Techdirt poses an interesting counter argument to the typical rocket growth conversations among social networks lately, pointing out coincidences like Bill Gates killing his Facebook page on the heels of Microsoft’s recent $240 million FB investment. Techdirt also discusses the current declining growth trend among early adopters in the social networking space including my favorite, Friendster. FYI – If you haven’t read Inc’s spread on John Abraham’s rise and fall of Friendster “the first social network” from last year it is a must read for anyone interested in this space.
Bloggers attack you, call you “a real asshole” and “a very lucky idiot savant.” Former investors badmouth you. Other entrepreneurs copy your ideas without giving you credit. The New York Times makes reference to your “ballooning ego” and the local Fox affiliate can’t even get your name right.
Here is why I’m not buying into the social network counter argument:
I think social networks as we have come to know them are maturing at a rapid pace. User’s are continually barraged with new social media solicitations and sign-ups everyday. In addition, users are tired of spammers and over zealous ads. Companies like Google, Facebook and Myspace are scrambling to bring order to user’s craving more through the exchange of their social graph data.
Social networks are answering in the form of open api’s, portable data, OpenID and advertising models that will actually have standards. The social network has become a teenager (in Internet years) and is going through some growing pains. Most users maintain accounts hoping to take their profile and friend data with them to the next “it” property when the standards and technology is implemented.
Just like so many Gold rush trends in history, the “me-too” brands will eventually join the deadpool through attrition. The social aggregators and social platforms that hold true value propositions and offer real services to their userbase will survive. Monetization through advertising will continue to be the bloodline for the social network, but don’t under estimate what users may eventually pay for real benefits.
Sending a virtual cocktail or electronic poke is fun and viral but does it benefit a user over the long-term? Expanding your rolodex of like-minded people, pooling resources, solving problems and making money as a user through your social network is the stuff that will stand the test of time.