Social media silos + Why I’m still on Facebook.
A little while ago I wrote a post that was a little rant on Facebook people. It was a satirical take on the people who’s behavior is, well, annoying. It was an exaggeration, but it does undercut a core problem with social media that I believe will gradually force people into a more specified approach to how they consume and interact on the web.
People gravitate to Facebook because it is seemingly free, easy to use and it’s the town center for socialization on the web. Everybody is there, so you better be too. Plus, what are the alternatives? Google?
The problem is, we are all there for slightly different reasons. It causes a certain amount of dissonance. People use a destination site like Facebook to interact, but their priorities of communication are as wide as can be. One person may be there to talk politics. Another to share jokes. Another to post photos. Maybe I’m there to promote my business. Or I just like to share articles that interest me. All are valid reasons for coming and sharing. The problem isn’t that we all do the things I’ve listed. The problem is that each of us has a different priority for those interactions. That one thing that is my passion may be something you couldn’t care less about—or even worse, it offends you.
When one entity becomes the hub for all people with their varying interests and actions, it starts to lose it’s significance. It tries to be all things to all people, and inevitably it will slide to mediocrity. I think that is part of why Facebook dropped $1 Billion on Instagram. Facebook is now in the business of protecting their turf more than they are at pushing the envelope. To them, it was probably worth that billion to block competition and gain access. To another company, not even close.
I believe we are going to see an increase in the use and success of those sites & apps that have a very focused, simple and immediate type of action. Twitter is just 140 characters of writing at a time. It’s a fascinating way to interact with anyone in the twitterverse, and that very limitation gives us a form of protection. The simplicity makes it easier to digest. Pinterest is growing rapidly. It is incredibly addictive. Simple interface. Simple interactions. Gratifying to use. LinkedIn will continue to be hugely relevant in the business world. People know why they are there. They are there for business. Why are you on Facebook? Does your usage change daily? Weekly? Are you there for a focused action or is it your modern equivalent of mental channel surfing?
We will have an ever increasing fractured attention span as we become more used to interactions through our mobile platforms. How many apps do you currently have on your phone? I bet there are 8 – 10 that get 95% of your use and the other 50 – 100 rarely get opened. The apps and sites that allow for simple, quick, focused attention and reward will continue to pull users into them. The rest will fade away. A few generalists will stay at the top.
Now, I’m certainly not saying Facebook is going away. Hardly. I’m still there and use it daily. Why? Well, despite the things that annoy me, I still have enough meaningful interactions there, that it keeps my attention. I still enjoy sharing and talking with my friends and colleagues. It is the global water cooler and that position is secure for the foreseeable future.
But I have to wonder, for how long?