I am absolutely convinced that we are the cusp of a major social culture change, and we’re not having enough conversations about it. My obsession with this change really started with a dating app. Not as a user (well I lie), but as a tool that can connect people.
So here’s a quick primer. Tinder is perhaps the fastest growth story as an app (it started back in Oct’12). Suddenly, there was a brand new way of meeting people. A very real way of how we will start to meet new people. Now perhaps you’ve had luck or you haven’t, but you can’t deny that apps such as Tinder is the new reality. Obviously, now the apps just have to deliver better, and they will have to curate, and make sure people are connecting with relevant people, and not just for singles. If you’re following LinkedIn, they’re trying to up their mobile game, and adding some relevance to actually becoming a social network, rather than the yellow pages for work.
You’re probably have been on Tinder or you haven’t. And if you haven’t I implore you to try it out, even it’s just to witness the change in the communication era. So in about 3 years, Tinder has become a global phenomena. It has changed the very fabric of how we will start to meet. 3 years! Can we even comprehend what that means for the future? So really, 3 years is not that long a time. And we already have thousands of niche dating apps that have sprung up. So in a manner of speaking, no matter how big a freak you are, you will find a bigger freak on some niche app. Dating apps (and not constrained only to singles), are going to become the primary way of how we will meet people in this digital age (it’s just a lot more cost effective really). And meeting people for love (dating) or for money (networking), are two sides of the same coin.
And since we’re so vested in the human race, and it begs the question if this is right or wrong. I think evolution is the market (and the market is what it is). We’re too small in the grand scheme of things to judge the market. But all said and done, the internet is the evolution of a true free enterprise (something we’ve been talking about for a very long time). It’s giving you very real options of meeting people whom you never would have met otherwise in your own circles. When any of us can become overnight celebrities, and individuals have the ability to impact a large number of people, it’s opening up new channels for all of us. And if you’re a marketer, you probably know this better than me, and perhaps a lot more frustrated.
The Saturation of the Market
And I came up with a phenomena of the ‘dating apocalypse’. The theory is that we are so exhausted with swiping left and right that we’re starting to lose our marbles. Well, that’s the gist of the story. And this is a very interesting phenomena for all social networks. Facebook was so much better when the noise-level was not so high. Or maybe when Tinder had a more curated crowd. The scale of the networks especially when it attracts brands on social media, leads to explosion of noise (shitty content), that I think this will make Instagram much more valuable today, than it will be 3 years from now. This content is such a funny word. I never really used this word in any context before. So today, the brands (or their agencies who are selling digital to them) are under so much pressure to deliver on social media, that we have all kinds of content going out. And that is absolutely ruining why these social networks started with. Let’s think about this for a second. The primary idea for Facebook was to connect with friends. It’s less about that, but has become a full media company now. So we have people who are friends and exchanging content with friends, and then we have all these brands (sharks) who are trying to figure out how to get your attention. And that is leading to explosion of noise, which is why the influential social crowd typically is migrating to niche networks (Instagram and Snapchat). After all, the social networks are very young right now.
Even if you disagree with this, you will agree that Facebook is pushed you into a sub-circle within your Facebook friends. You’re not meeting new people, or even exchanging relevant content anymore, as we used to back in the early days of Facebook. Which is why Instagram has really become a more private platform to keep those niche communities, well niche. And the beauty of Instagram is how well it connects you to influencers is such a seamless manner is astounding (at least from a startup’s perspective).
Which is why I think Facebook is going to become one large network for all the earthlings, with enough data to predict our behavior and maybe even run countries, and we’re going to have sub-networks that are niche. These are dating and social apps, or whatever content sharing platforms that come up. We’re talking about thousands of social communities that really add value in depth, vs the width. Because if time (user’s attention span) is of the only currency that we (brands/marketers) are vying for from the users, then building a platform that values time, will sustain in the next decade.
So if you’re a marketer, my advise is not to fall in love with how you make money. If you’re spending a lot of time understanding and building the Instagram platform, know that the market may switch platforms very fast and you’re going to have to adapt very quickly.
For whatever reasons, we never had an app for A World Alike. I really couldn’t put together a platform that would make sense to me. After two years, we are finally coming up with an app in the next few weeks that will connect a niche crowd over shared worlds – singles, social & professional. Check us out on: www.aworldalike.com.
Founder, A World Alike