Monday, November 29, 2010

Finding the Facebook Killer

I’ve blogged in the past here about what we might want to do/need to do at Uncharted to make it a more appealing social media experience. My last post focused on the “Facebooking” of Uncharted, updating our static pages into something more dynamic, like Facebook’s news feeds (or indeed, Twitter’s constant updates) both of which feed our insatiable need for something new on the Internet that’s related somehow to our self-centered natures.

I wrote all that not because Uncharted is or possibly could be framed as the “Facebook Killer” – something it most certainly is not—but merely as a way to make our site more appealing to those on the site already and act as a potential draw for new Explorers.

So it was interesting to read Pete Cashmore’s column on today, in which he talks about Facbook killers.

He points out that Facebook won the war against MySpace because of its news feed – a feature I advocate at Uncharted:

Facebook, which usurped MySpace for the social networking crown, did so with a radical innovation: the launch of its News Feed in 2006. This new feature wasn't just a "better MySpace" but a completely different approach to social interaction that replaced static pages with streams of constantly updated information.

Constantly updated information. I know that’s what I look for in the web sites and tools I regard as social – Facebook, Twitter, my personal blogs, even e-mail and other communications tools. It’s obvious that Uncharted needs to do some more along those lines if we’re to stay relevant in today’s social media landscape, if I may use such a tired metaphor. Dynamism is what we need to keep Uncharted going and to help it grow. We’ve got elements of that dynamism with stories and photosets being added periodically, but that dynamism needs to show up on individual profiles as well as elsewhere.

This also means we need to look at our competition – from the lofty National Geographic to more humble enterprises (like ours) such as What are we offering that’s radically different? We’ve got stuff in the wings – professional development in the form of workshops on writing, photography, cultural awareness, et cetera. Those are the unique services we think we can offer our Explorers. We’ve just got to get off our duffs and do it.

So what does Cashmore envision as the Facebook killer? He’s not sure, except to say it won’t look anything like Facebook. We need to look at what our competition is doing and make what we’re doing look not like what they’re doing.

Which brings me back to the premise of Facebooking Uncharted. Is Facebook our competition? Not directly. Indirectly, however, yes – because of how easy it is to put travel-related stuff up on Facebook and share it with your already-existing circle of friends. No one is going to come to Uncharted until everyone is there – a conundrum faced by many social media sites.

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