Are social networks ready for prime time?

Posted on June 22, 2010

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Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks have become places where we meet, engage, share, inform and even become enlightened. However, in order for these social networks to truly make it into prime time, they must do better. In television terms, prime time refers to blocks of TV programming occurring in the middle of the evening when the number of viewers peek. Since social networks are global and cut across every time zone, prime time is nearly 24×7. In other words, people are constantly tuning in. 

As the past few weeks have shown, social networks are experiencing more than their fair share of challenges. Notably, Twitter has been experiencing abundant outages. Twitter has attributed these outages to high volumes of activity associated with world cup soccer and possibly the Gulf Oil Spill. Well, in reality, there will always be events occurring on the world stage stimulating people to tune in for conversation. Whether we live in Philadelphia or Johannesburg, we click on to social networks at various times given its flexibility to work around our schedule. To do better, Twitter needs less downtime. 

Social network challenges are not limited to Twitter. Facebook is still receiving a great deal of flak due to privacy concerns. Strong feelings remain that access to user information is being exploited for targeted advertising without user consent. For Facebook to do better, the following are required:

  • Transparency,
  • User engagement, and
  • Simplicity.

Similarly, LinkedIn is not totally immune from obstacles. As Computerworld reported last week, LinkedIn is embroiled with a lawsuit where an IT staffing firm has accused a former employer of violating a non-compete agreement through actions on LinkedIn. As the premier professional social network, LinkedIn must be mindful of its application and how it can be misused.

As these recent examples demonstrate, many are feeling that social networks are works-in-progress. However, given the dramatic adoption and growth of these networks, they are not being used as “beta” tests but as productivity tools. In fact, social networks  are growing faster than email and the beloved telephone. In many instances, we are just scratching the surface with social networks as their application will only continue to grow. Therefore, social networks must do better immediately in order to be ready for prime time.

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Posted in: social media