The Next Layer Of The Social Media Stack

Last week Seth Goldstein's company Social Media put on a social media bootcamp for marketers and he asked John Borthwick and I to start the day off with a panel discussion around social media.

During that discussion, we got to talking about what's next in social media. I suggested that the "next layer of the stack" will be services built on top of the primary social media channels. Here's a short video clip that captures the thought.

The next layer on the stack… from Social Media on Vimeo.

I read this weekend that there are over 11,000 registered third party apps built on top of Twitter. I suspect that there are a similar number (or more) for Facebook. As the primary social media channels (including blogs and blog comments) become fully open platforms, I believe we are going to see a host of interesting (and valuable) services get built. It's already happening.

You can see a few short clips from the panel discussion here.
#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. thomaspower

    Channels. Social Media Dashboards (SMDs). Aggregation and Filtering services thus Friendfeed’s success.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, absolutelyfriendfeed is a model example

    2. William Mougayar

      Are we assuming that all media will be Social? Yes to aggregation, filtering + personalized knowledge dashboards. On filtering- different types are needed: 1) people-filtered content, 2) own-filters, 3) unfiltered, 4) social back-channels. Smart aggregation brings it all in-one and enables jumping point into the social media, so it’s bi-directional.

      1. fredwilson

        I think most media will be social

  2. David Gillespie

    I don’t understand why we haven’t seen more services building in the browser as opposed to on the web. I recognise the additional barrier to entry of having to install the software, but the last thing we need is more silos. Sure, we’re connecting them, and I’m commenting here using Disqus using a Twitter plugin, which is great. But consider the appeal of mobile – always connected, always on.I want the web equivalent, which for me isn’t a series of forums/sites/silos which I interact with based on which service they happen to have done a deal with, it’s an OpenID plugin for my browser which automatically negotiates my identity with the web as a whole. We’re certainly moving more and more towards the cloud, but by the same token that some thigns which have always lived on our desktops are moving into hosted spaces, I feel like there’s opportunity for things that have always existed online to move a little in the opposite direction.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, but getting signficant traction for a browser extension is so hardi wrote a post about that a ways back…

      1. David Gillespie

        @John – so perhaps the solution there will come at the source from the likes of Mozilla or Microsoft; I struggle to see a scenario wherein the latter embraces Open ID, curious to see if and how Google tackle this with Chrome.@fredwilson It is definitely reliant on a learned behaviour and not a currently natural one. I’m not familiar enough with the platform nuances to speak with authority, I would however be curious to see if Facebook’s backend would allow applications to communicate with another public server and subsequently receive inputs from alternate sources.My thinking is a popular game on Facebook could potentially be extended into the browser and played when not actually on the site. Yes it is the long way around, but I think the fix will arrive via a combination of it being relatively easy to do AND having it heavily incentivised. Games, photo-sharings apps etc. already with a large audience on Facebook seem to be like the most direct path at this point.Maybe your team at Zynga are already looking into this?—Also as an aside, are there plans for Disqus to incorporate the email replies even when logged into Twitter? As John seems to have come in via another source, I didn’t get notified via Twitter of his reply. Would be nice to see the various logins tied together, with perhaps an email notification of replies being default regardless of the type of login.

        1. fredwilson

          I can’t comment on that 🙂

    2. John Sharp

      You are right, the action isn’t only happening inside the cloud.As web services become more and more valuable (and more and more valuable data begin to reside there), hacking into the stored data and data streams will become more and more of an issue.There is no sensible or scalable way that individual companies can provide an identity management solution on their own. Only a widely-accepted, multi-platform, client-side approach will work.

  3. Jason

    platform independent service aggregating SaaS dashboard and filter.

  4. David Semeria

    This is going to be THE major theme going forward – and for so many reasons.In no particular order we have tech, legal and value issues all playing a part.Tech – how will the cloud evolve? How interoperable will it be? Sure, data exchange is easy, but what about application mashups? I want to use my favourite file/image/people manager in all my applications, like I want to use the same word processor etc. Making all these components talk nicely to each other is a major task.Legal – the usual argument regarding who owns my data (me!) – but also longevity issues. I can see services cropping up offering generic open storage systems for a guaranteed period in the (distant) future.Value – the billion dollar question. Is it at the top or the bottom of the stack? If all the layers are truly open, how hard will it be to capture that value. You’ll say the value lies where the community lies, but what if the community moves up a level too? OpenID is already moving this way. One web profile, one big community, many access channels…It’s going to be very, very interesting…

  5. adamwexler

    last year, jemima kiss wrote a great piece for the guardian similar to your filtering & aggregating thoughts. she predicted if web 2.0 could be characterized by “interaction,” web 3.0 would be all about “personalization & recommendation”…i agree that’s where we’re headed (in fact, already there in many respects…)

    1. fredwilson

      yes, you and i are already there in many respects but i don’t think mainstream users are. they are just getting onto facebook and maybe twitter.

    2. markslater

      this is absolutely it. This is what i want now. We are trying to build it. I want solutions to my actions, and a frictionless exhaust of the results shared with my circle. I am no longer ‘curious’ (facebook and twitter) .

  6. howardlindzon

    borthwick is good loooking dude :0it’s fun to be so early in the stack process. feel lucky to be reading this blog and learning on the fly.

