Social Media Evolution, Are We Losing The Social Part?

An example of a social network diagram.
Image via Wikipedia

Over the weekend, Mark Evans made the claim that social media is going to disappear. If you read the post, you will realize that the title is more like link bait because Mark’s main idea is that social media is going to evolve.

social media as a hyperbole-driven, standalone, new-kid-on-the-block entity is going to evolve into a communications, marketing and sales strategy and distribution vehicle that happens to rely on a variety of valuable and useful online services.

He goes on to reiterate the 3 elements of social media success, communications, tools and engagement. This is not overly surprising as it is something that many people have been saying for a while. However, I think Mark did not go far enough and should have made a point of his title. Social media will disappear as a standalone entity. Social is gaining acceptance in almost every area of the internet. As social elements are integrated into every application, they slowly fade into the background. One example of the evolution is Facebook. They have evolved from a “pure” social network into a platform for sharing within your group of friends. As we speak, their platform and APIs are opening things up even more so that the social connections may not need to exist.

Social elements have become an assumed feature. The social connections have almost been relegated to infrastructure. The real question we should be answering is, “Is this a good thing?” The idea of social networks made sense by themselves, connect with people you know and keep them informed of what you are doing. We may have used email for sending simple messages, but the ability to broadcast quick notes and share photos is much more powerful than email. As you can see from the new Facebook homepage, the social connections are not at the forefront, activity is.

I am not convinced that giving everything a social component is required. I am also not convinced that there needs to be one application that rules them all. Facebook is trying to become the destination for everything that you do on the internet. That is fine for them as a business, but I like to have the best tool for each job. By pushing the social connections to the background, Facebook is losing the networking concept and possibly giving an opening to other networking sites like LinkedIn. This only matters if sites like LinkedIn do not follow the same course as Facebook, but it looks like they are.

By evolving social media in the direction that it is going, we are losing the social part. People see the benefits of making the connections and the power of the network, but once the connections are made, sites seem to be targeting other things. Keeping the connections and making those connections stronger may be more important. Or do people think that we have already built our core social networks and now we need to use them?

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