One thing I’ve noticed when browsing various news sites such as Mashable or TechCrunch, is the number of new social media platforms and apps that are constantly being created. Enormous amounts of investment are being put into the start-ups and companies involved, especially in the great technology hothouse of San Francisco.
However, the vast majority of social media users, even the real technophiles and heavy users, seem to still use the same couple of platforms – Facebook, Twitter etc.
The trouble seems to be that many are going for a niche market – ones that facilitate meetings, or create a photostream, or gets questions answered (I mention this one because I tried the app ‘Jelly‘ at Mashable’s urging, and I still don’t feel like I ‘get’ it.) But the sites we all already use can do all of these too.
Obviously, many are probably designed simply to get a good idea going that can be sold at profit to a bigger company – even big success stories such as Instagram.
But it means that even if these sites are evolving by absorbing smaller platforms and apps (isn’t that how the game Spore worked?) to an extent social media is stagnating – there are no new platforms worth getting onto because no one is moving away from the ‘big guys,’ as least, not in big enough numbers for me to want to move too.
Of course, it’s possible that the next evolution in social media isn’t social media at all. There have been plenty of articles on how Facebook is using traction with younger users (example from The Independent) perhaps Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc. will be the next ones to go, in favour of an entirely new system that we won’t be able to call ‘social media’ anymore. ‘Social media’ will become old-fashioned, obsolete, and eventually forgotten terminology (rather like Usenet Groups.)