SocialNetworks are going through the normal evolutionary cycle of free capitalist enterprise, with events like Facebook stealing the lunch from MySpace, incidentals like FriendsFeeds being strategically absorbed into the fold of the leaders.
I do have a few observations:
1) Humans are social by nature. Some more than others, but being social, sharing, and having conversations has always been part of human nature;
2) To some degree, business has always been social; from the corner coffee shop to Starbucks, to Corvette meets, to Athletic events .
3) Social Networks at large (FB, Twitter), just like the internet per se, are not disrupting technologies per se; they are sustaining technologies that enable disruptive business models. Amazon.com and Netflix leveraged the Internet to disrupt existing business models where the incumbents were resting on their laurels, incapable of innovating and bring a new value proposition to their audiences.
I believe that the vast majority of existing businesses today MUST have some type of Social Network presence, not as a way to “make money”, but as a way to preserve their position by engaging with their audiences; otherwise their competition, established or new, will come in an – again – steal their lunch.
Business is going back to Be MORE social, by using the new tools (FB, twitter & Co) to communicate 2-way with their audiences, and deliver their value proposition message; and the message is part of the value proposition, just like the telephone and the yellow page ads were in the past.
Doc Searls & Friends were correct when in 1999 they proclaimed “Markets are Conversations”; unfortunately Madison Avenue (mis)understood it as “Conversations are Markets” which gave rise to the Banner Ads and now the “Social Marketing” which is often abused as nothing more than Banners meets Spam.
Being social is like being at a party: they’re the individuals who enjoy monologues, the ones who are into WIIFM only and are looking for a short-term gain; and then there are the ones who genuinely engage in meaningful and intriguing participatory conversation where the value added to the attendant is greater than the sum of the contribution; and leads to long-term relationships; not short term transactions.
Then again with a lot of ‘Ups’ comes some ‘Downs’ as well , for example, if you consider they various Social networks , they are great for staying connected with existing friends but what about meeting new people and making new friends? Dunbar’s number states that the average person can only maintain 150 active connections but it’s not a static set, i.e. your 150 today are not the same 5 years ago and will not be the same 5 years from now. There is a natural desire to continually refresh your active connections which are why we hear of “SocialNetworking fatigue” which is “the same old people posting the same old stuff.” I believe that fulfilling that core human need to continually meet and connect with new people is the big opportunity for social discovery.
I’m just getting started , this is just one of many things that I feel is missing out there. This doesn’t mean we can’t mend it , below mentioned are things I’d want to be improved in the future of Social Network .
1. Integration of the Social Networks
• It’s not easy to keep track of all of the Socialnetworks, or all of the people being followed. I have different networks on LinkedIn than I do on Facebook. My Facebook friends are different from my Twitter stream. It’s a lot of places to go. Having a single interface without a ‘single id’ would be grand. Tweetdeck does an admirable job but it has to be monitored. I would like to see something that works with me to notify me of things I want to know about from within my own network.
2. Tools to pull data/interactions from networks in real and past time
• There is a lot of information out there. There’s lots of software to help SocialNetworking companies pull relevant data from networks (Hootsuite, Radian, etc.) but few for consumers. I can’t think of a network that has made any such tool on their own. They tend to leave it to third parties which result in people looking farther and farther afield for a tool that works for them. The farther out people have to go the less likely they are to bring people with them.
3. Acceptable presence
• The ability to see who is present and bring a conversation or interaction, or experience into real time. For instance, to be able to post a video on Facebook or YouTube and watch it with someone who is in my network as if we’re watching it at the same time. Or, to take the answer I’m working on and, seeing someone else I know online, talk to them about it before posting it.
4. Get rid of anonymity
• It’s time for people to pare things down and just be themselves. Fake accounts can be funny but they diminish the value of the network. Especially in the eyes of neophytes.
5. Ownership of data
6. I understand the way things are on Facebook but they really don’t have to be that way. I should have the ability/right to remove content I have posted without fear it still exists somewhere on the provider’s servers.
The ability to ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’.
This is similar to context, but I’m thinking of something more dynamic. I want to be able to easily pull out content, or interactions which are relevant to what I’m doing, or who I’m doing it with when I’m doing it. The idea about ‘history’ fits well here. The ability to go back to a ‘snapshot’ of my social network at a certain time would be powerful.