Opinion: Social Media and Sharing–We Have Too Many Options

Overall, social media and sharing has been quite the rage in the Smartphone Era.  While there are a handful of very popular social media services, there are dozens (or even hundreds) of others, and everyone has their own preferences.  Take a look at the number of sites that the AddThis service shows that you can share content with.  The sheer number is amazing.

And yet, the AddThis list of services demonstrates the problem: there are now too many social media and sharing sites.  We are in an era of oversaturation of social media.  We don’t like sharing only to Twitter since that excludes our friends or followers on Tumblr, Google+, Path and Facebook.  It would be different if everyone used the same ubiquitous social media network, but that will never happen.  There will be fallout in the years ahead, as some social networks fall by the wayside while others get absorbed by the larger social media companies.

What can a person do?  Today, not much.  Some smartphone apps allow us to cross-post to other social media sites, which does help matters slightly.  AddThis allows us to share as well, but only to one site at a time, making it tedious to share.  To add insult to injury, sharing is one way: we can share to those sites, but we cannot see replies unless we log into each individual site to view the reply, or receive individual emails, one for each reply.

A “killer app” for the Internet would be one single service that would not only cross-post to many of these services, but also enable the two-way conversations resulting from replies.  We should also be able to receive incoming shares from others, from any of these platforms, through this single service.

Tweetdeck is actually on the right path, but it only dips its toes in the water, and the feature set is limited.  I don’t expect Tweetdeck to support everything since they are owned by Twitter, but the basic idea is a good start.  In essence, what I am looking for in a sharing service or application is the following:

  • Sharing of post contents, trimming to an appropriate size for each service (such as the 140 character limit for Twitter, or storing only shortened captions for the photo-based sharing sites, etc.).
  • Sharing of a photo; optionally, a handful of photos as an “album” or sequence of photos.
  • Sharing of geolocation data (including lat/long coordinates).
  • Sharing a check-in.
  • Sharing of a link to an external site, shortened by our service of choice.
  • Ability to easily “re-share” an item, similar to a retweet.
  • Two-way commenting: I would receive all comments on my shared items, and my replies to the comments are shared back to the original service.
  • Ability to post to as many social media and sharing platforms as possible, with an easy-to-use API allowing additional services to be added easily.  The sharing service will also be smart enough to know what data each platform accepts, and formats it accordingly.
  • Hosting of the sharing data on a central site, accessible from any device via the web or a dedicated application.  Think of it as similar to an RSS news feed aggregator, only with additional data flowing in each direction.

The shared data is relatively common among most social media applications.  The proposed service would know which data each service could accept, and format it accordingly.  Now we just need to wait for someone to put some investment funds into a bright tech company that can pull off this task.

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