History seems to be scattered with a certain type of remarkable individual who defies typecasting.  They exemplified eccentricity, and reveled in inventing new objects as well as new ways of looking at the world.  Buckminster Fuller comes to mind, as well as Benjamin Franklin and Jeremy Bentham.  It was Bentham that even in the late 18th was arguing for the decriminalization of homosexuality, for animal rights, and against the death penalty.  He also advocated for a very humane type of prison that he referred to as a “Panopticon”. (A calling card of those remarkable individuals of whom I write is an inclination for coining new words).

The concept of Panopticon came to mind this morning when I received my latest Linked-In update.  Not that it matches any concept of prison that I have (although this is a line of thought worth pursuing), but that it brings a new type of exposure to individuals.  And for the marketer working in social media, its an incredible opportunity.

For instance, in my LinkedIn update, I could see that Philip Liebman is planning a trip to West Palm Beach, Leslie Coons is reading First Things First and that Steve Goldner answered 1 question about Mobile Marketing.

There are three major players right now vying for a majority of the social-media panopticon: Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn.  It is too late for anyone to pursue a “Blue Ocean Strategy” – the waters are already reddened with the blood of competition.

I get the feeling that Google hasn’t quite gotten all the pieces put together yet, but oh, what pieces!  The Google Apps suite is quickly replacing the Microsoft business toolset in many small businesses (including DragonSearch).  Connect the dots with Google Reader, Buzz, and the other Google tools, and you can easily imagine an even more comprehensive connectivity than LinkedIn’s.

After failing to acquire Facebook, Yahoo has executed more instances of integration – both with Facebook and Twitter.  But Yahoo was a pioneer with Yahoo Groups and has a large user base.  Yahoo could still have a place at the table, a piece of the pie, and add their blood to the red waters.

Marketers must, of course, pay attention to any significant bid.  Mitch Joel talks about how the first page of Google results is your brand – well, I would add to that, that those social media updates are your brand, as well.  And there are many ways to plug-in to them.

Footnote: In Jeremy Bentham’s last will and testament, he gave his body over to medical students for dissection, with the added instructions that his reassembled, straw-stuff skeleton was to be placed on display in a well-crafted display case (that he called an “Auto-Icon”) where it can be seen to this day at the University College London.  Had he been alive today, I would have most certainly followed him on Twitter, friended him on Facebook, and linked with him on LinkedIn.

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