“To stay, a new service has to be truly exceptional. And it has to be truly exceptional to a massive number of people you want to be connected to.”
Actually I disagree a bit here. To be exceptional, a new network has to be CRAZY exceptional to a FEW people who will experiment each other. That’s where new forms of interactions and communication will arise. It needs to be super relevant to a few people to establish that bond, that DNA that sets the network apart and captures attention in the crowded space you speak of. Building a network that is relevant to a massive number of people and is competitive based on network effects without underlying competitive utility is very unlikely to succeed (e.g. Ello, Peach). You’ll just have a watered down product that’s not great at anything. It’s the single player and the few player mechanics that forms the special sauce for breakout networks (e.g. Snapchat)
I’m still optimistic about new social networks. But I measure whether they are relevant to me based of a few things: 1) Time to 1st Like and 2) 2 weeks retention of people I follow.
Snapchat never caught on with me, because my circle still uses Instagram for their life updates. And Facebook has a lot of value because many of my friends are outside of the echochamber — I’ve noticed that there is more robust sharing of news and interesting content on Facebook in the last two years.