Tiger sniffing note: this article is from Remains of the Day, original title Status as a Service (StaaS). The writer is the first analyst in Amazon's strategic division and a former head of Hulu,Flipboard products. Compiled by the WeChat official account Yourseeker (ID:yourseeker2018).
By introducing a new dimension (social capital) to help understand the evolution of social networks and the current difficulties, the authors even have endogenous similarities in blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and social networks. For the sake of understanding the difficulty, the Chinese translation replaced some cases with versions suitable for Chinese Internet users. Header of this article: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
This article is about 8,000 words, and Zen and Social Network maintenance Art (1) has been published at Tiger sniffing Station.
Why does replication work prove to be a bad strategy?
We often see the emergence of new social networks, but in fact a lot of them imitate each other. App.net and Mastodon are clones of Twitter, although there are some differences, there is not much difference.
Most of these clones have or will fail, because in such a Status as a Service game, they simply copy the proof of work for other products. If the proof of work is the same, then you have not really created a new social capital, and the new network is not very large at first, and you can't convince everyone to switch to you.
There is also a problem with first-mover advantage. The large (high social capital) platform/KOL can quickly learn the new features of emerging risers and graft them into the dominant existing platform. After all, copying and killing is an effective strategy for incumbents.
The most interesting case to discuss is that Facebook copied Snapchat's Stories, and transplanted it to Instagram. I think the Stories format is an innovation in the form of content that reduces social stress.
Publishing high-quality content is certainly good for access to social capital, but too many updates can be counterproductive. In order for viewers to take on the "responsibility" of browsing content to ensure that everyone updates carefree, Stories came out. So much so that any social network that finds growth not growing well will try to graft the format into its own network at some point.
Ironically, as a variety of products add more filters and features to the Stories format, the difficulty of publishing the proof of work required for Stories continues to escalate. As you can see, many Stories on Instagram today are even finer and more time-consuming than regular posts.
This means that you may be able to temporarily help the monkeys get out of the game of seeking status, but it won't last long.
The greatest social capital creation event in the history of science and technology
In the history of global technology, the biggest social capital boom was the launch of News Feed. by Facebook
Before News Feed, if you were playing on MySpace,Facebook, you had to click on everyone's profile alone and jump. In hindsight, this funny, social network users should have to bear such a heavy burden of consumer content.
By merging all updates in all of your accounts into a single consecutive default interface, Facebook's News Feed not only improves the efficiency of distribution of new posts, but also places all posts on one track, allowing them to compete with each other. At the same time, it seems all of a sudden that all the publishers are being put on the same vast stage, performing the show for the audience.
It is foreseeable that a big explosion will happen after this. The number of posts has increased and people's interactions have increased. Initially, users who are not used to this form are complaining about the News Feed, but their bodies are honest. Fortunately, Facebook has withstood the pressure to look at the data, rather than paying too much attention to the public's objections.
That golden age also quickly triggered enthusiasm for social capital accumulation. Why did that post get ten times more love than I did? What is my most popular content? Now we are all talking about machine learning, but as social beings, humans are equally capable of deciphering information.
As the path of release, attention, learning, and redistribution continues to optimize, the feedback process is getting faster and faster. People began to pay attention to more and more accounts on social networks, content began to overload, and the signal-to-noise ratio dropped enough to affect the degree of user participation.
As a result, almost any social network eventually turns to the same solution: distributed with algorithms.
Will the arms race for social capital continue to escalate? Some are now bemoaning the irrational prosperity of social networks, and others are advocating greater transparency and more authentic self-expression, that is, anti-Facebook..
Indeed, Path has successfully achieved a much smaller number of anti-Facebook: users than the latter. If you also agree that people want to accumulate social capital as effectively as possible, limiting them at this point is a very challenging business model.
Why does the accumulation of social capital distort young people?
I would love to see a statistical chart of social capital. I bet those young people (especially teenagers) should be the ones who dominate the game. Many social networks are games for young people. Compared to them, adults may live in the Cambrian era.
While we are all status-seeking monkeys, when new social networks emerge, young people tend to be the first, and probably always will. Let's give a brief introduction to why this is the case.
First, adults already have more social capital, such as titles, spouses, children, houses, real estate, cars, furniture, resumes, and more. Young people are often poor people in social capital, and for them, the fastest and most effective way to get social capital is social media (or video games).
