27
Jan 12

How and why we communicate with others

This is chapter 2 of my book Grouped. You you like and want to read the rest, you can do so here!

 

HOW AND WHY WE COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS

 

WHY WE TALK

We talk to survive

The desire to communicate is hard-wired into all of us. It was an effective survival mechanism for our ancestors, who shared information about food supplies, dangerous animals, and weather patterns, and it continues to help us understand our world, including what behavior is appropriate and how to act in certain situations. People talk because sharing information makes life easier.

Our motivations for sharing online are the same as the motivations of our ancestors. We often update our status because we need information. Research has shown that the majority of tweets that mention brands are seeking information rather than expressing sentiment, and one in five tweets is about a product or service. (1)

We talk to form social bonds

Decades of research in social psychology has shown that people talk to form and grow social bonds. Conversations ensure that we understand one another. One key aspect of this is communal laughter. Research has shown that if people laugh together with strangers, they are as generous to them as they are to their friends. (2)

Talking to someone sends out strong social signals. It shows people that we consider them important enough to spend time together. This is also true online. People update their status to produce a feeling of connectedness, even when people are geographically distant. (3) Status updates often contain social gestures and people often respond by liking or commenting on the content, not because they actually like the content but because they want to send out a social signal to build the relationship. In many cases, the conversation that follows a status update is much more important than the status update itself. More than the act of sharing content, marketing campaigns need to support conversations.

Research has shown that social bonds are central to our happiness. The deeper the relationships someone has, the happier they will be. (4) Women talk to form social bonds more often than men. Many of their conversations are aimed at building and maintaining their social network. Men more often talk about themselves or things they claim to be knowledgeable about, often because they are trying to impress the people around them. (5)

We talk to help others

When researchers have studied why people share, they have consistently found that many do it to help others. This is an altruistic act with no expected reciprocity. For many, it is important to them to be perceived as helpful, and so they try to share content that they think other people will find valuable. (6) This is especially clear when we see people share information that may not reflect positively on themselves.

We talk to manage how others perceive us

While people talk to make their lives easier, to form social bonds, and to help others, most of our conversations are a form of reputation management. (7) Research has shown that most conversations are recounting personal experiences, or gossiping about who is doing what with whom. Only 5 percent is criticism or negative gossip. The vast majority of these conversations are positive, as we are driven to preserve a positive reputation. ( 8 )

Our identities are constantly shaped and refined by the conversations we have. Our values were passed on from conversations with our family, community, society, country, church, and through our profession, and are continually refined by the people we spend time with.

Quick tips

Build marketing campaigns that grow social bonds. For example, for Mother’s Day, the online florist 1-800-flowers.com used Facebook to have mothers vote on the products that they would prefer to receive as a gift. this generated stories in the News Feed, to be seen by their children.the motivation to grow social bonds led to four out of the five top-selling Mother’s Day products being the ones voted for on Facebook.

Build marketing campaigns that enable people to help each other. Sephora fans on Facebook organized to send each other unused cosmetics samples. One person starts a box of 30 samples, sends it to someone else who takes 15 samples out and adds 15 of their samples back, before sending it on to a third person who does the same, and so on.

 

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT

Many of our conversations are about other people

One study on what people talk about found that about two thirds of conversations revolve around social issues. Another study found that social relationships and recounting personal experiences account for about 70 percent of conversations. Of the conversations about social relationships, about half are about people not present. The anthropologist Robin Dunbar described these conversations as “Who is doing what with whom, and whether it’s a good or bad thing, who is in and who is out, and why.” (5) Conversations about other people and their behavior help us understand what is socially acceptable in different situations by revealing how the people we’re talking to react to the behavior of the person not present.

Understanding how others have acted, as well as how the people we care about and trust react to those actions, shapes our behavior. It shapes what ideas we agree with, and how we may behave in the future. Supporting conversations about other people is critical for social products and for marketing campaigns based on social behavior.

We share feelings, not facts

Creative agencies the world over try to create content that people will spread. In order to do so, they need to understand what people share, and why. The vast majority of “viral” campaigns don’t spread at all, and this is often because the content is factual. Many research studies have shown that people don’t share facts, they share feelings. (9)

Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman studied the most-emailed articles on the New York Times over more than a six-month period, totaling 7,500 items. They expected to find content that included factual information that might help others, such as diets or gadgets, but instead found that people shared the content that triggered the most arousing emotions. This included positive emotions such as awe, and negative emotions such as anger and anxiety. Emotions that were not arousing, for example sadness, did not trigger sharing of content. (10)

Content that is positive, informative, surprising, or interesting is shared more often than content that is not, and content that is prominently featured is shared more often than content that is not, but these factors are minor compared to how arousing the content is.

