how the ‘social media four’ are conquering the web – part 1

steve rubel wrote a post on three strategies that help you succeed on the decentralized web. here’s a look at how the four big social sites have integrated those strategies (part 1) into their plans for social web domination.

think ‘web services’ not ‘websites’

web services allow developers to interact and exchange information with a platform. for example, with the release of their api’s, sites like digg, facebook, flickr, and youtube allow developers various degrees of interaction with their information repositories to develop new tools, which in turn give the end-users (the community) new ways to access the original site’s information.

socially driven: diggofficially announced their api (along with a flash toolkit) about 4 months ago. in that time, there have been 10 contest-winning applications built on the api and countless more equally impressive and useful ones. as a result people are visualizing and accessing digg from many additional sources from where it wasn’t previously accessible and are enjoying the site in ways that the site’s own developers can’t possibly find it feasible to make available (and still find time to do their day jobs).

social networking: facebook – launched their api or rather the f8 development platform on may 24. in less than 3 months, there have been thousands of facebook applications developed, which integrate the the smallest to the most established sites with facebook. this move has caused the site to grow almost 4-times as fast as myspace and has increased the site’s valuation 3-fold.

photo-sharing: flickr – was the first one out with their api (out of the social media four), which turns 3 years old this september. this also means that they have a quite inclusive and well-developed api which can integrate most of the functions of the site into an off-site application. additionally there is a comprehensive collection of tools built on the api including development tools, desktop and mobile applications, and more.

video-sharing: youtubeunveiled their api around the same time facebook did, and has gotten more than its fair share of attention with numerous tools and mashups already built on it.

all four of these sites have abundant competition. digg faces, netscape, reddit, stumbleupon, and more. facebook faces myspace, bebo, tangler, and so on. flickr faces competition from zooomr, photobucket, and others. and youtube faces competition on all fronts from more video-hosting-and-sharing sites than one can count or name.

in spite of this competition these sites remain the most popular and the some of fastest growing in their respective niches and it is fair to say that this is in no small part because of their shift away from being just social media ‘sites’, and towards being social media ‘platforms’ (or social media ‘services’). by opening their proverbial ‘walled gardens’ to outsiders they allow hundreds of innovative minds to play with their data and come up with new ways to present and interact with the information which is beneficial for the platform owner (i.e. the social media site), the developer, as well as the end-user.

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14 thoughts on “how the ‘social media four’ are conquering the web – part 1

  1. Urbanist

    I’ve been watching Alexa traffic (an albeit flawed indicator) and it is interesting to see how some of these top sites are actually faltering a bit and some of the competition is coming up fairly fast. Adaptation is the key if they want to stay on top.

  2. Elmer Thomas

    A big part of web 2.0 is the mash up and you can’t do that well without a good API. I am very interested to see when and how and release their API’s.

  3. Frankenstein

    The web’s going through an interesting transition and these sites have done a great job showing what can be done when a community is leveraged. Certainly, allowing others inside the gates, so to speak, through an API adds a tremendous amount of function to the site, but not all sites that release APIs get the response these big 4 have. They seem to have found something, in addition to an API, that generates success.

    It will be interesting to see how some of the newer, smaller firms play the game. There are a lot of great new services out there (meebo, twitter, siphs, etc) that have a lot to offer. Will APIs help these firms find success?

  4. Ad Net

    I think that the growth of sites needs to be tracked in two ways.
    1. the developers that make apps and mashups, and these are going to be the people with the toolbars that track stats.
    2. the general internet populous that only interact with a website on the most basic level, and most likely won’t even know what a toolbar is.

    Once these two sets of the internet can be determined in specific numbers to a site or sites, then you will get the true numbers of growth to sites like Facebook, which I think is mostly developer traffic.

  5. Anujk

    yes… the social media sites are just capturing the web world… lets see how far this can go… it seems as if without these social networks life at the web world is dull and slow…

  6. Max

    I always see that stat of how fast facebook is growing in comparison to myspace. Myspace is still 5 times the size of facebook, of course facebook is going to grow at a “huge” rate in when comparing by percentages. But when you look at the number of new users the difference is not so noticeable. I am also surprised at hi5, that is a site I do not really use but it seems to rank very highly on ranking sites like I don’t know why it has not received the same recognition as facebook.

    Max … Out!

  7. Paul Lopez

    What is beginning to work well with Web 2.0 is to allow the developer ecosystem to seamlessly support cross-interfaces for sharing and application development acceleration. End users will select the sites based on personal preference, even those that do basically the same thing. They have use multiple blogging tools, photo sites, social networking sites not to mention trying new ones.

  8. Pingback: Vu du Web #0734 - J. BOURREAU GUGGENHEIM

  9. Social SEO

    What about synergies and merging technologies? Platform integration and crossovers between different networks?

    Will the day come when social sites stop having closed walls and start affecting each others rankings and happenings? Will the day arrive when Digg will compute in is algo the fact that a submission was made from a popular flickr group, or Reddit take into account that an SEO story made it to the front page of Sphinn and therefore it has the community approval stamp?

    Networks could learn a lot from each other.


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