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Is being shy a new type of digital divide?

Shyness is an attribute that could prove to be damaging to your career and increase the price of goods and services...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor on

In this increasingly social media world people are being judged on how well they do in it. How many "followeres" and "friends" matters, and companies are noticing this.

Take a look at this, posted by kdawson on Slashdot:

In the world envisioned by Microsoft's just-published patent application for Social Marketing, monopolists will maximize revenue by charging prices inversely related to the perceived influence an individual has on others. Microsoft gives an example of a pricing model that charges different people $0, $5, $10, $20, or $25 for the identical item based on the influence the purchaser wields. A presentation describing the revenue optimization scheme earned one of the three inventors applause (MS-Research video), and the so-called 'influence and exploit' strategies were also featured at WWW 2008 (PDF). The invention jibes nicely with Bill Gates's pending patents for identifying influencers. Welcome to the brave new world of analytics.

To become an influencer requires building a large social network, or a small network of large influencers.

Either way, it requires good online communications skills, a willingness to share part of yourself, and to spend a fair amount of time engaged in sharing. In other words, you can't be shy, a wilting violet.

So what happens if you are shy? What happens if you don't have a Twitter account and Twitt incessantly? or spend hours sharing on Facebook or LinkedIn, or blog? What happens if you don't like engaging in these social networks like all those self-promoters out there? Then you might not have much of a viable future...

If companies such as Microsoft have their way, they will target the influencers with great deals, with information, with whatever is needed to keep them sweet, to keep them engaged with their brand, so that those people can influence their networks of networks.

It'll be a lot cheaper than the scattershot approach of today's marketing. And whatever they lose through discounts and giveaways to the influencers, they can make it back up on the backs of the shy, the people with no networks, the ones that prefer to keep their lives private, the ones that will be paying full retail price.

Will it work? We don't know. But either way, being shy won't work in today's increasingly social media world, (and likely you won't work).

Shyness in the online world seems to be becoming the new digital divide.

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