Small is the new large in social media, and I’ve no doubt that trend will only become more evident in 2012. As users have got to grips with the platforms already available to us, we have come to realise the benefits in cultivating tighter, smaller and more valuable relationships with others online (as we do in real life). Social is growing up and scaling back.
Seth Godin nailed it recently.
The signal to noise ratio is far too low in many cases to be useful, and for our voice to be heard we’ve begun to realise that sometimes we are really better off concentrating on providing value to a select few than artificially inflating numbers for the sake of it.
Social platforms have become so overcrowded, and full of people that we don’t really know that they are largely useless for the majority of people. I’ve scaled back on my social efforts in recent months, and have considered starting fresh to cultivate only the valuable and intimate relationships.
I think we’ll see the power of social media combined with the relevance of hyper local as people build more meaningful relationships online. Some of the startups which are showing signs of this trend:
Path allows a maximum of 150 friends, encouraging users to focus and connect with the people they care about most. At its core it provides a microblogging service that is private by default, until you choose the people you want to update. It’s the opposite of most of the social services found on the web today, and is receiving glowing reviews – not least because of its UI design.
OurSpot concentrates on the people closest to you, allowing you to create virtual online ‘Spots’ where you can share things you find online, or events that occur in your life.
Fridge / Google+
Some of you will remember Frid.ge – others not so much, but essentially it started out life as a web application which allowed sharing only amongst people whom you have chosen. You could quickly create groups as private or public as you want and post information into them. Being both a close technical fit, and their app moving in the direction of the trend – the team were acquired, and are now working on Google+, where circles and this form of limited, personal sharing take centre stage.
Google+ in particular positions itself perfectly at the cusp of the wave which is happening in social, with control over the messages shared with others, and is skating where the puck is going – not just where it has been. As mobile devices increasingly become the norm, it stands to reason that the trend of viewing updates from ‘people that matter most near me’ rather than just ‘people’ make their way into the apps we love.