An article in The Times today caught my eye. Based on research by Parks Associates, it focuses on the ‘promiscuity’ of social network users and how many use several networks. The behaviour of these ‘internet tarts’ is evidence, apparently, according to Robert Jones, of Wolff Olins that “grand operatic brands no longer work.” Wolff Olins, you’ll recall, were the brains behind the 2012 Olympic logo. The Times article is couched in language that suggests that we should choose one social network and stick to it.
I use several social networks, so I fall in to the ‘promiscuous’ category. The reason I use several is because they each offer me different opportunities and value as a user. I’ll probably stay with all three for as long as I continue to get what I want out of them. The brand itself is almost entirely irrelevant but the investment of time I’ve made gives me a modicum of emotional attachment… but not to the brand: to my network and the profile I’ve built. I don’t feel promiscuous, I’m just excercising my options.
At the core of any social network is the value that a user gets out of it. If that value wanes, they will jump ship but for as longs as users continue to benefit they’ll stay put (a good example is eBay). With talk of Myspace being valued at $12bn and Facebook holding out for a better offer, I really wonder what sort of value the social networks hold closest to their heart. I want to remind them that without me and millions like me, they’ve got nothing.