Homogeny Vs Diversity

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

“What is the world coming to? Next Twitter will remove the character limit, Microsoft will release a cool advert and Facebook will earn trust.” I was quoted as saying that in response to recent changes to Instagram.

You see in the last few days Facebook owned Instagram revealed you can now upload portrait and landscape photos to the social network.

Big deal huh? Well, the unique thing about Instagram is that you could only ever upload square images before. It was a USP (Unique Selling Point). Whether it was a good USP or not is another question, but at least it helped to differentiate the service from others.

Facebook is often seen as the social network to imitate, because it is the largest. However, in recent days it has finally allowed animated gifs to be displayed.

Big deal huh? Well, Facebook refused to do it for such a long time, even though social networks like Google+ and Twitter have had great success with animated gifs, that it left many people scratching their heads in wonder. Could the fact that a lot of animated gifs go viral have a part to play in Facebook finally adopting them?

Now Twitter has from the very beginning set itself apart from the crowd by imposing a 140 character limit on its tweets. The same applied to direct messages too. Well not any more! In recent weeks Twitter removed the character limit for direct messages. How long before tweets themselves get longer?

You can see this sort of slow creep towards homogeneity in all of the social networks. Instagram brought image filters to the playing field, then Google+ came along with image filters. Google+ introduced a social network with no advertising, then ello joined the fray with no advertising. Medium allowed you to create blog posts, then LinkedIn allowed you to publish blog posts.

The point I am trying to make is this, if all of these social networks are slowly becoming the same, how do we choose which ones to use? If social networks are no longer defined by the things that make them unique, should we instead be looking towards quality as the primary defining factor? Is homogeneity in fact good for competition?

What makes you decide to use the social networks you use and will it change?

Alan Stainer