Social media platforms in period of "copying and consolidation"
In the image above, you can see that Facebook has now added little mini-biographies similar to what has been available on Linked In.
We recently wrote that LinkedIn added lots of new functionality that merges their platform with many of the useful services on Twitter.
In terms of look, feel and functionality, it seems like the big platforms are learning a lot from each other!
This points to one of the business challenges of the social web — ideas are easily copied. Developing and protecting intellectual property is difficult.
Functional points of differentiation are blurring. This points to an intriguing aspect of doing business on the social web. You better establish your niche, scale quickly and defend it to the teeth!
Consumers can only seem to emotionally attach to one platform per niche and that is
the true competitive battlefield, even above functionality. If you want proof of this, look at the lousy interface, limited functionality and frequent downtime of Twitter. Yet it has dominated the micro-blogging space by scaling rapidly and out-muscling competitors.
We have seen this ebb and flow of competition and consolidation in each niche. The next platform battle is playing out between the location-based services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp. The king of this niche has not yet been established so we are in a period where all are driving rapid growth in an attempt to dominate. Foursquare just received a new influx of capital and is adding functionality which will put pressure on the others to up their game.
We are in an interesting period of rapid innovation and consolidation that will change the face of the social web constantly.