I find myself largely in a similar boat with Justin Williams in terms of how he uses the various social networks out there.
His thoughts on Path strike me as something I’m hearing a lot now amongst the people I know and/or follow:
Path: I never used the original version of Path, but I love using the new version as a way to give my closest friends and family members an inside look into my daily life.2 More than just sharing my own content, I enjoy seeing what my friends are sharing on it. Path is what I enjoyed most about Facebook before it turned into the Internet platform: a social network for your private, personal network.
Sadly, so do his thoughts on Flickr:
Flickr: Flickr is my least used service right now, which is sad. The personal photos I used to share on Flickr now go to Facebook and I reserve Flickr for any “real” photography I may do. As I rarely get out with my camera these days, that usage is becoming less and less. Their lack of a great mobile experience also limits its glance-ability when I am on the go.
I’m still paying for Flickr and I basically never use it anymore. Instagram has long since become my go-to photo service (as it is for Williams).
His use of Stamped to replace Yelp is interesting. I like that idea, I just don’t think they’re quite there in terms of content volume just yet.
While Williams calls Google+ the “nerdier variant of Facebook”, I still haven’t really figured out how that social network fits into my routine yet. I share most of my links there, but I see very, very few click backs as a result (more on that in a post yet to come). The conversation is usually lively, but it delves into trolling way too quickly. Essentially, it’s like FriendFeed on steroids.
Williams’ usage of Twitter may be the most interesting:
I also obsessively delete replies after I am sure the person it is directed to has read it. When someone visits my Twitter profile for the first time I want them to decide whether to follow or not based on the content I produce, not the conversions I have with other users.
I’ve never heard of anyone doing that before. It’s intriguing, but it seems like it would be a huge pain in the ass and I’m not sure I agree with removing content after you put it out there for all to see (though @replies aren’t seen by all, to be fair).
Williams broader point about social network overlap is a good one. Most of us are at the point now where if a new social network comes into our lives, it means getting rid of an old one — Flickr -> Instagram, for example. That’s a pretty big problem for new social networks going forward. They can’t just be good, they have to be really, really good to make up for a switching cost. Or they have to be totally different — but even something totally different means time spent there instead of elsewhere. Something will probably be cut.
Your service now can’t just be a time-waster, it has to be good enough to make the cut.
Just about right. The meta-point I don’t see in most articles is that no one wanted a social network. We wanted a way to communicate or share photos or restaurants. Facebook was a means to that end. It’s a single step on the journey.
If you want success in a “network” the key I think is asking what underlying problem you are solving.
G+ doesn’t today solve anything beyond Facebook. So I don’t use it. Path is pretty but I don’t (yet) have enough close friends there to use it. And so it goes.