October 21, 2017

The Social Network I Want

I love social networking. I’ve got an account on almost every service you’ve never heard of, and even the ones you have heard of. When a new social media service launches you can bet I’ll have an invite waiting. When somebody at the office has a social media question, I’m the guy they turn to.

But I still haven’t found a social network that does what I want a social network to do.

I list my friends on Facebook. I tell the world what I’m working on at LinkedIn. I tell them what I’m doing on Twitter, where I’m doing it on FourSquare, how much I spent on Blippy, and even show them pictures on DailyBooth. ( feel free to friend me on any of these – except FaceBook – I keep that just to a close circle of friends. )

But why can’t I do all of that on one service?

Let’s take a common chore for example: Business meeting at Olive Garden. To share this event with the world I’d first go to LinkedIn and update my ‘working on.’ Then I’d head over to Twitter and post something like “never ending pasta bowl at olive garden is going to wreak havoc on my new years resolution.” When I got there, I’d check in on the FourSquare app on my iPhone. I may even use my phone to take a picture of my huge plate of pasta and upload it to DailyBooth. When I pay the bill with my American Express card, it will show up on Blippy the next day. All of the details of my trip have been recorded using various social networks, but it was a pain in the ass to track.

Then there’s the whole issue of who I went to lunch with. Everyone has a LinkedIn, but only 2 of the 4 people had a Twitter and I’m only following one of them. They’ve never heard of DailyBooth, and only one other person has a FourSquare account. In fact, he’s the Mayor of that Olive Garden. Tying them all together to the event would be a nightmare. There’s just no way to do it.

What I want is one social network that encompasses all of that. From one App on my iPhone I should be able to snap a picture, type in a description, tag all my friends, and upload it. It will use the GPS to know where I’m at. Anybody following the feed will see a thumbnail of the picture with a “lunch meeting at Olive Garden” description and a nice clickable link that takes them to a full resolution picture, names and links to profiles of attendees, a Google map of the restaurant complete with tips, how much I spent, a place to comment, a listing of all the mentions and replies to this event, and links to other recent events at this place.

It should all be in one place, nice and neat, and fully encompassing all of the details of my lunch experience. Instead, I’ve got it all spread out over various social networks that most of my friends and colleagues haven’t even heard of. Furthermore, I’ve got different login names on some of the services. Sure my Twitter, Blippy and FourSquare are all RyanJones but on LinkedIn I go by Jonesy because it already had a RyanJones. My Facebook name is something completely different. There’s no way an average person could tie them all together if I wanted them to.

So Why Don’t I Build It? While all of this data is technically public, it’s not entirely open. Not all of these services have RSS feeds, Widgets, or APIs that somebody could pull from. Furthermore, I don’t really control any of the data on these services – they do. Trying to hack together a usable service from all of the existing social networks is possible, but not practical; and it doesn’t even begin to address the fact that I’d still need to have an account on each of them.

This is a problem that somebody like Twitter, Facebook, or Google need to address in order to fix. Only they have the reach and user base to truly build an awesome social network. Adding another social network on top of the established ones doesn’t seem like it would solve this problem. Ideally somebody like Twitter needs to grab the horse by the reins and start implementing all of these features. They’ve already got the infrastructure, and all of these features have already been coded by somebody – they just haven’t been properly integrated. Once they’re integrated, then the cool stuff can begin.

Think about not only being able to easily update everything, but about all the information you can glean from updates on such a system. Who else bought what I’m buying, where did they buy it? did they get a better deal? I mentioned all of that earlier on my Blippy post, but you can take it to the next level when you incorporate more data than just pricing.

Sure, it may seem pretty lame when I talk about lunch at Olive Garden, but what about events like SES where tons of people are all thrown upon an unsuspecting downtown area for a few days? You could get some pretty cool who’s doing what with who when and where style recommendations. In a new town? No problem, show me what other people who came here also did. Oh, wow people who ate at this pizza place also caught a movie at this cinema? People who ate at this chic BBQ joint also visited this bar and later rented this movie on Netflix? I should check that out. (NetFlix doesn’t realize it yet, but they’re sitting on a huge social network potential too.) You can easily see where this is all going. Then there’s all the new possibilities involving new kinds of ad targeting. Done right this system could be a marketer’s dream AND provide useful, relevant ads that people actually want to see.

Social media right now is fun, but only when you put it all together do you unlock the true potential. I’m rather excited to see where social media goes in the next few years. One thing is for sure though: wherever it does go, I’ll be there.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com

Comments

  1. The possibilities become even more awesome when you start to use such a service as an identity provider – similar to the route FaceBook is currently going.

    But that’s a topic for another post.

  2. Ryan,

    I totally agree with where you’re going in this article. Clearly much of this can be accomplished by simply working with the various APIs of the different social networks but I agree that some of it would be tough.

    We’re trying to fix a lot of these problems on our new site and hopefully we will , but I think you’re summing it up in a better way than even we are attempting straight out and we can learn and do better based on your blog comments.

    Thanks!

    John Gotts
    Co-Founder & CEO
    http://www.chum.ly