2012 – The year that social media became exhausted.

About bl**dy time too. According to Mashable 2012 is the year we exhaust social media.

The irony of it being that it came via social media!

But that’s the problem. If social media is ‘the conversation’ then the platforms they are on can’t be.

Facebook is not social media as much as a cave wall is not social media – the painting on it is.  Platforms cannot be social media, digital cannot be social media, they can only be a place where social media, at some level, takes place.

Therefore, if 2012 is the year that we become exhausted with social media (platforms), and i hope we do, then what is it people have been doing?

Having a conversation methinks – it just happens that it was on something like facebook or twitter.

But I think facebook and twitter were too ‘wide’ a platform, i.e not niche enough. We know humans herd, and we know humans subscribe to specific uniforms such as golfing or mountain biking. Therefore, what we need are ‘dashboards’ that allow that subscription to be fulfilled.

In an offline world we gather data on a specific niche, this is normal. But the method of the ‘gather’ is fragmented – e-mails, books, magazines, conversations etc. But a digital dashboard will change that. An ‘app’ that gathers the information for you would fit our hungry lives.

Apps, dashboards and niches, these are the things that will get attention in 2012. we will see the demise of the poorly termed ‘social media’ and we will see the rise of the aptly termed ‘dashboard’.

2012, the rise of the digital world for the niched masses – and not the ego driven, poorly termed, social media, a term designed by the few to try and be-dazzle the masses.

Social media should have never been a term that fulfilled what it has become, that action belongs to the term ‘the social web’ then the reason would be easier to grasp.

12 years ago the fundemental change that has become the information age began – this has been and always was ‘the social web’, because no one owned it, we owned it and it was social by nature.

I think what 2012 will bring is the understanding that social media is not the answer to all but digital will be. The action of understanding, at a fundemental level, that digital has, is and can change politics, economies GDP’s of countries, volcabulary, language, and social interaction (amongst others).

2012 will bring digital as a recognised method to the masses.



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  • Absolutely spot on Nick.   The platforms – Facebook, Twitter, whatever – were always the wrong place to focus.   Platforms come and go, but the functions of conversing and sharing must and will continue; after all, it’s what humans do.

  • Anonymous

    Quite – most of the ‘biggies’ are too ‘wide’, they don’t really serve the majority purpose that humans need.

  • Joanna

    I think we will still need general platforms to direct people to the right niches. I also like the eclectic nature of social media – I am bored on traditional forums.

  • Maybe MySpace is the example of what was once a generic platform but has in recent years focused more on a particular niche – in this case new music.

    Google + with its circles concept lends itself more readily to the kind of dashboard concept that you describe, whereas Facebook would need a complete re-engineering to be able to adapt.

  • Hi guys,

    I’m not sure I completely agree.  It’s absolutely correct that humans herd, we all want to belong.  But herding can happen at different levels – one minute it might be herding with ‘everyone’, the next it might be with the ‘politically disaffected in my country’, the next it might be with ‘my friends & family (or just some of them)’, the next it could be with ‘my football team’ etc.  And each comes with different levels of commitment & involvement.
    Facebook has been remarkably successful at providing a platform where users can herd at each & all of those levels whenever & to whatever degree it suits.  

    What they realised very early on, though, was that the most important of these levels is often (although not always) your ‘friends & family’ – what are they enjoying, listening to, visiting, etc.  Crucially, they realised that the social network your friends & family are using is the way to reach you as an individual, however resistant you might be to it (I experienced this first-hand when FB came to my uni in 2005).  

    [Aside: Google will never succeed with G+ or its successors as long as they fail to realise they need a set of features so mind-blowing and (this is key) different that it can generate critical mass among most people, which practically forces membership on the remainder of the addressable market.  It is not enough to build something that looks like FB, with a few features that improve upon FB (and which FB can easily emulate anyway).  Sure, you will attract disaffected social media commentators who need a social media news story (eg, Chris Brogan's ludicrous 'I'm leaving Facebook' stories) but you won't break out beyond that)]

    I think your FB newsfeed IS the dashboard that you speak of, Nick.  Sure, it’s good at giving you a superficial view of a broad set of subjects, but people don’t always (or even often) want depth (see above comment about multiple herding).  But where individuals do want depth, it provides a great window to learn more via FB apps, links provided by your friends & FB Pages.  The latter clearly need more work, but I think they will get that focus from FB towers.  Where it’s only possible to get specific apps that give you the depth you require, they will become ever more integrated with facebook.

