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Who’s Got Next?

In the beginning there was America Online and there were chatrooms and websites and it was good. Everyone was sending “electronic mail” which was nice and then they were sending “e-mail” which was even better but then we started sending “email”, and well, that was the absolute BEST.


Napster had a decent run there for a while there, didn’t it? But Napster of course ruined everything, by convincing people that they could have something they love, something they need, for free. And now anytime we have to pay a red cent for ANYTHING digital we are up in arms. But alas it was too good to last and Napster never really figured out a way to make it as a legit business.



Which brings us to The Book Face. Originally conceived as a way to digitally remove people’s faces and preserve them in book form, it was soon re-strategized as the world’s largest storehouse of 80s haircut photos.


In digital terms Facebook actually grew pretty slowly. Unlike Napster you heard about Facebook before you were allowed to have it. And this forbidden fruit vibe made it irresistible. Pretty soon you were using it for everything you used to use electronic mail/e-mail/email for — pictures of your kids, long-lost videos of that cool band you used to like, your cat’s super-cute fall wardrobe, you name it — you aint e’ing it you’re F’ing it.


But lately doesn’t it maybe kinda feel like we’re at a “what’s next?” phase? Maybe it’s the privacy stuff, maybe it’s Diaspora, maybe it’s natural/digital selection, maybe it’s all (or none) of the above.


Speaking of Diaspora, the open-source for the Facebook alternative is now available. Is this the FB-killer? Could be. The screenshots look awfully familiar but sometimes that’s the way it is with digital innovation. Zuckerberg even called Diaspora a “cool idea”.


I could end way wrong on this but Diaspora feels like a band-aid. It’s an open-source patched-up version of something everyone already has, which is possibly something everyone will flock to. But not for long.  I feel like the next move will be something with mobile at its core. Like some sort of Facebook/Foursquare/Twitter/Pandora mashup, built FOR mobile (rather than a mobile version of an existing dealie).


Marketers like to tell their clients to spend $ on Facebook in large part because that’s where their audience is. This is also true with individuals. Sure we all have outlier holdout friends but they’ll buy the Farmville soon enough.


But by the time they do will the party be over? Clearly there’s been a sea change at Facebook, and that Zuckerberg fella has decided that it’s as fun and challenging to figure out how to monetize the thing as it was to create and nurture it. Fine. It’s his baby. And hey, he had a pretty good run.