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If Mass Media is dead, why do we have one social network, one search engine, and one video site?

January 7, 2011

Ask anyone, mass culture is dying.

3,000 channels instead of 3. Internet TV stations instead of ‘real’ TV stations. Podcasting instead of radio. Niche marketing instead of mass marketing.

Culture moves so fast now that memes created today are old tomorrow. We don’t all watch the same TV show like we did in the 90’s (there’s no such thing as must-see-TV).

There’s actually too much TV. I’ve heard that “It’s always Sunny in Philadelphia” is a great show, but I don’t have time to watch it, so any sayings, or memes that come from it will be lost on me.

Indeed, there are too many memes. I can’t keep up, I had to Google Ted Williams.

So with so much out there,  why do we only have one social network, one video channel and one search engine?

I think the answer is that we’re at the mass stage of social media adoption. Facebook is the go to social network because it was so new. True, there were other options like Bebo, MySpace, and Orkut. There are even efforts by new start-ups to grab Facebook traffic.

But Facebook continues to grow, and like the major networks, it will never go away.

But people will siphon off. They will find their own networks, they will find people who interest them. Facebook will be the place to stay in touch with geographical friends (people you went to high school, college or people you worked with) whereas emerging social networks around interest will be where people will flock.

And they will splinter and fragment.

Marketers will chase people on Facebook. And for some, the chase is worth it. Others though, are getting into it for the wrong reasons. It’s worth thinking about what you want people to do, and then thinking is social media is really the avenue to do it.

I think we’re at the ‘lets do a viral video’ stage of social media. Someone asking for a viral video doesn’t quite get how or why people consume video. So when they ask for a Facebook page, it’s possible they don’t get what they are looking for.

I’ve seen a lot of trend predicting in the last few weeks. Here’s my trend prediction: people will move towards more niche social networks. They won’t leave Facebook en mass, but they’ll spend less time there.

Do you have a trend prediction?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2011 5:30 pm

    Matt, I totally agree with you. I think people tend to look at a recent trend and extrapolate it out to infinity. It seems like pundits have always seen ebbing dominance as a precursor to imminent demise. The digitization of documents was supposed to lead to Xerox’s demise, but it hasn’t. Amazon was supposed to kill a lot more retail stores than it has actually killed.

    Facebook is not the final chapter in social media; it’s merely the first big chapter. FourSquare, Flickr and Reddit are proving that Facebook can’t beat them at their own games.

    I think that also goes for my own employer, the video-distribution platform http://www.fargotube.com. It’s not as purely a social-media platform as those other three are, but its social-networking structure does distinguish it from other video-distribution platforms, and we take those three platforms’ success as evidence that the popularity and utility of the social web goes way beyond staying in touch with friends.

    • January 8, 2011 10:03 am

      Chris, thanks for the comment. And thanks for showing me Fargotube.

      I like to point out that people who are in their early teens will have to decide to lose touch with their friends. They will always have the same free mail address, and since Facebook is probably not going away, their friends will always have the ability to contact them. Outside of that, other tools will be more niche.

      Matt.

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