Falling flat on its Face(book)
Vince has been writing about using social media to market the new Secret Archives of the Vatican album, Barbary Lion. Vince and I use the internet as our primary marketing tool for our music (and the music we release on BDR Dancefloor) so it’s only natural we also consider future trends in how social-media will develop.
I’ve just read this interesting article about how Facebook‘s European and North American growth pattern is beginning to mirror that of MySpace (RIP). I’m not a fan of Facebook; I think its business model, whilst pure genius, is disgusting. In my opinion Facebook feeds you gossip and the opportunity to snoop around in people’s lives in return for you looking at adverts perfectly targeted to you because you have already given every piece of personal information they asked for. Hypocritically (or cynically), I do use Facebook, but now I use it purely to develop/promote my own interests.
In the most recent edition of the Harvard Business Review (HBR, July-August 2011) you can read about how mainstream capitalists are finally processing how crowd-sourcing can revolutionise a regular corporation’s workforce. HBR‘s article comes under the banner of Hyperspecialization (I’m choosing to use their American spelling) and those of us who have been hanging around online and interested in the media for a decent amount of time will know that Hyperspecialized would be a good word to describe the place to where the media and specifically the music industry is also headed.
What if social-networking were to follow suit in a big way? There are already services such as Ning to let you create your own (usually) interest led social networks. Services such as Blellow allow you to network with people who have similar work pattern to you (web-workers). Looking to more popular environments, what are MMPOGs if not a type of specialised social network? To be slightly more relevant, Jo Rowling has just announced Pottermore, a social network/online book club for fans of the Harry Potter series of books (and I guess films, although I am not sure she mentions them in the initial video). She’s giving away 1,000,000 beta invites which I am sure will be snapped up quickly and will certainly (due to the obsessive nature of Harry Potter fans
like me) mean that 1,000,000 folks are going to be spending much less time on Facebook. I’ve also begun to use a site called Flowd which is a music focused social network which allows me to interact with artists and receive promotional freebies just like MySpace used to, but without the badly coded website, spam, and more spam. I like using new social networks so Flowd is great for me as it scratches my musical itches and gives me that online pioneer buzz! When Pottermore launches that will be another draw away from Facebook, which may mean less time pimping my music and record label but more time relaxing and dreaming of actually being a wizard.
What’s also good, from my point of view, about these specialised social networks is that I am not tempted to post pictures of my family and friends onto them. They have a reason to exist and that gives me a framework to interact within. Nobody on Flowd wants to see pictures of my Mum at a barbeque and I imagine on Pottermore I will only find people who only want to talk about Horcruxes and Hogwarts and not look at photos of my dog. This means like I feel (and if nothing else that’s something) like I am regaining some control over my privacy.
This specialisation is yet to happen but I’m sure I can see people’s internet use moving this way. Some would argue that this might happen on sites like Facebook, using them as a platform but I think people will, naturally, get bored and starting looking for something new. The stats from the BBC, no me, show that this will start in Europe and North America and spread back through the world.
I’m hopeful that the global internet population will not be fooled into giving all of their personal information to just one company (in return for bite-sized pieces of gossip about their ‘friends’) again. Sadly it remains a huge possibility that we (Europeans and North Americans) will move en-masse to an online service that will simply replace Facebook.