Looking for The Next Great Social Network

I mean, imma let you finish, but Facebook = social.

Facebook is, without a doubt, the big dog in how the world is and will continue to be connected through social media.

My question is simple: What’s next? Who will challenge the throne?

Ok, yes, there are people that reject FB or don’t get tremendous value out of using Facebook to connect their world. I know. But let’s not kid ourselves. Facebook won this round.

And they have 900 million users, a staggeringly successful business model and product to show for it. Facebook will continue to be the dominant place for people to connect and share with the world around them for years to come.

It seems like the tech press continues to pick one service or another as the Next Best Thing. I’m not sure about that approach.

Let’s take Twitter & Google+ out of the equation for now and look at the newcomers:

Pinterest

Considering the hype for Pinterest that exploded over the past few days when it was announced that they hit 11.7 MM users and in only 23 months. That’s good for almost new 500,000/users a month.

Techcrunch noted:

If you don’t count sites like Google+ or new Yahoo channels that have built in user bases, comScore’s data shows Pinterest would be the fastest site of any kind to hit 10 million monthly uniques in the U.S.

Other factors:

  • Beautiful, amazing web interface for collecting information
  • fans rave about it. Very high
  • great stickiness (98 minutes/month on site, compare to FB 7.5/hours, 2.5/hours Tumblr)
  • solid but not spectacular mobile app

Not bad.

Path

Path recently joined the 2 million users club and has a stellar, beautiful mobile lifestream product. It is a joy to use and despite the “addressbookgate” snafu, they have been rolling since the release of Path 2.0 in November.

Path’s Dave Morin noted in AllThingsDigital:

On the engagement front, he said 70 percent of people who use Path in a week return the next week. Path users have created over 50 million items of content and half a billion pieces of feedback. The latter is a somewhat inflated stat, because “feedback” is created every time a user looks at content on Path. But for reference, there are 15 million pieces of feedback created on Path per day now, versus 10 million total in the first year, Morin said.

Other factors:

  • UI seems like a game changer in mobile app develoment. It just works.
  • Good differentiating factor from Facebook…FB is for everyone you know, Path is for your real crew.
  • no web version…only Android/iOS for now.

Good effort.

Instagram

Instagram has been on a roll of late.

Alexia Tsotis has a great rundown on the service and her point "I’d rather watch Instagram than a Movie" resonates with a ton of users.

  • fun, quirky photo, mobile experience. That’s a winning combination.
  • makes everyone feel artsy. Check.
  • Celebs & BO are logged on and snapping away.

(Check out this great Gizmodo longread, “Inside Instagram: How Slowing Its Roll Put the Little Startup in the Fast Lane” for even more on this awesome service.

Impressive, but not my bet.

Network X

Consider, for a second, that a new social network came out of nowhere to reach 100 million users in only four months. Let’s also assume, that this network would have access to:

  • credit cards of every single user
  • social games that developers want to build and users want to play
  • an incredible photography platform and cloud storage solution for mobile photos
  • robust app platform that developers want to build on (and use personally)
  • location sharing built as a core feature
  • a messaging experience that integrated seamlessly across multiple platforms
  • a library of content and licensing deals with the entertainment industry
  • a ad engine built into the mobile platform

Initially, this theoretical social network’s success would obviously be rooted in the mobile product, but they’d gradually extend that to the desktop, laptop, and living room.

That might get some excitement? Right? Wouldn’t we think that was the next great network to challenge Facebook’s overarching and complete dominance in social?

What if that social network didn’t call itself a social network?

Wait, you’re telling me this network exists? And it has 100MM users?

Tim Cook spoke at the Goldman Sachs Technology conference and Forbes has the quotes from his speech.

"iCloud recognizes the Mac or PC as just another device and now your life is a lot easier. We have 100 million users of iCloud — we just launched it in October! This is unbelievable."

That’s the theme. Your life is just easier with iCloud.

He continues.

“I view iCloud not as something with a year or two product life—it’s a strategy for the next decade or more,” Cook said. “It’s truly profound.”

Ya think possibly “sharing” is coming to OSX and iOS? Think that might help make your life easier?

Maybe you could “socially” do some of these things:

  • Perhaps split a bill or pay someone that you know (iTunes credit card transactions)
  • Play games with your friends (Game Center)
  • Share pictures from your iPhone camera (still the best in the biz) and iCloud photo storage
  • Find apps that your friends like or use (app store both iOS and OSX)
  • Locate your friends (Find My Friends)
  • Send Mail + Messages (now computer to phone, phone to phone)
  • Buy or rent movies that your friends recommended (iTunes store)
  • Get social context with advertising (iAds)

Wait, Twitter is now a core function of Mountain Lion, Apple’s latest OS release?

You don’t say.

Stay tuned for part two on how I think Apple will continue to do this.

Let me know what you think or if you disagree. Would love your perspective.

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  1. jarrodmorgenstern posted this

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Social media evangelist. Helps brands share their story. Works at Buddy Media.

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