When does a social network become too successful?
If someone had told me two years ago I would be using Twitter as my personal daily newswire, I doubt I would have believed them.
But these days it’s the first thing I look at when I wake up. Where did I first hear about the Japan earthquake, or the death of Osama bin Laden? You guessed it.
Twitter also tells me about the businesses that are important in my media universe, and the sports I follow for my personal one.
Like most people who aren’t Mark Zuckerberg or Biz Stone, I’m more than a little stunned by the stellar rise of social media. LinkedIn, Facebook (with its back story now the subject of an Oscar-nominated film, no less) and Twitter have fast become communications channels in their own right.
But now this market is edging toward maturity, we are getting a clearer picture of where the cracks might appear.
Is the ubiquity of social networking verging on intrusive? Are we starting to lose our respect for privacy? Does the immediacy of a social network channel – the very thing that fuelled its growth – start to undermine it once a tipping point of popularity has been reached? I am no longer on Facebook – too many requests for ‘friends’ to sift through – and my LinkedIn profile is now looked after by my PA.
Even if it finds a way to stay relevant and personal once its membership numbers hit eight, nine or 10 figures, such channels face the temptation to generate ever-increasing income – a point not missed by the writers of The Social Network. Once a channel becomes a marketing tool instead of a social network, it can only be on a slippery slope.
The next two years will no doubt throw up further seismic shifts in the social media sector. Anyone care to make any predictions?