donderdag 2 november 2006

Large and small social networking services

I agree with Robert Young that Facebook and Six Apart are two of the most interesting 'mainstream' social networking services at the moment. However, I have difficulty with his implicit statement that advertising revenues will create a lot of wealth for these companies.

Marc Canter's vision is very appealing. He says there won't be only a few large centralized social networking services, but instead expects there to be many smaller ones that are relevant in a specific context. The larger ones will facilitate this by building the social networking infrastructure (with Facebook and Six Apart as leading examples), using standards and open APIs. However, a consequence of this will be that at least part of the advertising revenues will go to the niche oriented services. The fact that a user uses SixApart's Vox to create a profile, write blog posts and submit videos (read Robert's piece on 'consoles for consumer control') doesn't necessarily mean they will be seen (consumed) by others at the same place. They will be cross-posted to the relevant niche networks... And that's why I think opening up Facebook for everyone was a bad idea. They are losing their context (students, universities). How will that end...?

"I’m probably also one of the very few that felt Facebook made the absolute right decision when they opened up its social network. Their timing, in my opinion, could not have been better, particularly in terms of competitive positioning against MySpace. With the move, there is no doubt in my mind that Facebook has placed itself on a new growth curve… one that will benefit from the churn of members from competitors as well as newbies to social networks. Having said that, let me qualify my thesis a bit. As I wrote in my last post, Facebook has a low “narcissism” ratio, relative to more “Hollywood-oriented” social media services… and it’s very important that it stay that way as it pulls back its velvet rope to the masses. But doing so puts Facebook on the same evolutionary path with Six Apart… at the conceptual level, both companies are ultimately aimed at becoming personalized portal platforms (what I’ve previously referred to as “consoles for consumer control“)."

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