Remember Utterz? No? What about Utterli? No? Hmm. Do you know why?
It was a more complicated version of Twitter and a few months late to the microblogging party. There were countless other Twitter clones in the early days, but they’ve all come and gone as Twitter has certainly become king. Heck, even the kids are using it now.
Before the Microblogging battle, there was the social network battle for supremacy. Facebook, the young upstart with a clean user experience, was opening to the public and incumbent MySpace had an immense lead on mind-share. A few years later, Facebook is the largest social network in the world and MySpace has been sold twice and re-imagined countless times (although some say it’s making a comeback with a smaller set of users).
There was also the LBS Check-In conflict. Foursquare, Gowalla and more. While Foursquare still has the lead, evolution in the mobile space is changing the game and a new horse, like Path, could find the magic bullet to build on LBS and create something with greater utility (but I’m not betting on Path).
If you’ve been in digital marketing for the past decade, you can’t help but be enthralled with these ongoing match-ups. It’s a constant gamble to determine who will come out on top and how do these offerings fit into our strategy. We’ve all made mistakes and focused on “bright shiny objects” (see: SecondLife and Empire Avenue), but entrepreneurs are getting smarter. Focus has turned to value over gimmick.
Enter the Content Creation and Aggregation War. This one will be cluttered, messy and even more difficult to anticipate. That’s said, our combatants have already entered the field and are ready to expand their borders for your attention.
Here are some of the new players:
The latest effort from Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone of The Obvious Corporation. Medium was officially launched yesterday and already has over 46,000 twitter followers (not surprised based on Biz and Ev’s following, but still impressive). For the most part, Medium is still a bit of a mystery, but it’s described as, “Posting on Medium (not yet open to everyone) is elegant and easy, and you can do so without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience. All posts are organized into “collections,” which are defined by a theme and a template.” Sounds a bit Tumblr-esqu… or, maybe it’s more like…
“Cowbird is a simple tool for telling stories, and a public library of human experience. We are a small community of storytellers, sharing heartfelt, personal stories. You can use Cowbird to keep a diary of your life, and to help us document the major sagas taking place in the world. You can also explore the many beautiful stories in the library using a number of novel browsing techniques.”
Sounds interesting, huh? You should check out the user experience! While Medium is still not open for use, Cowbird has flown under the radar a bit (even though there was some serious press in February) and is allowing folks to submit why they should be a contributor (I was approved yesterday). Unlike most content aggregation and creation tools, Cowbird actually launched with a vibrant case study on how National Geographic utilized the platform to tell the story of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation – The Pine Ridge Community Storytelling Project.
Dubbed “Macro-Journalism” by Dan Read, Cowbird takes the burden off of one individual to tell the story. It’s a collection of stories from real people that incorporates brief text, photo and audio. It’s not hard to imagine many collaborative books being created here in the future.
Wander captivates the crap out of me. It’s been live for months, but if you ask anyone what it is, you’ll get a different answer every time. Check out the “About Us” page on Facebook and all you get is the line, “Oh, the places you’ll go.” When I signed up months ago, I went through a series of tasks to pick my favortie place, upload a photo, share with my network and then come back in a week for your next task. While I’ve been intruigued, it hasn’t done enough for me to share every time I take an action because I still don’t really know what it is!
That said, when you do sign in, you learn about Wanderlogs (which sounds very much like the features in Cowbird and Medium) but it focuses on experiencing the world… together. So, add your favorite destination and see how the world adds their photos, stories, etc. to that place and how it provides you with a whole different perspective.
But don’t stop there, add your favorite topic, like Biking in Boston and let the world come share their knowledge in a collection of content that could open your eyes to a new perspective. Fascinating and full of potential.
So, is there room for all of these and the countless others that will crop up in the months to come. Sure. But, we also thought that Twitter wouldn’t be the only microblogging platform people actually know and use. Who will win the content aggregation, collaboration and curation war?
I have my guess… but I’ll keep that to myself.
And now Instagram evolves to join the mix by letting you add the story behind your instagram photos in version 3.0. Just announced today with a handful of other updates, the new version of Instagram is taking the features of the sites listed above to a new mobile level. The ability to add your story and include your photos on a map is definitely a new way to experience the world around you and follow your friends journey. This could be trouble for the folks above as Instagram already has an 80MM install base. Read more on TechCrunch.
Amazing how the game can change in a matter of hours!