I just learned that the small town I used to live in will soon have their own Social Network. This is the type of town where seven degrees of separation should be more like two. Everyone knows everyone and they’re all up in each other’s business. I love this town, but when I read this email suggesting how necessary this Network would be … well to be honest… I had a pretty good laugh. This is the type of town where if you sneeze, 5 minutes later, someone from across town will call you to say God Bless You.
No offense to Small Town, USA but when they start launching their own Social Network, you know the industry is getting saturated. Just like any other industry this can mean only one thing. We’re about to see a fundamental shift in the way Social Networks operate. In addition to the niche networks that are town-specific, occupation-specific, or even beer-specific, the titans of industry are lining up to launch their answers to Facebook and Twitter.
Only weeks after Google+ invites began hitting our email boxes, Microsoft “accidentally” revealed the home page of their creation, Tulalip. Even as the tech obsessed debate the staying power of Google+, details are surfacing regarding Twitter cofounders’ next venture, Lift, for people who have potential – unlike the losers on all the other networks (I kid. I kid). In the next two months, we’ll even see China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, offered in English.
As more Networks come to the table, each struggles to create THE feature that will win over users… or to STEAL the feature that is getting other networks noticed. Not surprisingly, Facebook’s new Privacy tool sure looks a lot like Google Circles. The more Networks try to stand out from one another, the more they resemble each other. In a strange way, competition is leading to sameness.
People love to debate which Social Network is better? But at their most basic level, each one is simply some combination of the following: Friends, Followers, Posts, IMs, DMs, media, Circles, Liking, and Checking In. That’s it. Each new network claims they’re something special compared to the others, but realistically, they’ve just developed a different combination of the above… or maybe they’ve just applied a tested combination to a different demographic – say Small Town, USA.
Competition is a relatively new concept for companies like Facebook. I love seeing Networks work a little harder to satisfy users! It makes companies better. It makes them work harder to win over consumers and give us the features we crave. But when competition leads to uniformity, it’s a game changer. Most people will not regularly check in to three or four big name Social Networks and then throw in a couple Niche networks to cover their home town and their hobbies –especially if they’re the same thing at their core. So how will this change the entire Social Networking landscape as we know it?
Check back for Part 2 for my prediction. Then be sure to mention it to your friends so that when it comes to fruition they can call you a genius.