I’m beginning to think that the social media world is a bit like cars. Remember when cars had their own unique appearance? Today, there are some subtle differences in shape and design but overall many cars do look physically similar. Many moons ago I used to work for the automotive company Ford. Though the body of some cars were Ford the engines were from another manufacturer. At that time Ford also owned Jaguar Land Rover.
I think a similar thing is happening in the online world. We have seen how Google+ has been given a makeover so (in my opinion) it looks similar to Pinterest. The key social media players all have ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons. To the dismay of some of its users, Facebook is constantly tweaking its look to keep it ‘fresh’. Yet still Mr Zuckerburg doesn’t quite understand the phrase, ‘If it isn’t broke….’
Then we have the ‘hook ups’. Facebook has partnered with Instagram. This week we’ve heard that Yahoo has bought Tumblr. You can connect Stumbleupon with Twitter. Google+ is a force of its own; it may have a social site to play with but has also launched its futuristic glass and have a well-known search engine so are in no shortage of money. This leaves LinkedIn and Pinterest, could these two have a future alliance? Most likely not as both social sites have a different target audience, you’re not likely to find an image of a black forest gateau on LinkedIn any time soon. Then again, in the changing world of social media anything is possible.
With a ‘hook up’ comes great responsibility, OK a bit over dramatic but when two companies merge so do the problems that one or both companies bring with them. Take for example when News Corp. bought MySpace in 2005 (for roughly half what Yahoo paid for Tumblr). MySpace brought with it a few embarrassing issues which eventually led to News Corp selling MySpace in 2011 at a loss. Tumblr is no stranger to the good, bad and pornographic images that can be found on its site. Yahoo wants to focus on the advertising opportunities of Tumblr but does it really think it will be able to distance itself from a battle between Tumblr’s users who want the site ‘cleaned’ up and those who want the site to remain as it is? As the parent company, Yahoo may have to wade in and tackle this issue whether they like it or not.
It would seem to stay ahead of the game social networking sites are branching outside of their bubbles to seek or take the knowledge from those who are willing to part with it, in some cases for a price, and use it to their advantage. Will it all end in tears before bedtime, who knows? As long as mergers continue to line the pockets of the Mark Zuckerburg’s and Marissa Mayer’s of the online world the only people that will have to deal with the subsequent consequences are the users.
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