The (Cool) New Kids On The (Social Media) Block
To imagine a time before Facebook is not only difficult, but honestly is a little depressing too. And I speak for everyone when I say, Tweeting has become an activity as natural as breathing. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, the social media space will never be the same again. Though, they by no means invented social media, they have played a big role in reinventing it.
Inspired by the success these two have enjoyed, many have gone to town creating versions of their own, unfortunately not all have been met with the same amount of enthusiasm or success.
Today, we take a look at a few promising social sites, that will possibly help us answer the question a few of us have already been asking, ‘After Facebook and Twitter, what?’
1. Foursquare – Since its launch in 2009, this location-based mobile game doing double duty as a social networking platform has found ready and easy resonance with social media enthusiasts and other early adopters. In almost a year’s time, Foursquare has managed to convince more than seven hundred thousand people to give it a try. No mean task that, especially in the first year, for a service that targets a niche market of mobile users. Little surprise then that it is being hailed as the Twitter of 2010. With over 20 million ‘check-ins’ happening everyday, even pathological naysayers will find it difficult to dismiss it as a fad.
2. Gowalla – The fact that the next on the list is also a location-based social networking mobile game will readily attest to the importance of mobility and location in the social space. Though Gowalla originally got a head start on Foursquare, until the breakout success of its chief competitor, it was hardly able to mobilize that advantage. But a year on, things are certainly looking up for Gowalla, having tasted sweet victory by trumping Foursquare at SXSW to take home the best mobile app award for 2010. In comparison with Foursquare’s user stats, Gowalla’s 150,000 odd users may not look like anything worth writing home about, but over the last few months it has enjoyed a steady growth that is substantively impressive, as revealed by the recent deal with the Travel Channel, which echoes the Foursquare – Bravo Network deal, to integrate proprietary Travel Channel content (Food Wars to be precise) with the game.
3. Chatroulette – I almost didn’t believe it when I first read that the most talked about social app on the web, Chatroulette, is the brainchild of a 17 year old. Andrey Ternovskiy of Russia developed Chatroulette ‘for fun’ with no monetization plans, so that he and his friends could ‘randomly connect’ with people on the web. A good way to describe Chatroulette is as an online ‘speed dating’ game aided by webcams, but a better way will be as a game of chance meetings online. When you play a game of Chatroulette, you are automatically paired with a random player, with whom you can chat (text or video) and if at any point you wish to terminate the connection, you simply ‘next’ that person to initiate another connection. There is an inherent creep factor to Chatroulette (anything that involves video chatting strangers is bound to have one) that could prove to be a dissuasive factor, but the kind of response it has garnered has been extraordinary and indicates a strong user preference for video-based interactivity on the web. From the looks of it, Chatroulette could very well hold the key to the limitless possibilities of interactive communication on the web.
4. Yelp – Think the yellow pages, a local search engine and a social networking site all rolled into one – that’s Yelp for you. Though it is a little long in the tooth when compared with the other sites on this list (having been launched in 2004), Yelp’s true social powers were felt only post Facebook, and by that virtue, it merits a place on this list. Yelp has incorporated into it two of the hottest aspects of the web – social and location. You can search for local business, read user reviews of the same and build a network all at one place. That’s social networking with a purpose – really, what’s not to love about Yelp?
A few of these social services have already been made famous for their marketing compatibility, the others are in too nascent a stage for me to speculate on such abilities.
In the coming years, we may see them grow to give Facebook and Twitter competition, both as substantive social apps and as effective marketing platforms. What do you think? Will they lose momentum halfway through or will they succeed in sustaining the hype?