Some might say that connection to others is the most important aspect of the service social media provides. While this theory is true in so many ways, it fails to recognize that users tend to benefit the most from the few connections that have personal meaning. Users may be connected to several hundred ‘friends’ but the truth of the matter is that they are online to interact with a much smaller number.
It is nice to be able to see what an old friend is up to, what they are sharing and what interests them, but improved interaction with the people who are closest to us is what keeps us coming back. That is why creating and fostering meaningful connections with social media is the next obvious step we can take in the evolution of social media.
As they exist now, social networks are excellent tools for connecting people who already know each other, but they do very little to help users meet new friends. Meaningful connections can generally be defined as connections between two people who share a lot in common. Beyond listing your interests, current networks have not given us many opportunities to meet new friends based on those interests. When a person we do not know and have never met tries to friend us, it can sometimes come across as creepy and unwanted. What if that was different?
What if you were able to find a pen pal from another continent? What if you could find fellow musicians interested in forming a band or a conversation partner to practice a foreign language with? What if you could meet a person who had worked on a project similar to one you were working on and could provide you with the insights you needed to do a truly awesome job?
The point is that social media has the ability to connect us with other people who can help us, teach us and inspire us. Why hasn’t that ability been tapped into yet?