Really good article, but I think there are some things that need to be mentioned. Right now social networks are not social, they are focused too much on selling things and catching their users’ attention with meaningless content instead of harvesting the power of communities or groups formed around ideas and genuine communication. Nowadays social networks are doing what TV has been doing for a while: disconnect from who actually made them big, their users, and connect strictly with money without providing added value. Selfies and pet pictures don’t express much and cannot provide added value to one’s life.
This is the biggest problem in my view in respect to social networks: they are not providing any real added value to their participants. If I were to characterize the age of the social networks, I would say they are in their mid-teens right now and they definitely need to evolve. And this process of evolution will need to move the focus from the self to real communication and genuine connections.
Inevitably new companies will emerge. And whether they will be acquired by big ones remains to be seen. The strong signal was given by Snapchat’s Spiegel, who refused to sell and I think it was a very good idea. If he would’ve sold, the product would have become just another feature into Facebook.
These new companies will not innovate much. But they will focus more on their core product and they will execute better, because they will not be safe, they will not have luxury of losing users or alienate them with mindless content. Users need to have once again the tools back in their hands with which they will control the display of information they receive.
And the new companies need to once again provide the means through which users need to feel safe and meaningful and protected. More, these companies will need to communicate better and more intimate with their users instead of turning into money making machines.
I’m not seeing anyone talking about the burnout feeling that Facebook is creating for more and more users. I don’t want to badmouth the company, they’re doing their thing.
And one more last thing: what happened to the other people who are not teens? Are they not interesting anymore? Are they not alive? Why’s everyone creating products for teens?
My answer would be that in order to address teens you need a shiny thing that will fulfill their attention for a while before moving to the next thing. It seems you don’t really need a very powerful product, just something that’s touching their in development sense of self an reinforces that upon them in a continuous and addicting way.
There’s only one problem with addiction: it either kills you, or it makes you realize you need to quit as soon as you can.