Analysts around the world have been predicting a second tech bubble burst for some time now. However, it hasn’t yet happened. In the age of micro-payments, even the most niche start-ups can find enough customers to stay alive. Social networks, on the other hand, are the true bubble.
You see, social media is everywhere these days and discussed incessantly, so hundreds of businesses have been built around these social networks. My Twitter bio contains words such as “business” and “marketing”, for example, I cannot go a single day without being bombarded by new followers claiming to help me “leverage social media” and “build my online following”. The question is, how many of these businesses can the market support?
I argue that the we have reached the social media saturation point. It started out as the next big thing, so of course everyone was very excited about it. Don’t misunderstand me, however; social media is as powerful as it ever was – for certain target audiences and certain uses and most importantly for established social networks.
New social media business has seen their glory days come and go. There was a time, several years ago, when it seemed that anyone could start a social network business and find success, but established social networks like Facebook and Twitter have tightened their grip on the industry. The only company to truly pick up speed in the last few years has been Pinterest – finding a niche primarily with crafty women.
Even social networks backed by some of the biggest companies in the world have failed. A perfect example is Ping, a social network created by Apple that fell flat. They thought they had found an unserved corner of the market but turned out to be dead wrong – even after investing millions of dollars and baking it into a variety of its products, people preferred Facebook and Twitter to discuss music. Finally seeing that there is little room for a new social network, Ping was killed this year (2012).
We have reached the social media saturation point.
Another recent example is Google+. Google+ still remains active and claims success, however, most of us know better. Even Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, qualifies their success based on the challenge posed by the social media giants: “Google+ is doing better than I expected given the competitors in the market“. Except for a heavily-male group of computer scientists, Google+ has failed to draw the masses like Facebook and Twitter. Unlike Ping, Google+ will likely stick around for while, continuously fed cash by Google so that they can improve their search results via stats from a small segment of the market; perhaps one day seeing the light and calling it quits as well.
I love competition and choice as much as the next guy but until something that offers something truly unique comes along, I’m sticking with Facebook and Twitter. After all, a social network’s value is based on its number of connections and I have long thought there is too much division on the internet.
What do you think?