Ravit Lichtenberg posted an article on RWW titled 10 Ways Social Media Will Change in 2009. In it, she talks about some of the things Social Media will need to do to continue to grow in 2009. Most notably, she writes:
FriendFeed — now both a destination and an API — is growing rapidly, despite a miserable wiki-like interface and interactive experience. That’s because people are at a loss when it comes to pulling their conversations together from various sources and assigning meaning to them. Companies that deliver beautifully designed, easy-to-use, searchable, flexible, aggregating platforms will become more important than any social media tool by itself. Deb Schultz, a San Francisco-based web strategist, compares social media to an art exhibit and says people will “curate their live presence through the web ecosystem as needed.” Noovo and Zannel are examples of early attempts to enable this.
It’s true. People want more and more to bring their data together to one central, easy to use place. However, people also want to be able to separate their data for their friends, family, co-workers, potential employers, and online acquaintances. For example, someone heavy into the tech industry who uses Twitter, or a service like it, might not want their Twitter post automatically updating their Facebook feed. Their family and friends might not want to be inundated with post after post about what article they are reading, up to the date tech news, or what sites they’ve just bookmarked or added to their RSS feed. This could potentially turn their friends/family off to reading their updates, and could be a good way to lose friends on social networks. Likewise, contacts on Linkedin don’t need to see “party pictures” or your latest mobile uploads of your child’s first haircut.
So the question is, how do people use one social convergence tool to update many social services?
There are a multitude of tools available to people already that will take information from one source and spread it to multiple sources. Likewise, there are also tools that will pull data from multiple sources in aggregate them into a single source. But as Litchenberg points out, these tools are not necessarily ready for the masses. You have to basically be an early adopter and a tech head to even want to take the time to set these services up.
What do the people want?
The people want simplicity. They want their services to recognize what they are trying to do and do it. People don’t want to waste time fiddling with multiple services. And, they want it to look cool. Just as some people (women – in my experience) will notice the shiny rims on a car before the make and model, people will notice the UI before the functionality. FriendFeed might be great at what it does, but it looks like 1999. If not for the shiny FriendFeed logo, no one would know that it’s a web 2.0 future superstar. People will make a decision on a service based on how good it looks or how cool the icon on their desktop or iPhone is.
One Social Media Service to rule them all!
Is it too late for one service to come in and dominate in every area? Can there be one service that will cover professional, personal, recreational, and mobile needs? And, not only that, can they take the information already posted and pull it into their service, including tags, comments, etc.? It seems impossible, but not improbable (And, if someone out there is working on this very thing, would they please name it 42.com?). After all, it wasn’t so long ago that AOL was THE place to be. Then, after a period of downtime for online social interaction, Myspace came on the scene and blew everyone away (in the United States). Now, Facebook is taking charge. It stands to reason that one day Facebook will die out and be replaced by the next great thing. But, will this next great thing be the ONE, or perhaps the FORTY-TWO?
One thing is certain, social media will continue to evolve. And, just as current problems are solved, then new issues will come to light. Regardless, we are all along for the ride. We all want simple, but effective tools to make our online life easier; to share our personal, professional, recreational, and mobile lives with the right people at the right time.