Future of Social is Functional

For office-goers, apart from going back home, lunch time is usually the most awaited time in the day. Everyone enjoys eating together, interacting, getting some time off. And what can be better than some food along with socializing. Like any other day, we were discussing our social media strategy during lunch. Someone jokingly said that Facebook should come up with a ‘You are annoying’ and ‘I don’t care’ button, and an ‘Enemy request’ option. Our conversation seemed as if the integration of social media in our lives was a given.

The social domain holds answers for most of the human needs and wants. Users now seek a deeper online experience in terms of functionality and fulfillment of their requirements. Social media has taken the role of an important tool and people use it for more than just plain networking. Using social networking for connecting with new people in our personal and professional lives, catching up with old friends is passé. We now connect in order to have our needs met.

Social networking combined with functionality can be understood well with LinkedIn’s example. LinkedIn continuously exceeded Wall Street’s expectation. It is evident that the company benefited from the market doubt swirling around Facebook, Zynga and Groupon’s objective of making the social feature an important function. The reason LinkedIn is a hit is because it monopolizes professional networking in the online space, combining both social features and functionality. Taking cues from LinkedIn’s primary revenue model, a host of startups have developed software that helps professionals achieve targeted access. Thus, social networking should have a functional aspect associated with it in order to be a success. It should be able to solve a problem. We all know it’s bringing you closer to other people, things, places, interests etc. but if it cannot solve your problem, the functional characteristic of it is not being met, what are you networking for?

From a sharing and connecting platform to becoming a tool that allows its users to network and collaborate and even demonstrate credentials, the online social experiences are rapidly becoming more effective and are being used to get tasks done. Using social platforms to network in order to gain something out of it is becoming increasingly important. I agree with this point which I read somewhere that,

the main function of a good website involving social interactions is to provide users with an intuitive mapping between user’s intention and application’s function to provide a solution to the given task.

Github, a virtual co-working place for coders, recently raised a $100 milllion funding at $750 million valuation. QuantiaMD, a platform on which verified doctors and physicians can share expert advice with the community recently announced a 25% returning visit from the doctors of US in the last 3 months. Similarly, there’s FounderDating which is a great platform for entrepreneurs to connect, there’s AngelList which helps connect startup entrepreneurs with investors. Behance allows a platform to host creative portfolios from artists across the world. It caters to recruitment needs of creative professionals. They are all virtual communities that offer solutions to problems through social interactions.

The fact that LinkedIn is doing better than Facebook or Twitter is because of the fact that the platform offers gratification. If you have some potential as a person seeking a job and LinkedIn allows you to connect with an employer, and say, you get the job then your potential is duly recognized and thus, a need is met. LinkedIn has virtually eliminated the need for a static resume. The platform allows you to be a part of the professional sphere for updates and networking with utility, even if you’re not employed. You can get endorsed for your skills or even be a part of LinkedIn’s Influencer program. Here you get an opportunity to follow influencers and engage with them through liking, sharing and commenting on their posts.

A recent interview on TV on digitization gave out a very valuable statement: Letters have changed to emails, encyclopedia has changed to Wikipedia, resumes have changed to LinkedIn and Orkut users have migrated to Facebook. Whatever lacked function has clearly faded into oblivion. That also brings us to question: Is this why Facebook made it? Perhaps

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