The times they are a changin’.
Especially at this point of the year with the olympics, it’s obvious that the way the US and world are consuming media is changing drastically. Twitter launched in July 0f 2006, basically six years ago. That’s not a lot of time, yet it is prevalent in how many consumers interact with content. Even the media companies are embracing it as a supplement. I’m pretty sure a good deal of the media folks are smart enough to know that Twitter and Facebook are long term strategic competitors. Maybe short term based on the historical perspective of time and business implementation.
Twitter and Facebook purport to be social/media utilities, but as of now they seem more like companies trying to grab up attention and monetize it. That’s a television competitor.
But Twitter isn’t the be all end all of media and UGC. There will be other companies that come along and do as well or better than the aforementioned, and likely not by emulating their models. The internet and it’s usage is skyrocketing. People are becoming more adept at navigating the different types of sites and how to be savvy in their consumption. Facebook and Twitter purport to be platforms, but ultimately they are walled gardens that impose rules and restrictions that users ultimately may or may not care for. The improvement/stabilization of user experience with websites will create a more sophisticated palate for how to consume media or interact with others. Basically, the sites that everyone thinks are great today will not look so hot tomorrow. It’s a difficult job to stay at the forefront of a wave that no one saw coming and is headed in no way to visible land.
I’m not predicting the immediate downfall of these companies. I think what they’ve done is really spectacular. Facebook has harnessed the power of social networks, people go because people are there. But there’s always a chance that people stop going because it’s too crowded. Twitter has taken what many thought was a great idea (blogging) and made it a powerful tool for the masses who don’t want to take the time to annunciate their thoughts over thousands of words, made it social, scale and searchable so that it’s a repository of all our thoughts. It just so happened that once the application hit critical mass that our most common thoughts for ongoing events surpassed our previously established channels. It became the new news. That’s a good thing, because news needs a re-hauling.These sites have done a great job and should reap the spoils of their efforts, IMO. But their job is going to be increasingly difficult. They operate in a world where user bases can change their habits extremely quickly and alternative options can be created and continually developed in months. Distribution is near instantaneous.
The competitive environment is ferocious and creating and developing switching costs or loyalty are paramount. One small problem there, the user bases are typically younger and their tastes will change. It’s a tough situation, but strangely enough these young companies are the best suited to understand how to keep users. Will we see an eventual laziness take hold in these larger social networks where users mass exodus? Who knows.
It took a while to get to the point of the post, but it’s basically that as a user, you should be creating your own content today. Hopefully “platform agnostic” content that can be ported from one site to another. Imagine a world where everything we consume for media, all our communication and the vast majority of business and consumer information is hosted online. That’s where we’re going. There are going to have a great deal of lurkers, a small amount of contributors and a tiny amount of creators. The ability to effectively create content will separate you from most. Anyone can do it, but you have to get started. I know this blog isn’t a huge blip on the radar of the internet, but it’s taught me how to build a website and how to interact online as an individual and even from a company perspective simply by monitoring the space. Start building now; there are huge benefits both immediately and in the long run on personal and professional levels.