It’s hard to predict what kind of social apps people will want in the future.
Billions of dollars were spent building Facebook and Twitter, only to have the latest generation sidestep them into direct messaging apps like WhatsApp and SnapChat.
So how can we build what they’ll want five years from now? Or 50?
I think he only way to approach this intelligently is chart the various options and then have some sort of play in each of them.
If you’re Facebook, you should have a direct messaging app (this is likely why they made Facebook Messenger a separate app). And you should also have your close social group app (regular Facebook), and then some sort of image sharing app (they bought Instagram).
And you should be a portal, like AOL, which I wrote about here.
There are a finite number of options for how people will want to behave I think. They’ll expand and contract in direct and broadcast fashions, and I think ultimately everyone will be broadcasting their own personal lifecast channel to which people will subscribe.
The point is that if you’re smart in this game, you have a play in all the major areas, and you present some sort of value-add for using your version of each. So if you’re part of Instagram and Messenger, then you get extra perks on Facebook, or whatever. Not to mention unified login, shared friend lists (where appropriate), etc.
That’s the key: make an ecosystem of different things that sit under the one umbrella, and offer an ecosystem benefit for adding services.
Everyone’s sort of trying this, but I think only Facebook is getting it. And once their main page gets good enough search to satisfy customers (with the added context of friend knowledge), Google will indeed have reason to be frightened.