What’s the Future of Social Apps? Andrew Chen shares some perspectives

The next generation of social is necessarily a reactionary movement: – small networks or algo-driven big ones – creating real connection with people – letting creators own their audiences – monetizing directly with subs, NFTs, etc – evolving media format towards interactivity

Andrew Chen
The past generation of social apps won the market through a playbook: – building big networks with feeds for discovery – creating a followers/status competition for engagement – bringing together creators and audiences – monetizing with ads – supporting photo, text, video
The next generation of social is necessarily a reactionary movement: – small networks or algo-driven big ones – creating real connection with people – letting creators own their audiences – monetizing directly with subs, NFTs, etc – evolving media format towards interactivity
By reactionary, I argue that these ideas simply didn’t make sense in the original Web 2.0 paradigm of the 2010 era Back then, building large networks with invites and solving discovery with feeds was the right move when it was novel to simply see what your friends were up to
Today, too many connections is bad. Maintaining which of 1000s of high school friends and employers have access to which content, is quite simply a chore Small chat groups simplify this. Algo-driven feeds also simplify by just showing you the best stuff. More will be invented
Similarly, the era of edited, posed travel, food, and concert photos showing the top 1% of peoples’ lives is creating a fake reality that is repetitive This worked at first since it was a spectacle A new app can focus on what’s real, or who has talent, or something in reaction
Originally, creators didn’t exist. They weren’t a thing. So bringing them together with their audience — even if they didn’t own that audience — was amazing since it provided a degree of ads-based monetization Today, creators are looking for more, and new apps can cater
A lot of the Creator Economy, of course, is a reaction to pre-existing platforms that get between a creator and their audience. And brands sponsorships who inevitably nudge creators into compromising their integrity New apps can target this and align creators with their audience
NFTs, subscription, ecommerce, andother biz models now exist for creators. More will come – lots of innovation here Furthermore, the “back office” will become an important battleground. Instead of coffee shops and retail, online will be the next generation of small business
Finally, the last decade of social has been about simply putting videos, photos, and text up. And making this easy for anyone to publish. This has unlocked hundreds of billions of dollars of business value I think it may not be enough to simply do more photos, text, and video
Instead, new platforms will emerge that let people author 3D content more easily — and maybe put it into a game. Or interactive content. Or NFTs. And of course audio. All of these new forms of media will probably look like toys at first, but they may catch on in a big way
All of these ideas weren’t the first set to tackle during the Web 2.0 days. In a world where uploading a video was hard, it made sense that Youtube was the first type of app to be built. Social status and competition is an easy engagement hook. Excited about the next gen.
(Cc @nikitabier – our convos inspired a lot of these thought! Follow him for more on social)
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