Why Facebook wins the Social Network Battle. On Flirting, Sex, Porn and Mr Rogers.

Facebook social network

Facebook social network

Earlier this week I came across an interesting study on social media around the world. The presentation is packed with social media data but if you go through the slideshow, you note that the researchers basically conclude the following:

  • There’s one big Network: Facebook.
  • It’s flanked by a few smaller nonetheless successful players: Twitter, LinkedIn.
  • We must keep an eye on smaller, locally succesful players like Vkontakte in Russia and Eastern Europe or Hyves in the Netherlands.
  • In addition to the researchers findings, we want to point out that locally succesful social networks might be thriving these days, but the chances are high that they are to be beaten by Facebook – as happened in the Netherlands with Hyves. The below image shows the decline for Hyves in favor of the Facebook growth.
Facebook bigger than Hyves in the Netherlands.

Facebook bigger than Hyves in the Netherlands.

The research report makes a similar observation: “The Big will get bigger – The small will become smaller”. This doesn’t have to surprise you that much. It’s like with people: the rich get richer while the poor become more poor every day.

Big to be bigger, small to become even smaller.

The value of a social network can be determined by the size of that very network (user base). Now, as the study points out, Facebook is the only one that has an adoption rate higher than 25%. If we think about the mainstream social network battle, this theory suggestst there will be only one mainstream social network: Facebook. I’m so sorry for Google’s tremendous efforts.

Google intelligently trying to give you a hint about it social network Google Plus

Google intelligently trying to give you a hint about it social network Google Plus

Facebook & LinkedIn: why are they ‘big’?

When you’re dealing with the adoption of innovation, one needs to realize that adoption is a human personality trait. Some are early adopters, others are laggards – lacking behind in adoption for every single technological novelty. According to Mr Rogers innovations always diffuse according to this model.

Speaks for itself that this diffusion is boosted when the innovation is actually making life more comfortable, taking away a pain or getting things done faster. Ideally the innovation continues on the path paved by older media so to boost the adoption. Actually, those new media internalize the content of the old medium. This can be seen for instance in radio being “spoken news”; film being “theatrical”; websites being a “digital brochure or businesscard”; etc.

The question is: what pain does Facebook take away? Have we been on this planet for ages with a tremendous pain that is now suddenly being solved through Facebook? How were we able to life before? What pain does LinkedIn take away? How did we do business before?

Facebook and LinkedIn have clear goals

In the case of LinkedIn there’s the obvious advantage of being a functional, B2B platform. And yes, it takes a way some pains related to networking, human resources, etc. It’s a great addition to business.

However, when looking at Facebook, what things did it make easier? I agree, sharing videos, pictures and status updates is very easy to stay in touch with your globally dispersed friends. However, there are other platforms that offer the same function. So why did exactly Facebook win and no other social network allowing to fulfill the same need?

Well, I believe the answer is in the very fact that Facebook was build for the Flirt!

Flirting is the act of demonstrating playfulness, romanticism or sexual overture by one person to another so to subtly indicate an interest in a deeper relationship with that other person. If you have a closer look at the very origin, growth and current usage of Facebook, you might notice that almost everything might come down to facilitating flirts.

The Digital Flirt = Facebook’s Killer App.

Facebook was founded to find and connect with people based on their “face picture”. Facebook made it possible to see who your co-students are, what they are doing without actually engaging but deploy it to set up an offline flirt strategy or charm offensive. Furthermore, the evolution of the platform always favored this aspect. Private messages and IM are perfectly suited for the flirt. Just think about it.

Summarized: Facebook is build to support our natural drive to have sex, to flirt.

Twitter: a flirt challenger?

The report points out that Twitter is a growing challenger. However, it might never reach the popularity like Facebook. Having nothing but 140 chars (minus room for images, links, etc) makes it a lot harder to flirt. But it’s possible though.

But there are bigger opportunities with Twitter. Its difficulty though is that this social network requires the individual to define its own medium goal. Not every individual is able to do that. But for some the twitter goal is about flirting, for others it’s free texting, for others it’s a personal teacher, etc.

Why did I ramble on about that? Well, flirting is a precursor to sex (if you are lucky).
Sex is a rather important social driver.
And sex is closely linked to porn. And porn is important to frame innovations.
And the softie in me believes flirting could be as valid as porn to frame tech-human innovations.
But You should always keep an eye on porn when discussing innovative technology.

iPhone innovative technology diffusion without porn

iPhone innovative technology diffusion without porn

History has proven that porn and sex are often the key social driver behind the diffusion of innovation. Yes, it’s pretty strange that the iPhone was adopted so fast without supporting porn. But then again, the iPhone was adopted through a range of “taking pain away apps” to be easily installed through the app store. In the iPhone case, it’s not about the hardware but more the software ecosystem Apple cleverly set up. As might be clear, it’s not always about porn. But often enough it is.

Mr Rogers & The Adoption of Innovation

When we are talking about new communication technologies we often tend to focus on the technological aspects. It’s true that without the technology at stake, things wouldn’t be possible. But technology by itself doesn’t do a single thing as well.

To frame innovations, one needs to look at the social factors that determine whether a technology shall reach mainstream or not. Next to that, there’s always the economic reality check. Having an idea and a technology is one thing; to turn that into a viable business is a whole different story.

Specialist often point to so-called “Killer Applications” to explain the break-through. Well, in fact a killer application is an application of the technology that has social relevance. In the case of Facebook the social relevance is flirting. In the case of LinkedIn the social relevance is business networking. In the case of the VCR, it was porn.

Rogers Diffusion of Innovation

Rogers Diffusion of Innovation

The importance of porn in the VCR battle

The diffusion of the VCR was related to 2 phenomenons, to know TV viewing and Film. Especially the latter is important to understand why VHS tapes won the battle – even if they were in a technological sense a lot less powerful than their competitors at Betamax or V-2000.

