By now, we have experimented with and used various social networks.
Twitter, Facebook, Snap, WeChat, Instagram, Tiktok, WhatsApp are the leading ones.
Each of them implement social interactions in unique ways.
Twitter is the most contentious. People are there to engage back and forth, but it has been hijacked by bots and trolls. Twitter is no doubt the place for breaking news, but that aspect has been overshadowed. The pace of innovation of Twitter has been very slow.
Facebook started with a news feed of Friends posts sprinkled with ads. Over the years it has expanded to support business pages, groups, News etc. Facebook has real identification so it has no bot problem. Facebook has dealt with content moderation better than most.
Tiktok doesn’t have a social graph per se. It’s an algorithmically driven feed of videos that you get to see and adapts based on your viewing habits.
The unique proposition of SnapChat is that nothing lasts forever. Disappearing messages is its strong suite.
WhatsApp is not a social network per se, but a large number of people spend lots of time on it messaging their friends, relatives and groups. Many businesses conduct business over WhatsApp.
So a lot of experiments have been done. Advertising is the primary revenue driver in these networks.
What does the future hold? Will we move towards closed communities of people that have common interests or will the advertising driven open network persist? Will subscriptions be the future of social networks?
I prefer communities that organize around interests.Instead of making a person the center of the social graph, one’s interests would dictate the graph they become part of.
Social networks should focus on providing tools and a great user experience around communities.
If the network is focussed around communities, how do creators find their audience and make money? It is an interesting question. Tiktok and Instagram Reels surface videos from people that I have no connection with. That has enabled a vast creator economy.
I think Facebook has thought through these issues deeper than others. The trio of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp covers a general purpose social platform, interest driven media and WhatsApp being the platform for communities.