If you haven’t already heard about Seesmic’s recent acquisition of Ping.fm, well then, spoiler alert…they did that. This will inevitably raise the profile of the service provided by Ping.fm, and that got me thinking about this service and any others like it that are out there. Not in a daydreaming of the app sort of way, but actually wondering about its overall usefulness and impact, and whether that impact would end up being a positive or a negative one.
A Little Background
For those of you out there who are not familiar with Ping.fm, don’t feel bad. I had only heard about them, but was never sure of what they were, nor was I interested enough to actually find out what they were all about. It wasn’t until their recent buyout that I discovered what kind of service Ping.fm offers the online community. With a single status update, your info will be shared across 50 different social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, etc…
If this is the first time you have heard of Ping.fm, some of you just got an excited rush of goose bumps running across the surface of your flesh, and others just felt a sort of nervous sinking feeling in their stomachs. Or at least I am hoping there are others with the pit in their belly like I felt when I first read that. Because while some may be thinking of the huge personal advantage this affords them in their quest to spread the word about them or their work, you see, the pit party on this side of the fence sees this a little bit differently.
For those of us who think that social media should be about interacting with the people who populate your various circles sharing in the numerous streams you send out, this kind of sharing limits the senders ability to actually interact with others. It all becomes a one sided burst of information, not communication. And if these different social media networks were started to introduce new ways to communicate with each other, then these kinds of services are actually going against the idea that established these lines of communication. By decreasing the senders actual connectivity and accesibility from their readers.
So I landed on the side of services like Ping.fm being detrimental to the health and value of the networks that are fed via this kind of app. Currently, Ping.fm has in the neighborhood of half a million users with a couple hundred thousand shares sent out a day. But how effective are these bulk wrapped info-bursts? Is there appeal in this service beyond self-serving ends, with their spam-like infiltration into the numerous data streams it feeds? Or is it less about the community and the interaction between the sender and reader, and just about the information?
Either way, in those instances, be it just about the info or yourself, it is no longer about connecting and growing the community. Which in turn, means that half a million users are already using the social media networks as more of a web based advertising format, so they are being degraded from the communicative role they were initiated to fulfill. With this new wave of public accesibility and awareness of these kinds of services, what does that mean for the future of the social media networks?
Will they be reduced to nothing more than an underaccessed forum for advertising, or will people realize the negative impact of this trend and resist it, maintaining that element of socializing that gives the social media networks’ title relevance? Or will it have a more positive effect on the spread of information, while removing the interactiveness that once drew many of us to these waters? Or will it have no effect whatsoever? I believe if more people see these kinds of shares as beneficial and begin to care less about interacting, then they will have a negative impact on social media and its effectiveness.
What is your two cents?
Now it is your turn to use the comments section below to share your thoughts and ideas on this topic, and the overall impact we are likely to see as a result of this acquisition. Do you feel like we are heading for any of the futures put forth above, or do you believe in an unoffered outcome? Whatever the thoughts kicking around in your head, please share them so that they may be discussed below as well.