There was recently much uproar about the Vine-Instagram tug off. Word was going around that Vine was trying to challenge Instagram with more serious features like filters. We saw Instagram which was a photo sharing app, launch their video sharing features. With this face-off, Vine was threatened to lose its user base. As more and more social platforms crowd the conversation prism, we see a lot of convergence of features. Each platform is trying to up one another with their development.
The stand off is gut wrenching
Facebook, the mother of all Social networks, doesn’t mind blatantly copying other’s best features. We have seen it when they introduced hashtags just like the Twitter. Pinterest already has so many look-alikes that its getting tough to keep a count. Bookmarking platforms have gone crazy and many just vanished because of the competition. Some days back when we wrote about the Myspace re-launch, we honestly hoped that they will do much better than before, however that doesn’t seem to be the case. Other music related social platforms are not doing too good either. Who knows how much money they make anyway.
Differentiating factors are fast disappearing
Youtube is a Google child so there is no surprise when we hear that it is the biggest search engine for videos. Years ago when Vimeo was launched, it was much appreciated for its high quality videos however as the technology evolves this would not even matter. No amount of user features, analytics or upload capabilities will create a difference.
When is the Salvation?
As the battle for territory get more intense, we will see the old players doing anything to lure more users. This is just perfect because this means its an open economy for Social Networks. The platform wars will continue through this decade. With more investors willing to invest in tech ventures, we will see more Social Networks joining the war. Platforms don’t need to worry since with increasing reach of technology there will be a constant pool of new users. However a time will come when it will hit the saturation. Either the best ones will stay or Social Networking will evolve into something totally different.
What lies beyond?
A common question I hear from businesses is where is all this leading to? People have heard about teenagers loosing interest in Facebook and they worry if it is worth investing in Social Media. There is no easy way to answer that. We are practically at the dawn of this new media where we have barely started to understand the effects of seamless global interaction on human behaviour. We are experiencing structural changes in the social hierarchies. 40-50 year olds are consuming more content on the internet than on Television now. The average age of Smartphone users is dropping every minute. The unfiltered information flow caused by social media is anyway affecting everything right from Governments to Marriages.
The promised land
We have seen some prominent platforms emerging out of this confusion. Platforms which are establishing some order to this chaos. Linkedin is one of them. Its silent, its serious and it seems to know its place in the greater scheme of works. Reddit is a surreal citizen amongst other platforms. Its literally like the Martian Manhunter. Google+ is not dormant anymore. If you are wondering why people are not liking your cat pictures like before, they are probably hanging out somewhere else.
It’s all about the Brand Value
Just like the cola wars, the major social platforms will continue to exist. Their brand values will become the factor of comparison. We will consume all of them at different times and for different reasons without much regard for their similarity or differences. Don’t feel bad if your new platform doesn’t get to become like Facebook. In the natural order of things, it is meant to be like that. You have to let go of it and move ahead. Perhaps you should innovate something completely else. A more fuel efficient engine or a warp drive maybe.