When Google released Google+ in June 2011, some were questioning the necessity of a new social network in the social media landscape already well-occupied by Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Foursquare. Indeed, the Google+ challenge to move an entire generation of Facebook addicts to a new platform where they had to start from scratch was ambitious.
Today, 4 months after it’s launch, Google+ claims to have 40+ millions users and seems to do pretty well. However, the objective of cannibalizing Facebook did fail: the social media leader went from 687 millions users in June 2011 to 773 millions users today. Thus, the introduction of Google+ didn’t have any negative impact on Facebook or any social network already in place. The opposite actually happened: it had been the trigger of an intense improvement series for Facebook…
It all started with the new Chat including “Facebook Video Calling” on July 6, obviously released to compete with Google+ Hangout. This first major change was quickly followed by the new sharing features, friends lists and subscribe button making management of your network on Facebook very similar to your circles on Google+. The saga finally ended on September 22 with the introduction of Facebook Timeline, considered as one of the biggest change of the Facebook App since its creation.
So to the question “Do we need another social network?” my answer is yes, not just for us to keep exploring new ways to interact with our network, but also to keep our existing social media providers in the innovation spiral. Here are other challengers that could not only do that, but could also overtake the leaders.
Lift, the New TwitedIn
“Unlocking human potential through positive reinforcement”. This is how Biz Stone describes Lift, a new social network he invested in with Ev Williams and Jason Goldman, all recently-departed co-founders of Twitter. Lift could be seen as a mix of Twitter and LinkedIn. You first determine a goal you’d like to achieve in a specific field, and when you reach it, you can give yourself an award announcing your accomplishment. Your friends can then click “+1” to like your achievement and motivate you to go even further.
For instance, in the field “Cooking” you can give yourself an award for cooked a chocolate cake without burning it and other users in the group can click +1 to like it and encourage you to do more – what about making it not just well-cooked but tasty?.
This new social media channel will be the “Twitter of your LinkedIn achievements”: “our new advertising campaign just hit 20 millions impressions”, “our new product reached 5 million users”, “outreached my sales objectives by 10%” will be the kind of achievements that users would definitely show off on Lift. Of course, a lot of people will also use it for personal purposes – like the chocolate cake example I mentioned above – but most of us will use it as a showcase for potential recruiters/partners/employers/customers.
Lift is still in a private Alpha, meaning that you can send an email to request an invitation to try it but you can’t access it directly on the website. I didn’t get any invitation: I found all my tips on rww.
Whyd, the New Twitbook
Whyd – pronounce it “wide” – has been founded by two French entrepreneurs, Jie Meng-Gérard and Gilles Poupardin. They just moved from Paris to San Francisco at the beginning of October to launch Whyd in the US. Whyd is “Twitter with a Facebook approach”. Instead of following people, it lets you follow topics and see what your friends are saying about them. That way, you can only select the type of content you are interested in.
For instance, let’s say there is someone on Twitter that publishes great content about Apple, and you love Apple. The problem is that this Twitter user also publishes a lot of tweets about Football, and you hate Football. If you follow him on Twitter, you will have to see the updates about Football too. While on Whyd, all you need to do is to add this user as a friend and then follow the topic Apple to have all his updates filtered and only receive the Apple updates.
Whyd is a really promising product as it resolves the problem of information overflows that we have on both Twitter and Facebook. It could be even better if you could not only decide which topic to follow, but also which people you want to follow for each of them. For example, if you follow the topic “Microsoft” and you don’t like what your “Apple” source is saying about it – only bad jokes about Microsoft technologies -, a good feature would be to be able to unfollow his updates about “Microsoft” without having to unfriend him.
Whyd is also in a private Alpha, but I had the awesome opportunity to try it after I met the Whyd team a week ago at the Cloud Mafia Meetup. After a quick test, I can say that I am a big fan of the concept and UI. Keep up the good work, guys!
Shaker, The Second Facebook Life
I discovered Shaker when they won TechCrunch Disrupt on September 14, 2011, in San Francisco. This start-up co-founded by 7 israeli entrepreneurs brings The Second Life to Facebook: using your Facebook profile, it lets you get into virtual rooms where you can meet other Facebook users, and create new connections. You are represented by a virtual character that is “shaking” – I prefer “booty-dancing”. Each character has a little window hanging above its head with a picture of its owner’s Facebook profile and some informations that the user is confortable to share on Shaker. People in blue are your Facebook friends, the ones in Yellow are your friends of friends, and the others are in gray.
Each room has one of its wall covered with all the topics that are of interest to the people currently in the room. You can click on one of them and see who in the room likes this topic. When two characters are talking, they are surrounded by a circle on the floor. You can easily join the circle and enter the conversation – like you would do in real life. Conversations are of course made through chat.
Explaining it in words doesn’t reflect the richness of the Shaker experience. However, I am still convinced that as any social game Shaker is designed for a specific target. If you are used to online tools to meet new friends/dates, you will love Shaker. But others will see Shaker as a new threat to real social-networking. Personally, I used it only 5 minutes. I went in a room and saw that all the people there were gray (meaning I didn’t know any of them). It’s like entering a bar where you don’t know anybody. So I left. However, I really like the concept and I will probably try it again with some friends so I don’t feel like I’m all alone in the room.
The application is in private Beta but you can ask for an invitation and try it now – Betas are much easier to access than Alphas.
Innovative social media tools like Shaker, Whyd and Lift create new ways to interact with our networks, and remind us that there is not just a “Facebook” or a “Twitter” way of thinking. A big thank you to all those entrepreneurs/innovators for forcing us to think out of the box. And you, do you know any up-and-coming social network that will revolutionize our social lives? Comments are more than welcome! Thanks for reading!