I started this blog in the middle of 2007, and like all new bloggers, when January rolled around, I made a couple of predictions. I believed that 2008 was going to be The Year of Discovering and Searching Potential Friends.

It could have been because I was excited to be working at Lijit, and seeing the power of content discovery. Perhaps it was the explosion of FriendFeed and the buzz that SocialThing! was creating.

More likely, it was that I was re-joining an online community (and a real community in Boulder) and I wanted to meet new interesting people. (Its funny that nearly a year to the day, I sent that first #followfriday tweet, leveraging Twitter to accomplish just that task…)

Discovery has always been an important topic for me. I have always been in a testing mode, which my parents fostered as a kid. There was always one constant in my family, that being educated (be it through school or through interaction) was a requirement. And as I got older, my parents continually fostered the love of learning in my sisters and me.

Its no surprise that as the information on the web has increased, so have the discovery tools. Biggest one to date? Google. The search engine exists only because there are too many sites to bookmark anymore. As internet access continues to proliferate, more and more people come on line, and now rudimentary friend connect tools, like Facebook, have begun to take center stage.

Clearly, there is a need for the discovery of people and information online.

Yet, the internet has continued to evolve. Its is not just a facilitator of communication and information anymore. It now has added interactivity and activity to its bag of tricks. People not only want to find other people, or discovery interesting topics, but both interact and discover activity. Hence the growth of Twitter, a basic activity stream that has a search function. The hashtag adds a bit of categorization, but there is little intelligence or sophistication to Twitter.

Now we are here:

For information: use Google.

For friends: use Facebook.

For activity: use Twitter.

(This might be why I like Lijit. While it doesnt have the realtime aspect of Twitter or Facebook’s activity stream, it does allow you to find and discover information and activity from your friends. Sort of a way to simplify the combination of these services.)

It seems that what I was thinking about in January of 2008 has (sort of) come about. People are using tools like Facebook and Twitter much more as discovery tools for finding information and people.

Whats next?

Promotion.

Its easy to say that promotion already exists (shoot, I have been accused of self-promotion more than once). Sure, promotion in its most basic form exists, but all these tools allow us to see a new form of promotion begin to rise.

The #1 Fan Promoter.

Imagine tools that allow the best person to promote a specific piece of content or person (think indie bands, conferences, new authors, indie movies, etc.) to be discovered by the creator of that content.

In short order, imagine if a band, conference, film maker, author could find the one person in the world that was the best person to promote them?

The characteristics of this #1 fan would be similar across all genres: He would be passionate. He would be trusted. She would be influential. She would feel some ownership of and empowerment by the content.

Lately, this concept of attaching discovery to promotion has gotten me thinking.

There are two companies that I am informally advising that are tackling this issue. EventVue, a 2007 Techstars company, lives in the world of conferences. They focus on helping conference organizers grow their conferences in interesting ways.

Think about it: Whats the #1 reason you usually attend a conference? Because someone you trust and consider influential told you that it would be worth the time and expense.

The other company is The Next Big Sound, a 2009 Techstars company. Personally, they are currently my favorite music site. Rather than just being a site where artists can upload their music and then people thumb up / thumb down the music, The Next Big Sound gives users (what they call moguls) the ability to “discover” and “promote” music.

Think about it: Whats the #1 way you find new music? You ask someone you trust and has influence over you. What if that same person was someone who gained the reputation of breaking new music? Wouldnt you go to them again and again?

Traditional media calls this Word of Mouth.

We have seen what the internet has done in redefining Searching, Friend Discovery and Activity Monitoring. We have seen what the internet has done in revolutionizing Interaction and Communication.

What’s it going to do to traditional word of mouth?

I am a #1 fan of learning that.

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