These findings have important implications for advertising. BMW ran a successful campaign called “The Hire,” which induced feelings of anxiety through elaborate car chases and generated millions of views. Content that is non-arousing, for example, content that makes people feel comfortable and relaxed, is unlikely to be shared. Public health information may spread more effectively if it induces feelings of anxiety rather than sadness. (11)

We talk about the things that surround us

Our everyday offline conversations tend to be about whatever comes to mind, independent of how interesting it is. And what usually comes to mind first is what is in our current environment (we’ll see later how this works for brands). If we’re talking to good friends, even our desire to appear interesting takes a backseat to environmental cues. Although we do craft our conversations in order to shape others’ perceptions of us,6 most day-to-day conversations with people we know well are about everyday things and are cued by our environment.

Conversely, our desire to appear a certain way to others is a bigger factor in what we talk about online than offline. Offline, many of our conversations are driven by a need to avoid awkward silences. While people most often talk about what is visible or cued by their environment offline, when online they don’t need to fill a conversation space so they can think more carefully about what might be interesting to others.

We talk about brands in passing

The research firm Keller Fay estimates that people talk about approximately 70 brands every week, an average of 10 a day. (12) We might imagine that people talk at length about the pros and cons of competing brands, but most of the time this is not so. Most references to brands in conversations happen in passing. People are talking about something loosely related to the brand, the brand comes up for a few sentences, and then disappears, as the conversation continues about the core topic. When people talk about brands, they are usually not motivated by the brand but by the instinct to converse with others and fill conversation spaces. We need to understand the incidental nature of brand conversations when planning marketing campaigns.

Research has shown that around Halloween, when there are more environmental cues about the color orange, products that are orange (Reese’s Pieces, orange soda) are more top of mind. (13) Other research found that products that are cued by the surrounding environment are talked about 22 percent of the time, versus 4 percent for products not cued by the environment. Products that are publicly visible are talked about 19 percent of the time, versus 2 percent for products that are not publicly visible. For example, in one research study, upcoming concerts were talked about much more often when there were CDs in the room. (14) We talk about eating much more often than technology or media, yet many assume that the latter are objectively more interesting.

This has profound implications for understanding how people talk about brands. Products that are visible and accessible will be talked about more. Products that are not naturally in people’s environment need to build associations with things that are in people’s environments. Yet, samples are not a substitute for the actual thing. Coupons and samples do not drive more conversations, but giving people the full product to try, so that it is consistently in the person’s environment, can lead to a 20 percent increase in conversations about that product. (14)

Interesting (arousing) products are talked about more initially, but once the novelty wears off, they are talked about less than things cued by people’s environments. Frequency of use also drives conversations, as products used frequently are easier to recall from memory and are therefore more top of mind. (15, 16, 17) People talk about big brands far more often than smaller brands. This is not surprising, as bigger brands are more accessible—more visible and easier to recall from memory.

Because we communicate much more frequently with the small number of people we are emotionally closest to, about half of conversations that mention brands are with a partner or family member. (12) Of these brand conversations, 71 percent are face to face, 17 percent are on the phone, and only 9 percent are online. (12) When it comes to spreading ideas, we need to target people’s closest ties.

Quick tips

Online posts that ask people to talk about others are likely to have high engagement rates. Many brands ask people to mention others in their responses, like this example from Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Polls are a great way to drive conversations about your business because the lightweight nature of interaction makes them more aligned with how brands bubble up and dissipate in natural conversations, like this example from Target.

Build campaigns around content that generates strong feelings, as it’s more likely to be shared. Marmite is a food brand in the uk that is either loved or hated by people.to generate sharing from the people who hate Marmite, they created a Facebook page called “the Marmite Hate party.”

if you’re trying to get people to talk about your brand, put it in their physical environment, as people will talk about things that surround them. Huggies had people upload their favorite photos of their babies to Facebook and then had the most popular photos printed on buses and in subway stations.

