Where The Industry Is Today
This is the state of the current industry.
The Internet was created as a web of networks for sharing information and has since been a continually changing entity. Arguably the most impactful addition to the Internet has been social networking.
Social Networking has been constantly and rapidly evolving since its primitive beginnings as local forums and simple chat mechanisms like CompuServe. The first ‘modern’ social network as we know it was Friendster in 2002. That introduction paved the way for familiar names like MySpace, Hi5, Orkut, and of course, Facebook. Facebook, as I’m sure you’re all aware of, is a frequent subject in the industry and has made multiple appearances on our blog as well simply because of its immense influence and dominance of social networking for the past decade.
Prior to social networks, the Internet was no doubt a place to share, but it was a disorganized and immature structure. Social networks paved the way for a more useful web and continue to be among the biggest Internet-changers in existence.
Social Networking’s accomplishments include, in no particular order:
- Improved online communication
- Made the world a smaller place
- Gave everyone the ability to be a creator
- Changed the way businesses interact with consumers and vice versa
- Became a key player in international political affairs and uprisings such as the Arab Spring
- Humanized the Internet
That’s a pretty impressive resume and we haven’t even mentioned its crowning achievement, which to this day defines what social networks are capable of: connection. This ability to connect has literally caused proven real-world social theories to crumble and given us a way to share our lives with our friends and family from anywhere in the world.
As the online environment has evolved, in the past couple years we have seen completely new networks come to life and demonstrate entirely new ways to use the Internet. Ways that our old, familiar, stand-by networks simply can’t offer. Here’s what we’re seeing:
Users want more control of their content
If anything, the Pinterest model has shown that we like to be able to curate the content we display in a better way.
The Rise of Niche and Interest-based Networks
There is no longer one network that can do everything. People have specific interests and smaller but purposeful niche networks are becoming commonplace to meet and engage with like-minded people online in a better way than bigger social networks offer.
Engagement is King
We value engagement over mass amounts of content, which is another reason curation sites like Pinterest have been such a stark contrast to the social networking we’ve been familiar with for so long.
The Desire to Discover
With the introduction of new tools to access information online like Big Data advocate Loku and semantic-based search Ark, people are realizing that there are other ways to find people, organize information, and use the Internet.
Overall, what these trends point towards is the desire for something more. We are saying we want new ways to interact online and a better way to define our connections.
We see this as an opportunity to introduce something completely new, something that we, as Internet users, want. Something that is built for discovery, discussion, and collaboration. To address how we are connected and why that’s important to each of us. An answer to the question “Once we’re connected, what’s next?”