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Social Media Still Needs To Grow Up…Some Possible Fixes…

Twitter continues to be log-jammed, and I think every social network – MySpace, Facebook, MyBlogLog, all go through this phase.

In the case of MySpace, it’s become the hotbed of unmoderated bulletin spam and private message spam for ringtones, free ipod/xbox360/nintendo WII email/zip submit offers. I bet it’s going to take some doing to clear all that muck.

With Facebook, they’re taken the opposite tack of placing a cap on the number of private messages you can send out, limiting the ability of popular group owners to communicate with their members – forcing some to set up off-site bulletin boards to send broadcast messages out.

With MyBlogLog, the platform has a built a good userbase with its blog widget (though guys like Shoemoney had showed that it was pretty easy to abuse the “recent visitors” feature of it). The major sticking point is that Yahoo! doesn’t seem to have a concrete social media strategy (or at least an integrated one in place). I’m still hoping to see some of its community features like it’s Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Shopping, Mash social platform and MyBlogLog properties come together. And in my book, come together means more than a single unified Yahoo! login to tie the pieces together.

Even a 1-2 page weekly or bi-weekly updates or “What’s Hawt!” newsletter would serve to bring some of the pieces together…

So what’s the deal with Twitter’s sputtering and throttling down the flow of data?

With Twitter, I suspect it’s the “Twitter gamers” – the guys who follow 5,000 others and have like 50 followers who are contributing to the overhead. Somewhere out there, someone had the genius idea that if you followed 10,000 people and 100 followed you back, you would have built up a community of 100 followers, the resource overhead resulting from the other 9,900 other members pinging you their updates be damned.

So assuming 10% of twitter users are using this social gaming tactic and 90% of their updates are coming from users who don’t follow them back, they could be contributing 50% of the resource load on Twitter’s server farm. In my book, no amount of distributed computing or load balancing is going to protect you from this.

The net effect is that Twitter has scaled down features like private messages and pagination (keeping logs of twitter conversations beyond the first page. How’s that for shutting down your social platform?

If platform developers were to create two parallel platforms – one dedicated to IM-like one-to-one communication, and another community-like BBS type infrastructure, perhaps some of the resource could be balanced.

But the issue is more systemic and a rule-based social fix is in order.

With most established community sites, there is the concept of ratios, or advancing through the hierarchy to earn your social due.

On a popular forum like ABestWeb, you need to log in 200 posts before you gain the ability to private message other members. With other forums like Digital Point, you need to clock in a number of quality posts before you earn the right to post a forum signature.

I’m not sure about the guys who follow 10,000 other twitter users, but I’m guessing that unless they’re chained to their computer 24-7, they’re not likely to be reading more than 10% of the updates from people they’re following. And if you’re not doing that, what’s the point?

The bedrock of community-based interaction (or if you prefer the buzzword social media) is the concept of conversations – you talk, they reply, you reply back. If the system breaks down, then “the internets iz broken”…

What if you were to introduce a basic rule like a 10:1 ratio of “followed twitter users” vs “followers” in your posse? That would significantly up the signal-to-noise ratio wouldn’t it?

…and I would actually be able to use twitter again…

1 comment on Social Media Still Needs To Grow Up…Some Possible Fixes…

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