The first stage of worry for a big company in a very modern world is when someone says something like “Facebook IS social media” or “Google IS the Internet”. At that point you’ve become so big that you risk becoming irrelevant. A century ago becoming irrelevant took a while. Today it’s measured in months, perhaps a couple years.
In the late 90s the browser wars started. Netscape was the king but was soon dethroned. While browsers are important, and people can be quite passionate about their choices, it doesn’t change what they do: provide access to the Internet. By and large they all do the same job today and we are not restricted to using just one. In fact many have several of them installed at the same time and will use them alternatively.
And so it will be with social. We’re all “going social” at a fantastic rate and there is no going back. We’ve tasted the fruits and a world that is not connected and sharing is no longer something we can imagine being part of. It’s inconceivable. When Google+ launched I wrote a review and said there is simply no room for two dominant social platforms and at some point there will have to be a merging of all these platforms where one can interact with another.
That’s how I see the future of social – we will use the platforms of our choice – Facebook, Google+, Twitter or one of a thousand that will hatch in the next few years but each will have the ability to interact with the other. Not doing so would be a violation of the very foundation of “being social”.
One of the joys of social is being liberated from borders, rules and boundaries (at least that’s the apparency). How long before we will no longer tolerate being bound by the walls of Facebook? Not too long I think.
The social media tribe which will consist of 5 billion people by 2020 will outlive Facebook, Google and all other pretenders.
Google is NOT the Internet and Facebook is NOT social media. We are. Always have been. Always will be.