Is there room for a new, major social media site?
That is it, the answer is no.
So this is a question and answer (think Quora) that makes for interesting thought and conversation. Opinion in the virtual walls of 89 Prime, is a clear no. Not just a “let’s rethink the concept” type no, but a more a straight up no, not happening, type of no. We’ve brought up the potential for a new search engine in previous articles, however sticking with out guns on this. Again in terms of challenging Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. A few reasons
Let’s start with what is happening at Snapchat. While becoming the breakthrough social media site just a few years ago, the story concept, that Snap originated has become incorporated into just about every major platform. One of the more recent being YouTube. The Weather Channel App has even incorporated, what they coined “Your Daily Weather Snapshot”.
Insert eyeroll emoji.
If the challenge of building a large user base from scratch isn’t overwhelming enough, the reality that any unique feature can be duplicated by every other platform can be downright discouraging. One hell of a mountain to climb from a development and funding standpoint. One cannot patent, copyright, or protect a “feature”, essentially becomes fair game for other platforms to use as their own.
Ideas seem dry.
The implementation of stories across platforms points to a lack of innovation. Gimmicky, repetitive, and desperate are ways to describe the state of these sites, however it may point to a demise of sorts. Attention is finite. Once maxed out, growth slows, stops, or reverses.
From a creation standpoint, the difference between a social media site and a blog, is who creates the content. A blog (such as the one you are reading now) has writers that generate much of the material. Social media sites rely on users to generate much of the material from text, to images, to video. Without the users creating content, and creating it consistently, the site it dead.
The million dollar question for a new platform: What will drive users to spend less time on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube and more time on the new site? Being frustrated or bored with one of the traditional sites isn’t enough, al least not over the long run.
And for those that do get hot for a minute, the hype can die down just as quick as it begins. Case in point..
Remember the “Instagram killer” that never killed Instagram? We touched on Vero in a previous article, as that burst onto the mainstream in early 2018. Vero, is a social network, that was supposed to fix everything the world allegedly hated about Facebook and Instagram. An ad free business model and content displayed in chronological order. Vero is still around, yet for all the hype and praise it received, it just kind of went away from mainstream conversation. Not to say it flopped but it’s safe to assume, out of all of Facebook’s concerns, competition from Vero isn’t too high on the list.
So why didn’t it take off? As much as people say they hate Instagram’s algorithm, going back to a chronological feed might not be as appealing as we remember. Some may prefer one way over the other however there is nothing magical about it. No ads? Nothing magical about that either. All in all there is nothing all that magical about Vero.
The short lived spurt in international interest, made something clear.. We claim we want an alternate social platform, yet we really could care less all at the same time. Digital burnout is real and the short lived Vero craze displayed how fickle users are.
Data, Privacy, and the Masses.
Regardless of whether people delete Facebook or stick around for the long haul, the issue of how the company uses and maintains data will remain an issue. This is going to be something a new social site is going to have to deal with going forward. For all that is reported about Facebook’s mishandling of data, do the masses really care? It hasn’t become My Space. People may be more conscious of their data being used by big tech companies, yet it hasn’t stopped the masses from continuing forward.
With that said, heavier regulation is likely. This will put more legal pressure and costs on the heads of these sites. For a new social site this will be a hurdle that the Facebooks, Twitters, and Instagrams before them didn’t have to deal with upon launching.
Mental Health Issues and Social Responsibilities.
Social Media sites have come under fire for their negative effects of mental health. We can debate whether the criticism is fair or over exaggerated, yet it is an issue. Bullying, drama, hate speech, and fake news, have been pointed to as what drives “engagement” on social media.
2018 has been a year where the heat has been turned up on the heads of the tech giants to get control over what is happening on their sites. Another conversation for another day, but let’s just say they have a lot of work to do in that area. Like data handling, this will be something new networks will have to deal with while growing. The social medias of the past were in a virtual wild west. Not likely to be the same for the next generation of social networks.
And that’s that.
So we are sticking with the answer being no.
This isn’t to say there will not be any new niche social media sites on the horizon. They are just likely to look different. Smaller. More age specific. Snapchat is still a popular option among a younger demographic. 30 years ago, kids didn’t want to hang out in the mall with their parents. Today, they don’t want to hang out on Facebook with their parents.
The spring of 2019 is supposed to bring us Byte, according to Vine’s creator Dom Hoffman. Let’s assume it is along the lines of the old 6 second Vine. Can a site like that do well? Sure. Is it going to drive a 50 something, who likes to argue with strangers.. I mean discuss politics with others, off of Facebook? Not a chance.
The growth that Facebook experienced on a worldwide stage will probably not be replicated, and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as future creators and developers are focused on a quality product, and not “connecting the world” or going public, then the future has plenty of room. If growth at all costs is at the forefront of priorities, they either won’t make it too far out the starting gate, or they will be destroyed by the traditional powers that be.
As always, thanks for reading.