Facebook: The Great Aggregator
Social networking is old enough that the pervasive ‘one network to rule them all’ frame of mind isn’t reflective of the online world anymore. We’ve written in previous posts about the increasing success and persistent presence of smaller niche networks. Looking back on where the industry used to be, the success of these would have been hard to predict. Just a few years ago, the social media world was saturated with social aggregating services (remember Iminta, Socialthing, and Plaxo Pulse?). The prominence of these services seemed to hint that what made sense for the Internet and what users wanted was one service to bring everything together, to be able to manage everything from one site. That still sounds pretty good, what happened to that?
Where the aggregator systems proved extremely efficient at bringing information together, they proved extremely inefficient at offering an engaging or unique experience. We began to realize that they were just unnecessary middlemen to using an actual social network. It may have sounded convenient to use one site instead of many, but the truth with the model behind these aggregators was the advantages of using one boring site never outweighed the hassle of engaging with multiple sites. As a result the aggregator ‘movement’ became decreasingly relevant.
Facebook may rightly be credited for preventing the spread and long-term success of aggregators indirectly. At the time Facebook provided its users with a very engaging and useful product. Aggregators, regardless of how much content they pumped through, just couldn’t match the experience that Facebook had. Facebook was on one side with one-of-a-kind engagement and aggregators were on the other with straight-up content sharing. Engagement won out, hands down.
Today Facebook isn’t the only kid on the block with a shiny bike. Other networks found their niches, their biggest fans, and now everyone has a nice bike. Today, it’s becoming perfectly acceptable and even desired to be active members in a number of smaller but purposeful and focused networks. Each of these networks needs to engage its users, and this means that there are now hundreds of engaging social networks that all provide users with unique, effective experiences. So today we have many other sites that are able to engage just as well as Facebook.
Furthermore, Facebook’s engaging experience has started to become diluted not only because of advertising, but also because of the Facebook API system, the Like button, and Facebook Connect. An indirect consequence of these means more and more third party content is populating Facebook, as opposed to closer to 100% original content when they were battling the aggregators.
So what does this mean? It could mean that Facebook is becoming the world’s largest aggregator.
To OurPangea, this means we can’t be complacent. We like the idea of having one site that has the ability to fulfill our online social selves, but it has to be engaging. We don’t want it to be conventional for our networks to start valuing pushing through third-party content over original user-generated content. We want a place to be engaged, a place where we all have value and where we can be ourselves. OurPangea.com is a place where we can share the things we love. And best of all it is a place where there are other people who will be there to share that passion with us.
Our cause is unity through collaboration and our mission is to make the world better. It is also to make the Internet better. Let’s be original.