Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the places you go to shout pretty much anything to anyone who will listen, or for most users the place to hear what anyone has to say at any given time. It’s the place to browse and see what is going on with everyone in your world.
Google+ has entered the game with a simple and fun way to categorize your feed of ever faster moving information by which ever circle you are filtering through at that moment, but it is still there to connect you to the whole world just like Facebook.
The pace at which information is flying by your eyes is dizzying and the more connections you have the faster it goes. The unfortunate result is that that the faster is goes, the less impact your posts have on the world. So if everyone is posting on all three, which one you choose to use becomes a preference of features. No wonder it took a Google to create a third competitor…
Recently I was consulting a Toronto based social network startup called Keek.com as their Director of Product Management. They want to “be like twitter, only better”. Their belief is that if people like sending short messages to each other why not send short video messages instead. So they’ve created a pretty sweet product and they’re betting millions that people will use keek.com when they want to communicate socially with video. Are they really going to do that better than Facebook, Twitter or Google+ who already allow you to do so fairly easily? We’ll see. I’m not putting my money on it because when it comes to creating a product with the same purpose of Facebook, you’re not going to win by features alone.
Then enters Linkedin who has similar features to Facebook but exists for a very different purpose. People go to Linkedin to connect and network socially, but have you ever gotten an update from a Linkedin connection about how angry someone is with Blair from Gossip Girl? Probably not and chances are you never will. Why? Because it’s the ultimate “work people” circle. People go there with their game face on trying to project the most professional, successful and valuable appearance they can. This is their place to be seen for their professional successes and to find new or better professional opportunities. It’s purpose is to be an online job fair or networking event and it does it fairly well.
Focused social networks are the opportunity today. If you can create a place for people to gather around a specific purpose that can’t be met on the major networks, and offer users a way to connect and share in a custom way then you just may have the next big success story.