Staff Reporters
Nov 5, 2012

MEDIA DEBATE: Are premium social networks the future of social media?

As social networks continue to fragment, premium and niche sites are offering a more exclusive and intimate experience. Do they represent the future of social media?

(L-R) Wilkins, Woolf, Wong
(L-R) Wilkins, Woolf, Wong

STRATEGIST
Jon Wilkins
Founder and co-chairman
Naked Communications

The best proxy for what will happen is to look at human sociability and behaviour from our ‘analogue’ lives.

Some of our friendship groups are open; we also have much tighter, closed groups where we share much more intimate conversations and content. These applications are flourishing as we mimic a more intimate form of sharing and sociability. In fact, every possible behaviour is now being exemplified within social networks.

Premium and closed networks already exist, and will continue to grow. Humans love to network, and will pay for the privilege if the rewards are high; a new job, and new ally, a closer relationship with a hero. But to say they represent the future of social media is a vast oversimplification.

Social networks will continue to fragment, but ultimately they will cluster around social behaviour that has existed since we were living in caves. Sometimes to look to the future we’re better off looking into our past, as technology will mimic the intrinsic behaviour and desires we’ve always had.

SOCIAL PR HEAD
Jeremy Woolf
SVP, global digital/social media practice lead
Text 100

As social networks such as Facebook and Twitter reach a critical mass of users, consumers will demand more intimate social networking experiences. Premium and niche networks (such as Path, which limits your network to 50 friends) are becoming popular. Invitation only/qualified participant networks including Internations and Spootnik.com are offering more focused discussions in exclusive settings (expats and high-end product consumers respectively). The larger networks aren’t resting on their laurels. Google+’s circles and Facebook’s ability to segment friends are examples of how they’re encouraging more intimate communities.

So is the future of social networking premium/closed networks? A qualified ‘sort-of’. Premium and niche networks will emerge until the larger networks offer better tools for creating more intimate sub-networks. Once this happens, social networking overload, ease of navigation and simple sign-on will see more people joining niche sub-communities within trusted larger networks. Fear of giving up credentials to a fly-by-night network and too few members will make it hard for niche and premium networks to flourish.

DIGITAL EXPERT
Andrew Wong

GM, digital
Starcom Hong Kong

When mass social networks reach all sorts of people and social groups, satisfaction of specific needs for special interest groups diminishes. That creates room for social networks of special interests or closed social networks.

P1.cn, for example, is a private social network for like-minded high-net-worth individuals that serves a specific need for well-connected people to share exclusive information. TrustedFamily, on the other hand, also finds its place in the social network ecosphere to connect families and family businesses. 

If we find different special interest groups forming in our societies, at work and in schools, we should expect to find various closed social networks online. These will only become more popular as people become more connected by technology.

Source:
Campaign Asia

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