  • First application: time-shift in TV watching: new medium takes content of the old. This boost adoption since people are used to the content.
  • Second application: Film. And here’s where porn comes into play. The Film Industry (A-movies, blockbusters) were not very willing to offer their movies through VCR tapes. On the other hand the “secundary” Film Industry (porn) were very willing to spread their videos via the new technology. As a result video rent stores popped up and mainly had videos with porn. Most of those were VHS (65%), then Betamax (25%) and finally V-2000 (10%). So this VHS technology concquerred the market while clearly not being the best technology. Porn won!
  • Flirting wins! That’s people, that’s mankind, that’s a monkey brain.

Who’ll beat Facebook?

In short term: nobody. Most people basically hate change. It seems mankind is born with a love for status quo. So why on earth would they want to change their social network? It has been a big thing already to just get on it. But the opportunities for the digital flirt eventually got everyone on board. Now that we’re all on it, who’s going to swop? Most of us aren’t. Most of us love status quo. Most of us hate change.

People don't like change in general.

People don't like change in general.

Innovate your twitter reading experience: paper.li

We stumbled upon a lovely and promising web app called “paper.li”. The app organizes twitter feeds into a newspaper-format. Shall publishers and marketing departments soon embrace this innovative technology? Or does the technology need to support multiple output formats before they do?

paper-li - create a newspaper of linked articles on Twitter feed

paper-li - create a newspaper of linked articles on Twitter feed

Your Twitter Feed as a Newspaper

The functionality and benefits of this web technology could not have been summarized better than by the organization that developed the tools. Here it is:

“paper.li organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy to read newspaper-style format. Newspapers can be created for any Twitter user, list or #tag. A great way to stay on top of all that is shared by the people you follow – even if you are not connected 24/7!” – source: paper.li

The Whispering_Web Daily

Of course we’ve been playing around with it and truly love it: great product.
Have a look at the Whispering Web Daily!

Output for other media?

How will the publishing industry and brands embrace this? Will it be a necessity for paper.li to generate an iPad compatible “website”? Will those groups ask for a different experience, such as presenting the stream in the format of a “leaf-through digital document”? Will traditional publishers feel the need to organize the stream in a printable document? Stated differently: is a truly personalized newspaper to become reality in this manner?

Just one more thing: developer of the app embraces Social CRM

As we are publishing this article, the application is being updated. We wonder what the new features will be. Looking forward to it.

But what’s at least equally important: SmallRivers – the app developer – not only builds innovative solutions. It also innovates its operations. In this respect, one could state that they strive to practice concepts as “Social CRM”, “BMI” and “enterprise 2.0″.

The update made clear that SmallRivers’ Customer Service deploys social media to inform their customers. In practice: twitter is used to inform them about the ongoing update. Just great!

Social CRM, one aspect for BMI and enterprise 2.0 (e2.0)?

Social CRM, one aspect for BMI and enterprise 2.0 (e2.0)?

Social CRM via Twitter - Enterprise 2.0

Social CRM via Twitter - Enterprise 2.0

Facebook's history of innovations. What's next?

Facebook - online social network

Facebook - online social network

Facebook is pushing its latest product innovations hard these days. Only within the last three months we have seen the launch of Facebook places, Facebook Groups and Facebook Messaging.

The history of the enterprise seems a history of innovations. What is the next innovation and where will this end?

Facebook: a history of innovations

  • Facebook as a platform is innovative by nature: it redefined our social experiences. Hence, this technology had a tremendous impact on how people construct their identity. From time to time we tend to note a “I publish, so I am-trend”, meaning that if it didn’t happen on Facebook (or there are no traces on Facebook) it didn’t happen.
  • Secondly, with their “connect to facebook” technology, the social sharing experience was opened up to third-party apps.
  • The third innovation that we wish to bring forward is the implementation of the like button across the web. This might seem an easy trick but has loads of consequences. And it’s extremely nice for a savvy marketer! Why? Guess this is food for another blog post…
  • Finally, the innovative new messaging system which is rumored for bringing together text messaging, instant messaging and e-mail messaging. It seems as the Facebook Messaging Innovation took a classic “melt-to-innovate” approach.

Will the next innovation be mobile?

The question for us is: what will be next? What could be Facebook’s next big innovation? Let’s have some ideas flow on that …

Facebook Places @ Olympia London

Facebook Places @ Olympia London

  • Would a photo book app on top of Facebook be innovative? And what if you could collaborate with your friends on the creation of that photo book?
  • Would an e-newspaper based on posted articles by friends be innovative? In this manner you can leaf through a digital newspaper that contains all news shared by your network.
  • What are the chances they further develop an “office suite” on top of it? Would that be innovative? Would that impact the way employees work? Would it mean the definitive break-through of enterprise 2.0? After all Facebook obtained Docs from Fuse Labs that will allow to co-create and share text documents, spreadsheets and PDF directly within Facebook with all friends, family and (especially) colleagues.
  • Is the next big thing in the mobile sphere with Facebook Places? Shall we get suggestions to drink a beer with a friend in the bar behind the corner? Will it embrace AR technology?
  • Or will Facebook evolve into the basis for artificial intelligence, as one of the main (Russian) investors believes?

Framing innovation

Innovation is about adaptation! We don’t want to bother you with theoretical facts about the adaption of technological innovations, but please realize that in the end, it are always the people who decide whether an innovation becomes a mainstream success or not. For those interested in the theory on innovation & adaptation: it follows the statistical distribution known as Gauss.

Gauss graph - diffusion of innovation

Gauss graph - diffusion of innovation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 693 other followers

%d bloggers like this: