Me-Too Mentality is Bad for Users, Marketers, and Startups

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Web 2.0 has a huge me-too problem. Everyday a new company announces a ‘new’ product which is nothing more than the old product with slight modifications or a few small additional features. This mentality is not only bad for users but also for marketers and even the startups.
A prime example of this phenomenon can be witnessed by comparing Dodgeball, Twitter, Jaiku, Tumblr, Pownce and a plethora of other microblogging tools. 90% of the services these different tools offer are the same, and the 10% that differentiates them is not significant enough to make most users switch.
Bad for the users
With social networks and mini social networks or microblogging tools, most users join and use the service that the rest of their friends use. However, when you have 10 different tools that offer largely the same service with 1 or 2 features differentiating them all the decision making process becomes a lot more complex. For example, if there are 10 friends, and each of them ends up liking the 1 different feature in each of the 10 hypothetical services, you have a problem. These me-too services have caused users to have fragmented networks and force them to either sign up and manage multiple accounts, lose touch with their friends on other networks, or resort to third-party tools to aggregate and mass-post information to all the networks.
I’m having this problem now as most of my friends use Twitter but some of them have started using Pownce. I keep posting to Twitter, the few that have moved, keep posting to Pownce, and we both assume that the other is still reading our posts but in actuality there is a disconnect.
Bad for the marketers
Because the lack of one large unified platform and the fragmentation of the individuals’ social network, the job becomes that much harder for the advertiser. Rather than being able to target all 10 of the friends on one network the marketer has to either target a fewer number of people on one network or all of them on the various different networks. At the same time, it is harder for the marketer to find out the number of active users that a network has. For example, when Pownce was first released, I signed up for the service, along with most of my other friends, but ultimately many of them returned to Twitter. However, these users are counted twice, once for each network. This increases the amount of work that the marketer has to do and reduces the returns at the same time.
Bad for the startup
Though I’m using the example of microblogging tools, the same idea works for any platform. Again, because of the fragmented social network, it is harder for the startup to evaluate its own success because of active and inactive users and makes it harder to portray an accurate picture to marketing partners and investors alike (because you can use third-party tools which make it seem like you’re active on the multiple networks). Not only that, but the initial users that sign up but don’t stay long-term use resources but add no long-term value.
Is it too far fetched to argue that all these mini-networks, when combined, would provide better value for users, the marketers, and the joint-company?

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

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