Second, since adults have accumulated a lot of social capital before, they have mastered a much more efficient way to do so than on social networks. It's like holding a lot of assets and just keeping them in the bank waiting for interest. This is only a mathematical consideration, remember, there is a common characteristic, loss aversion.
This is actually about the second principle we first talked about: people will choose the most effective way to accumulate their social capital. Young people and older people must pursue the best strategy.
In the end, young people have some excesses and most adults always complain about not enough things, time. Because they are young, they can waste some time exploring new social networks and judging whether it is attractive to get social capital from them, and most adults will only wait until a social network has a certain market.
The general status quo of young people: "There are many me."
Adolescents and people in their twenties are more likely to have multiple identities than older people. For example, middle school students, and their classmates are an identity, facing the family is another identity; people in their twenties are an identity in front of colleagues during the day, and they are another identity outside of work. The gaps between these areas tend to be large, and they are never willing to merge.
Coupled with the younger generation's preference for visual communication, this explains why the preferred social networks for young people are Instagram and Snapchat, both of which are superior to Facebook.. Because Instagram can easily create multiple accounts to match a person's multiple identities, Snapchat provides the best visual information for a particular recipient.
In contrast, Facebook places too much emphasis on real-world reactions and binding to a single identity.
Common Social Network Curv
Through the utility-social capital biaxial model we mentioned earlier, we can try to understand what the social network's development path is over time.
First develop utility, then social capital:
This is the typical development path of “getting for the tools and staying for the relationship”. Instagram is a great example of how it has grown from a filter tool to an image-based social network.
I think that most social networks will eventually return to the utility to be truly sustainable.
Develop social capital first, then utility:
Come for fame, stay with tools?
Foursquare is like this to me. At the beginning, I landed on it to get some interesting titles in a particular area. But now, Foursquare is becoming a utility that provides information to the places around you, not just a weird distributed social capital game.
Wikipedia, Reddit, Quora, Weibo, etc. are also such cases, and users will eventually use it as a tool.
Utility, little social capital:
Some products try to build a useful network, but can hardly provide users with access to social capital, most of the IM (instant messaging) tools belong to this category. They help you get in touch with acquaintances and can hardly introduce you to new people.
These products are excellent for more than 1 billion users, but their competition is often cruel. Because in the digital world, a really useful feature is too easy to copy.
With social capital, the actual utility is not obvious:
When a social network loses its vitality before it builds its real utility, the depreciation of its social assets will exceed your imagination.
Some might think that the Foursquare I mentioned earlier should be here, but what I really want to discuss is Facebook. I don't think Facebook has no real utility. At some point, it's even the mobile Internet. And for more than a billion people, Messenger is also a very useful IM tool.
But let's take the United States as an example, a key market for Facebook, which has been underperforming in terms of monetization. Many of the people I know have given up Facebook, in the past year and this has had little impact on their daily lives.
The last thing worth talking about is that social capital and utility exist at the same time.
Most social networks offer both to a certain extent, but there is no better way than WeChat.
By comparing WeChat and Alipay's list of services, you can see that Facebook is weak in its payment business.
Whether it can really play a role in the commercialization and payment business depends on the long-term thinking and resource utilization mode of Facebook and its subsidiaries (such as WhatsApp,Instagram). They have also done a lot in the past, such as improving Facebook's search experience, turning Facebook into a means of payment, and even introducing virtual assistants on Messenger. But they have had little effect.
In the future, will Facebook introduce cryptocurrencies and new attempts by Instagram to promote commercialization to help improve the status quo?
Determine the reason for the Social Network ceiling
1: work certificate (Proof of Work)
How to determine when a social network will stop growing? Why is there a natural cap on social networks?
Back in the analogy of our cryptocurrency, the choice of work proof is the primary reason.
For example, the previous Musical.ly, now TikTok (vibrato).
Many people have seen vibrato video. Have you tried to shoot one yourself? I guess many people haven't tried it and will never try it.
For whatever reason, TikTok creators end up limited by work certificates, and not everyone can become creators and get social capital from them. So does Weibo: people who like to write 140280 characters are limited. The number of contributors determines the upper limit of a social network.
This, of course, does not mean that the introduction of jobs has proved wrong. But if you want to measure the true value of a social network, the type of work proof is a key variable to consider. It helps you understand why Musical.ly eventually stops growing and why Douyin reaches the upper limit.
