Social Networks: Where Did All The Original Ideas Go?

By Amy @BubbleJobs

With the world’s press gathered around and the social media community on the edge of their seats, Facebook took to the stage in Palo Alto last Thursday to announce the latest top-secret super-important project they’d been working on. Of course, before the press release, there were all manner of rumours flying around – would it be some new tool to make Facebook Graph Search actually useful? Maybe it’d be something to do with video advertising or perhaps it could be something entirely new and different…?

Unfortunately, as we now know, the new product was none of the above and actually turned out to be Instagram Video – an add-on to the popular Instagram service which would allow users to create 15 second video clips and employ the platform’s much-loved filters on their best creations.

The reaction? A slightly confused audience. Of course, since Twitter’s acquisition and launch of Vine earlier this year, the industry had been muttering about Facebook launching a possible rival at some point in the future – but I don’t think anyone was expecting it to happen quite so soon – or through Instagram either for that matter!

Of course, just like any other big social media launch, the Instagram Video tool has definitely got the industry talking. On a positive note, key features like the ability to record video in stages (with Vine you have to do it all in one go), the 13 special new filters and the platform’s 15 second format have already won praise, however I think it’s fair to say that throughout the industry, there’s a definite sense of disappointment going round.

The problem? It’s not that Instagram Video is a terrible idea – it’s not; the industry’s been crying out for it for years. And it’s not that it’s a terrible product – it’s really not; the tool’s Cinema technology means you can stablise your video after you’ve shot it to ensure great, high quality videos.

secret weapon

The problem is that it’s just not that new. Yes, OK – the 15 second format is, and so are the 13 new filters – but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the actual concept. Yes, Instagram Video is a great tool – but so is Vine – and when it comes down to it, they’re really not all that different.

Yes, Instagram Video is being billed as a game-changer in the advertising industry – but so was Vine when it was released in January – and I don’t know about you, but as a consumer I can’t say that I’ve noticed that many Vine ads appearing in my daily dose of TV, online and social adverts.

If we’re being honest though, the issue isn’t really with Vine – or Instagram Video either for that matter. The issue comes back to something I mentioned on this blog last month; it’s that social networks have all but given up on trying to be original – and it sucks!

Remember when Facebook switched to the Timeline? How about when Twitter rolled out the profile header images? Of course you do – because they were unique and different! Up until just recently, the major social networks have always tried to offer something different to users but these days, it’s a different story.

From hashtags on Facebook and Google+ to Vine and Instagram Video, diversity is no longer the name of the game… and it makes me really sad. Seriously, we don’t need five different platforms that do all the same thing or three different apps that allow us to take video in either six, 15 or 30 second formats… what we do want and need is something innovative, new and original!

Come on Facebook, Twitter and Co – stop being lazy and start coming up with your own ideas instead of nicking your competitors’ ideas, slightly modifying them and launching them as an innovative, all-new product. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that as social media consumers, we deserve more than that… after all, we’re the reason you exist and the reason you’re all rolling around in cash right now!

The question is; is this just a temporary lapse in judgement and innovative ideas or from now can we can expect to see the same-old ideas presented in a slightly different way from the major social networks? I, for one, know which one I’m crossing my fingers for!

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