?

Negotiating involves discussing our “needs” (which are very personal), sharing our “wants” (which are very important) and communicating with someone else (who has different wants and needs and may have a different style), so many factors can get in the way of reaching that critical agreement.

To help reduce these potential barriers, consider these three best practices of top negotiators.

Keep Communicating with the Other Person

  • Stay focused on the issues that are keeping you from agreement. Create a give and take atmosphere so both parties share their wants and needs.Work to establish common ground and whenever possible, reiterate what both parties agree on to make it easier to work towards a solution.

Be Patient

  • Do not give up anything until you have the full picture and have all the information available. Try to get both parties wants and needs on the table before agreeing to a new solution. If you have a tendency to move fast in life, learn how to slow down in negotiations

Be Prepared

  • Before negotiating, develop your opening position, your bargaining strategy and your bottom line. This preparation can be done when the negotiation is planned and unplanned. If it is unplanned, (when a customer calls you out of the blue and demands a discount) take a moment to explore the customer’s issues. Then develop your first offer, some ideas for resolving the issue if the customer doesn’t accept the first offer, and the bottom line in terms of what you can do to find resolution.

If you remember these three tips of top negotiators, you will feel more confident when negotiating and be able to achieve more “Win-Win” outcomes in your personal and business lives. And negotiating won’t be a “dirty” word.