Sunday, 10 November 2013

Social Networks

From The Guardian:

Facebook made a startling admission in its earnings announcement this month: it was seeing a "decrease in daily users, specifically among teens". In other words, teenagers are still on Facebook; they're just not using it as much as they did. It was a landmark statement, since teens are the demographic who often point the rest of us towards the next big thing.

Their gradual exodus to messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and KakaoTalk boils down to Facebook becoming a victim of its own success. The road to gaining nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users has seen the mums, dads, aunts and uncles of the generation who pioneered Facebook join it too, spamming their walls with inspirational quotes and images of cute animals, and (shock, horror) commenting on their kids' photos. No surprise, then, that Facebook is no longer a place for uninhibited status updates about pub antics, but an obligatory communication tool that younger people maintain because everyone else does.

All the fun stuff is happening elsewhere. On their mobiles.
It's interesting because the thing with personal social networks is that it's about people meeting the people they want to meet, without wasting time with people they don't.

The success of Facebook isn't technological, it's about who joined first. They got Harvard students, people we could best describe as "alphas" in some ways, people that other people would like to hang out with. So then, people in other top universities could join. And because Harvard is above them in social networking, they joined, then other colleges and finally, the public.

But what people don't want is to be bothered. You don't want you mum's crazy 2nd cousin asking why you don't bother commenting on her updates. Or your mum finding out that you got drunk. Or to be bothered by lots of people way down the social scale.

The people who do worst out of this are the people that everyone wants to talk to. So, they move to other networks to get away from people, and with this, others start to follow, until eventually the network has moved elsewhere.

I give it a couple of years and Facebook will be where MySpace is today. And we'll start getting news reports in the Daily Mail about various things people have been getting up to on WhatsApp.

9 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Are they comparing like with like?

When you first get on the Internet, you choose a platform, be it blogs, FB, Twitter etc, and you tend to stick with it.

So the "teenagers" of ten years ago started with blogging, and those who are still doing it are probably still blogging.

The "teenagers" of five years ago started with Twitter, and those who are still doing it are doing it.

And "teenagers" of today are using something else, and in ten years time they'll still be using it.

Ian Hills said...

Before I opened an account I had to email all my friends, and all my friends' friends, every time I had a crap. Thank goodness for Facebook!

Kj said...

I agree TS, but what MW says is a good point. MySpace never did take off in the same way as to range/amount of users. Facebook´s still without any competitors for the "general purpose" social network function, and I suspect it will be a generation away, unless they really screw up.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj, there's a long list of "platforms" which burned bright and then faded, i.e. Friends Reunited, BeBo, MySpace and so on.

LinkedIn is doing OK. Then there's Twoo and something even more annoying than that which raided your email and bombarded everybody you'd ever emailed etc which earned me a lot of angry email replies asking me who the f- I was.

Google themselves have made several attempts and none of them appears to have ever really taken off.

Mark Wadsworth said...

"has" not "have", sorry.

Kj said...

MW: seems that the ones who are successfull in parallell with facebook are the specialized ones.

The Stigler said...

Mark,
I don't think so. Blogging seems to be in huge decline over say, 5 or 10 years ago. Lots of people have quit it. Me, I prefer it to FB, but I've seen lots of people leave.

Ian Hills,
No, that's what Twitter is for: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/4/23/

Kj,
We'll see, I guess. What strikes me about WhatsApp is that they've really trimmed it down to the essentials.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, of course blogging is in huge decline! That's a combination of few new joiners minus lots of leavers. But those leavers aren't turning to something else, they are abandoning the internet, full stop.

The same applies to FB or Twitter or anything else, they're like buses.

It's the same when carrier pigeon replaced horse and cart, or when telegraph replaced messenger boy, or when radio or telephone replaced telegraph, then fax, then email and so on.

It doesn't mean that people are communicating less, they are just using new methods.

Kj said...

TS: yup, everything is developed for pads and smartphones these day. Ironic that new tech has caused constraints that leads to this stripping-down effect.