It seems the growth in social is about to take a sharp rise as reputation engines such as Kred and Klout are gaining traction. An interesting side-effect of this is early adoption of social gaming such as Empire Avenue. Turning social media into a game will increase adoption rates, quickly widen influence circles and, probably, see the mainstream acceptance of virtual friends.
Since teens took hold of Facebook in 2009 there has been a battle of two camps. One camp says we define ourselves in the social media space by the number of first and second degree connections and the old school of using social media as a new channel to talk to old friends. I’ve been on Facebook since the early days and regularly culled my friends list to keep it under 100 and therefore manageable. My daughters have 800 and 1500 connections each. Wow.
The new social connection paradigm is therefore about reach. That, for brands and companies, is a good thing. If the average 18yr old has 750 friends then her or his second-degree network could have up to quarter of a million connections. This makes it far easier for brands to reach huge populations of people and is one of the great new opportunities over the next year or two.