Founder, Musing Studio /

“Alternative to Social Media”

As I social-media'd on my social media this morning:

I don't think the ultimate replacement for social media will be called “social media” at all.

A project that frames itself this way declares itself a failure from the start. (That is, unless it launches with a billion users.) Look at countless past examples of attempts to go for the social media throne, like Google+. As a project, you call yourself a competitor, and the world hears about you as a competitor, but they also hear that you'll never make it — you're actually a “ghost town.”

As soon as it's uttered, you'll never become more than that. This title becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy no matter how large you grow, because people assume you aren't large (or manipulative) enough to retain users like Facebook, and everyone on your service is ready to jump ship at any moment. Even the people that take another look at you down the line remember that initial judgement: ghost town.

Calling yourself a “Facebook replacement” isn't going to manifest such a destiny. It's really an unfinished thought — the right idea, yes, but still unfinished. It doesn't actually answer the question of how you replace the incumbents.

It's not enough to simply wish it all away, and it's not enough to throw a ton of money at the problem. It's not enough to put better people behind the tech, and it's not enough to put cool new tech behind the same interface. It's not enough to write think pieces (try as I might) and it's not enough to have a better business model.

We all know Facebook is terrible. This is common knowledge in 2019. But if we're ever going to replace it, we can't frame new solutions in terms of social media. Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and on and on are social media. They won that title. Any new entrant to the space that calls themselves that loses by default. So let's not use that title.

Let's forget “social media.” The next thing won't be called that — and can't, at least if we care about it succeeding.

So what will we call it? Maybe that answer will fill in the rest, after all.

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