I would of course have been talking about Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
But now there are 4: I think we can add Google+.
The reason I think it would be wrong to say “if Google can do it then so can others” is, well, it’s Google, isn’t it.
For anybody else to topple these social media giants would be quite a feat.
Friendster, MySpace and Friends Reunited were all big players in this industry at one point in time, but these sites don’t compare to the likes of Facebook.
These mega social media sites have carved out their place and identity.
Because of the inter-connectedness of the web these days they have their tendrils everywhere and continue to proliferate through growth hacking via their API’s, social sharing buttons and other by-products.
It’s because of all of these tendrils, growth-hacking and user-driven nature of these platforms that I wonder whether any of these sites will be surpassed by a replacement.
Personally, I don’t think Facebook even treats it’s users very well and hasn’t done so for some time, though they have the size and capacity to change that and bury some of the poorly communicated changes, u-turns and downright bad decisions of the past.
The question is, does it need to? The platform is set up in such a way now that however mis-managed the core is, the value generated by it’s user base makes up for it.
If you’re not so much into social media, you might well say “Who Cares?”
Back in 2009 – that’s 4 years ago – which is a LONG time in internet technology land time – Clay Shirky said that “the moment we’re living through is the largest increase in expressive capability in human history”.
Some interesting points in that talk – which I added particularly because of the date – remember, this is 4 years ago. A lot has happened in the online networking and collaboration space in those 4 years (aside from Google+ really establishing itself alongside the other three big social media sites).
In case you’d still rather ignore social media sites, I just wonder if we’re starting to reach a time when it’s becoming impossible to ignore social media.
We already know that if you’re a business and you ‘don’t do’ social media, you’re customers do.
Maybe individuals can still ignore social media then, but businesses can’t. Particularly not big B2C businesses.
There are actually thousands of platforms and applications that have a social media element or would even call themselves social media sites, but the thing that I find interesting about these really big sites is the extent to which they are actually changing the way we interact (network) with each other.
Back To The Question…
When MySpace was top dog it didn’t have Like buttons or anything similar all over the web, it didn’t have such user-driven content shared as widely as via the Facebook ‘Wall’ and it didn’t have a mature API for developers to extend the platform for free.
So it was toppled by a smarter model.
The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities for a new start-up to rocket to super-stardom by following similar principles. Look at the growth of Dropbox for an easy example.
I just wonder if in 5 years time the big 4 will still be the biggest 4 social media platforms and if so, how much further they will influence the way we interact (network) online.
What do you think?