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Continued Evidence Niche Social Networks are Coming

February 9, 2012

In recent days we observed three posts that, while covering different topics, all seem to be building the case for niche-social.  Our prior posts on this topic can be found here.

First, this post is the most direct.  Penned by a VC whom we admire and link to often, he actually reveals his conviction regarding the coming “fragmentation of social media”.

I am totally convinced that the world of social media is not consolidating around one “winner takes all” social platform. Instead, the world of social media is fragmenting into dozens of social platforms that are best of breed for a certain kind of social engagement.

By the way, another important message in the post had to do with reasearch predicting that “[social media} volume (number of mentions) was not a good predictor of popularity. Volume was more of a trailing indicator than a leading indicator.  But dispersion, or what Dina calls Entropy, turned out to be a very reliable leading indicator of popularity of a TV show. The wider and broader the discussion of the TV show went within online social media, the more likely the show was to become popular.”  Fred went on to connect the dots:

…it occurred to me that dispersion/entropy can be gained by engaging on multiple social platforms. The number of likes on Facebook or tweets on Twitter is volume and is likely to be a trailing indicator of popularity. But if you track the essential social gestures across the fragmenting landscape of social platforms, likes, tweets, tumbls, checkins, pins, etc, then you get a measure of dispersion that may well be a leading indicator of popularity or the slope of the popularity curve.

Second, my wife passed this piece my way about Pintrest which she has really taken a liking to.  Pintrest, in case you haven’t heard, is now holds the record as the fastest site to hit 10 million users and fills a niche as a social bookmarking site simply focused on sharing photos (and, increasingly videos).   Here’s what struck me:

As tech entrepreneur Elad Gil insightfully explained in an article on his blog last month, sharing on the Web has been following three parallel trends.

The first is that sharing involves less effort over time.

The second is that social sites are becoming more visual over time.

And the third is that “people-centric” recommendations are being augmented by “topic-centric” networks — which is to say that while Facebook lets you explore the Web through information shared by friends, newer social networks organize content by topics of interest. Some in the technology industry call this the “interest graph.”

It’s the topic-centricity that resonates most as a big driver for niche-social.

Finally, we’ll warn readers up-front that this next post we’ll use as further evidence of the coming wave of niche-social is, compared to the prior two, a bit more academic and theoretical. We will now drill down on some important technology infrastructural advances that we believe will facilitate unbounded advances in niche-social.  In the latest installment to “Mike and Roger’s Hypernet Blog“- an important new blog we have mentioned in the past–  our esteemed authors present some observations we will borrow to paint a picture on how the blurred distinctions between mobile, desktop, browsers and apps will seamlessly facilitate ‘birds of a feather who wish to flock together’.  Roger and Mike observe some fundamental changes we excerpt below:

  1. That Apple changed the smart phone market is well understood.   But the more important and subtle change has been that the new devices that we have put into our pockets and purses have changed the fundamental architecture of the Internet.  This is Big Change #1.  From this first big change emerges the Hypernet.  More precisely, the Hypernet is the physical infrastructure that results from combining the Internet with cellular and WiFi.  At present, half of the nodes are computers and half are smart phones, but the balance is shifting away from computers.
  2. The Hyperweb is the new user experiences enabled by a world of billions of nodes connected to millions of clouds.  Another key aspect to the Hyperweb is our belief that HTML5 will be a fundamentally important building block.  Big Change #2 is that the Hyperweb will move past browsers and pages…
  3. … To create new ways to link content and with each other…

Mike and Roger go on to say “Hyperweb experiences will redefine our expectations of how we interact with technology.  Today, we interact with web services via browsers and windows and PCs and graphical apps on tablets and smartphones.  But in the future, there will be entire new experiences that result from a new way of linking the billions of smart nodes in our lives to the millions of smart clouds that will deliver services by themselves as well as through their interactions with each other”

While we warned up front, the material would be a bit out-there,  we hope you are making the same connections that we are.  Our devices and the software that drives them will be interconnected and ubiquitous.  If you see the possibility of the argument Fred makes in point 1 that social will fragment.  And you also see the tendency of people in real life to group around topics, as illustrated in point 2, then an interconnected devices-wherever-you-are world will allow birds-of-a-feather to connect and share like never before.

We predict the niche social web will pop up first in places where people tend to be most passionate… like sports, politics, religion, and food.  Oh look… at 12:20 the following Reuters release came thru: “Glam Media launches social network for food lovers“.   Now maybe we wont have to suffer through all those silly food pics on Facebook!  Go to foodie.com and share ’em with people who actually give a @#$%!

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