James Robertson asks “where’s the social networking value?”

In a good “can you please cut through the Scoble hype” post, James Robertson notes that he heard all the Twitter hype, then all the Jaiku hype, then all the Pownce hype, and now is hearing all the Facebook hype and wants to know what’s in it for him. The A.Connector podcast talks about the same thing and tells you what value he gets out of these things.

OK, let’s turn on the cynical hat for a moment and stop the hype.

First of all, let’s group Twitter/Jaiku/Pownce together. They are quite different from Facebook, even if there’s a component like those inside Facebook (and the Pownce Facebook app is working again).

Now, none of these things has ANY value if you don’t know anyone on them. They only have value if someone you care about interacting with are on them. I assume that James has friends/family/coworkers/etc who he wants to interact with.

On all of these it’s fun to chat with people. Over on Twitter I’ve been talking with a bunch of people. Plus lots of other people who don’t even know I’m listening posted funny videos.

So, what’s the value?

These things bring interesting things into my life.

Why one over the others?

1. More people you know are on one over the others.
2. You like the way one works better than the others (lately people have been saying Pownce is better in that department than the others).
3. You need a feature the others don’t have. Pownce lets you send music files to other members, for instance. Twitter has an API and was earlier, so it has lots of apps built on top of it. Jaiku is a better aggregator (you can bring in messages from the others, along with blogs and other RSS feeds).

Now, about Facebook, well, it has almost instantly replaced my business card collection AND my contacts over on Outlook. Now if I want to talk with someone I go to Facebook and look them up.

But then you add the application platform to Facebook and you have a whole new beast. That brings a LOT of value and an INCREASING set of values. Today, for instance, the Google Reader app was updated again. There’s nothing else like it on the Internet. So if you want to see what the most popular feed readers are, and what the most popular thing that they are reading, you gotta join Facebook. No alternatives.

Well, OK, the most popular thing in the past 12 hours? Read/Write Web’s list of 10 Facebook Apps for work.

My winner? Facebook. If you join only one that’s gotta be the one — you’ll get value out of that even if you don’t have any friends (and, if you read me, you’ll always have me as a friend). Then try out the others and see which one you like and/or if you get any value out of it.

UPDATE: Jim Long has a good post on this topic where he posits that social networks are the new TV.

UPDATE 2: Steve Rubel says we’re like a million monkeys. Is more interested in what people do with technology rather than the latest “shiny object.” Funny, that post is the culmination of a bunch of Twitter posts back and forth. Turns out that Facebook’s email really pisses Steve off. So, what am I going to do? Send him one, of course! ;-)

UPDATE 3: Shaine Mata kept notes on this afternoon’s Twitter session between Rubel and me and others.

63 thoughts on “James Robertson asks “where’s the social networking value?”

  1. I keep reading a few higher profile bloggers write about how linkedin is no longer cool and how facebook is the new amazing place for business professionals and working people. I spent time looking at and critically examining facebook, their offer and the users who congregate there. I browsed about 70 profiles on facebook. Every single profile was of a 18-25 year old doing Jello shots of some chicks abs. I didn’t see a single professional profile or a person over 25ish. OK so no professionals here…why is this useful for professionals then? Then I looked at the applications and widgets available on facebook and all of them were for entertainment purposes (music, movies, jokes)…nothing for professionals so why is this useful for professionals?? I went to groups and saw more college age kids hooking up and socializing…no business or networking groups. I didn’t see any business or industry news or information and I could not find a way to be introduced to professionals in specific industries. PEOPLE – Either I have completely missed something or facebook is offering bloggers access to their IPO to pump up the site.

    What do you think is more likely? That an application built for college kids is more useful then other applications built for professionals or that there is a pump and dump scenario brewing?

  2. I keep reading a few higher profile bloggers write about how linkedin is no longer cool and how facebook is the new amazing place for business professionals and working people. I spent time looking at and critically examining facebook, their offer and the users who congregate there. I browsed about 70 profiles on facebook. Every single profile was of a 18-25 year old doing Jello shots of some chicks abs. I didn’t see a single professional profile or a person over 25ish. OK so no professionals here…why is this useful for professionals then? Then I looked at the applications and widgets available on facebook and all of them were for entertainment purposes (music, movies, jokes)…nothing for professionals so why is this useful for professionals?? I went to groups and saw more college age kids hooking up and socializing…no business or networking groups. I didn’t see any business or industry news or information and I could not find a way to be introduced to professionals in specific industries. PEOPLE – Either I have completely missed something or facebook is offering bloggers access to their IPO to pump up the site.

    What do you think is more likely? That an application built for college kids is more useful then other applications built for professionals or that there is a pump and dump scenario brewing?

  3. “- There’s no external API for updating and almost no export (RSS etc)”

    Erm, Facebook offer a lot of RSS feeds.

    - friends status updates
    - friends notes
    - friends posted items
    - events can be subscribed to via the industry standard iCal format
    - a specific friends posted items

    Its missing a few things, such as RSS for recently tagged friends in photos/videos, the news feed (though they might not give this up, as its the most prized possession) and a feed or reply tracker for activity in groups (this is sorely missed) but overall it isnt the complete data roach that people seem to be suggesting.

  4. “- There’s no external API for updating and almost no export (RSS etc)”

    Erm, Facebook offer a lot of RSS feeds.