    You are right that FB hasn’t totally nailed the nature of the conversation, but it’s as close as anyone has ever come before, and I can only see them getting closer.


  • Vik Gill

    I don’t really care what we call it, but I do agree that one of the next steps for ‘Social Media’ to come of age is to introduce some selectivity and focus into the mix in the form of dashboards. Niches, special interests, identities, differentiation – it all makes us who we think we are and who we want to be perceived as being. But with that said, I think platforms will always be important because in a fundamentally ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ consumerist and competitive digital society there is also an inherent need for people to feel part of ‘the next big thing’ – and big platforms are rolled out with big hype. I think LinkedIn’s IPO was fundamentally overvalued because its IPO fundamentally measured the platform’s popularity not any special characteristics or longevity of the platform per se. Facebook’s IPO may well come this year too, and in many respects this will be its death knell too. Facebook founders and investors won’t care though. They’ll cash out with the sort of exits seen back in the dotcom era….before the boom went bust.

    However, there’s one big problem with scaling down and focusing on niches. Dashboards, however relevant to the ‘social’ experience will struggle to establish a revenue model that has anything approaching the ambition of Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook understood that you need LOTS of (allsorts of diverse) users to grow a billion dollar + company through (essentially) advertising revenue. As angels and VCs look for an exit strategy typically within 3-5 years, it’s hard to see how they would achieve that with a deliberately restricted user base. Do you have any thoughts on this? 

    I suspect we’ll see a much clearer differentiation between B2C and B2B platforms and yes – the emergence of dashboards tailored to market segments. Businesses and organisations will start to feel more comfortable about where they fit and we’ll see some consolidation. I think the big platforms will need to focus more on their core competencies. But I think niche dashboards will have to develop innovative revenue models if they are going to remain relevant – or survive in the social space for long.

  • Anonymous

    The revenue models that you refer too may be the bubble that’s bursting. The huge models the FB have created are not sustainable and, much like the dotcom bubble that burst because no one had broadband, let alone the wherewithall to use it, the big sm platforms have created an un-sustainable model because humans don’t want a ‘scatter’ approach.

    The dashboard model is scalable, people are voting with their wallets to access a smarter delivery model and with that comes a sustainable business model.

    I don’t believe that because the likes of FB, LinkedIn etc have created huge ‘worth’ that it’s correct.

    Moreover, there is more value in code than a straight forward business model of advertising. I have had a tech company that has not worked and yet makes great money! All I did was take parts of the code, re-skin it and sell it as something else.

    No one knows what will be right, but what we do know is that there are more people joining the digital world daily and not all of them are using the likes of FB BUT they are using digital for what they want to find in their niche.

    Web 2 had it’s place, it taught, more by bulling, that we owned the web and that we can have an opinion and that we could find opinion before product. That’s good. But in itself the social media bubble that it has left behind could never work as it served no purpose to the majority only the minority.


  • Anonymous

    FB can never be the dashboard that I refer to, it will never deliver the information that I need only opinion for the few that are allowed to.

    Semantic code is web 3 and used within a niched dashboard will work for the user. Used within FB it will only serve FB.

    As a landlord I want my dashboard to know that my fixed interest rate is coming to an end, it will know that the current one is a euribore interest rate that will transfer to an SVR, it will work out that this will cost me more, it will then go and find solutions to this and present them to me.

    The above is what I want (and am building) it will also allow me access to information on specific areas of property because it knows where mine are – it does the search work for me.

    It works within a niche because it knows me and what i want. FB will never do that, neither will twitter or LinkedIn.

    The most successful platforms, bar nine, do one thing really well. And the big ones that we refer to such as Twitter or FB allow conversation and they do it well. But humans need more than that.

