What have I found from my research into Social Networking?

After strenuous research I looked into different areas of networking which, I thought were appropriate to come to a conclusion on my opinion of where I believe Social will end up in the coming years. Looking back over my 5 posts on Social Networking a number of things have become apparent. The posts I decided to research were titled; “Our ‘Social History’ mapping the future of online media”, “What has the journey for Social Communication been like”, “Social Media metrics; the problems beneath the surface”, “An insight into the workings of today’s networks” and “Starting a multi-million dollar network? Easy.”

The first post I researched, wrote and published was “Our Social history…” The reason for the post was to get a basic understanding of the networks out at present and a brief outline of how their history has affected where they are today in terms of users. It was interesting to see the first example of a Social Network life cycle, MySpace. What was difficult to determine though was whether the other networks would follow suit. MySpace was and is the only network which has a history of dominating the social platform and then dying off, whether Facebook, Twitter or any other large networks will do the same is unknown.

Second to be published on the blog was “Social Media metrics…” The reason behind this was to express the difficulties in viewing different metrics of Social Networks. I did this because, I felt the amount of data I had to research was astronomical and getting a background on the data I was gathering would have given me a better idea of what to and not to look for. I used a mini case study of Twitter evaluating two accounts individually and then going onto researching if there was a relationship between follower count and reputation in their similar areas of expertise, technology. It showed that social metrics at face value are not what they seem at all. This is very important when I am making a prediction as to where I believe the future of Social Networking is to be. I then went onto looking at different metrics you could derive from the accounts given which could give you a better idea of the nature of the Twitter account. I also did some of my own personal research using a study I conducted myself to see if there is actually a ‘critical number of tweets’ an account can have to exploit every one of there followers as much as possible in a positive way. This section of the post did not make it in the final cut. This was down to the fact that although the numbers involved all made sense and I got an answer out at the end, I felt it would be difficult for the average reader to get their head around. Not only that but it simply wasn’t worth the effort to attempt to understand in relation to the bigger picture of the post. Which was to understand problems in social metrics, which sometimes are provided by large companies to sometimes make themselves out to be more than they are.

Next to be uploaded was “… the journey of Social Communication…” In a way this post was similar to the first post uploaded because it is looking into the history of social interaction. It is much different though because this post is looking at the more general much broader history of the world I looked into when our society really started to become what it is today. Once evaluated back from 5000BC I then started to look at the same kind of thing specifically for Social Media. I found that the first ‘beta’ version let’s say, of a network was named sixdegrees.com. The question I’d like to ask myself is a question without an answer. Would Social Media be where it is today had sixdegrees.com not created something everybody else would follow on from? The network was a flop, but the image it left was something nobody had seen before and then set it as their challenge to improve upon to give you what we have today.

Saying goodbye to the past, the penultimate post on the blog was “An insight into the workings of today’s networks”. The aim of going into detail of present networks and where they stand in terms of growth at the moment was to see what users of today’s networks want and what they do with their time on social platforms. It was also interesting to see that certain networks have a huge number of inactive users. Whether this is due to multiple accounts or down to people getting bored of the network I don’t know. But in terms of Facebook I highly doubt that it is on the downfall. I’d predict it has more to do with the age of the company that the older a company is the higher the proportion of inactive accounts become.

The final post, which was released, was based on the difficulty of creating a new Social Network. Of all the posts I saw this one as the most significant to answer my question about the future of online Social Networking. This is down to having the opportunity to analyze why networks have succeeded and failed. I wanted to get an idea of how easy it is for a network to simply fall through. It could be something nobody saw coming like in the scenario of MySpace where they had a barrage of sexual assault convictions which just destroyed their reputation. Facebook had a large part in taking over their hierarchy as well though. It is strongly the case of right place and the right time. There is no saying that if Facebook had started its network 1 year earlier or later it would be where it is today. The right things for Facebook peaked when the wrong things for MySpace also peaked.

Myspace infographic

I was trying to pin down what all successful networks had in common but it was practically impossible. A lot of them did have niches of their own but even then why did that niche work, why not one of the other hundreds and thousands of networks being produced at the same time? The chances are at least one of them had an idea ten times better and a hundred times more valuable on paper. Definitely puts it in perspective that if you are in the right place at the right time you could have literally hit the jackpot. Ask any first CEO of these large Social Networks if they had clearly expected this much success, unless they are incredibly arrogant the answer would most definitely be no.

Overall my findings show some rather interesting things. I believe people are going off the idea to be on a broad array of networks like they seemed to be a few years back. There is evidence to suggest now that they are saturating a small number of networks dramatically. It may just be the case that we are getting bored of all these new networks. Other than Facebook there is no evidence of any of the big networks out at the moment beginning to plateau, but soon it will not be physically possible to continue growing the way they are right now, they will get to a point where they are so big everybody has an account so their growth will significantly slow down. We’ve had relationships with every type of networks but we now want to settle down with ‘the one’ (or more probably, three or four) so to speak. Over the next few years I doubt highly we will see the same number of Social Networks succeed that have been cropping up everywhere in the past decade or so, especially those targeted at specific companies it seems. The odd network will come in and surprise everybody with its success, but with the attitude of the public at the moment the chances are it will just replace an existing network, which is there already by outdoing it in a number of areas.

About Lewis Waite

This Blog is part of a project I am currently working on to essentially, analyse the Social Networks of today. And by the end predict where we might find ourself in the future.
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