Social networking obsolescence and all that jazz
Hypebot is a must-read for anyone looking for a steer on the Venn diagram between music, business and technology. Aside from snarky shorts about Stevie Nicks blaming the internet for destroying rock (though Nicks is one of the first “established” …
Hypebot is a must-read for anyone looking for a steer on the Venn diagram between music, business and technology. Aside from snarky shorts about Stevie Nicks blaming the internet for destroying rock (though Nicks is one of the first “established” acts I’ve heard making salient points about new acts), they also dig out interesting stories from the undergrowth which deserve more oxegen.
What’s immediately striking is that there are plenty of networks on that map which we might not necessarily hear a lot about all that often. Habbo, for instance, certainly has a lot of users, while Orkut, the Brazilian and Indian Facebook, continues to truck along nicely. Despite the fact that the site is constantly thrashed by users for poor design and navigation, MySpace is still very much in the social networking game. There may be plenty of alternative attractions like Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Mixcloud for instance, but MySpace is still the go-to big dog on the map for music.
But while all the focus today is on Twitter and Facebook, the yin and yang of joining the dots with your peers, it’s worth bearing in mind that a day will come when even their user-base may begin to shrink and the social hordes will find somewhere else to call home. Technology doesn’t stop evolving, changing and progressing just because you have 500 million users. I mean, look at the map of online communities from 2007 (thanks to Richard Cantwell at Geographic for tweeting me the link).
Look at a site like Digg, for instance, which was one of the Web 2.0 kingpins. Per the Guardian, they’re currently losing users hand over fist (a third of users between March and April 2010) as people go digging elsewhere. Yes, Digg and various commentators thought the site had a long shelf-life but it was the users who decided otherwise. As Charles Arthur points out in that Guardian piece, “just as in American politics, there are no second acts on the web…it’s OK to stop growing; what’s not OK is to shrink, because you lose advertising income and can’t increase your rates. Result: a death spiral.”
While it’s easy to know when a site runs out of steam and traction – there are probably OTR readers who can still remember their password for Bebo but when is the last time they logged on? – it’s slightly harder to know when the end is nigh. Again, look at that map. There’s still a hell of a lot of networks on it which must be doing enough business to get by, but many of these will have shrunk in size a year from now as others come on steam. For a band or brand looking at social networks to pimp their wares, the trick is to know which ones to buy into and which ones to sell out of.