Are Stand-Alone Social Networks Done?

“New stand-alone social networks are a thing of the past,” writes Charles Arthur in the UK’s The Guardian.  “The current crop of social networks meets all our needs, he argues, leaving little room for upstart competitors.”

I don’t think so.

First, beware of anyone who predicts the future confidently.  Sociologists tell us that the world reinvents itself more frequently now and at a faster pace than at any other time in history.  Everything around you has changed and is changing.  It’s a relevant question: Have you? 

Most of us bury our heads when change comes and pretend the changes won’t affect us.  Get your snicker on and read some famous statements in the face of change:

• “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.” -Lee DeForest, “Father of the Radio,” 1926.

• “The ordinary ‘horseless carriage’ is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.” – The Literary Digest, 1889

• “What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?”
-The Quarterly Review, 1825

• “The energy necessary to propel the ship would be many times greater than that required to drive a train of cars at the same speed; hence as a means of rapid transit, aerial navigation could not begin to compete with the railroad.” – Popular Science magazine, 1897

• “The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it today. Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient. To this compulsory combination we shall have to adjust ourselves.” – Dr. Alfred Velpeau, 1839 (anesthesia was introduced seven years later)

• “Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein.”  Decca Records remark when turning down manager Brian Epstein’s group, The Beatles in 1962

•“At present, few scientists foresee any serious or practical use for atomic energy. They regard the atom-splitting experiments as useful steps in the attempt to describe the atom more accurately, not as the key to the unlocking of any new power.” – Fortune magazine, 1938

• And my personal favorite: “No woman in my time will be prime minister or chancellor or foreign secretary – not the top jobs.” – Margaret Thatcher, 1970

Second, are you really satisfied with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?

Most people aren’t Facebook just surpassed cable telecommunications companies and cellular carriers for dis-satisfaction survey results (move over Xfinity/Comcast).

LinkedIn is fast becoming the new Facebook with people doing more than just connecting. Members are now sending out useless messages to their connections a la Facebook (requesting votes for them on web sites, telling what they are doing in a mundane affair, etc.).

I present before thousands each month and ask who is on Twitter. Less than 1% admit it and some of them have no clue how to use it. Few have grasped its potential, as seen by their tweets and postings.

YouTube is still growing and multiplying.

It would be difficult to see an upstart on the horizon, but that is just what Facebook was three years ago before it unseated MySpace.

Who would have seen that occurring then? The answer…No one.  Beware anyone speaking in absolutes and predicting the end of a phenomenon prematurely.  They are almost always prematurely wrong.


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