    1. fredwilson

      You’re like guy from down south who “doesn’t know anything’ and then takes you to the cleanersThe truth is you got to the next layer on the stack before almost everyone else

      1. chartreuse

        I agree. Howard is slick!

  7. Vladimir Vukicevic

    Fred, I think that you are spot on with aggregation and filtering as the next layers of the social media stack. But I also think that it’s vital to recognize and utilize the underlying consumer drivers that enabled current social media to flourish: the diminishing personal-value of privacy, the shrinking costs of all forms of multimedia, etc.It’s some of these same drivers that will foster completely new social media business models and resulting billion dollar companies.

    1. fredwilson

      For sure

  8. ahoving

    “aggregating and filtering” hmmm, sounds like what newspapers/journalists do/did… will be interesting to see what comes out of the “Journalism Online Summit” in DC this week. I’m taking there.

  9. leafar

    More than agree.

  10. leafar

    More than agree.FIltering is needed but gives little value without content to delivers more value now than we are filtering blog article and tv program based on individual tastes.Nevertheless, user are not fully ready to add another layer on their stack because they have not finished to build it yet.Great view.

  11. jonathanmendez

    have to disagree. dashboards don’t help marketers. if they did online conversion rates would have increased over the past decade instead of being stagnant and omniture would be the most important company on the web instead of google. we’re a few years into critical mass for social and i don’t see why dashboards will be any different. we don’t need meter readers, we need transformers.

    1. fredwilson

      Dashboards are the first step to interactionYou have to find the conversation if you want to participate in it

  12. Guest
    1. fredwilson

      I see disqus as a channel and friendfeed as an example of a service occupying the next layer on the stack, aggregating and filtering

      1. Guest
  13. swalkergibson

    In my opinion, the issue here is that by building a service on top of another service, you have to rely on the host service’s business and technological practices in order for yours to be viable. I mean, as powerful as all of these web services are today, who is to say what they will be like in 10 years?

    1. fredwilson

      Right. But if you build it on top of a portfolio of services, then there is less risk

  14. tamccann

    I totally agree that aggregation and filtering are the next phase. Once we provide the filters, users can more easily parse what is important and relevant and then take the next level of interaction, which is usually sharing or commenting.Some big questions are around how and what you aggregate. Is it all around messages (email inboxes + activity streams + tweet streams…) or people or keywords or service types (tweets/tweetdeck) or all of the above. I am an active user of Tweetdeck and like it very much and am using it to aggregate activity streams from Facebook, Twitter and a few keyword searches, which is useful as a CEO (marketer).With Gist (my company), we are aggregating content around people and companies and combining all the messages, blog posts, news articles, tweets…but for the specific business purpose of building better and stronger business relationships. So the aggregation and “next actions” game is also factored by the use case.But, Fred, you are right that the next layer on the stack is about aggregation, filtering and then some form or directed action with the content.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m still commited to trying gist

  15. kskobac

    Fred- it was great to have the opportunity to hear you speak in person; not sure if you were able to stick around the whole morning, but I thought it was really one of the more valuable programs I’ve attended in a long time. To add to the collective content coming out of it, I posted my takeaways here if anyone is interested: “15 Insights From the Social Media Boot Camp”

    1. fredwilson

      I read your notes last week. Awesome that you did that and posted it

  16. Mehdi Ait Oufkir

    totally agree with every that is said here. There is already a lot of competition in this market. I guess the one that will succeed is the one that will remove the noise and will automatically organize the content.Google was the one organizing the web… We need somebody to organize our social chanels.

  17. Kiam Choo

    Definitely agree on “aggregation and filtering” as the next layer on the social media stack.

  18. vcmike

    Fred, I totally agree with your concluding paragraph. The really interesting question is the extent to which the underlying platform companies themselves offer the most valuable services. My two cents is that they should and will. You?

    1. fredwilson

      I’m not so sure Mike. Its going to be their call not mine. But I think its important to monetize a thin piece of the overall value and leave most of it for others. That’s the most sustainable platform based business model

  19. Pranav Bhasin

    I think aggregation and filtering is a good start, but not good enough to sustain in the long run. A service needs more meat on top of it to add value and that in my mind comes from inferences driven from aggregated data or showing how diverse pieces of data are related to each other in some manner.

  20. Mindaugas Dagys

    Filtering often = search. And search in realtime land is track. The one that T*itter does not release for future „monetization“ hopes.

  21. Simeon Simeonov

    Fred, I’m wondering what’s your take on the state of openness and/or standards required to truly enable a thriving ecosystem of services on top of the primary social media channels. IMO, the current solutions barely pass the Ecosystem Test… (it is easy to build solutions but hard to make a meaningful amount of money).

    1. fredwilson

      If by ‘these services’ we mean blogs, blog comments, twitter, and facebook, then I think they are surprisingly open and will remain so. Facebook is working to become more open, not more closedAs for monetization, we’ve seen some successes, most notably social gaming, and I think we’ll see moreAll these platforms understand that their sustainability is in their platform, not their service

  22. Jevon

    I was thinking about Open Source and then you got me thinking about how aggregation+filtering+streams could be how Open Source tools work together and get ahead (I am thinking inside the enterprise,..)http://www.fastforwardblog….ps: Logging in using Twitter oAuth is all kinds of awesome.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. Sign on with twitter is pretty sweet