    - friends status updates
    - friends notes
    - friends posted items
    - events can be subscribed to via the industry standard iCal format
    - a specific friends posted items

    Its missing a few things, such as RSS for recently tagged friends in photos/videos, the news feed (though they might not give this up, as its the most prized possession) and a feed or reply tracker for activity in groups (this is sorely missed) but overall it isnt the complete data roach that people seem to be suggesting.

  5. @26 “iPhone already has set all the sales records” Compared to what? Data point, please.

    “Tablets? Still sold more than Apple has sold Macs.”

    This is an idiotic supporting statement. Since when do Tablets compete with Mac’s? The better comparison is Tablet sales vs non-tablet laptops.

    “Gaining in strength every day, even if most people don’t know they are using RSS.”

    Who is measuring this? You? I mean, could you at least support your statements with facts?

    “Longhorn? Sold 40 million copies in first three months.”

    WTF?? Microsoft is SELLING beta software now? Or did you mean Vista? If so, er, um… not so fast..
    ww.crn.com/white-box/200900857;jsessionid=WMSLSSMCWUK1OQSNDLRSKH0CJUNN2JVN

    “Xbox? Outselling Sony PlayStation”

    So THAT explains why MS had to allocate $1B to extend the warranty on the 360′s Maybe 360 is outselling playstation3, but hell, a PS2 outsells a PS3 And the WII is also outselling the 360. So, what’s your point?

  6. @26 “iPhone already has set all the sales records” Compared to what? Data point, please.

    “Tablets? Still sold more than Apple has sold Macs.”

    This is an idiotic supporting statement. Since when do Tablets compete with Mac’s? The better comparison is Tablet sales vs non-tablet laptops.

    “Gaining in strength every day, even if most people don’t know they are using RSS.”

    Who is measuring this? You? I mean, could you at least support your statements with facts?

    “Longhorn? Sold 40 million copies in first three months.”

    WTF?? Microsoft is SELLING beta software now? Or did you mean Vista? If so, er, um… not so fast..
    ww.crn.com/white-box/200900857;jsessionid=WMSLSSMCWUK1OQSNDLRSKH0CJUNN2JVN

    “Xbox? Outselling Sony PlayStation”

    So THAT explains why MS had to allocate $1B to extend the warranty on the 360′s Maybe 360 is outselling playstation3, but hell, a PS2 outsells a PS3 And the WII is also outselling the 360. So, what’s your point?

  7. Re: Your Rodgers response

    Those “sales records” don’t touch other carriers weekends. More Tablets than Macs? You crazy? So only a little more than a million Macs out there? Someone named Steve Jobs will have a bone to pick with you. RSS, a wash-out even by geek standards. Longhorn did NOT sell 40 million, Vista did, (Longhorn was trashed years ago) and rough 65-70% of that number are OEM installs and upgrades, with a good deal yet unsold. Exactly how many “sold” is unknown, stop smoking Microsoft statistics. XBox 360 has the worst retail return rate of any consumer electronic product in history (33%), add another billion in write-off’s, and Microsoft self-admitted that it was their own design flaw (Moore ruined Sega, ruined Microsoft, now off to ruin EA). And PS3′s story is not yet over, price decrease and upgrade at same price, besides Wii is outselling all. SecondLife is so over, as will be Facebook, or whatever goofy-sounding start-up pops on the scene for a moment.

  8. Re: Your Rodgers response

    Those “sales records” don’t touch other carriers weekends. More Tablets than Macs? You crazy? So only a little more than a million Macs out there? Someone named Steve Jobs will have a bone to pick with you. RSS, a wash-out even by geek standards. Longhorn did NOT sell 40 million, Vista did, (Longhorn was trashed years ago) and rough 65-70% of that number are OEM installs and upgrades, with a good deal yet unsold. Exactly how many “sold” is unknown, stop smoking Microsoft statistics. XBox 360 has the worst retail return rate of any consumer electronic product in history (33%), add another billion in write-off’s, and Microsoft self-admitted that it was their own design flaw (Moore ruined Sega, ruined Microsoft, now off to ruin EA). And PS3′s story is not yet over, price decrease and upgrade at same price, besides Wii is outselling all. SecondLife is so over, as will be Facebook, or whatever goofy-sounding start-up pops on the scene for a moment.

  9. Twitter cracks me up! I think a person’s “interestingness” in real life is inversely related to how interesting their Twitter is – the two most interesting Twitters that I read come from people who BORE ME TO TEARS in real life. But they write really pithy comments in 150 characters or less.
    In conclusion: TWITTER IS NOT REAL LIFE… at least for me. Social networking is great but quite overplayed these days. Hype is just hype.

  10. Twitter cracks me up! I think a person’s “interestingness” in real life is inversely related to how interesting their Twitter is – the two most interesting Twitters that I read come from people who BORE ME TO TEARS in real life. But they write really pithy comments in 150 characters or less.
    In conclusion: TWITTER IS NOT REAL LIFE… at least for me. Social networking is great but quite overplayed these days. Hype is just hype.

  11. Rodgers: let’s see. iPhone already has set all the sales records. Tablets? Still sold more than Apple has sold Macs. RSS? Gaining in strength every day, even if most people don’t know they are using RSS. Longhorn? Sold 40 million copies in first three months. Xbox? Outselling Sony PlayStation. Second Life? The story still hasn’t been written on that, but I haven’t hyped it up for a year now.

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