 

WHO WE TALK TO

Most of our communication is with the people closest to us

We like to think that we talk to a wide and diverse set of people, but the reality is that we talk to the same, small group of people again and again. Research shows that people have consistent communication with between 7 and 15 people, but that most conversations are with our five strongest ties. We communicate with the same 5 to 10 people 80 percent of the time. (2) Keller Fay found that 27 percent of our conversations are with our spouse/partner, 25 percent are with a family member, and 10 percent are with a best friend. That’s 62 percent of our conversations with the people closest to us. Only 5 percent of our conversations are with acquaintances, and only 2 percent are with strangers. The remaining 31 percent is with the rest of the people in our social network. (12)

Research shows that people use social networks primarily to strengthen the bonds with their strong ties, and secondarily to build relationships with weak ties. When we looked at how many different people members communicated with directly on Facebook every week, including private messages, chats, wall posts, and likes and comments on status updates, we saw that the average was just 4 people. When we looked at how many different people they communicated with every month, it was only 6 people. This is despite the fact that these people are checking Facebook almost every day. (18) Other research has shown that the more people see each other in person or talk on the phone, the more they communicate online. (19)

We can map how frequently we communicate with others onto our social network structure:

We communicate more with the people toward the center of our social network, the people we are emotionally closest to.

Who is listening to us changes what we talk about

Who we talk to online has a large impact on what we talk about. Many people think carefully before posting status updates. Sometimes they have an explicit audience in mind for the post and need to consider whether it will be interesting or offending to the rest of the people they are connected to.

People are very conscious of being seen to be communicating information others will find interesting, funny, or useful. As they usually see only positive feedback, for example “likes” or comments on Facebook posts, it’s hard for them to know what other people find valuable. For many people the only way is to look at posts that receive no feedback, assume people didn’t find it interesting, and factor the characteristics of that post into future decisions about whether to post something. Sometimes people post updates broadly, as receiving serendipitous replies outweighs any risk of communicating uninteresting information to others.

We communicate differently to explicit groups of friends compared with larger groups of people.

When we talk in public, we’re very careful about what we say. For example, online public ratings tend to be disproportionately positive when they’re linked to our real identity. This is especially true when the other party involved can reciprocate. When people post anonymously, their ratings tend to be almost 20 percent lower than when they use their real names. When ratings are not visible to the party being rated, people give negative reviews more frequently. (20)

Quick tips

We need to build marketing campaigns around the people we’re closest to. When BMW launched the new Mini cooper in the us, they didn’t target people in the market for a car or people who fit their customer profile.they instead targeted existing Mini owners, as they knew that these people were the best way to influence their friends. (21)

 

SUMMARY

People talk for a variety of reasons: Sharing information makes life easier, talking helps to grow social bonds with others, and choosing what we talk about allows us to manage how others perceive us.

We talk about other people, what’s around us, and things that generate strong feelings. Most conversations involve recounting personal experiences, or gossiping about who is doing what with whom.

We talk about brands in passing, often driven by what we see in our environment, and to fill a conversation space with someone else.

Most of our communication is with the people closest to us. We communicate with the same 5 to 10 people 80 percent of the time.

 

