I’d like a new social media site/app.
Not an original idea? Entrepreneurs aren’t deterred by apparent competition or from looking for solutions to difficult problems. As long as existing products aren’t serving needs and there’s a way to provide a better solution, there is a good opportunity.
The Problem with Social Media1: (if you are already nodding your head, I’m playing the right tune, because good opportunities include easily recognized problems)
Part 1: Shiny happy people2masquerading as your friends in everyday life. Not the first one to point this out, but broadband social media is depressingly deceptive.
Many personal posts are the high points of people’s lives. You’ve seen it: here’s [someone you know] looking good, graduating from astrophysics, running a marathon, winning the award for best strawberry jam ever, getting a Nobel Prize etc. Fabulous when these things happen and everyone should feel good about them. But there is more to life.
There are the tragedies too. I don’t begrudge anyone sharing these, because this is when support is needed and everyone should be able to reach out for it. Thankfully, this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often.
What’s left? The rest of life. Because the drama dial on social media is set to 11 – really great or awfully bad – the tendency is to make posts fit into one of these categories. So we end up with a lopsided view of everyone else’s life. And wonder why ours doesn’t measure up3.
Part 2: The death of depth. ’cause really, once you’ve seen 129 idyllic photos of your friend’s kid’s wedding, asking how the wedding was seems redundant. However, there is no photo of the tension with her mother-in-law over the venue or the unresolved issues the son has with his father. A person could post every hour of every day without revealing how they are really doing.
Part 3: Hardwired to Self Destruct. Metallica gets it. We’re trapped. Social media is our venue to communicate with everyone now. Regardless if they are friends, family, people we met once or businesses we frequent, they’re all on social media, somewhat indistinguishable from each other. Friend, commerce or romantic wannabe?
Social media (1) isn’t genuine, (2) has no depth, and (3) is essential.
Therefore, a need exists for a platform that causes people to communicate with the people who are important to them in a genuine, deep way. A platform that simulates seeing and talking to close friends and family on a regular basis about things that are mundane but matter.
Ah, it’s all in the choice of the right platform, you say. I love this depiction of various social media apps, drawing parallels to the seven deadly sins. Platforms evolve to serve different purposes4, suggesting that different design elements tailor to different needs. I think that means there is hope for introducing a new platform.
Throwing out a few ideas for my ideal site:
1. Emphasize small groups, of say 5 to 10. Do not allow them to get bigger.
2. Keep content personal – de-emphasize reposts of news stories, etc. maybe even get rid of shares. Focus on the individual’s thoughts about their lives.
3. Get away from constant updating. Hang onto the beginning of the thread so anyone in the group can see where the conversation began regardless of when they get there.
4. Change the business model – get targeted ads out of the equation. Paying for something that meets a specific need isn’t so bad and removes the need for distracting, extraneous content (i.e. suggested content, ads, sponsored stuff, prioritization that isn’t related to the user’s priorities).
I’ve argued myself into wanting to pay for social media. I’d come up with a subscription fee if it has all the features I want and none that I don’t. As long as everyone I want to connect with feels the same way, it will work. Hummm…. maybe someone has thought of this before, but now that we are all indoctrinated into social media, this could be the perfect time for Social Media V2.0.
1Sometimes, songs come to my mind that illustrate concepts really well, so I’ve included links to a few tunes.
4How this happened is interesting, but another topic. Was it the original master plan, form defining function, or an outcome of the market segment that first populated the platform?