After covering social media for years, it’s kind of surprising to see the most popular social media platforms get to a point where user activity doesn’t matter anymore.
“Crowley compared Foursquare’s trajectory to Twitter. Even though Twitter’s content is impressive, many people are just following people and reading content. Now, check-ins are not as important as actual users who browse the app and the content curated thanks to check-ins.” – Dennis Crowley: Foursquare Considered Selling, Is The Best Local Search Tool On The Planet
Obviously each network is an advertising supported business, so the value of a user is high, but I never saw it coming that the value of a user’s activity would be so close to nil. People on Twitter don’t need to tweet and people on Foursquare don’t need to check-in; There’s no money to be made there is the reality.
Before social media hit the mainstream it was those actions that captivated the interest and passion of early adopters. Users had never been able to tweet short messages or share their location. Networks were defined by how they enabled their users in new and innovative ways.
Today these networks are defined by what content, information, or utility they offer consumers. The messaging has changed from being an active participator or creator (Tweet and Check-in) to being a recipient (“Follow your interests” and “Find great places near you”).
Like I’ve said in a previous post when Twitter released a new set of API guidelines, when your network is free and the only money to be made is through advertising, decisions about the platform will skew in that direction.