FURTHER READING

  1. See the 2009 research paper “Twitter power: Tweets as electronic word of mouth” by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and Twitter.
  2. See the 2011 research paper “Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold” by Robin Dunbar and others.
  3. See the 2010 research paper “Is it really about me? Message content in social awareness streams” by researchers at Rutgers University.
  4. For a great overview of research on happiness, see Derek Bok’s book The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being (Princeton University Press, 2010).
  5. See Robin Dunbar’s book How Many Friends Does One Person Need? (Faber and Faber, 2010).
  6. See the 2008 research paper “Word-of-mouth as self- enhancement” by Andrea Wojnicki and David Godes.
  7. For two examples, see the 1992 Social Psychology Newsletter article “The truth about gossip,” and the 1990 article “A social psychology of reputation,” both by Nick Emler.
  8. See Robin Dunbar’s book Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language (Harvard University Press, 1998).
  9. See the 2009 research paper “Emotion elicits the social sharing of emotion: Theory and empirical review” by Bernard Rimé.
  10. See the forthcoming 2012 research paper “What makes online content viral?” by Berger and Milkman.
  11. This example is from the 2011 research paper “Arousal increases social transmission of information” by Jonah Berger.
  12. The marketing consultancy Keller Fay have conducted many studies into how people converse. Explore their data at kellerfay.com/category/insights/.
  13. See the 2008 research paper “Dogs on the street, Pumas on your feet: How cues in the environment influence product evaluation and choice” by Jonah Berger and Gráinne Fitzsimons.
  14. See the 2011 research paper “What do people talk about? Drivers of immediate and ongoing word-of-mouth” by Jonah Berger and Eric Schwartz.
  15. See the 1977 social psychology research from Tory Higgins, William Rholes, and Carl Jones.
  16. See the 1982 research paper “Memory and attentional factors in consumer choice: Concepts and research methods” by John Lynch and Thomas Srull.
  17. See the 1990 research paper “Recall and consumer consideration sets: Influencing choice without altering brand evaluations” by Prakash Nedungadi.
  18. Statistics from internal analysis at Facebook.
  19. See the 2006 report “The strength of internet ties” by the Pew Research Center.
  20. See the 2010 research paper “I rate you. You rate me. Should we do so publicly?” by researchers at the University of Michigan, and the 2007 research paper “A familiar face(book): Profile elements as signals in an online social network” by researchers at Michigan State University.
  21. MINI’s innovative marketing strategy is described by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff in their book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies (Harvard Business Press, 2008).

 


16
Jan 12

A book is never done

Writing a book about social interaction is a strange experience because the minute the book hits the printing press, you start to uncover more and more new material that could have been included and you start to think about new things. I’m very lucky to be working in product development at Facebook, and am surrounded by some of the best minds in marketing and advertising. My daily conversations at work make me think about new areas, new combinations of ideas, new frameworks, and new possibilities for the future. For example, since the book was finished, I have started to read and think about the history of media technology, and how that might inform how people approach new media technologies today and in the future. I’ve also started to think a bit more about the relationship between homophily and influence. (This is largely because of some great conversations with my colleague Eytan Bakshy. Eytan is one of the brightest minds in this space and if you like this stuff, you should follow his work – he has some new papers coming out soon).

On my personal Twitter account, I’ve generally tried to keep the signal to noise ratio high (I post about my personal life on my Facebook account). I only tweet once every day or two despite reading tons of articles every day. This reading helps me form my thoughts, and as one of the most common pieces of feedback I’ve received about the book is that the references are really helpful, it made sense to create a new Twitter account for the book, where I will tweet the stuff I’m reading (with some quality control :) . Think of it as a living extended bibliography for the book.

So, you can follow the book here @GroupedTheBook. I’ve dropped in a few articles I’ve recently to give you an idea of what I’ll post there. I’d love to hear thoughts if you read the articles I link to, and I hope to find new articles through the books’ followers. I hope you find the ongoing conversation helpful!


20
Nov 11

Why I wrote Grouped

Grouped is about to hit the shelves so I thought it timely to explain why I wrote the book. Some people may be surprised to learn that Grouped is a short book – roughly 160 pages. It should take no more than 2-3 hours to read. As anyone who needs to write for a living knows, writing a short book is harder, and takes longer, than writing a long book.

Grouped is intentionally short, and here is why:

Many people still think that the rise of social media is a fad – a trend that will come and go. Unfortunately for them, they’re wrong. I hope they realize it before it’s too late, and a competitor has left them obsolete. Certainly there has been a lot of hot air around social media, and a lot of people trying to claim expertise in a field that is only emerging. So it’s easy to ignore or dismiss social media, and go back to the day job, doing things as they have been done for the past few decades. But once all the hot air dissipates, it’s absolutely clear that the web is fundamentally being rebuilt around people and that this will change how businesses are structured, and how they market their products. It’s also dead simple why this is happening. People are social creatures. Social interaction is what we strive for, and it is what enabled our species to survive and evolve. It’s only natural that the web, which is only 20 years old, would reorient itself around how we have interacted offline for thousands of years.

The evidence that the web is being rebuilt around people is everywhere. In the last few years, new businesses have emerged that have been built around people, for example Facebook, Zappos, Zynga and Spotify, and they are challenging long established businesses in their respective domains. You only need to witness Google’s rush to rebuild their company around people and real identity to see that this major shift is happening. CEOs and CMOs need to understand this. They need to see that this is the biggest change to business in many decades, probably hundreds of years, and is possibly the biggest change ever.

