Why current newly developed social networks will fail

Currently I see a lot of people starting/developing new social networks. Primary reason has been the announcements from Twitter.

All the developers that start such a new social network are driven by the best motives, wanting to have a more open, twitter style, free social net.

I hate to see that great positive energy being wasted, but it seems that all of the developers do not seem to be interested in the real success of »their« social net. It looks to me as if in the end they will fail they at least can say: “well, I’ve tried hard”.

**But that's not enough.**

What’s required for success

I do see the need of just one social network. It would make things way easier for users. But a few things are needed to make this network successful. And by successful I mean more than a billion users.

On day one of availability:

  • It has to cover at least what Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Jabber, Weibo, Path - to name a few - currently offer. It needs to be more attractive to »normal« users to make a switch.
  • Is has to be available on day one on the Web, Windows, Windows mobile, Android, iOS, Mac and in different languages and localizations.
  • When you move to this service it has to be able to incorporate all your connected people/friends/followers from the different existing services you use now and reconnect them automatically in a way that when they join they are automatically added to the different groups a user has.
  • Users have full control over their data, their followers/friends and the data a user shares to its different groups.
  • Good defaults for family, friends, acquaintances sharing.
  • Very easy to understand interface with options for advanced users.
  • Make it possible to move a user account inside this network from one server to another.
  • Must be free for users if they don’t’ want to pay. This makes it easy for providers to have an incentive to create a free server and use advertisements to cover the costs.

Development features:

  • It has to have an open interface so there can exist different implementations. an open initial implementation is best to get hundreds/thousands of servers world wide during the initial startup phase.
  • It needs to be distributed and you can setup your own server. ISPs would have an incentive to setup servers for their users like e-mail.
  • It should be easy to implement a minimal client so there will be enough developers who are willing to write clients for it. distributed, to spread high demand data quickly and not overload a single little server when somebody posts something interesting for the world.
  • Near realtime search for post and users (this might be the hardest given the distributed nature)
  • It needs headroom to scale up to 10 billion people within the next decade.
  • Nice to have:
    • Incorporate history (not just social network connections) from other services.
    • Realtime audio/video conferencing.
    • File sharing between users.
    • Trending topics.
    • Prevent spam through the protocol. Or easy for users to tag spammers for others.