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Interesting to me are the generational service abandonment patterns.

The author mentions abandoning MySpace moving into highschool like the subject graduates past Tumblr.

It's symbolic of the maturing nature of the individual. In the future perhaps social networks will find a way to iterate their brand with each generation to prevent losing users to another new service.

Is it so much the individual maturing, and not just the platform itself losing relevance? The whole nature of these social platforms seems to be entirely ephemeral - they spread by word of mouth because others are using it. The problem comes in when you consider that a person isn't going to use more than 2 or 3 of these platforms. So as soon as a new platform is released, older platforms are guaranteed to lose users even if the new platform is worse, as it will take a number of weeks or months for a typical user to understand and then reject the new platform. During that time, the older platform isn't being used.

This exact issue seems to apply to online gaming as well, so this isn't some new discovery of human behavior. There are some 'big' games (warcraft, cod) that retain their users even after a decade - but they do this by reinventing themselves and recreating their products constantly. I think social media and gaming are similar enough for a lot of these behavior traits to apply to social media also - which means the correct approach is to redesign/improve core parts of your social platform at least once a year to keep it relevant.

And if these patterns hold how can any social media service be the next big anything?

People just want a consistent interface to communicate. There's no UX reason to separate email, facebook, instachat twumblr or whatever from each other.

Yes there are different reasons for communicating but they can all function under one roof. The next big trend of sending pokes with 12 second color corrected videos that get deleted after watching can live inside Facebook, G+, or TwEmail 3.0

My gut reaction is "not going to happen." Because I think people are drawn to companies with honest, relaxed attitudes - not companies carefully calculating their identity to win a new market share and desperately attempting to avoid obsolescence. And I think this consumer preference is becoming even more influential as the main arena of corporate competition becomes increasingly digital and social. Look at how successful Microsoft has been so far at proving that it's still cool.

But then, maybe you're right - maybe we should look forward to some incredibly sophisticated, calculating companies in the future.

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