The reason I wrote Grouped is because busy executives have too little time to really take it all in. Social behavior is complicated. Really complicated. It takes time to understand the subtleties of our relationships and social interaction. But in the next few years, it’s going to become absolutely necessary to understand the basic patterns behind how we interact with, and influence others, and how this will change business and marketing in particular. This is why Grouped is short, and fast to read. It’s also structured in small distinct sections, each describing a social interaction pattern. I hope that every small section is useful, and will be returned to time and again. I hope that many people who enjoy Grouped buy the book for their boss. And their bosses boss. I hope they put it on their desk and tell them to read it on their flight. Or on their commute. And I hope it helps them to rethink how their business needs to adapt.

Grouped is not just for busy execs. Many will remain defiant, convinced that interruption marketing is a sustainable strategy for decades to come. However, many people in the trenches know better. They can see that the future is building businesses around people. If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of those people. Grouped was also written for you. I hope that it’s distinct sections and short form helps you make succinct arguments to convince others that understanding social behavior is no longer an option. It’s a requirement for success.

You can pre-order Grouped here. For you or your boss. http://bit.ly/s6TAHV


22
Jul 10

The data behind The Real Life Social Network

Many people have asked me about some of the references for my Real Life Social Network talk. So here they are. I’m truly standing on the shoulders of others. For the most part, I’ve taken other people’s research and synthesized it, looking for patterns and trying to figure out how it all relates together. I hope the links here inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

Mapping people’s real life social networks.
I published a research paper in 2007 that detailed an early version of this process. I’ve since iterated on it a few times. The paper also contains some findings towards the end.

The magic number 150.
See this New York Post article where Robin Dunbar describes how different groups are made up of 150 people. Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler have also studied this in modern groups. For a great overview (with data) of Dunbar’s number and online games, see this blog post by Christopher Allen.

Strong and Weak ties
Wikipedia provides a good overview of the research literature on strong and weak ties. The seminal paper is Mark Granovetter’s “The Strength of Weak Ties.”

We have a small number of strong ties
In their book Connected, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler describe one study they conducted with 3,000 Americans. See also research conducted at the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California.

Average number of friends on Facebook
Various research shows that the average number of Facebook friends ranges from 120 to 180. For two examples, see “Rhythms of Social Interaction: Messaging Within an Online Social Network” by researchers at HP Labs, and “Social Network Activity and Social Well-Being” by researchers at Carnegie-Mellon and Facebook. Various research shows that almost all friends on Facebook are people that users first met offline. For an overview, see “The Problem of Conflicting Social Spheres” by researchers at Manchester Business School. For interacting with small numbers of our friends on Facebook, see “User Interactions in Social Networks and Their Implications” by researchers at UC Santa Barbara.

Phone usage and strong ties
Most of this data is from ethnographer Stefana Broadbent. See her presentation at the TED conference. Broadbent has done much research into how people communicate with each other. You can follow her work at usagewatch.org. In particular, see the article “The small size of our communication network”.

Usage of communication tools
The Pew Research Center have much research into this topic. For examples, see “Teens, Cell Phones and Texting”, “Social Isolation and New Technology”, “Social Media and Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults”, and “Twitter and Status Updating”.

Different types of friendships
For a detailed look at empirical research on friendships, see the book Rethinking Friendships by Liz Spencer and Ray Pahl.

Influence
For an introduction to cognitive biases, see this Wikipedia article. For further detail check out this full list of social cognitive biases. The fact that we make decisions based on our limited information is part of a theory called bounded rationality. The Tipping Point is nicely summarized on Wikipedia, including key ideas and challenges to those ideas. In their book Connected, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler describe how mutual best friends are most influential, how three degrees of influence works, and the concept of hyperdyadic spread. Other research papers that I reference frequently are “Identifying Influential Spreaders in Complex Networks” by multiple researchers at Universities in the USA, Israel and Sweden, and “Effects of Word-of-Mouth Versus Traditional Marketing: Findings from an Internet Social Networking Site” by Michael Trusov, Randolph Bucklin and Koen Pauwels.