To understand where the ceiling of a social network is, first ask how many people have the skills and interests to compete and acquire social capital in this area.
2: inflation and devaluation of social capital (Social Capital Inflation and Devaluation)
Why is stopping growth not the end point for some social networks, but decline and demise?
To understand the fragility of the state-as-a-service (Status as a Service) business, we need to understand the volatility of the state (Status).
2.1: Social Capital Interest Rate Increases Social Capital Interest Rate Hikes
As we mentioned earlier, if a social network succeeds, it will grow to the point where algorithms are needed to improve distribution efficiency to help most users maintain a high signal-to-noise ratio and prevent loss. It's a bit like the Fed preventing inflation by raising interest rates.
But when Facebook changed the algorithm and distributed the content to the News Feed, the original winners were aware of the problem. In the past, as long as you get enough fan attention through high-quality content, you can solidify them into a social asset, which means subsequent steady flow and reach.
But since Facebook has become a central bank of attention, it can control the liquidity of content, thereby curbing the early winners' abuse of social assets. Although it seems that Facebook must guard against the tragedy of the commons, the early winners did not have such awareness and restraint.
2.2: Social Capital Deflation and Scarcity Social Capital Deflation&Scarcity
Another risk for social networks is that, because the network effect is too powerful and too dependent on social capital itself, there is almost no way back in the event of a reversal.
Why is it irreparable? Back to the model we used to judge the value of social networks, it often has no real value. If it is a payment tool, it can be used to maintain the user. Social networks don't work.
An eternal puzzle of social networking is that it cannot escape the evaporative cooling effect. Once a user with too much social capital chooses to leave, the value of social capital in the network will inevitably be affected. Therefore, it is often found that after a batch of real head users are lost, it is difficult to delay the decline unless the network can improve its actual utility as much as possible.
This point can be compared to the fashion industry to understand. There is a boom and bust in the fashion world, and magazine editors and fashion designers claim that some season of fashion is accepted because some of them have a say in it. This is actually the social capital of the fashion industry, so it appears to be valuable.
The technology industry (especially social products) may need to learn how to manage “scarcity” from the fashion industry.
Another shortage of social capital may be due to different user groups. Young people, for example, choose to leave when their parents start playing Facebook.
How Snapchat Reduces the Risk of Depreciation of Social Capital
At the end of last year, the memo issued by Snapchat CEO to internal employees was leaked. Evan Spiegel reminds the team to reflect on a question, whether Snapchat is still sticking to its core values – the fastest way to communicate.
This is in fact in line with the social network analysis framework I mentioned earlier: Snapchat intends to advance actual utility at the expense of certain social capital, which is a long-term, more stable strategy.
As anyone familiar with Snapchat knows, its loyal users basically don't use Facebook.Snapchat 's real rival is Instagram, which does have a stronger social capital accumulation mechanism.
And how does Snapchat continue to optimize the social capital building mechanism?
Initially, Snapchat made a list of best friends and was very popular with teenagers. Because it can show the three people who communicate most frequently in your interface. Essentially, this is a scorecard that records the depth and openness of "friendship" between users.
This is clearly a mechanism to encourage users to accumulate social capital. However, from a platform point of view, this feature has a major limitation: each user has a very limited number of best friends. In other words, the mechanism makes the accumulation of social capital too low ceiling.
How to reverse this zero-sum mechanism and lead users to a higher-level gameplay? Snapchat soon had a new idea: the Streaks feature.
What's this feature? in short, if you and a friend send photos to each other frequently, the status of a different Emoji is displayed next to his user name. For example, the fire symbol means high frequency of chat, the hourglass symbol indicates that the other party is about to miss the news, and so on.
And at the end of the day, your address book will be like this:
As mentioned earlier, these symbols are proof of your work with your friends. Many young people value them so much that they keep chatting with friends and prevent symbols from disappearing. In other words, this is social capital that they are obsessed with and hard to give up.
Extend the half-life of the state game
If work on a social network turns out to be unsustainable, everyone who exploits social money will end up tired. As a result, people may not continue to love this state-of-the-game. If the social network fails to make progress in its utility at this time, it is likely to be obsolete.
Video games are the best example of this. Have you found that many of the big hit games have a life cycle of only about 18 months?
