We’re already audio blogging a bit, and video is getting to be a more feasible option. I don’t know that it will get to the point where just to be seen you need to have video, not any time soon.
Not the way it is with blogging.
What I wish the next great thing would be is topical social networks. But I doubt it.
One reason is that until you can port your identity around on the web, or sites can recognize one standard profile, no one is gong to want to constantly have to create and update a new profile every time they log on.
Since the early web, the mainstream user seems to want to come online, visit a few standard places (email, social, news, search), and a few favorites, then go home.
Our job, if we want to push constant content to them, is to convince them why we should be allowed into their current favorite online destinations (such as their Inbox, via emailed newsletter sign-ups), or why they should add our site as a new favorite.
There’s always a point of “too many”, so we’re constantly fighting for a limited amount of attention.
Even if that attention grows it is scattered among more things.
For example, there was a point at which people didn’t want to view video online, because they would have to wait for it to stream into the browser enough that they could consume it.
Now that it’s faster, they’ve got YouTube. And while it’s great if your video is ON YouTube, the problem is that you’re competing with all the other people on YouTube.
Even if you can get them to view video directly from you (via podcast for example), you’re competing for time in the day.
If we assume they are awake for 17 hours a day, and work, eat, and are in transit from one place to another for ten hours, there’s still only 7 hours left of leisure, which they’ll split among other activities. Your target consumer may only be on the web a couple of hours a day.
If your video is ten minutes long, what will convince them to watch it? If your social network takes ten minutes to register and confirm, what will convince them it’s worth joining?
Not only do we need to compete for attention and time, when someone decides they have time for us, we have to convince them over the hurdle of creating yet another profile, for yet another site.
Yes, I can log into your site with Facebook.
But Facebook won’t pull in the link to my own website. It can’t tell you which email address I prefer to get reminder in, if at all. And it currently can’t push your email newsletter to my Facebook private messages.
There are similar problems with other ways of authenticating.
Until there is one ID system that knows
- how you like to be contacted without being spammed
- what your homepage is
- what geographical location you want to be associated with (which isn’t always where you physically are, so GPS is out)
- your date of birth
- who your existing friends on the new network are
and the other types of data you want to take with you, asking people to join your social network, instead of following your blog, may not be the answer.
Not to mention the fact that you’re asking for a bigger social commitment.
Reading a blog every day or so, commenting when you feel like it, that’s like a casual dating situation.
Joining a social network is much more like asking your readers to be in a serious on-going relationship. What good social network doesn’t require the commitment to participate?
Is your audience ready for that kind of commitment?
If you’re not, Ning may be the answer, at least for now.
Yes, I said “may”. And also “for now”.
With Ning, you can create a topical social network on a networking site many people already belong to. You can even map the subdomain they give you to your domain name, for a monthly fee.
To explain why I say it MAY be the answer, let’s do an exercise.
Let’s say you do set up a site on Ning. Here are the questions you now need the answers to, mostly in the affirmative, for your idea to have a prayer of working.
Is your audience big enough that the small percentage of them who will post to the forums and start their own blogs will be enough?
Expect about 10% of your current RSS Subscribers, and 1 – 10% of email subscribers to join. Only half of them will bother to do more than register unless you nudge them.
Given that, think about it again.
Do you have time to create content and spark discussion?
And provide video content?
Or moderate out spam content?
Or the money to pay someone else to do it?
Even if you do, your data is still tied to Ning. If you ever want to create your own, separate from Ning, who is going to export that data? And how?
And if you have a community now, who’s going to port all username/password information into Ning?
Maybe one day, Ning will let you subscribe to a service that lets you completely white-label its service.
You will still have to have a hot enough topic to keep it from being a ghost town.
Indeed, will your site topic ever be hot enough to get its own topical social networking site, forsaking all others – like Facebook, for instance?
Or do you need to be content with the option to have a Facebook presence rather than your own network?
Not every interest group can support their own social network, and of those that can, the first mover may be the one that prevails. There were at one time, thousands of forums about internet marketing.
But only the few best ones, and the special niche versions, survived.
And if you are the first mover, you have to really think about how you’ll create, maintain and push forward community.
No matter whether the custom social network is the answer, or whether it’s some other sub-section of social media that becomes our next obsession, it’s coming from the innovators.
So, social networking may be the next big thing in social media, or it may not. If it is, you have o make sure you’re ready for it.
I think that there are so few companies that can support that type of evolution, that while social networking will become more popular, it won’t be what business massive adopts the way we did we did with RSS, blogging, social bookmarking and other social media tools.
I believe the next big thing in social media is some existing invention we’re not aware of yet, or something that may have already been invented recently but is still on the fringes.
I had just finished writing about how great business blogging was when I waded knee deep into social media.
Now that social media sites like Twitter are spreading into widespread adoption, the people who alerted you to social media are already on the next boat.
The question for you to think of is, what is that next boat? The only hint I can give you right now is, watch the innovators and the early adopters who told us about RSS, blogging, social bookmarking, social networking and all the other new media.
As for me, I’ve got something cooking that I believe will change our relationship with online video forever, IF it can be pulled off, or is even technologically possible.
My idea, though immensely shareable, is also easily copied. If it’s not the right idea, launched at the right time, it may also only be effective in the short term.
So for right now, I’m just raising the question to encourage you to find your answer. So what is it? What are you going to do next in social media? What’s left to tackle? What do you think the next big thing will be?
In an upcoming post, I’m going to discuss what I believe the change in strategy should be, as far as small and local businesses, for blogging. Then this coming week, we’ll be talking about “what ifs” for the social media horizon.