Perhaps “killing” is an aggressive word, another might be maturation or natural selection. Our nearly three years of researching consumer and citizen behaviour in Social Media has taught us a lot and enabled us to see some interesting trends now that we’ve been at it a while. Chief among them now is how people are deciding the fate of existing and new Social Media apps and services. We suspect 2010 may be a year of attrition and consolidation.
Consumers in the U.S., Canada and England tend to actively (i.e. create content and interact) use only 3 services on a regular basis (more than 4 hours per week.) Other services are used about once every two weeks, on average. This is usually tends to be one Social Network app (i.e. Facebook or Bebo), one time-sensitive app (i.e. Twitter or Instant Messaging) and one video app (i.e. YouTube.)
We can clearly see the economic concept of the Solidarity Value at work in Social Media. As in the more people using a service the more inherent value it gains, socially and economically. Twitter owns the microblog space; Plurk and Identi.ca lost out. Facebook owns the Social Network space, MySpace is on a steady decline and lost that race. Facebook has already acquired FriendFeed in August of 2009.
But what we’re also seeing is an interesting trend towards specialized Social Networking sites; such as for cultures, hobbies or life-interests. This trend is just emerging as far as we’re seeing, but has been trending upwards over the past 6 months. For marketers, we suggest monitoring this trend since people tend to spend the most time on the things that they are most passionate about.Obviously.
As we have an abundance of information and a scarcity of attention, the same goes for Social Media services – people can only spend so much time using any set of services. And now we’re starting to see habits emerge as these channels and services become more commonplace in our daily media consumption lives.
When it comes to age groups and this pattern, it repeats itself. In fact, the younger the age, the more “closed” loop they like their services to be (i.e. txt messaging, IMing and Facebook.) Added to this factor is the increasing “interoperability” between services (i.e. aggregating your activities into one place like Buzz or Facebook.) More on that later.
All of this is pointing to a trend that will see a significant increase in the fight to gain peoples membership in free and freemium services and to keep them there. That will be a tough challenge ahead.
(Author: Giles Crouch)