I’m not an obituary writer…

…nor am I a medical professional.  However, I have to call “BS” on the increasingly popular notion that social networks are “dying.”  Growth, especially domestic growth, may be slowing, but according to ComScore, the number of people joining social networks is still growing at an 11.5% rate.  That’s incredible, given how many people are already participating in social networks. 

I was surprised that in a recent blog post, Greg Linden (of amazon, findory.com, and now microsoft fame) seemed to be jumping on the bandwagon, saying that Social Networks are in trouble.  I thought Greg would share my view that this isn’t a positive occurence, and a sign that social networks are maturing (or being forced to mature).    While I don’t see social networks dying anytime soon, they are definitely primed for change.  Users are fed up with certain aspects and wanting more.  In particular, they want personalization. 

As outlined in this Businessweek article, users are fed up with irrelevant advertising.  Spencer E. Ante and Catherine Holahan make this all real, when the describe the woes of Chris Heritage.  They write:

If you want to socialize with Chris Heritage, you won’t find him on Facebook. The 27-year-old Port St. Lucie (Fla.) business analyst joined the social network last year after his buddies bugged him to get an account. But he soon became fed up with the avalanche of ads, especially those detailing what his friends were buying, and he quit the site in November. Now, Heritage expresses himself through a blog, happy to pay $6 a month to publish on a promo-free Web site. “It’s worth it to not have to look at the ads,” he says.

I’m not sure the masses are moving away from Social Networking because of irrelevant ads.  I’ve always been surprised how little users care about ads being relevant.  But, I hope that I’m wrong — because consumer demand for relevant advertising could be a huge growth opportunity for online personalization. 

At the same time, it seems like the whole social networking/contact management is in desperate need of personalization intervention.  This was one of the major focal points at O’Reilly’s Graphing Social Patterns conference.   Charlene Li’s presentation hit this topic directly, in her presentation entitled “The Future of Social Networks.” 

 Hmmm…so, the death of social networking may lead to the rise of online personalization.  I like the sounds of that…


~ by matflec on March 9, 2008.

3 Responses to “I’m not an obituary writer…”

  1. […] This guy thinks the death of social networking will lead to the rise of online personalization (whatever that means) : https://individualrelevance.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/im-not-an-obituary-writer/ […]

  2. Hi Matt,

    Interesting post!

    I think the key line from Charlene’s presentation was that “social networks will be like air” in the future (next 5 – 10 years.) My coverage here — http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_future_of_social_networks.php

    What’s interesting is that I think a lot of what we’re focusing on right now on the web (semantic info, social context, popularity on ___ sites) will all be “like air” in 5 years.

    Once there is a framework sites can leverage, I think this will be obvious to everyone. However, as you know I’m a little biased 🙂

  3. As a former AOL’er who volunteered out this past January, I concur with Dossy especially surrounding the nature of the teams at AOL. There are a lot of passionate, devoted, talented, innovated sorts still at AOL , some there for more then 5 years and some of more recent vintage. Word of advice, watch out for the politicians – smoke them out (not hard ). Don’t under-estimate the tenacity of some of the remaining politicos . Good luck and wish the best for AOL Click https://twitter.com/moooker1

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