I’m going to date myself.
Hi, my name is Jim and my first Social Network with a Graphical User Interface was Prodigy. That’s right, I said Prodigy. That wondrous combined effort of Sears and IBM. That, of course after various BBS’ like Twelve Tone Systems Calkwalk BBS and others. And I’m talking about the blazing speed of 300 baud.
What’s that you say? I’m too young to possibly have done that? You’re right, of course. I’m not quite sure how they did it, but I was using the Coleco Adam In utero. I already had my birth certificate filled out when my Mom went into labor, but that’s a story for another time, back to my point.
After Prodigy, there was America Online. You know, the Facebook of its day. After all, Steve Case took it to the point that there was the AOL-Time Warner merger and he was going to rule the world. Wow, the heady days of that now ever-present empire…What? AOL is mainly the butt of jokes for most of the tech savvy world? But we were so invested in it. Oh well, then there was MySpace, Friendster, Second Life…Okay, I didn’t get into all of them, but I think you might be starting to see my point. It’s been a long road to getting a presence on the web.
Everyone needs to be on the web today, if you want to make it any aspect of business, or so we’re told. The thing that’s different now is that it’s easier to have your own presence on the web than ever before, from both an economic perspective and a technical perspective. It’s cheap to have your own website and it’s easy to set it up with a blog such as this. Oh and this is free, too. So the biggest cost at this point is your sweat equity. What you put into it. And that begs the question how many times do you want to reinvent your wheel?
Previously on the web, you didn’t have much choice, if you wanted to be on the hot property services, you had to interact there, it was a destination, no choice. So when one hot property fell out of grace with the fickle populace, you started over at the next new one, unless you were too stubborn to change.
Now, you can easily be your own destination for interaction and not have to rely on the virtual hot property for everything. But you have to make your choices.
Facebook has its social plugins and its social channels. Some of them are great if you want your site to stay as your hub, your destination. Some actually draw the traffic away from your site back into Facebook to never be yours again. For example, you can set up a metatag that will allow you to use Facebook Insights for your website, sounds great, right? What happens if Facebook pulls an AOL? Where does your analytic information go then?
Another example that springs to my mind is “Facebook comments” on your website. While it makes it easy for anyone who has a Facebook account to comment on your website, there’s also a default checkbox setting that says “Post to Facebook”. Think about the process here. Someone comments uses “Facebook comments” on your site and uses the “Post to Facebook” option. Someone else sees that on Facebook and replies there. You’ve now just used your website to drive traffic to Facebook! So you started the interaction on your website and got it going, but it belongs to Facebook. Once again, what happens if Facebook pulls an AOL?
What would you rather do, reinvent your wheel with the next shift in the web, or keep what you have and build on it?