This week, Jim and I came up with a tough topic: What social media network will become obsolete first? Will it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gowalla, Foursquare, etc.? I had to put a lot of thought into this one and decided the answer is complex enough for a blog post; although I’ll be happy to discuss this more during our #shehechat Thursday at 8 p.m. CST.
At first, I tried to answer this question just through my own personal experiences and opinion. I tried to identify some social media networks that are already obsolete. I took a guess and looked it up. I was somewhat surprised at what I found and realized that this task of predicting which social media network would become obsolete first required some more research on my part.
Stepping back in time
In my first attempt at answering this question and before I did the research, the first network that came to my mind was MySpace. I used to use MySpace daily and I don’t anymore. Who uses MySpace? Then, I thought again. I know many musicians still use it for their band sites. They swear that this is still the best network out there for music. Oh, and let’s not forget that MySpace was recently purchased by Specific Media for $35 million and now Justin Timberlake is going to be the “creative force” behind the site. Is a site worth $35 million to someone obsolete? I have to say no.
So I went back further. What about GeoCities or Friendster, launched in 1994 and 2002 respectively? Sure, no one I know uses these sites anymore. That’s because GeoCities shut down their U.S. site in 2009 and now operates solely in Japan. Similarly, Friendster is doing quite well in Asia with 90 percent of its users coming from there. Again, that doesn’t fit the definition of obsolete to me.
What do you mean by obsolete?
Email is considered the very first form of social media. The first email was sent in 1971. That’s 40 years ago, folks. Today, we have multiple other ways to communicate with each other and yet I bet almost everyone still uses email in some form. Obviously, we can’t say email is obsolete.
If I take into consideration the true definition of obsolete, it describes something that is no longer used or useful in any way. Honestly, I don’t think I can label any social media network as obsolete even though I know some are obviously used more by the general population than others.
These networks, like any other business, have changed, adapted and drawn different audiences. That doesn’t make them obsolete. I’m sure there’s a social media network that’s simply gone out of business but that also doesn’t mean it wasn’t useful to someone when it did.
My answer and my challenge
After all this research and thought, my answer is simply that I don’t think there is a social media network currently in operation that will become strictly obsolete. Will Google+ overtake Facebook anymore than Twitter did? Of course, it won’t. Facebook didn’t kill MySpace and Google+ won’t kill Facebook. Remember, the word is obsolete.
I’m predicting Jim will say that I’m just trying to get out of answering the question. That’s not true. I’ve done the research and documented it above.
My challenge to Jim is to try to find an example of an obsolete social media network and somehow correlate that to a network in operation today that could go down the same path.