How hubs work
In his book Six Degrees, Duncan Watts explores high and low thresholds for idea adoption, how hipsters influence within a network, the analogy of seeds in nature, and his studies on lists of music. Two research papers that influenced me on hubs and adoption are “The Role of Hubs in the Adoption Process” by Jacob Goldenberg, Sangman Han, Donald Lehmann, and Jae Weon Hong, and “Opinion Leadership and Social Contagion in New Product Diffusion” by professors at Wharton and the University of Southern California.

Multiple facets of identity
danah boyd has done some amazing research over the years, a lot of which relates to identity. For example, see “Profiles as Conversation: Networked Identity Performance on Friendster” by boyd and Heer. Ben Gross has also conducted some great research, see “Addressing Constraints: Multiple Usernames, Task Spillage and Notions of Identity” by Ben Gross and Elizabeth Churchill, and “Names of Our Lives”. Another good paper to check out is “Trust and Nuanced Profile Similarity in Online Social Networks” by Jennifer Golbeck.

Anonymous ratings
See the research paper “I rate you. You rate me. Should we do so publicly?” by researchers at the University of Michigan.

Awareness of Privacy
The following three research papers are a great place to start: “Information Revelation and Internet Privacy Concerns on Social Network Sites: A Case Study of Facebook” by Young and Quan-Haase, “Reputation Management and Social Media” by the Pew Research Center, and “How Different are Young Adults from Older Adults When it Comes to Information Privacy Attitudes and Policies?” by researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.

People underestimating their audience
See the research paper “Characterizing Privacy in Online Social Networks” by Krishnamurthy and Wills.

People misunderstanding privacy settings
Multiple research studies show how people misunderstand the privacy implications of their activities. For examples, see “Strategies and Struggles with Privacy in an Online Social Networking Community” by Strater and Lipford, “Expandable grids for visualizing and authoring computer security policies” by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, University of North Carolina, and Gonzaga University, and “How Different are Young Adults from Older Adults When it Comes to Information Privacy Attitudes and Policies?” by researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania,

So, that’s a lot of links and a lot of research, happy digging!


25
Jun 10

Talk outline: VTM web design conference next week

Things have been quiet – I just finished writing the final drafts for my book. Big deadline over, so I’ll be blogging a lot over the next few months, introducing some ideas from the book.

Next week I’m excited to speak at the VTM web design conference. Here is an outline of my talk. What parts interest you the most? What would you like to hear me write more about on this blog?

The web of people
The web is undergoing a fundamental change from a web of documents to a web of people. This change is not being driven by new technologies, but by human behavior that is thousands of years old.

How people are connected
People’s social networks have complex structures. Many interconnected people and groups means millions of people are linked through a small number of connections. But it’s important not to confuse possibility with reality. Most people communicate regularly with less than 15 people.

How people relate to each other
People have different types of relationships and rely on some people for very different things than other people. We have three types of ties: Strong ties are the people we care about most. Weak ties are people we don’t know very well. Temporary ties are people we interact with temporarily.

How people interact with each other
People choose different communication channels depending on whether they need to communicate with one person, a few people, or many people. Despite the rise of online social networks, voice calls and text messages dominate people’s communication habits. Email also remains very important. The majority of communication instances happen with a small number of strong ties.

How people influence each other
Our access to information is increasing but our capacity for memory remains the same. So when considering whether something is useful and valuable for us, we rely on others. We place much higher trust in strong ties and in people who share our lifestyle than in celebrities, bloggers, or hipsters. The common ways companies use to target influential people are oversimplified. To measure influence, it’s just as important to measure how influenceable someone is as how influential someone is.

How people display themselves to others
Our identities are not only crafted by us, but also shaped by our connections and environments. We use everyday conversation, including status updates on social networks, to continually shape and refine our identity. Our identities help us recognize common ground for interacting with others, and to judge whether we should trust someone we don’t know. People need to display different facets of their identity to the different groups in their life.

How people manage who sees their personal information
Privacy is about controlling what other people know about us. When we give away personal information, we expect it to stay within a certain boundary and not be publicized. People, young and old, care deeply about their privacy. However, they often misunderstand privacy settings, and underestimate the size of their audience, leading to a perception that they care less about their privacy than they used to.

How interactions on the web are changing
The next stage of the web won’t have destinations, it will be a distributed network of content and people that will get reassembled depending on context and relationships. The increase in people interactions on the web will mean that building and managing communities will be important for responding to customer suggestions, queries, and complaints. Communities will need to be embedded in consumer experiences and not built at a new destination.