We all knew (or feared) it would happen one day -- and it has finally become a reality. Somebody has taken the meaning of being social one step too far and come up with a way to use Facebook to create the ultimate "event." In a Fast Company post author Mark Wilson (who also somewhat surprisingly started Philanthroper.com as a simple way to give back every day) asks whether Bang With Friends (BWF) is the beginning of a sexual revolution on Facebook. Although describing it as disruptive, Wilson says that this app conveniently highlights prospective Facebook friends of the opposite sex and allows you to simply click if you would like to, ahem, bang them. If you match with a friend who has indicated a similar interest in you, you're notified by email and on your way to real fun.
Despite Wilson's question about whether this is the beginning of the online sexual revolution, it may also be the end of the real world social media revolution. Beyond being merely disruptive, this app is unnecessary, ridiculous and upsetting to some point. What has happened to the idea of meeting someone, building a relationship, and getting to know more about that person as an individual rather than making judgments based on superficial criteria? Flying in the face of all this logical reasoning however is the illogical fact that Bang With Friends is quickly making lots of friends of its own and moving its way up the social space ladder.
When social media began we all had such great visions of its many positive applications for marketing, communications and philanthropy, but it is desolving too soon into only being able to fulfill the most base of human activities. What needs and uses can or should we reserve for the social space? We are all aware that social media has spread through the online world faster than an STD in a brothel, and know that certain portions of the population seem to find it useful for finding unsuspecting victims. We probably should have guessed that this would be the next logical step for the college crowd, but we really need to take action now to reclaim social media as a way to build relationships before all of this goes too far.
Will Banging Bring Klout to Its Knees?
In a follow-up post, Wilson says that Bang With Friends is now aiming to become Facebook's "Klout for Banging." Because of the astounding initial response he reports that the app has laid claim to as many as 100,000 hookups and is now looking to build on its earlier success. The app will be expanded to facilitate LGBT matching and is currently trying to quantify online sex appeal. With their new "leaderboard" of your most bangable friends, BWF has now fallen into the same erroneous assumption as Klout that their high scores are measuring something worthwhile.
By equating clicks with bangability BWF comes up with possible matches like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart in much the same way that Klout equates popularity with influence in order to anoint Justin Bieber as an influencer. The truth is that if Klout were to start measuring analytics the same way that BWF does, it would be the only real action that they are measuring. Klout has done such a poor job of defining influence that silly innocuous apps like Bang With Friends actually do carry the possibility of bringing it to a real climax, or end.
Marketers need to take control of the social media world before Klout and BWF drag us so far down that we cannot recover. Klout can't even come to the influence conversation because of its lazy definition of influence. The more you Tweet, the higher your score in their book. But, if you take time away for a vacation, your Klout score plummets and you are no longer considered an influencer.
Let's go back to developing a usable, realistic definition of what it means to be an influencer so we can devise helpful analytics that may actually be useful in spotting the online influencers. We need to bring the marketers, cultural analysts, innovators, and anthropologists to the conversation before these poor excuses for a marketing tool become the norm. Something like BWF might seem silly or of limited appeal to the college crowd, but it could pose a real danger to those of us who are trying to understand and develop the social world for positive purposes. Measuring influence is a deep and nuanced process, not to be left to the simplest of definitions. It must start with the ability to effect change and influence behavior, not with the opportunity to make it easier to hook up with someone you like on Facebook.