    The average human says 5000 words a day, and you spend more than two thirds of your day being efficient with one thing or another. This is normal, it’s core programming. So, by definition, we do want to talk but we also need to be efficient. FB, Twitter etc do not cover this.

    And that is what I was referring too.


  • Anonymous

    FB is a traditional forum, much like a hashtag on twitter is. However, i agree with the though that sm platforms are eclectic, serendipitous even.


  • Anonymous

    I have no idea where G+ is going?! I like the format but not quite sure what it does – at the moment.


  • Where

  • Anonymous


  • I think you have to look at what G+ is not.  It is NOT Google’s “Facebook clone” – anyone who thinks that is trapped into the mindset that only huge platforms can be successful, which is exactly the old “social media” thinking that you quite rightly dismiss above.

    If you look at Google as being the route by which any web users can find the niche material that they are looking for (i.e. the raw material that could be presented in their customised dashboard), then G+ is a useful addition to the whole Google armoury for suggesting new sources to people based on what others interested in the same subjects have found to be of interest.   G+ has to be seen as a key part of the whole Google product set, not as a SM platform.

  • Where do we start – totally in agreement Nick! The platforms are not the answer, as has been shown by Twitter buying Hootsuite. I said some time ago that the Man Machine Interface on Twitter was wrong, because the stream of information while being useful became useless due to the volume: we humans needed something to humanise it.

    Secondly, its the ability to increase the amount and quality of human interaction which was always the winner over the “wow” of the platform. Back in my days in telCo, a guy sold a £3M video suite to a company on the back of a cost saving in travel expenses. Travel actually increased the following year by 10%, because use of the suite was double the projection, resulting in a business increase of 10% and a cost of project failure decrease of 20%. People could communicate more in a better way, and hence got closer together.

    However, thirdly there is a building backlash based on security. The biggest wave is at the individual level, but there is also a corp and organisational level backlash based on the proven stealing of ideas and people. The dampers are in place, it will just take a few major headlines to break the dam.

    As other commentors have said, its about time SM matured. I hope 2012 is that year. Certainly the flow of new SM platforms has slowed, and frankly we don’t need any more “the new Facebook” headlines! Its a conversation NOT a technology

  • Anonymous

    Good stuff Ian, afterall web3 is about making SM smarter – or mature as you put it.


  • I guess my first point is that I don’t think we can talk yet about social media exhaustion, or the death of social media, or the death of social networks, or the death of facebook / twitter.  As I think we’re agreeing, those platforms have digitalised & improved upon some of the central cores of human experience eg, the group, the conversation etc, and they are very good at it, and I don’t think that will be coming to an end any time soon.

    I agree these social networks might be maturing.  I can also see the argument for saying they have reached the limits of their useful application, although I don’t entirely agree with it myself and I’m not sure 2012 will be the year when that comes to an end.

    Likewise, while developments in semantic search are interesting, the subtleties of human needs & communication are great and I don’t think 2012 is the year when it will be cracked.  The great thing about social media in this regard is that the ‘crowd’ added to the (rather more basic) ‘code’ is a powerful way of filtering content (Google’s +1, StumbleUpon, Spotify, even Last.fm are, I guess, heading in the right direction here).

    I can agree that for much of the time people would benefit from a greater depth of info than social media provides on the surface (I don’t necessarily agree this is the majority of people for the majority of time; ‘being efficient’ means lots of different things to different people & not all of it can be digitalised & still be more efficient, but that’s a different issue).  However until the ‘code’ alone is wiser than the ‘crowd’, I still think social media has room to improve & things to offer.

  • Anonymous

    I think so too, however, it has reaching an exhaustive level after a decade of ‘chanting’. inevitably web3 will take over, and has. Therefor, the crowd will always be wiser than the code until the code suggests otherwise, or until we ask it to be, such as googling something.

    But we can talk about sm exhaustion and we don’t need to discuss death, as death will never come to the sm sites, they just will get diluted by others.


  • Just quoted this on Google Plus…


  • also see
    2012 – The Year That Social Media Became Exhausted – @ecademy @Robert_Craven http://t.co/IaNzge36

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