Social Media Platform Fatigue (SMPF)Posted: August 11, 2011 | |
Early Adopter (EA): Our social networking, early adopting hero.
Friend (F): Tech savvy, but slightly behind the cutting edge.
The dark confines of a damp computer room that smells like stale Doritos and warm Red Bull. A lone figure sits in front of his computer screen, typing madly as he connects to friends over the mighty internet.
Early Adopter – Social Network Chat Tool: “Hey, I’ve got an invite for this new social media service on the web. You should join. I’ll send you one”
Friend – “What does it do?”
EA – ” We can tell each other what we are doing in 12 characters or less, share 1px by 1px thumbnails with each other and videos of precisely 43 minutes and 12 seconds that can’t be paused or stopped once started and they play only at full volume. It’s fricken awesome!”
F – “Umm, but what about “http://..com”? You made me join that one because it was the shortest domain name in history. There’s no pics or video, but at least we get 32 characters to debate. Or “http://noprivacy.com”? It’s the perfect communication platform other than the fact they sell everyone’s information to up and coming social media platforms so they can get started with a new user base. Besides, I’ve spent so many hours of my life trying to get people onto the newer platform so we can talk. Some come and some don’t, so instead of having one really good site to communicate with everyone, I have to log into a whole bunch of different sites. I’m sick of this. In fact, screw them all. I’m going outside . I’m going to talk to real people, in person. No character limits, no pics, no video. Fuck social networking sites!”
EA – “Umm. Okay. Should I still send you an invite?”
F – F is offline
EA – “Hey Friend 2. I’ve got an invite for this new social media service on the web. You should join. I’ll send you one”
EA repeats this exercise with numerous friends, for numerous platforms. Eventually, social media platform fatigue (SMPF) sets in. EA loses all hope of having one site to rule them all. Then turns to surfing Reddit* all day.
*Nothing wrong with Reddit at all. Lots of cool people talking about lots of cools stuff. It ends up being the one social platform that works because it doesn’t rely on the people you know being there.
SMPF is real
SMPF is real. I saw another site launched today (or recently) called Heello (though, I’m informed it is pronounced “Hello”). It is a Twitter clone. Only it has pictures in the stream and you don’t have to refresh the stream. That’s it. Now there is some talk about how the founders of Heello are making a point because Twitter made their photo sharing service for Twitter redundant (yeah….. building a “business” on somebody else’s platform is not always a good idea). Even if they are making a point, it’s a stupid point and a waste of their time and resources. Get over it.
Now, I’m all for creating services that help people. Help their business, help them learn a new skill, help them communicate, anything. Provide some value. But this social network shit just has to stop somewhere. Not forever, but for a while. Why would I join a new service to create a new social network from scratch, wait weeks or months for friends and interesting people to show up, so the service could provide value, when I could log into the exact same service where all the benefit is already there? What value does a Twitter clone provide? What value does it provide that Twitter doesn’t?
Now I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty happy with Google+ and would recommend it, even with it’s issues, over Facebook any day. While Facebook allows me to see photos of my nephew half a world away, and keep in contact with numerous people, there are numerous things I don’t like about the platform. Google+ looked to be a viable alternative that had built on Facebook’s shortcomings (along with Twitter’s, Flicker, and a numerous other services). I chose to invest my time in platform that was unique and that, so far, does provide value. I still visit Facebook every day or so, because many of my contacts are still there and I do try and keep up with what’s going on in the lives of my friends and family. Eventually, I’ll stop visiting FB altogether.
The Social Media Platform Market is SATURATED. If you are working on a mass market social media platform, just stop. Stop right now. Stop your team members, your boss, your investors, anybody involved. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Have we confused viral with social? Are you building ways to spread the word about your app/site or a platform for people to connect on?
2. How does what we are building add value to people’s lives or the public in general?
3. If we’re making a better mousetrap, is it going to be compelling enough to have a large enough number of people dedicate their time to rebuilding a network on our platform. (Now ask yourself that question again. Then go create an account on Heello and build a network of 200 followers, or listeners, or whatever the hell they call them there, that you invite from scratch. Now ask yourself the question again).
4. Are we changing the world or just trying to get an investor that will cough up a whole bunch of money?
5. If we built something that was to really, really to change the world, what could that be (and take hours or days with the whole team talking about passions, and needs, and real value. There will be an idea there that even if it fails will still be far more fulfilling than creating AFSN (Another Fucking Social Network)).
Note: If you’re building a niche social network for teens to find summer jobs, or people to donate money to sponsor post office boxes for homeless people, or something else that truly provides value, then go for it. The answers to the questions above will justify it. Just spare us all another clone.