Social Media beyond Facebook and Twitter

Really got to thinking about this whole name thing, and the mass defection of some folks to Ello, a beta testing social media site hoping to be the next Facebook.  Fact is that there have been several would be imitators, or “FB Killers” that have been introduced, all to more or less a collective yawn.  I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t have the features people wanted, or because people hadn’t finally given up on FB being anything but a data collector for corporate America’s sales agencies.  It almost seems silly to be screeching about the NSA all up in our business when we gleefully hand information over to corporate agencies that monetize our data.

I’m leaving Twitter out of much of this.  I have several problems with Twitter and think even if it sticks around we need a viable alternative where one can say something that can’t fit in a soundbite.  I also don’t like the feeling that conversing on Twitter is a lot like having a conversation in the middle of a block party, where anyone can walk up and put in their own two cents.

I don’t find that a particularly useful form of dialogue, myself.

Facebook, at the moment, provides a very useful channel for people to communicate with one another across multiple boundaries, from geological to ideological.  Despite the fact that the people in charge insist up on treating FB as a means for people who already know each other to stay in touch, rather than a means of meeting like minded people all over the world.  I think this is a problem, and their rather sporadic and arbitrary enforcement of this policy isn’t helping.  And, seriously, do they HONESTLY believe that anyone has 5000 personal friends?  No.  They don’t.  They can’t.  So they’re bullshitting us right there.

In reality, this is all about monetizing the user.  That’s why they want people using their “real” names.  That’s why they want to restrict reach across the network, so they can entice people to pay to promote their posts.  If I post something to my friends–some of whom are fans–I want to know they actually GET IT.  At first they were limiting fan pages’ reach, but now it seems they’re starting to curtail personal page reach.

Or so it’s starting to seem to me.

Ello already sold its soul to venture capitalists.  Expecting to take off now is like expecting someone dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to get up and dance a jig.

We need a social network that is built for and buy the users, not folks looking to make oodles of money.  Why should extreme profitability even be necessary?  It would need to generate enough money to pay for bandwidth and overhead–Sysops and other tech savvy agents.  But it would make sense to pour as much of the overall profits back into the project rather than becoming a billionaire.

Of course, I’m not a product of the Ivy League and, while my major at the last community college was business administration, I’ll admit that was twenty five years ago.  But some things I grasp pretty well.  I grasp that one does better if one focuses on increasing demand.  Demand for the product–the “perfect” social media platform, has never been higher.  If one sought and found a way to meet that demand without getting bogged down in matters of excessive profitability.

One of the best things about social media is its ability to allow people from all over to meet and discuss issues of concern, or simply interests in common.  If used properly, it can expose us to notions and viewpoints we’ve never considered.

Right now I’m wondering if it might be possible to start something as a networking tool for artists, artisans, and the like, people looking to, perhaps, engage in a bit of mutual promotion.  I’m seeing this as a kind of in-house currency used to promote one’s posts IN PROGRAM.  The more you share other people’s stuff the more others share your stuff.  That can be rants, memes, or even commentary on a news event.  (One of the things I think FB fails at is allowing you to share the commentary made by some folks while sharing a news story.  Sometimes that commentary is more edifying than the story itself).

I see this mutual promotion model as being very useful for artists, artisans, and small businesses that may cater to such people, or even small businesses that operate in the various communities.  Ads might be bought and displayed based on region, and the whole thing funded by ads provided by large corporations in exchange for a stiff fee.

And without an attempt to integrate the ads into the feed, to look like any other posts.  I’d actually want to create corporate pages like FB has fan pages.  Corporations can have a page, but they are only allowed to post as individual officers of the company, not as the company itself except through the paid ad process.

All of these are just basic notions, nothing more.  I’m wondering what might be possible, and desirable.  I do know this.  I’d want to eliminate the things most people dislike about facebook while improving the things people do like.

In a discussion on FB itself I got the idea of a social media company as a non-profit, its state purpose being to provide a place for like people to meet and discuss mutual concerns and interests.  As a public SERVICE.

Facebook itself is many things to many people.  Some people use it to keep in touch with family and school friends.  Others use it professionally.  Others use it to promote a personal product or service.  Others use it to keep up with their favorite bands, or celebrities.  Each of those uses brings people to the platform.  How would one go about making it BETTER?

Maybe it’s time we talked about it.  As more and more people grow frustrated with FB, maybe we should be asking them, en masse.  What would YOU Like to see in a social media platform?  And what would you most like to avoid?