The Future of “The Social Network”

By January 31, 2014Social Media
Facebook paper

What’s really behind Facebook’s new Paper app?

Facebook just announced a new app called “Paper” and while watching the intro video it hit me: Facebook is moving way from “The Social Network” (Yes, just like the tile of this post this is a pun at the title of the movie, but also a term that accurately describes what Facebook currently is).

Facebook Paper

Facebook’s “Paper” is a bellwether on the future of social

We all know that Facebook won the “social networks wars” – there is no discussion here. Facebook has 1.2 Billion users and the closest competitor Twitter has almost 650 million registered users. In other words: Facebook has twice the user base of its closest rival.

Social is evolving

You can no longer lump all platforms and apps together into one “Social Network” bucket. People are beginning to use specific apps for specific purposes rather than using Facebook (or even Twitter) for everything. Using specific apps for photos, messaging, and videos is already happening as the adoption of Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine over the past year has shown.

snapchat taco bell

By having a single focus, Snapchat was able to take messaging to the next level

This trend has allowed apps to take traditional services to the next level: SnapChat, for example, combines photos, text, and freehand visuals to create a more immersive messaging experience (see above). And the next kid on the block is Secret – an app that let’s you share creative messages anonymously with your close friends:

“A slight layer of anonymity is simply a tool to draw out this expression, while an emphasis on strong connections (via the address book) makes such expressions more valuable to both senders and receivers” – MG Siegler

Single focus apps will replace “The Social Network”

While Facebook has it’s fair share of successes and failures over the years, you have to give them credit for seeing a trend and trying to get out in front of it. E.g. hashtags, mobile, messenger. In this case the trend is the single-purpose app. The age of the great “social network” which Facebook won is coming to an end. People are now moving towards services that have a singular focus – people no longer go to an app to do everything “social”, they go to them to do one thing. And, the best of these services entice you to do that one thing over and over and over again.

The future of “Social Media”

back to the future antique shop

How long before this vision of the “future of social media” sits in the window of an antique shop?

As we are now entering the era of the great “unbundling” of services that have traditionally been behind Facebook’s great wall, services such as photos, videos, news, etc., are being let out to try to stake their own claims.

This of course creates quite a few opportunities for new services to rise to the top. None will probably ever reach the size of Facebook at its peak (which it has yet to reach).

Bootom-line: This is an exciting time in “social” with loads of opportunity, because the age of “the social network” is going to end soon.

P.S. Now, I just need to figure out what this means for social media marketing…