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Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Social Networks shrinking - what are people using them for anyway?

Just a little while ago, the cross-section of the technology and marketing world was abuzz (and probably still is) with the idea of social networking and the possibilities to reach consumers in new ways with products and services.

Facebook

The first chinks in the armour are starting to appear. Yesterday, the Guardian published a story citing Nielsen figures on a decline of 5% in UK Facebook users. Similarly, MySpace also saw a 5% drop.

Now, 5% doesn't seem to be too much but if you put it against the context of all the furore that's been going on around Facebook applications, forced invites and the (belated) measures Facebook are taking to respond, the message is starkingly clear - it's time for social networks to clean up their act, literally.

People don't want to receive spam from hundreds of different applications just because they have a couple of hundred friends who have vastly different interests and perhaps a few shared ones.

Facebook was appealing because it could let friends connect in groups of shared interests of play games they both had an interest in playing. It started to get painful when there were too many friends each trying to "recruit" you into playing their game. (I get about 12 vampire bites a day).

So, the final word in Social Networking (at least for now) seems to be "Niche." Personally, I think Facebook has the potential to be precisely that by allowing people of similar interests (Groups) to connect with one another whilst making it simple to ignore and clear the clutter of the myriad of other stuff that doesn't interest them.

I've asked a couple of friends about what they do on Facebook and while initially Vampires and Zombies were all the rage, the excitement has died down and it's become a really practical communication tool for these people. For most of them, it's about sharing pictures, posting comments, dropping personal messages and being a part of a group with similar interests. And of course, the odd app or two should still be there.

Niche doesn't have to mean a social network that's just built around one purpose (look at the very successful LinkedIn). Instead, I think it's going to mean more and more the sort of flexible network that will let you carve your own space and find your own niche without having to drown in mass messaging.

Facebook's clean up act could mean just that.

8 comments:

KY said...

don't ask me to join ur movie quiz ok! :P

Chong Su Ann, Iviane said...

and some people's pages are so filled with applications that my laptop stop responding to! everytime i click onto pages like that, it goes "internet explorer not responding". argh!

how to keep intouch with everyone from the land downunder like that!! @#@!#@$#%#^%

suanie said...

now i just click click click to see pikchures

davidlian said...

@KY: What movie quiz? It's just there on my page and people just do it.

@Iviane: How's it down under? Be like me, remove and refuse to add apps. But it's so tempting isn't it?

@Suanie: Yeah, I also click click see piktures. Of me.

ShaolinTiger said...

Why don't you just block the vampires application then?

I just block the application every time I get an invite I don't want.

I hardly get any now as there's only a few popular apps.

Learn to use Facebook la, don't blame it :P

davidlian said...

@ST: Exactly what I'm talking about. Like many other people, I just discovered the ability to block apps, because previously, the option wasn't on the app itself. Yeah, but you're right, users need to start taking control, but it's also the network that needs to give users the control

Chong Su Ann, Iviane said...

if adelaide's the first on the list, malaysia must be the last.

maybe not that bad... second last? :P

davidlian said...

@Iviane: :) sounds like you're having fun. Malaysia is still okay lah by my standards, but I miss Perth.