The new game has just been launched, the levels and challenges are fresh to everyone, and the players are very enthusiastic. But in the end, when everyone understands the rules, the order of everyone will almost stabilize (because mature players will reach a relatively stable level at this time). In addition, because everyone is familiar with the challenge mode of the game, the incentives brought by the sense of accomplishment will disappear.
Big IP games like Call of Duty manage the user lifecycle by regularly releasing new versions. Although the environment of each game is familiar, it is entirely a new challenge, which helps to extend the life of the game.
Another example is the MMORPG game (such as "World of Warcraft"), which is good at providing other incentives for players, such as the sense of community, which is also a way to extend the cycle of attractiveness.
I even think that the new social network should go deeper into these similar but older "social capital games". Such as fashion industry, religion and society itself.
Accumulation and storage of social capital
As with cryptocurrencies, the pursuit of social capital is meaningless if you can't hold it and store it securely. Almost all successful social networks are good at providing accumulation and storage mechanisms.
It seems that this is very natural now, but in the early days there were quite a few apps that didn't take this into account, so the value on it was leaked to other social networks.
For example, Hipstamatic, a filter tool that has appeared before Instagram. It differs from Instagram in that it charges for filters, has no profile page, no feed stream, and does not direct users to become a social network. It will be used to beautify photos and then post to other social networks such as Facebook.
In other words, Hipstamatic provides practical utility, but does not capture the resulting social capital.
Musical.ly is a positive case. They have invented a unique proof of work and are well aware that they are using short video content to capture the value of social capital excavated by users.
Because they don't want users to upload them to Instagram or Facebook, again, they create a Feed stream within their application, which helps them build a market for accumulating and exchanging value. Musical.ly 's founder said publicly, They are actually trying to build a new social network (and even a new "country").
For most social networks, this model is not hard to understand. But it is also necessary to delve into "social networks" where social capital accumulation is extremely difficult.
Anonymous social networks, for example. The value of this kind of social network is that anonymity makes users dare to say things they don't want to say when they are real names. But the weakness of this mechanism is that users do not really have access to the social capital they tap.
“Social networks” like Reddit attempt to solve this asymmetry incentive by separating social capital from real identity and reputation, but this will be a long struggle.
(Balaji Srinivasan has mentioned that, one day, encrypted currency may allow a person to extract value from anonymous social networks without having to disclose his identity, but at least for now, the so-called "currency" solution has not been successful.)
Social capital arbitrage
Because social networks attract different audiences, and even overlapping users do not affect the value of social capital in a single network, there is in fact an opportunity to carry out social capital arbitrage across applications.
Instagram, for example, has an account called thefatjewish, whose real name is Josh Ostrovsky, which has millions of followers on Instagram, but it largely depends on moving content from other social networks such as Twitter.
His success gave some people directions. Since then, similar "joke aggregators" accounts on Instagram have proliferated, with some following rules and identifying sources, but many more are unruly.
Predictably, as long as there are multiple social networks, social capital arbiters are bound to continue the move to accumulate social capital for themselves.
In fact, before the advent of the Internet, men cite a movie or a joke when they chat, which is a more ancient social capital arbitrage. It’s just that when the Internet is available, this action begins to grow geometrically.
Conclusion: everyone is eager for influence
Many large technology companies are essentially engaged in the service industry. Some people may be reluctant to admit that they like the process of pursuing status and the incentives they receive.
From a user's point of view, more and more people talk about social software on mobile phones and stay online for longer and longer. So you can also say that, StaaS (Status as a Service) is essentially a FOMO as a Service.. That is, social networks help people get rid of the imaginary FOMO, but fall into the real FOMO..
If you want to control your own happiness, don’t tie it to someone else’s scoreboard. (If you want to be happy, don’t tie it to someone else’s scoreboard.)
* the article is an independent view of the author and does not represent the position of the tiger olfactory net. This article is published by Zeng Xiang @ Yourseeker authorized tiger olfactory net and edited by the tiger olfactory net. Please indicate the author's name at the beginning of this article, maintain the integrity of the article (including Tiger sniffing notes and other author identification information), and attach the source (Tiger sniffing Web) and a link to this page. Original link: if https://www.huxiu.com/article/288879.html is not reproduced in accordance with the regulations, tiger olfactory reserves the right to pursue the corresponding responsibility
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